Motoring: These cars will save you money: A bargain on the forecourt may prove costly in the small ads if the model you have chosen depreciates quickly. Steve Cropley lists his long-life top 10

NOW THAT the car market is beginning to turn up, there are people who have started fretting about the disappearance of the buyer's market which has ruled in car dealerships in the Nineties. The motor trade is finding customers again, and manufacturers have cut dealers' margins as a way of stamping out large-scale discounting.

The wise buyer knows, however, that when it comes to reducing costs over a car's life, the discount is of only secondary importance: the thing that really counts is keeping depreciation low. All cars lose value as they get older and accumulate mileage: there is no getting away from it. But some hold their value very much better than others.

Take the cases of a pounds 22,000 Ford Granada 2.0 Scorpio and a pounds 21,000 Mercedes-Benz 200E. They are similarly-sized executive saloons, but the their value loss is vastly different. In two years' time, when both have accumulated 30,000 miles, the Mercedes will be worth around pounds 16,000, and the selling dealer will be happy to have it back for used car stock; the Ford may be worth pounds 12,000. The Merc driver's cost of two years' ownership is pounds 5,000; the Ford driver has had to absorb pounds 10,000.

As models change, depreciation champions change as well. Eighteen months ago, for instance, diesel cars were losing value very much more slowly than their petrol counterparts; now, although they are still stronger, it is by a smaller margin.

This year, many more buyers are expected to splash out on a new car than for several seasons past; so here is our selection of proven new-model depreciation fighters.

BMW 318i four-door

BELIEVED by many critics to be the pick of the BMW 3-series range for its fine combination of performance and economy, the 318i is very keenly sought as a second-hand car. Apart from the fact that BMWs have a reputation for lasting well, this model is only a couple of years into its lifespan (probably eight years) and its showroom price of pounds 16,100 looks very good value.

Citroen ZX 1.9D Avantage five-door

ANOTHER class leader, this quiet car has a level of ride comfort that would have rivalled a Jaguar a few years ago. The showroom price of pounds 10,495 is relatively low against the competition, too, which means second-hand value will look good in a couple of years' time. We chose the diesel both because prices of used oil-burners remain strong (if not as strong as in 1991) and because Citroen-Peugeot diesel engines are particularly refined and easy to drive.

Ford Fiesta 1.1LX three-door

CARS of this size all hold their value better than bigger models from the same manufacturers. Where a Ford Granada loses as much as half its value after two years/30,000 miles, a Fiesta loses only about 35 per cent. The reason? Used-car buyers actively chase small hatches when they are a couple of years old. Once they've lost some of their shine, executive cars have a much harder time finding homes.

Honda Accord 2.2i Aerodeck

YOU MIGHT not think it from the name, but this model is a roomy estate, imported in small numbers from a plant Honda has in the United States. It sells for pounds 16,995. Hondas, always in short supply in Britain, have always been exemplary for keeping their value; estate cars are also more keenly sought by ever-practical used-car buyers than saloons. Put the combination together and you have a car almost in the Mercedes class for resale value.

Mercedes-Benz 220TE

THIS is the champion. Mercedes-Benz cars do not sell in great numbers; they have a fine reputation for lasting for huge mileages; dealers do a great deal of repeat business and dealer-supplied used cars tend to be the best on offer. When you're talking about a roomy estate from the middle one of Mercedes' three lines, a good reselling price is guaranteed if you look after the car.

Mitsubishi Shogun 2.5

turbo diesel five-door

A WELL-MADE and comfortable pounds 21,600 off-roader, this has almost everything going for it: more demand than supply, the market's increasing interest in 'civilised' 4x4s, a three-year/unlimited mileage warranty which transfers to subsequent owners, a reputation for toughness and a traditionally strong resale value.

Morgan Plus 8

THE Malvern-built traditional British roadster, costing pounds 24,500, is a bit of a freak. Enduring popularity, a five-year waiting list, plus the fact that most owners do minute mileages and cosset their vehicles in garages, ensures any Plus Eight a high price when it is offered for sale. The myth, sometimes fulfilled, is that, however long you keep your car, you'll get back what you paid.

Nissan Primera 1.6LX five-door

CARS like this one in the Cavalier class are not known for good resale values. There are too many of them always available, the market thinks, and they are all much the same. But the Nissan Primera does best of the group for several powerful reasons: with Ford's new Mondeo, it is still the best in its class; compared with Cavaliers the supply is fairly short; and the car comes with a three-year/60,000-mile warranty.

Renault Espace 2.0 RT

THIS is the model that made seven/ eight-seat 'people-carriers' desirable, and demand has always climbed in an indifferent market. Our choice, the 2.0 litre RT, costs pounds 17,000. Resale values are extremely strong for two key reasons - the model's looks have changed little in seven or eight years (and it still stands out in a crowd), and its combination of galvanised steel chassis and rust-free composite body.

Toyota MR2 GT

A pounds 17,000 sports two-seater (also available at pounds 18,400 with a lift-out roof), it has built a reputation over five or six years as a high-performance car with reliability equal to a saloon's. Sports cars used to be temperamental, but not this one. It comes with excellent Toyota build standards, a three-year/60,000- mile warranty and it is much, much cheaper than Italian or German makes that people often mistake it for.

So those are the best bets. Just remember the central issue is to minimise depreciation if you really care about keeping motoring costs low. Picking the right car is relatively easy, too. They tend to be models from the best makers, with high assembly standards and long warranties. They are rarely in easy supply - and hardly ever discounted - and you'll find that a large number of people aspire to owning them. But do survey plenty of second-hand prices before you write that cheque. It's the only way to be sure your chosen car is a good investment.

(Photograph omitted)

Voices
There will be a chance to bid for a rare example of the SAS Diary, collated by a former member of the regiment in the aftermath of World War II but only published – in a limited run of just 5,000 – in 2011
charity appealTime is running out to secure your favourite lot as our auction closes at 2pm tomorrow
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Caroline Flack became the tenth winner of Strictly Come Dancing
tvReview: 'Absolutely phenomenal' Xtra Factor presenter wins Strictly Come Dancing final
Life and Style
A still from the 1939 film version of Margaret Mitchell's 'Gone with the Wind'
life
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
J Jefferson Farjeon at home in 1953
booksBooksellers say readers are turning away from modern thrillers and back to golden age of crime writing
Sport
Amir Khan is engaged in a broader battle than attempting to win a fight with Floyd Mayweather
boxing Exclusive: Amir Khan reveals plans to travel to Pakistan
News
Stacey Dooley was the only woman to be nominated in last month’s Grierson awards
mediaClare Balding and Davina McCall among those overlooked for Grierson awards
Voices
Joseph Kynaston Reeves arguing with Russell Brand outside the RBS’s London offices on Friday
voicesDJ Taylor: The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a worker's rant to Russell Brand
News
Twitchers see things differently, depending on their gender
scienceNew study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
News
i100
News
Xander van der Burgt, at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
scienceA Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Austen Lloyd: Senior Private Client Solicitor

    Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: SURREY - An outstanding high level opportunity...

    Austen Lloyd: Construction Solicitor - London

    Very Competitive Salary : Austen Lloyd: NICHE CITY FIRM - We are making a disc...

    Austen Lloyd: Construction Solicitor - London

    Very Competitive Salary : Austen Lloyd: NICHE CITY FIRM - We are making a disc...

    Recruitment Genius: Finance Director

    £65000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Finance Director required to jo...

    Day In a Page

    The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

    The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

    Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
    From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

    Panto dames: before and after

    From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
    Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

    Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

    Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
    Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

    Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

    Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
    The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

    The man who hunts giants

    A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
    The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

    The 12 ways of Christmas

    We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
    Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

    The male exhibits strange behaviour

    A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
    Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

    Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

    Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
    From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

    From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

    The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
    A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

    A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

    The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'
    Marian Keyes: The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment

    Marian Keyes

    The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef creates an Italian-inspired fish feast for Christmas Eve

    Bill Granger's Christmas Eve fish feast

    Bill's Italian friends introduced him to the Roman Catholic custom of a lavish fish supper on Christmas Eve. Here, he gives the tradition his own spin…
    Liverpool vs Arsenal: Brendan Rodgers is fighting for his reputation

    Rodgers fights for his reputation

    Liverpool manager tries to stay on his feet despite waves of criticism
    Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

    Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

    'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
    Michael Calvin: Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick