Motoring: Don't get bad, get even...
Saturday 01 May 1999
At The Independent we are not afraid to say that certain vehicles don't do what they say on the tin. Finding bad new car buys isn't that hard.
Small: The smallest and most loveable car of all, the Mini is a spectacularly bad buy. It's overdue for retirement at the end of this year, yet Rover still insists on charging pounds 9,325, plus pounds 300 for a Cooper badge. Safer, it now has an airbag and is still lots of fun. However spend anything between pounds 500 and pounds 3,000 and buy a perfectly good, though probably rusty second-hand example which is just as noisy, unrefined, uncomfortable and fun, of course.
Also in this class are so called "superminis", little shopping hatchbacks which are very able, stylish and economical, like the latest Toyota Yaris. But there are lots of merely adequate makeweights. A Subaru Justy is a real oddball, having four-wheel drive. This is pointless, unless you really do live in the middle of a field, as it reduces fuel consumption and is expensive to fix. The Kia Pride is a recycled 1980s Mazda 121. It is cheap, practical and reliable, but that's about it. Ditto the cheapest car on sale in the UK, the Perodua Nippa. You'd be better off with a used Ford Fiesta.
Medium: The description "Escort class" has referred to the size of a hatchback rather than the fact that the Ford in question was a class leader.
That is why the stylish, spacious and practical Ford Focus now dominates this sector. To reassure conventional buyers, alarmed by the radical Focus design Ford has kept the old Escort on the price lists for a few more years, but please don't be tempted. The better equipped Escort may be badged Finesse, (the basic model is the Flight) but it does not have any. Massive depreciation is assured for this retiring fleet model. Pay a few pounds more for a Focus.
The Rover 400 is not a bad car, just a misconceived one. Rover is asking medium-car money for what is a fairly small car. There are lots of deals at the moment, so don't pay full price; a heavily revised model will be on sale later this year.
Large: The French can't do big cars, and the Renault Safrane is the proof. It may be well equipped, fairly refined and spacious, but a car in this class needs image, and Renault is best known for small, economical hatches. The depreciation is truly alarming, a car dealer in a generous mood might give pounds 13,000 for a '98 2.5 that cost pounds 23,000. The equally French Citroen XM deserved to do better, with a brilliant luxury car ride, but it had a quirky and quality-free personality. Even Citroen has to give an XM its own three-year warranty. Don't be fooled.
People carriers: One thing the Mercedes V series can do is carry people, six in quite large seats with an optional seventh. Not only does the V Class look like a van, it drives like one, probably because it is actually a Vito van. It is unrefined, has an uncomfortable ride and a very un-van- like price tag, costing as much as pounds 28,290. Depreciation is heavy, too.
Nissan's Serena is just as van-like. With an uncomfortably narrow design, sluggish performance and minimal refinement. Like the Mercedes, though, it won't break down.
Off-roaders: Daewoo has just launched its Korando and Musso models. They used to be badged as Ssanyongs until Daewoo acquired its Korean rival. The styling is odd, but the Mercedes mechanicals are good. Before you buy a Daewoo, though, there are currently plenty of identical unsold Ssanyongs in circulation at massively discounted prices. So shop around.
Life & Style blogs
Who is Teresa Fidalgo? Debunking the fake ghost story that's got Instagram spooked
The 10 Best juicers
Boxing Day sales: From Asos to Harrods, the best fashion deals
The 10 Best food processors
Health: When masturbation can be fatal: The practice of auto-erotic asphyxia is often concealed by a coroner's verdict. Monique Roffey looks at a lethal taboo
British actor Idris Elba cannot star as James Bond because he is black, says shock jock Rush Limbaugh
Germany anti-Islam protests: 17,000 march on Dresden against 'Islamification of the West'
Ukip member gets into Christmas spirit with Union Flag plea to Santa 'for our country back'
Immigrants make UK racist, says Ukip councillor Trevor Shonk
BBC director Danny Cohen: Rising UK antisemitism makes me feel more uncomfortable than ever
Katie Hopkins speaks out on childhood obesity: 'Parents of fat children should be prosecuted for child cruelty'
- 1 Exclusive: Abusers using spyware apps to monitor partners reaches 'epidemic proportions'
- 2 Margaret Thatcher 'expressed fears of Asian rising' at Anglo-Irish summit in 1984
- 3 Sussex couple die in suspected Christmas Day 'suicide pact'
- 4 The 'Black Museum': After 150 years, public set to see exhibits from police’s grisly crime museum
- 5 The Unluckiest People of the Year 2014 (and one very unlucky giraffe)
Not specified: Selby Jennings: VP/SVP Credit Quant Top tier investment bank i...
£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executiv...
£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: An international organisa...
£25000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwicksh...