Car Buying Advice - Shop sMart for Used Cars

Secondhand surprises

Don’t worry if you can’t quite stretch to a new car right now. There are plenty of tempting options in the used car market. Motoring Correspondent Jonathan Crouch looks at some of the current movers and shakers in the secondhand sector.

Jonathan CrouchJonathan Crouch

October 2016

Thinking about a new car? Maybe you shouldn’t be. A late, low mileage used vehicle could prove to be much the better bet and the best time to buy one of those is often to focus on a model recently updated, then find yourself a ‘last of the line’ example of the pre-facelift version. With that in mind, let’s look at what might be worth considering this month.

This month’s affordable used car choice

Citroen C4 Picasso
The Citroen C4 Picasso

If you want a family-sized five-seat MPV – but want a more interesting one, then Citroen’s C4 Picasso has long been a favourite choice. This car was redesigned by in 2013 and plenty of examples of that model are now available at tempting prices on the used car market.

Prices start at around £8,800 for a 2013 1.6-litre VTi petrol variant, rising to around £12,200 for a later late-’15-era version. That’s in base ‘VTR’ guise: add a premium of around £500 for plusher ‘VTR+’ trim or around £1,800 more for the plushest ‘Exclusive’ spec. In 2015, this aging engine was replaced by a PureTech 1.2-litre three cylinder 1.2-litre unit. If you can find a pre-facelift ’15-era model with this powerplant fitted, it’ll be valued around between £13,000 to £13,500, depending on the trim level. Most C4 Picasso buyers will want a diesel though. Probably the 1.6-litre HDi unit that most buyers chose. Prices here start at just over £10,000 for a ’13-era model, rising to around £14,200 for a later ’15-era car.

As for what you should look for, well the C4 Picasso has earned a decent reliability record and most buyers that we surveyed were very satisfied but inevitably, there were a few issues with some cars. One owner had a problem with the electronic handbrake that stuck on and stranded him. Others complained about starting problems, electric window squeaking and an engine management light that kept coming on in the dash binnacle. One owner had a problem with a drive belt that came off the runners. Look out for all these things when you check out used stock.

Used Citroen C4 Picasso cars for sale

Want a tip for something a little trendier?

Peugeot 3008
The Peugeot 3008

Want something a little more fashionable? Well what about a family-sized Crossover? Peugeot’s first attempt at this kind of car, the 3008, provided to be very successful for the Gallic brand when first it was introduced in 2008. To keep this model competitive in the Qashqai class, the French maker significantly facelifted this design towards the end of 2013 and it’s these revised models we’d point you towards on the used market.

Prices for this facelifted 3008 start at around £9,000 for a variant in base ‘Access’ 1.6 VTi guise with a ’14-plate. A later ’16-era car will set you back around £11,700. Most 3008 buyers though, will want a diesel. Most will be looking at the 115bhp 1.6-litre unit, available in base ‘Access’ guise from around £10,500 on a ’14-plate. A later ’16-era 1.6-litre diesel variant will set you back around £13,700.. If your preference is for the pokier 2.0 150bhp diesel, you’ll find that prices start from around £11,200 for a ’13-era car in base ‘Active’ trim, with prices rising to around £14,600 for a later ’16-era model. You’ll need to find between £1,000 and £1,300 more if you want plusher ‘Allure’ spec – and a few hundred pounds more than that if you want an automatic gearbox variant.

At the top of the range, a MK1 model facelifted 3008 in HYbrid4 diesel/electric guise will cost you from around £14,000 in base ‘Active’ form, with prices rising to around £18,000 for a later ’16-era version. If you want the plusher ‘Allure’ trim level, add n a premium of around £800.

As for what to look for with this Peugeot, well most 3008 owners we’ve came across have been very happy with their cars but there are a few things you’ll need to look out for. We found some owners who’d had a few mechanical issues with faults like difficulties with fan belt tensioners and noise from the cam chain and water pump. One said they had experienced a knocking sound from the rear/side area and another complained of a dashboard rattle and a buzzing from the glovebox area. Look out for all these things on your test drive.

As for more minor issues, we came across a couple of instances where owners were finding that warning lights for things like the ESP, the brakes and the handbrake were coming on for no reason. One owner felt that the need to replenish his car with a litre of oil every 1,200 miles was excessive. And another complained that it wasn’t possible to access both battery terminals without completely removing the battery. It’s unlikely that the car will have been used off road in any way but look out for the usual alloy wheel parking scrapes and interior trim issues caused by unruly kids.

Used Peugeot 3008 cars for sale

And if your used car needs to have a premium badge....

Audi A5 Sportback
The Audi A5 Sportback

For a premium choice this month, what about the facelifted first generation version of Audi’s A5 Sportback? It’s been around since 2009, but the Ingolstadt brand has just launched a new generation version, so 2012 to 2016 MK1 model examples are now affordable and well worth seeking out.

As for prices for this post-2012-era model, well the 2.0 TDI 134PS base diesel derivative many will want is priced from around £14,500 as a 2012-era variant, with prices rising to around £20,500 for a late ’15-era derivative. For plusher ‘SE’ spec, the respective prices are £15,400 to around £21,700 and for an ‘S line’, you’re looking at around £17,700 to around £24,500. If you want to upgrade yourself to one of the pokier 2.0 TDI engines, the 161PS or 175PS units, you’ll find prices here much the same whatever power output you choose. For a ’12-era car, expect to pay around £15,200, rising to around 22,000 for a late ’15-era car.

Find an example with quattro 4WD and the premium over a 2WD equivalent model is only around £500. If you can find one of the six cylinder 3.0-litre TDI variants, expect to pay from around £18,700 for a ’12-era car, rising to around £21,500 for a late ’13-era model. If you’d rather have petrol power, the 1.8T with 170PS starts at around £13,700 for a ’12-era model, with prices rising to around £20,000 for a late ’15-era car. For plusher ‘SE’ spec, the figures rise to around £14,700 to around £21,500, while for the ‘S line’ variants, you’re looking at between £17,000 and £25,200.

As for what to look for with an A5 Sportback, well the reliability record here is as good as you'd expect from Audi. Certainly, as a whole, Audi A5 Sportback owners seem to be a pretty satisfied lot, though we did come across a few issues in our survey. Most seemed to relate to electrical problems. A number of owners have experienced issues with the electric window mechanism, so check that. One owner had a problem with the MMI infotainment system failing; another found dashboard rattles – and particular issues with rattly speakers.

As for mechanical stuff, well, we found one owner who reported an oil light issue and a handful who had reported brake grinding issues. Corrosion is simply not an issue with Audis and another reason why resale values are high. Look for a fully stamped up service history and look for uneven tyre wear on the more powerful models.

Used Audi A5 Sportback cars for sale