If you’re keen on value for money, you can get quite a dreary new car for the price of an excellent used one or you can get a car that is much the same for half the price.
For £5,995 you can buy a brand new Dacia Sandero . What else could you do with six grand? I dialled in £6000 as the lowest price point at Autotrader. The very first car it politely threw up was a 2006 Audi A3 2.0 TFSI S Line Sportback with just under 82,000 miles on the clock. Pages and pages of similar cars appeared, all at six thou. All of them had no fascination factor.
So, I dialled out the commodity cars and found a 2006 Alfa Romeo Brera 2.4 JTD (after a few MiTos). And like the Dacia and the Audi, it’s a hatchback so we are not entirely comparing apples and non-apples. Getting more absurd, I found a 1987 Rolls-Royce with only 107,00 miles up, also for six bags of sand. And now that is a bit silly. However, technically, the buyer with £6000 to spend could be considering any of these cars. Yet many otherwise sensible people will take that money and waste it in a Dacia dealer and then drive home entirely unaware of the ghastly life-denying mistake they have made, a triumph of emotion over reason.
What is going on here? The conventional answer has to do with the pride of owning a new car, being the first to sully its seats, throw an apple core in the cup-holder and to put a conspicuous ding on the front bumper. There’s also the naïve belief that a new car is problem free and has not had mysterious things happen to it. That Audi: that was stolen by five dimensional beings from Tau Ceti and as a result the wiring loom will burn out expensively in eight months.
The Brera was made in Italy by Italians without the supervision of any other non-Italians. The Rolls-Royce featured in a botched wedding-cum-bank robbery and the police found it in a Norfolk lock-up with a wedding dress, a shotgun and the remains of Ed “Rocker” Dalgleish, a deposed crime lord from Glasgow. The ashtray is full too and as we all know emptying it is an engine-out job for 6.8 litre Rollers.
For the nearly £6000 Dacia are asking, one gets a 1. 2 litre engine with 75 hp and white paint and a grey interior trim, grey, grey, grey. For £6000 you can get this view from the Rolls Royce:
Other features on the Dacia are grey upholstery (it costs as much to make blue or orange for goodness’s sake) and wheels and doors. You also get to rip the plastic off the seats but as the likely owner is a skinflint with no love of life they’ll leave that on until it’s in tatters. There is also the smell of plasticisers that come with a new car. They linger for a few weeks. After that the smell of the human digestive tract and take-aways soon predominates.
I am being a little extreme here as the Dacia owner will get quite good mileage compared to the Rolls-Royce and Alfa owner. Yet if fuel economy was really propelling this decision making process, the Dacia-buyer could consider a second-hand version of any number of thrifty little cars. The Dacia driver might pay about a grand a year for petrol. Imagine if you had free fuel for three years? That’s effectively what it would be like if one buys a car for £3000. What does that sort of money get you?
…is what it gets you. That’s a 2008 Chevrolet Matiz that manages to travel while consuming fuel at the rate of only 50 miles per gallon. It is nearly as spacious and at least as lovely to look at as the Sandero. Does anyone need the space of the Sandero so much they will blow £3000 on it? I would argue no, you could rent a larger car or make people squeeze inside a bit. You could even taxi garden waste to the dump though frankly that’s a horrible thing to do to a 1995 Nissan QX and quite within the remit of the Sandero.
A new car for £6000 makes no sense. Everything it can do can be done better by used cars costing the same or much less.