AA Cars' new survey reveals 74% of recently bought vehicles are used ones. No wonder when there's so much choice.

Autocar UK, By James Ruppert

© Image credited by Haymarket Media Group | James Ruppert: The stats say the used market is thriving - but we already knew

Drivers are now three times as likely to buy a used car over a new model.’ I think we get told this every year, when in fact this section of Autocar reminds you every single week that the thinking car buyer always takes the used option.
In this case, the non-revelation comes from a survey by AA Cars. Anyway, as our jumping-off point, let’s use this fascinating stat: 74% of drivers said their most recent vehicle purchase was of a used one.
According to AA Cars, 29% of those surveyed had bought a ‘nearly new’ car most recently. Actually, that is a pretty sensible buy, whatever your definition is – be it a dealer demo, a pre-registered or a fresh-off-the-hire-fleet special. There is a lot of choices around.
We’ll look at 2019 vehicles, and I would be happy enough with 11,000 miles, which leads us to a Mini 1.5 Cooper Sport II. That costs £14,499, which is a saving of £5500 on the new price, plus it comes with over £500 worth of extras. This car was at a supermarket and they offer a three-month warranty, but you would still have the balance of the manufacturer’s one anyway.
Then again, I love a dealer demo and I really love the look of the current Volkswagen Polo. So a 1.0 TSI 115 R Line with 1000 miles at £18,990 isn’t a giveaway, but it was parked at a VW dealer. It starts to sound like a lot for a Polo, but it should do 45mpg and, as I’ve said, it looks the part.
Instead of a small hatch, why not a great big estate car for less than ex-demo Polo money? I’m back at a supermarket and looking at a Vauxhall Insignia 2.0 Turbo D SRi VX-line Nav estate. Blimey, names are long, but what a great-looking stuff-hauler. This one had 10,000 miles and everything you would ever need as standard, as well as quite cool black alloys. Plus 50mpg on average and a massive load bay. All that for £17,999.
Back at the car buying survey, there’s a solid 25% who bought used cars that are more than five years old. Those wanting a Mini, and many do, would only have to pay £6900 for 2013 1.2 One. It’s got 42,000 miles, has a full history, black alloy wheels, and Bluetooth, so as good as the nearly new one. Or how about a 2013 Polo 1.2 TDI BlueMotion with 69,000 miles for £4400? It will do almost 60mpg and that seems like a more credible price for a VW supermini.
No point listing 2013 Insignias – there are millions of them and they have six-figure mileages. But, hey, a 2.0 CDTi Ecoflex Design Sports Tourer with 107k miles is £3800.
Here’s the proof, then, that used cars are brilliant: they give you a ton of alternatives and deliver value for money whether nearly new or five years old.
What we almost bought this week
Mazda RX-8: If you like checking your engine oil, an RX-8 could be the car of your dreams. The 1.3-liter rotary motor loves a drink so be prepared to top it up every 1000 miles or so with Dexelia 5W-30 or 10W-40 semi-synthetic. We found a 2005-reg with full-service history and 70,000 miles for £975. A compression test would be a good idea.
Tales from Ruppert's garage
Porsche Cayenne – mileage 104,462: Here you go – the Flying Pig lives to spend yet another year climate-changing the planet with its marginal fuel consumption. It sailed through the MOT with zero advisories, which is what you want with a massively complicated car like this. I asked my garage to do a minor service, so that was just oil and filters, but including the roadworthiness check, it still came to £200. Never mind, that’s Porsche's life. Also part of that life is making a trip to a Porker main dealer for some recall work. It’s a half-day adventure for me and I’ll tell you about the Flying Pig’s progress very soon.
This article was originally published in Autocar UK.
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