Currently reading: James Ruppert on used cars: cheap exotics you can buy from a supermarket
Car supermarkets are dull, right? Wrong. Aston, anyone?

Car supermarkets. I’ve been on an awful lot of their windswept, cold, dank and often unforgiving expanses of concrete and despair. Never mind, because some now have half-decent showrooms tacked onto them.

More important, you can uncover rather interesting buys. The supermarket downsides are that the prices are not usually negotiable and they add one of those rather annoying admin fees, which bumps the price up.

Test drives could be a bit of an issue in the old days and they can still be a tad sticky because there are just not enough staff about to cope. But otherwise, take a look around at what’s on offer from these clearing houses. You might just come across exotica as I did and, yes, it was local enough to me to take a closer look. It was not the largest supermarket in the world but it did have an Aston Martin Vantage.

Buy a used Aston Martin Vantage on PistonHeads

It was a 2014 model with 12,000 miles and was up for a not unreasonable £58,950. Oh, plus their admin fee of £149, for the pleasure of buying from them. There is a three-month/3000-mile guarantee in the price and you might want to get an independent one after that. So that was a good start to my hunt.

I stayed within the group locator and – what do you know? – a Tesla popped up. A 2015 Model S with 15,000 miles under its battery-powered wheels. The asking price was £48,999, plus £149, of course. I think that premium electric car prices are in a bit of a bubble, so I wouldn’t commit that much, but I am sure someone will because it is barely run-in.

Then I went to Leeds and found an Audi A1 that I did not know existed. That’s the thing about car supermarkets: you usually get long rows of identical models that are often quite depressing. So a 2011 A1 1.6 TDI Competition brings something to the party - namely, lots of scale-model rally-car graphics. The price was £9299, with 47,500 miles covered, and no apparent admin fee.

Got a used car question for Ruppert? Then email

A1 drop in 2


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Seat is on a roll but can the Arona, its new junior SUV, cut it in such an ultra-competitive class?

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Other unusual baggage included an Infiniti or two. A couple of 2016 Q70 2.2d Sport Navs were £19,299 with just over 28,000 miles. A neat option on this group’s website is that you can see the car inspection documents, which is handy – although for the model I was looking at, they still needed to be uploaded, as did some detail snaps to accompany the main picture.

When it comes to the less exotic, I wasn’t sure the last time I had seen a Renault Laguna estate, but they had a 2011 one for a whopping £6500. This supermarket seemed to be insourcing stock from related dealers, but it wasn’t at all clear and that’s why you must always visit the supermarket and not rely on the web, however depressing it may be.

What we almost bought this week: 

Mercedes-Benz CL600 This V12-powered coupeà was once the preserve of the insanely rich but is now the same money as a new city car. However, there will be big bills if anything goes wrong. Check the lights in the instrument cluster still work, watch out for coil packs and make sure the air suspension maintains the normal ride height overnight.

Screen shot 2018 06 01 at 11

Tales from Ruppert’s garage: 

Volkswagen Polo - Mileage: 81,500: 

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Farewell, then, to the toy car, which never let us down. It ate a few tyres but otherwise cost us nothing apart from the usual consumables and MOT tests.

Here is the bottom line: it cost us £5000 four years ago from a dealer. We sold it for £3000, which means it cost us £500 a year. That is pretty spectacular value.

Yes, we could have bought something for a grand and then spent a fortune keeping it on the straight and narrow. This was much better. It will be hard to replace, but we have. Details to follow very soon.

A-Z Bangerpedia - C is for Civic: 

Honda Civic buyers are nice, responsible people who know a reliable, well-built car when they choose one, even if the styling is a little bland. It’s a no-brainer buy, because it will never, ever let you down.

Civic stu 003

Build quality is generally superb and reliability pretty much unquestioned by the vast majority of owners. All round, it’s a very safe set of wheels to buy and run.

There is a lot to be said for owning a car that won’t cause you any hassle. Interestingly, the Civic can also deliver just a little bit more than basic transportation.

Readers’ question: 

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Question: My neighbour is looking to offload his Saab 9-3 2.0 T Aero Convertible. I’m sorely tempted, but does the demise of the brand mean sourcing parts will be a nightmare? Jason Foulds, Ipswich

Answer: It shouldn’t do. Parts production was restarted at the Saab factory in 2013 and a range of 74,000 genuine parts is now available. There are plenty of non-genuine parts suppliers catering for Saabs, too, so unless you’re seeking something particularly niche, you shouldn’t have any trouble.

486013 65478 A saa

Question: How much would a Volkswagen Phaeton cost me to run? Is it like repairing a Bentley? Michael Robinson, Kendal

Answer: It isn’t quite as costly as running a Bentley, but it still won’t be cheap. Fuel consumption is high and some parts costs are eye-watering, plus there are long labour times and complex electronics, so keeping one running is a wallet-bruising business.

Read more 

Volkswagen Phaeton review 

Honda Civic review 

Volkswagen Polo review

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Andy_Cowe 1 June 2018

Civic styling bland?

The Civic styling is certainly not bland, although it is questionable if it is a good looking car.

geed 1 June 2018

Andy_Cowe wrote:

Andy_Cowe wrote:

The Civic styling is certainly not bland, although it is questionable if it is a good looking car.

Exactly. Introduced in early 2006 I think....nothing looked like it in or out. Bland? Love it or loathe could never ever be described as bland unless the peritrator was being utterly lazy. The same author would describe some anodyne VAG sh1te as distinctive? Buy a dictionary, a handy tool when your occupation is a journalist.

WallMeerkat 1 June 2018

Saab - avoid Neo Brothers.

Saab - avoid Neo Brothers. Tenner for an air filter and they wanted to charge more than that for the postage! Chancers!