Currently reading: Buy them before we do: second-hand picks for 14 May
Think thrice before buying an SUV, but if you go down that road, you could do worse than a VW Touareg
John Evans
4 mins read
14 May 2021

The RAC recently asked urban-dwelling motorists to think twice before buying an SUV. In the case of the monsters we’ve assembled here, you should make that thrice.

Still, what a lot of fun they are, starting with this, the outrageous Volkswagen Touareg R50 of 2008. The 2600kg beast is powered by a 5.0-litre diesel V10 producing 345bhp and 627lb ft torque. It can gallop from 0-62mph in just 6.7sec – faster than the Ford Focus ST of the time.

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The RAC won’t like its late-teens thirst and 315g/km CO2 output, and neither do we. However, with only around 50 examples left, it can’t do much harm, and the few survivors will be killed off by an ever-stricter MOT test. So enjoy it while you can.

The three previous keepers and current owner of our find certainly have. In their hands, this 2008 car has done 96,000 miles. Not only that, but also one of them had it chipped so that it now makes 380bhp and 734lb ft. There’s no word about its fuel consumption, but a good power chip can actually improve economy, so we wouldn’t assume the worst.

The seller doesn’t say anything about it having service history, but it seems unlikely that they would’ve left this rare bird to rot. In any case, it looks bright enough, and since they’ve gone to the trouble of installing upgraded rubber floor mats, they’ve clearly taken pride in it.

Back in 2008, Autocar praised the R50’s performance, steering, ride and handling but criticised its road noise, the engine’s “gruff chugging” and its “abysmal MPG”. We weren’t too taken with its £61,900 list price, either. That makes £17,250 for this one look reasonable – just.

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Audi Q7 6.0 V12 TDI £25,995: Hard on the heels of the Touareg R50 came Audi’s V12 diesel. Performance-wise, it eclipsed the Volkswagen with 493bhp and 737lb ft of torque for 0-62mph in 5.5sec. It cost £100,000 new but our example, a 2009 car with 112,000 miles, is a quarter of that.

Mercedes-Benz ML63 AMG £13,250: Unlike the R50 and Q7 V12, Mercedes’ monster SUV is powered by a petrol motor: a 6.2-litre V8 making 503bhp. Consequently, 0-62mph takes only 5.0sec. Amazingly, our 2007 car with 119,000 miles has had just two owners and has a full Benz service history.

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Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT £31,999: This big Cherokee can’t quite muster the ML63’s power, with its 6.0-litre V8 making 461bhp, but it can crack 0-62mph in the same 5.0sec. MPG is a killer but this car has had an LPG conversion. A 26,000-mile 2015-reg, it now costs half what it did new.

Land Rover Series 3 (barely) £14,950: Is this SUV based on a 1986 Jaguar XJ or a 1972 Land Rover S3 Utility? The answer is both. Is it powered by a GMC 6.5-litre V8 diesel mated to a Range Rover V8 gearbox and a Defender 90 transfer box? Well, duh. Just don’t ask the RAC to fix it.

Auction watch

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Mini John Cooper Works: A modern classic in the making? This Mini JCW hot hatch was registered back in 2004 yet had done just 6500 miles when it went up for auction recently. The hammer fell at £14,850, far above the estimate of £6500-£8500. Examples with 75,000 miles cost around £5000, so somebody paid quite a premium for one with almost 70,000 fewer on the clock. These original BMW-era Minis are attracting a following, but most have been around the block and look like it. This auction star, on the other hand, was used for only the first two years of its life before being put into storage.

Future classic

Nissan Leaf, £4295: Twenty years from now, when electric cars are commonplace, those of a sentimental bent will reflect on that EV pioneer, the original Nissan Leaf of 2011. It was a fine first effort, and Nissan should be applauded for smelling the coffee before others had even opened the jar. At the time, diesels were the thing, so sales of this curious-looking and curiously powered family hatchback were slow. As a result, come 2041, surviving examples will probably be scarce. Buy now before others switch on to this electric classic potential.

Clash of the classifieds

Brief: Can £9000 buy me something ultra-reliable?

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Ford C-Max £8895

Toyota Land Cruiser 80 Series £8250

Max Adams: Did you know that the Ford C-Max scored 100% in What Car?’s latest Reliability Survey? Well, you do now. And my 2017 example should see James through, because with only 6200 miles showing, barely anything will have worn. So not only will it be dependable but also there won’t be any repair costs for some time – unlike with someone’s 200,000-mile choice…

Felix Page: If Autocar writers were allowed to indulge in cliché, I would tell you that 200,000 miles on a 4.2-litre Toyota Land Cruiser is just part of the running-in process; it should be nicely limbered up now. Also, the very concept of reliability is relative; I know which of these I would trust to get me across the Kalahari.

MA: You’re instead indulging in hyperbole, I see. We were asked for ultra-reliable and I’ve always found the reason that high-mileage cars are sold is due to impending maintenance costs. My C-Max avoids all that.

FP: Sure, but it does nothing to counteract the stereotype that dependable stands as a byword for boring. And yes, my 1992 Cruiser will need some TLC along the way, but anything that does go wrong could feasibly be a DIY repair job. The trouble with affordable nearly new cars like your C-Max is that one small fault or prang could justify an insurance write-off.

Verdict: I don’t want to C-Max upset, but the Toyota cruises to victory here.


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Add a comment…
BenzinBob 15 May 2021

Please don't buy an old v10 Diesel Touareg on the basis that it has rubber mats. This has to be a joke??  I laughed 

catnip 15 May 2021

In the case of the Toerag, I'm not sure that the fitted rubber mats indicate a well maintained vehicle. There are many people who love adding the fancy bits, but are less fussy when it come to the oily side of things.

si73 15 May 2021
Firsts are often classics so the leaf being the first mainstream mass manufactured EV, considered as a future classic isn't beyond the realms of possibility I wouldn't have thought, even if it is only a star of the festival of the unexceptional.