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The 20 best used car bargains for 2020

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Shifting consumer demands, fickle fashions and new arrivals all affect used values. We predict 20 bargain cars to grab before 2021

This year promises to be packed with great car-buying opportunities, and as always, it’s about knowing what to buy and when to buy it.

To help you, we’ve ruminated on this year’s likely trends and the events that will shape them, and scoured the classifieds for bargains today that may be too expensive for you come tomorrow.

The new Bond film, the growth in popularity of used EVs, the continuing appeal of diesel, the emergence of some great cars at prices more of us can afford… it’s all to play for in 2020. Happy hunting!

VW e-Golf (from 2014)

Our pick – VW e-Golf 35.8kWh, 2017/67, 9000 miles, £19,500: Although an underachiever, Volkswagen’s electric Golf has held the fort while the company prepared this year’s major assault on the EV market. The e-Golf was facelifted in 2017 when it gained a bigger battery. Add all the usual Golf virtues and you’re looking at a thoroughly well-rounded electric car. Expect prices to firm in 2020 as demand for affordable used EVs grows.

Jaguar I-Pace (from 2018)

Our pick – Jaguar I-Pace S, 2019/68, 7000 miles, £49,999: Premium EVs such as the Jaguar I-Pace are still finding their price level on the used car market: the sector is in its infancy and buyers are in the driving seat. Don’t count on things staying that way for much longer, though.

Renault Zoe i (from 2015)

Our pick – Renault Zoe R240 i-Dynamic, 2015/65, 17,000 miles, £12,750: From 2015, it was possible to buy a Renault Zoe with the battery included and badged ‘i’. We prefer this so-called ‘battery-owned’ solution, as do increasing numbers of Zoe buyers. Prices for this version will rise throughout this year, so buy one now.

Land Rover Defender (from 1990)

Our pick – Land Rover Defender 110 2.2 D DPF XS, 2013/13, 69,000 miles, £25,000: You can never have too much of a good thing, so while demand, and therefore prices, for Defenders hardly need any help, more is likely to come in the shape of this year’s all-new, and much more expensive, model. On top of that, there’s the build-up to the launch of the new Defender-inspired Ineos Grenadier. So bag an original Defender before excitement and prices get out of hand. Preferably a late example, like our pick, with the four-cylinder 2.2 or 2.4 diesel engine.

Aston Martin DBS Superleggera (from 2018)

Our pick – Aston Martin DBS Superleggera, 2018/68, 8000 miles, £172,000: A new DBS Superleggera costs £225,000 but already you can find used ones from £175,000. Don’t bank on previously loved examples being available at these prices for much longer, though. A Superleggera sharing screen time with Daniel Craig in his final outing as 007 could be just the exposure the model needs, and expect stronger prices to follow.

Mazda MX-5 2.0 (from 2018)

Our pick – Mazda 2.0 160PS Sport Nav, 2018/18, 18,000 miles, £15,000: Now is the time to buy a 2018-reg MX-5 2.0 while spring is still some way off. But not just any MX-5 2.0, oh no. Prices of the last 2018-reg 160PS models are being squeezed by the first examples of the uprated and better-equipped 2.0-litre version. Fortunately, the lower-powered car is still a delight to drive – just make sure its price reflects its reduced desirability.

Triumph Stag (from 1970-77)

Our pick – Triumph Stag 3.0, 1977, 115,000 miles, £13,000: It’s the Stag’s 50th anniversary this year, and around 35% of the 26,000 cars ever made survive to this today. It’s possible to find a sound and reliable Stag from around £10,000, but prices for the best are sure to rise as a chorus of ‘happy birthday!’ rings out.

BMW i8 (from 2013)

Our pick – BMW i8, 2015/15, 30,000 miles, £41,000: Most new premium plug-in hybrids crash in value the moment they’re registered. The i8 is such an example. New, the petrol-electric sports car cost £115,000, but today, a five-year-old example with low mileage can be yours for £45,000. In fact, according to valuation guide Cap, an i8 is worth £20,000 less at one year old and 10,000 miles than it was two years ago. But we predict the model will hit a price point when buyers consider it to be value for money, and prices will firm.

Porsche 911 (996) (from 1998-2004)

Our pick – Porsche 911 3.6, 2002/02, 52,000 miles, £19,995: The values of the first liquid-cooled 911s have been soft for ages, but signs are they’re picking up. More are coming to market with their RMS seal, IMS bearing and other troublesome components replaced. Carrera 2 coupés are great value, and Cabriolets and Targas surprisingly so. Choose a facelifted 3.6 over the earlier 3.4.

Ferrari 360 (from 1999-2005)

Our pick – Ferrari F360 Spider, 2002/02, 32,000 miles, £44,900: Each year brings its own ‘bargain’ Ferrari, and now it’s the turn of the all-aluminium F360. Look hard and you might find a tatty one in the mid-£30,000s, but prices for honest cars start in the mid-£40,000s.

The 360 is that rare thing: a usable Ferrari that’s also relatively easy to work on, even for a home mechanic. Among the many things to watch out for when buying are the condition of the engine mountings and timing belt tensioner bearings, which from around 20,000 miles can be damaged by vibration. If it’s a convertible, pause the hood halfway through its cycle to check the ram seals aren’t leaking.

BMW 1 Series M Coupé (from 2011-11)

Our pick – BMW 1 Series M Coupé, 2011/11, 41,000 miles, £33,980: Will 2020 be the year prices of the 1 Series M Coupé begin to soften? It cost £39,990 new, but in early January over a dozen were being advertised for between £40,000 and £62,950. But joy of joys, we found one for ‘just’ £33,980. It’s in sought-after Valencia Orange and has done 41,000 miles. More tellingly, it’s being offered by a BMW dealer.

Ford Mustang (from 2015)

Our pick – Ford Mustang 2.3T Ecoboost coupé, 2015/65, 28,000 miles, £20,000: Fancy a cheap UK Mustang in 2020? True, it’s likely to be the cooking 2.3 Ecoboost, such as the 2015-reg with 28,000 miles and full Ford history for £20,000 that we found. That said, the 5.0-litre V8 version isn’t too far behind price-wise, at least if the 32,000-mile, 2016-reg 5.0 GT we saw with a Ford dealer for £24,750 is anything to go by.

MG Midget (from 1961-80)

Our pick – MG Midget, 1979, 71,000 miles, £3695: This year we predict a rush for cars registered in 1979 as they become the latest generation to enjoy road tax exemption. Of course, you could buy an EV and dodge it that way, but it would be much more expensive and not half as much fun.

Mercedes-Benz S-Class (from 2014-2020)

Our pick – Mercedes-Benz S350d L AMG Line Executive, 2018/18, 17,000 miles, £37,000: You can buy a one-year-old S350d L AMG Line with 17,000 miles on the clock for £37,000, or half of its new price. Hardly surprising when online sellers are knocking out brand-new Grand Edition versions with £25,000 off, taking the price to £55,000. So what on earth is going on? Simply put, there’s an all-new S-Class on its way. Loaded with advanced technology and offering a choice of plug-in hybrid and all-electric variants, it’s set to be the limousine to have.

Jaguar F-Type (from 2013)

Our pick – Jaguar F-Type 3.0 V6 S convertible, 2013/13, 75,000 miles, £21,500: This year we’ll see the first F-Types dip below £20,000. We’ve already seen a 2013-reg 3.0 S for £22,990. It’s a two-owner car with full service history but it’s also a private sale, which has to be worth at least £1500 off, especially considering the car’s value at auction can be no more than £17,000.

Citroën Berlingo Multispace (from 2008-18)

Our pick – Citroën Berlingo Multispace BlueHDi 100 Flair, 2016/66, 15,000 miles, £11,400: Brexit queues at Calais? It looks like the only solution to a great holiday in 2020 will be to stay in globally warmed Blighty and go camping – for which you’ll need a tent and a car capable of taking it, all the gear and the family. Bring on the Berlingo Multispace.

BMW 5 Series (from 2017)

Our pick – BMW 530d M Sport auto, 2018/18, 11,000 miles, £27,300: Diesels are still here and, at least on the used market, they’re still selling. Few make more sense than a BMW 530d. Our pick, a one-owner car with full BMW service history, equates to a saving of almost £25,000 on the new price. Buying it or another big Euro 6 diesel could well be your smartest motoring decision of 2020.

Lotus Elan (from 1989-1995)

Our pick – Lotus Elan S1 1.6 SE Turbo, 1991, 83,000 miles, £7995: Prices for the wonderful Elan M100 start at only around £6500 for a tidy 1992-reg S1 Turbo with 100,000 miles. At the other extreme, £14,000 will get you into a Lotus dealer’s mint 1996 S2 with 68,000 miles. Either way, it’s not a lot for a future classic – if only that future would hurry up. Buy now.

Porsche Macan (from 2014)

Our pick – Porsche Macan 3.0 Diesel S PDK, 2015/15, 127,000 miles, £18,750: In its day, the Macan was the best SUV by far, with a £43,000 new price tag to prove it. Forward six years and prices of the first diesel versions with 100,000 miles are now around £25,000. However, we found a 2015-reg for £18,750. There are sure to be more as the year unwinds.

Rover 75 (from 1999-2005)

Our pick – Rover 75 2.5 V6 Connoisseur SE auto, 2001, 23,000 miles, £3990: With Boris Johnson’s oven-ready deal on the table, we forecast an upswing in interest from rose-tinted patriots for anything with a BL, MG or Rover badge. Our money’s on Rover 75 V6s – a kind of poor man’s Bentley but built by BMW rather than VW. Meanwhile, for something truly special, bag an MG ZT 260 powered by a 4.8-litre V8.

This article was first published on the 8th of February 2020. We’re revisiting some of Autocar’s most popular features to provide entertaining content during these difficult times. Prices correct at the time of writing.

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