There's never been a better time to get a bargain on a new car. A fall in the market, a rise in the number of brokers and a new registration plate mean good value for buyers, says James Ruppert

Fancy a new car? Well, the new 55 registration is just a few weeks away, and it represents a great opportunity to bag yourself a bargain. It has never been easier to get a new car for less. First of all because of the market downturn manufacturers are desperate to get us into their showrooms, so will offer various incentives. Then there are dozens of UK-based brokers and importers who can save you the hassle of negotiating with a dealer. Not only that, if you are prepared to consider a car that has been previously registered with an 05 plate, you can potentially save even more.

OFF-ROADERS

Must-have fashion items first and foremost, it is still possible to get deals on the most popular buys. A Land Rover Freelander such as a Td4SE 5-door can be bought via brokers www.broadspeed.com for £18,700, down from £22,700. Nissan X-Trails are available via UK brokers for up to £15,000, but importers such as www.allbrandsnew.co.uk are offering the Dci SVE for around £18,500, down from £22,000. Nearly new Range Rovers registered in 2005 can be found at supermarkets, and we saw a 3.0 TD6 Vogue auto for £49,999 at www.motorpoint.co.uk, down from a retail price of £62,995.

SPORTS CARS

The Smart Roadster has struggled and will soon be discontinued, so there are plenty of offers on pre-registered 2005s, which means a Light is £8,995 rather than £11,995 at www.autobytel.co.uk. Also, the Mazda MX5 will soon change, so ignore the special editions and go for a pure 1.8 from a broker like www.broadspeed.com at just over £13,000, down from £15,500. At the top of the market, the Jaguar XK series is also due for a revamp, so dealers are keen to sell. The supercharged XKR can cost from £54,700 (£59,995), www.broker4cars.co.uk.

PEOPLE CARRIERS

Citroën pretty much have the market to themselves here. They love giving discounts and incentives, and a Xsara Picasso can be had with a whopping £3,400 cashback, which will see you behind the wheel of a 1.6LX model. Plus, there are some free insurance deals and all sorts of other offers at www.citroen.co.uk. However, broker www.drivethedeal.com can get you a 2.0Hdi Exclusive, which is usually £16,195, for £10,948. Moving up a size, the C8 2.2Hdi is available via www.jamjar.co.uk for just over £18,000, down from £24,495.

LUXURY

The Mercedes S class is due to be replaced soon, so www.buyacar.co.uk can now get the smallest long-wheelbase limousine version S350L for £48,300, down from £55,800. The same broker can also supply a supercharged XJR saloon for £56,400, down from £60,900. Then there is the Audi A8, which has dropped in value, even at Audi dealers. We saw a couple of 2005-registered 3.0 Tdi models on an Audi dealer forecourt at £37,995, down from £48,365.

EXECUTIVE CARS

Jaguar X-Type diesels are the new breed of mildly economical executives out there, and although you can get some money off at dealers, it's easier to go through www.drivethedeal.com and get yourself a 2.0dSE for £20,498, down from £24,194. Saabs are great cars but depreciate alarmingly. So a 2004 9-5 2.0t Vector Automatic, which has a specification list almost as long as its name, costs £13,799, which saves over £10,000 on the new price, via www.dccook.co.uk.

CITY CAR

If you want something small, the Kia Picanto is a great little package, and Kia as a company is very generous indeed. First of all they give you free insurance for the first seven days, but buy a Picanto Glamour or LX and you will get free insurance for a whole year. The Glamour is well specified, with air conditioning and alloy wheels and a £6,995 price. Oh yes, and Kia ( www.kia.co.uk) let you drive away a car for just £1 deposit, which is nice. The ultimate city car is the Smart, of course, and a 2005 example via www.smartlondon.co.uk is the slightly sporty Pulse for £7,000, saving more than £1,000.

SUPERMINIS

The bread-and-butter buy for most of us, and often the hardest to get a deal on. We love the Fiat Panda, and Fiat dealers are offering zero per cent finance across the entire range, plus specialist broker www.fiatsupasaver.com can get a basic Dynamic for £5,895, down from £6,592. Still on Fiat, the Pinto is being replaced, and Fiat has a Sole limited edition with CD and electric roof for £6,995, but we'd rather buy a basic 1.2 Active at £5,900 from www.ukcarbroker.co.uk, down from £7,500. Meanwhile, Toyota dealers can save you money (more than £1,000) on the excellent Yaris. A 1.0 Colour Collection registered this year is £7,995 at Octagon Reading, 01344 789888.

SUPERCARS

Lamborghini Gallardos have not exactly been a sound investment. A new E Gear model costs £124,000; however, we found an 800-mile, one-lady-owner example for £99,995 in a classified advertisement. Meanwhile, the Bentley Continental GT is suffering from Premier League footballer syndrome (a bit common), so these models are falling below six figures within a year. They go for £115,000 new, although they can cost much more with options, but year-old examples are going for £95,000 and less. Look in the posh classified ads. Officially, no deals exist on any Mercedes SL, but it is possible to find UK brokers with access to one-offs: www.motormouse.net had a SL500 for £67,900 (list £73,000).

FAMILY

Traditional family cars like the Ford Mondeo and Vauxhall Vectra struggle these days, which is great news if you don't want to pay much. So you can get a Toyota Avensis 2.0 VVTi T3 X for £14,413, down from £17,150, from www.drivethedeal.com. However, don't buy new: wait a year and a 54-registered 1.8 Zetec can be yours for £8,699 at www.trade-sales.co.uk (£16,282 brand new). Similarly, a Vauxhall Vectra 1.8 Life is £7,699 from www.motorpoint.co.uk, although some of the biggest deals can be found on the temporarily discontinued MG Rover 75: the www.motorpoint.co.uk car supermarket has 2.0 Connoisseur models at £12,999, which saves a whopping £12,000, and the ex-dealer SMC ( www.smc-cars.com) has 2.0CDt diesels at £12,995.

SMALL FAMILY

You should never pay full price for a Ford Focus when there are so many deals around. A 1.6 LX five-door costs a fraction over £11,000 at www.ukcarbroker.co.uk, down from £13,345, although it is possible to find old-shape examples at car supermarkets. At Ford of Winsford ( www.fow.co.uk) we found an old-shape 1.4LX at £8,299, but it did have delivery miles and had been registered with a 05 plate. Volkswagen Golfs can be had with small discounts at dealers, but you are better off going through a broker - www.drivethedeal.com can get a 1.6SE for £13,653, down from £15,129, and, even more impressively, a 2.0 GT TDi five-door, which lists at £17,820, for £15,950.

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