So you want to buy a second-hand prestige car?
Life is full of temptations – not least on the used-car lot, where you might see a slick prestige-badged model priced like a garden-variety new hatchback. Champagne levels of automotive luxury on a beer budget? Yes, it sounds too good to be true – but could you be missing out on the bargain of a lifetime? Here’s what you need to think about before signing on the dotted line.
Prestige cars swim in the deep end of the technology pool, so a drivetrain with better performance, driveability and economy than a mainstream equivalent isn’t uncommon. Prestige buyers are also typically more demanding when it comes to road manners, ride comfort and the quality and ambience of the cabin, so makers work hard to distinguish their contenders from budget wheels in these areas.
If it’s a higher level prestige model, you can realistically expect more equipment than you’d get for the same money in the new-car domain. That advantage can also extend to safety technology. A good used prestige car, then, can be nicer to drive, nicer to sit in, better equipped and safer than equivalently priced new mainstream fodder.
Any used car is a mechanical and financial gamble but, all things being equal, a prestige car is a bigger one. They’re typically costlier to service than mainstreamers and, as you climb up the size ladder, they grow increasingly complex. On top of that, you’re probably buying in after factory warranty coverage has expired.
Really ramp up the size and age and you can land in a deep financial hole. Stories of topline limousines – a decade-plus old and bought on the cheap – being abandoned at the workshop upon the discovery of a five-figure repair quote aren’t unheard of in the industry.
The sheer quality of the best modern mainstream cars, meanwhile, has reduced the talent gap between them and their prestige counterparts in recent years. In the case of models from the lower reaches of a brand’s line-up, it might not extend far beyond the appeal of the badge.
Indeed, taking the prestige route can sometimes mean losing out. For example, any half-decent new small hatch priced around $20,000 nowadays will have autonomous emergency braking, but the five-year-old prestige hatches selling for similar money, owing to the feature either being unavailable or optional when it was new, typically won’t.
The path forward
Buying the right used prestige car is all about knowing what’s important to you, knowing what you can afford, doing your research and being realistic.
If the spectre of big mechanical bills must be avoided, knock your status ambitions back and choose something less glitzy and with fewer years under its belt. Or buy from a prestige brand’s certified pre-owned (CPO) program – these vehicles must pass quality tests to make it onto the lot and can be furnished with similar warranty protection to a new car.
If you’re buying from the lower end of a prestige line-up, don’t be surprised if it isn’t on par with a new mainstream equivalent.
The trick is to find that sweet spot: a car that tickles you in the right way, still has life to give and is within your means. That way, you can gain real motoring satisfaction without breaking the bank.
FAQ: Can I lease a used car?
You certainly can! Whether it’s from a dealer or private seller, Smartleasing can set up the novated lease for you. We can even organise pre-approved finance, so you know exactly how much you have to spend, and you can get into your new car sooner.
Speak to a Smartleasing consultant to get started.