Currently reading: Buy them before we do: second-hand picks for 7 May
PCP finance deals get all the attention but smart folk buy nearly new, starting with a BMW 3 Series
John Evans
5 mins read
7 May 2021

New car sales and the PCP finance deals that support them get all the attention, but smart folk buy nearly new, where cars still smell and feel like new but cost much less.

With showrooms now open again, we’ve found five great nearly new car deals, starting with this BMW 3 Series: a 69-reg saloon with 8000 miles and the Plus pack (heated front seats with upgraded upholstery).

It cost £34,260 new, but you could easily have negotiated £2500 off that figure, taking it down to £31,760 – or almost exactly £10,000 more than our one-year-old example.

Savings like this are why buyers can’t afford to ignore nearly new cars. Not only do they save a fortune on the list price, but also the monthly PCP payments for them are lower.

It’s not as if our example is being advertised by an independent dealer, either. Instead, it’s an approved-used BMW with all the bells and whistles that the marque’s scheme offers.

Admittedly, SE trim has since been replaced by enhanced SE Pro, which offers only an automatic gearbox. However, this just pushes the new price to £37,865 before any discounts, making our one-year-old SE manual look more tempting still.

In any case, SE trim gets you lots of great features as standard, including V-spoke alloy wheels, adaptive LED headlights, sat-nav and parking sensors front and rear. So just £21,750 for Autocar’s five-star executive class leader.

There’s much talk of diesel cars falling out of favour, but while this is definitely true of new ones, used examples still appeal to cost-conscious high-mileage drivers, thanks to their superior economy.


Read our review

Car review

In compelling 320d guise, Munich’s seventh-generation 3 Series successfully reclaims compact executive class honours

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Renault Kadjar 1.3 TCe GT Line £16,499: This version of the Kadjar would cost you around £23,000 new, but why pay that when you can have a 70-reg car with 1400 miles for £6500 less? Probably for the new car smell, a 12- month-longer warranty and zero-rate finance. But us? We’d take the saving.

Mazda CX-30 2.0 Skyactiv-G SE-L £18,320: The lower the price, the smaller the nearly new saving appears. When new, this CX-30 costs around £21,000 after haggling. That’s a useful saving, but this approved-used 20-reg example with just 1800 miles looks far more tempting at nearly £4000 less.

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Mercedes-Benz A180 AMG Line £17,790: This 69-reg A-Class is only a year old, yet already it’s £6660 cheaper than its new equivalent after discounts. Unlike the BMW 320d above, this isn’t an approved-used car, but it has had only one owner. We’d just want to be sure that it wasn’t a hire company…

Audi A5 Sportback 35 TFSI Sport £26,950: This five-door turbo petrol Audi A5 is an approved-used 70-reg car with 5000 miles. The model’s new price is around £35,500, so our nearly new find represents a saving of more than £850 – a fair trade for being the second keeper in the logbook.

Auction watch

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Toyota Will Vi: Manufacturers have been courting young drivers for years, but in 2000 Toyota dropped the small talk and went for them directly with a car created specifically for them. The Will Vi supermini looked like a crushed Ford Anglia, was powered by a 1.3-litre petrol engine and was finished in a range of pastel shades. The Will part of its name referenced the brand created to support it: a collection of brewery, cosmetics and personal hygiene companies targeting the youth of Japan. However, few of them were tempted, so the Will Vi was pulled from sale after one year. A 2000 example with 50,000 miles recently made £2100 at auction.

Future classic

Mazda RX-8 £2995: Launched in 2003 and powered by a high-revving 1.3-litre rotary engine, the Mazda RX-8 coupé was offered in a choice of 190bhp and 228bhp outputs. Add keen handling, thanks to the car’s near 50:50 weight balance, and rear-hinged doors, and you have the makings of something a bit special. Unfortunately, its appeal was undermined by the engine’s appetite for fuel and oil plus its tendency to lose compression. Still, ensure the RX-8 that you find has had a professional compression test and comes with a full service history – just like our 50,000-mile 2004 example – and you could pick up a future classic for buttons.

Clash of the classifieds

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Brief: Can I have a compact city car for £5000?

Mazda 2 1.3 Tamura 5dr £3990

Peugeot 108 1.2 Puretech Allure 5dr £4990

Felix Page: Behold the 2008 World Car of the Year: freshly MOT’d and on your driveway for a mere £3990. Aside from this example’s impressive presentability and provenance, the Mazda 2 is one of those rare runarounds that blends pleasing dynamics with durability, practicality, manoeuvrability and kerb appeal. You will never lose it in this colour, either.

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Max Adams: ’Snot the city car I would choose… Sorry, I’m just disgusted by that verdant hue. My Peugeot 108 is a true city car in size, yet it has all the modern accoutrements of a big car, such as touchscreen infotainment with smartphone connectivity, a reversing camera, keyless ignition and so on. Plus it has safety technology that isn’t two decades old.

FP: Call me a worrier, but the first thing I noticed is that your Pug’s towing eye cover is missing. Why has that been off in the first place?

MA: Heroically rescuing a much older car? Shedding weight? Who knows. But this a spring chicken, having done only 19,000 miles, so I doubt that mechanical maladies are the reason.

FP: I don’t think 70,000 miles in 10 years is bad going for my Mazda, and its pristine bodywork suggests that few of those miles have been in the city – which is also good news for the clutch, brakes and alloys.

MA: Well, if the previous owner(s) of your 2 didn’t think it was suitable for the city, why would James pick it?

Verdict: It’s not easy being green, but that Mazda does a pretty good job. I’ll have it.


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scotty5 7 May 2021

Whilst it's true for many marks where a nearly new car works out much better financially ( that's how I normally buy ), there are certain deals where brand new works out cheaper. 

Example, the list on say a 1.5 Sportline Karoq is currently £29670 yet you can buy the car brand new from a UK Skoda dealership for £24600 via a broker. If you're a cash buyer you can by brand new, settle the PCP finance straight away and keep the £159 for two services offer. If you continue with the PCP you'll find it's a lower rate than you obtain with a used car.

Now to the used car. How many 1.5 Sportlines with less than 10,000 miles can you see advertised for less than say £24k? I haven't seen a single one.

As ever there's no hard rule on what's cheaper nearly new or new, other than always shop around before signing on the dotted line.

scrap 7 May 2021

You can keep the new car smell thanks. It's a chemical soup of VOCs and such like, and I'd rather not breathe that in.

The downside to nearly new is that someone else has specced it, of course. These examples look ok but look at Jaguars etc... you'll have to spend some of the saving on swapping out the black wheels.