The average value of a used car is now over £8000; we run through the best options available at that price from the UK's second-hand market
8 August 2016

British Car Auctions claims that values have reached their highest point ever — or, at least, yet.

Apparently fleet, lease and part-exchange vehicles are in huge demand, and the result is rising values. The average price of a used car is now £8261, to be very precise. It won’t last, because high summer means holidays and lots of others things for people to do rather than lurk around car lots.

See Volkwagen Golf for sale on PistonHeads

Average prices always vary depending on when you’re buying and where you are, and to many, £8000 sounds like a lot to spend on a used car. It is, though, a reflection of the fact that new car buyers are spending more, and there is, of course, the PCP churn of three-year-old cars entering the system. So the challenge this week is to find an average used car for eight grand.

Actually no, not an average used car; we’re always on the lookout for something that is at least interesting. As a result, I am pleased to report that it is easy to find a wide range of motors.

Mercedes-Benz SL 500? Yes, you can buy a 2002 example with a just-run-in mileage of 40,000 for that. Marvellous.

How about a Volkswagen Golf R32? The V6 hot hatch has plenty of attitude and pretty much 250bhp, and you can pick up a 2007 example with less than 70,000 miles for £8000. Result. 

However, if you want to win the hot hatch horsepower war, there are Ford Focus ST-3s in circulation, again with less than 70,000 miles on the clock and from 2008.

And there’s no reason to lurk around the private ads and dodgy dealers like I do. Instead, you can go down the manufacturer-approved route and bag yourself a 2009 Mini Convertible in 1.6 Cooper S trim, including Chilli pack.

I’ve not mentioned the Audi A5 much, but I think it is a grown-up and rather handsome grand tourer. There are 2008 model year (pictured above) 3.0 TDI Sport quattros at around the £8k mark with 125,000 miles on the clock, and they’re worth a second look. With a V6, 250bhp and allwheel drive, a 2007 VW Golf R32 is a serious car for £8k.

On the subject of Audis, a 2004 S4 Avant with a 4.2 V8 and a fashionable Alcantara interior was tempting. A nice touch was the full history it came with.

If I wanted something more up to date, a 2012 Honda Civic 1.8 i-VTEC SE with less than 30,000 miles seemed like fun — and that was at a car supermarket.

Finally, I found a 2011 Abarth 500 with less than 30,000 miles showing. I encountered so many Fiat 500s in this price bracket that I was tempted to mention a Lounge, but I held out.

So you see, there may be an average used car price, but there’s no such thing as an average used car — provided you look hard enough.  

Our Verdict

Fiat 500

The Fiat 500 is a deserved success story for the brand, offering bags of style, a fine drive and low costs

Join the debate


8 August 2016
I'm looking around this price range myself, however family commitments mean I have to at least pretend to be sensible. So far what I've seen have been Citroen C5s - recently axed and not replaced, so still look fairly modern, comfortable too; Honda Accord - another axed car, huge, well equipped and should be reliable; Volvo S80 - did like the look of these, though probably worth holding off until the S90 when prices of these should go down further; Merc CLS - gorgeous swoopy big saloon, albeit at this price you're looking around 2007 examples; Merc C class, previous generation - to my eyes these look better than the current C class, and variants with the business like slatted grille and bonnet ornament look like a mini S class; Chrysler 300 - avoid examples with 'Bentley grilles' and these make you feel like something out of a Mafia film, or a wedding car...; Jag XF - the facelift mk1 model is just starting to dip to budget, looks modern and sleek, window line is more attractive than the mk2.

8 August 2016
Giulietta MultiAir petrol with 170bhp - 2012 or 2013 with under 50k and not much more than a cam belt change to worry about in the next few years.

Or a Volvo V60 R-Design 136bhp diesel to complement my despairing efforts at being a cool Dad.

Or a Bangle 5 series saloon. But I prefer the F10/11 from 2011 onwards and you need £10k plus for a good one with c.90-120k on the clock.

8 August 2016
At this price range I would consider Renault Laguna coupe and the Saab 9-5 for rarity. Citroen DS5's are also heading towards the £8k mark. With £8k I'd certainly be tempted with a pre-reg 0 mile Celerio for £6k and take a risk on something crazier with the remainder, maybe a mint Alfa 156.

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