Currently reading: James Ruppert: why hire a car when you can buy?
Pick up your very own luxo-barge for buttons and give the personal fleecing a miss
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5 mins read
2 June 2020

This is becoming a regular inbox arrival: “Hi James. I have a car at the end of its personal contract hire agreement (yes, I know) but I’m looking at joining the Bangernomics Club.” Great that so many are seeing the light, or at least submitting to the inevitable new automotive order.

Let’s pick one at random – in this case Richard, who asked for “thoughts on a well-maintained-yet-low-mileage, 20-year-old Lexus GS 300”.

Obviously, it is a ‘yes’ from me. Provided that there is a decent history and it has been well looked after, any of these ‘luxury’ Toyotas are magnificently reliable and should not be a problem at all. I mean, these are old models now, but there are plenty to choose from and they can be Ultra Low Emission Zone compliant. I was taken by a 2005 3.0SE with 100k miles. It had a full service history and a bill for recent cambelt work. That looks like the prime Lexus buy to me, especially as I only need £2900.

Otherwise, what else is there to consider in the luxury barge department? There is just so much saloon-shaped heaven, really. The Volvo S80 is always forgotten when it comes to listing booted, over-equipped and rock-solid, top-value buys. It is a bit bricky to look at, but that is a plus point. I rather warmed to a 2005 2.0T SE Lux with less than 50k miles with all the leather and stuff, but remarkably a manual gearbox. You could have fun in that and all you would need to spend is £3750.

Jags. We are now beyond the default XJ option, and that brings us to the huge number of XFs in circulation. It just depends on whether you want petrol or diesel and the real cheapies are in the private classifieds. Just £3500 for a 2.2TD Luxury with 120k miles? What’s the problem? Blimey: major damage on just about every panel as the seller, or someone dear to them, has been parking by scrape. I’ll take the immaculate, 135k-mile 2009 3.0TD V6 Premium Luxury at £3800.

Volkswagen Phaeton, anyone? A mate of mine bought one for some continental trips that are now on hold and has been bowled over by how good it is. Worth a go, then, which is why a 2009 3.0 TDI V6 with less than 100k miles and a ton of service receipts looks good at £3995. I did find some real cheapies but better to pay a decent amount for a proper example.

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That’s my favourite automotive category and it is crawling with Bangernomics possibilities, but then so is every other one – be it estate, sports car or supermini. This isn’t a fun time, but searching for cheap cars always is.

What we almost bought this week

SAAB 9-5 2.3 T AERO: This was a left-field exec choice that didn’t quite match its German rivals for dynamics but was still a comfortable, quick and accomplished choice of vehicle for high-mileage sales reps. The 130,000 miles this example has covered in its 13 years is testament to that. And a ridiculously low price of £1000 suggests it’s time to snap one up.

Tales from Ruppert's Garage

Volkswagen Golf, 62,250 miles: One of the least-used vehicles around the Bangernomics compound has been my daughter’s Golf, the VW being denied its big, daily commute. Lockdown, and an extra pair of hands, has meant everything else around here is rather cleaner than before (obviously it isn’t me getting out the bucket and sponge). I do have before-and-after Lorry images that are spectacular. Meanwhile, the designated on-site car cleaner has been dealing with the extremely minor paint chips that my old eyes can barely see. The Halfords touch-up stick is a three-stage process and the one-woman jury remains out on just how good it is.

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Reader's ride

Thanks to Robert Bell, who sent this picture of his Peugeot 107: “Eight months ago, I needed a cheap car to do a 90-mile-per-day commute for a new job. I found this at a dealer who had got it in that day as a £200 trade-in and was happy to let me have it ‘sold as seen’ for the same price. It had a nasty rattle from the engine and was full of water in the boot, so I took a risk. After a new water pump (the rattle) and fan belt, service and MOT, it hasn’t let me down. The oil in the car was clean, and it had new brakes and tyres. It feels like I got it for free!”

Readers' questions

Q. I’m keen to buy a fast, non-German saloon for £20k. I want something comfy, fun to drive and timeless. Ideas?

A. Jaguar, of course, springs to mind. You’ll get a 3.0 V6 XF S for that budget – and have the choice of a 375bhp supercharged petrol or 296bhp diesel (we’d recommend the oil-burner, depending on how important running costs are to you). The Lexus GS 450h may crop up on your search – but while it’s reliable and comfy, it’s also fairly dull. So consider the more unhinged (and rarer) IS F. Your budget should find you a tidy newer example (it previously had a rigid suspension). Or, if you don’t flinch at the thought of owning a used Alfa Romeo, the Giulia Veloce is a brilliant car. Beautiful steering, nicely balanced chassis, stunning looks and 276bhp.

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Q. I want to replace my diesel Kia Ceed and petrol Honda CR-V with one plug-in hybrid with a high driving position for £30k. What do you suggest?

A. You’ll hear lots about the UK’s best-selling plug-in hybrid, the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV, but we’d avoid that as it’s not the best. There are lots of brilliant new SUV PHEVs (Volvo XC40, BMW X5) but on the used market it’s slimmer pickings. The Volvo XC90 T8 is your best bet – plush, seating for seven, a 28-mile EV range and well within your budget.

READ MORE

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Comments
2

2 June 2020
Not sure I'd call the saloons you were looking at bangernomics. £3-4k may not be a lot but it is a reasonable amount and close to my usual budget. I think of the cars in that sort of price range as decent used cars, I always thought the idea of bangernomics was essentially a throw away price, as such the Saab for £1k is closer to bangernomics in my opinion.

I'd take the S80, good looking and different, you don't see many on the road and I like old school pre Ford pag Volvos, which this S80 is, or at least was designed pre pag.

2 June 2020

thank you for sharing this valuable and knowledgeable article,

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