Currently reading: James Ruppert: Dream bangers for dream prices
These are the cars that top online buyer searches, and how you can get your hands on them

As new car sales struggle to get going, the used car market continues to lead the way for those who want to acquire family and shopping motors. A company called ChooseMyCar has been crunching stats for online car searches. I’m not entirely sure how all this modern stuff works, but the interesting thing is that this is a rare glimpse into what the private buyer actually dreams about, and then searches for online. Oh, and it isn’t a Lamborghini.

A Kia Sportage: that’s what the people want. SUVs are the favoured choice of the working man and woman. Not some sleek estate, but a reliable, stylish well-warranted family car. And Sportages are fantastic – favourites at car supermarket warehouses, where I turned up a 2017 1.7 CRDi IDG Sportage with lots of useful kit, including sat-nav, Bluetooth and parking camera, and the balance of the Kia warranty. It had done 15,000 miles and was in tidy condition – and all of that for a reasonable £15k.

Next up is the good old Ford Fiesta, which is always there or thereabouts when it comes to the most wanted used cars. We’ll stick with looking at not very old examples here because that remains the dream used car for most buyers. Let’s also look at something interesting. A 2018 Fiesta 1.0 Ecoboost ST-Line has all the fancy alloys and driving lights details plus the lively three-cylinder engine. The one that caught my eye – another car being sold by a major retailer, this time purely online – had done 33,000 miles and was up for £11k, which looked fair enough money.

9 Ford fiesta hero front

In at number three on the most-searched list is everyone’s family dream-boat drive, the Nissan Qashqai. It is hard to get excited, but this car certainly deserves our respect. At a Nissan dealer, I saw a 2019 1.5 dCi 115 Tekna that had just over 11,000 miles on the clock. The dealer made it clear that the buyer would be saving £10k on the new price and obviously it’s still covered by the manufacturer warranty. The asking price was £16,500, a decent offer at a main dealer.

There are more Fords in the top five, the Ford Kuga and the Ford Focus, plus the Peugeot 3008 on an equal number of searches. The Kuga is another inconveniently fashionable SUV and real car buyers must like them. Around £15,500 buys a 2018 1.5 Ecoboost ST-Line with 28,000 miles.


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Kia aims to take its popular Sportage crossover upmarket with the latest round of updates

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There was also a top 10 search listing for the best-value cars. Rather curiously, it could still be 1984, when MG Maestros were rather popular, because the best value, according to average sale price and mileage, is the MG ZS at £13,731. Just behind are the Citroën C3 Aircross and Suzuki Celerio. Make of all that what you will.

Tales from Ruppert's garage

8 Volkswagen golf static front

Volkswagen Golf, mileage - 70,446: What’s the best modern used car you can buy with a reasonable amount of money? A VW Golf – and we have one of those. I haven’t been in or even seen a Mk8 Golf, but I can’t imagine it’d be any better than ours. Certainly not any prettier and the 1.4 TSI petrol engine delivers a fairly solid late-50 to the gallon on its longish commute. It is currently asking for an oil change, but as the regular pilot observed: “When isn’t it?” The last time we tried to do an oil change, things didn’t go well. Anyway, hard to know what to replace it with except another one.

Reader's ride

7 Alfa romeo 147 static front

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Alfa Romeo 147: David Maclean reckons this might be a prime candidate for Bangernomics: “This is my 16-year-old Alfa 147, acquired for £500 from an elderly neighbour who’d given up driving. He’d owned it from new and had kept every receipt (including petrol) during its 60,000-mile life.

“He had ‘pensioner-dented’ most of the panels and rounded all four corners off, spoiling its pretty lines somewhat. I’d intended to use it as a temporary stopgap ‘pub-dumper’ car, but beneath that scratched surface lay a great fun drive (it’s the 2.0 TS), so two years and 20k miles on, with not a single penny spent, it’s still here and still going strong. Just goes to show: don’t believe all you hear about Alfas.”

Readers' questions

6 Jaguar i pace hero front

Question: I recently bought a Jaguar E-Pace and it has a DPF fault. I have a copy of a JLR document for dealers where it advises that the fault is in the way customers use the vehicle. Can you offer clarity? Allan Law, via email

Answer: Diesel particulate filter issues can be an issue if you use the car for short journeys. If you clearly told the dealer what your driving style is and it follows the information in the document, you have strong grounds to negotiate a favourable trade-in for a more suitable car or for a refund minus usage. MA

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5 Renault megane hero front

Question: I have a Mégane RS with less than 6000 miles on the clock and it has flaking paint. Renault says it’s due to stone chips so won’t repaint it. What should I do? Bryan Brawley, via email

Answer: The wear and tear clause is such a poor excuse to hide behind; the paint shouldn’t be chipping off like that. Your best bet now is to put a complaint in writing with photo evidence to the Motoring Ombudsman, who will look into your case for you and lobby Renault on your behalf. MA


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sabre 18 August 2020


To whom it may concern: A decently engineered car should have DPF faultless operation regardless of driving style  

Boris9119 18 August 2020


Of course it should, and one of many reasons you might want to avoid JLR products.

WallMeerkat 18 August 2020

Dream bangers for dream prices? Whose dream?

"Dream bangers for dream prices" the title went

Excitedly I clicked to see what interesting metal could be had cheap

"Kia Sportage"... "Qashqai"... "Kuga"....

A dream alright, but I usually call it a nightmare.

Bimfan 18 August 2020

JLR have known about this

JLR have known about this problem with their DPF systems for over 10 years.

It's a disgrace they haven't solved it by now, particularly given the perfect opportunity when designing the Ingenium diesel engine installation, but it illustrates one reason why they lag so far behind their competition.