RISK VERSUS REWARD. That’s what this boils down to. Should you be in the position to buy one of the great new cars we’ve lined up here, there will always be the devil on your shoulder tempting you into something with more power, more toys and more presence. You’ll balance that against less peace of mind, higher running costs, and less sophisticated safety and infotainment systems. Of course, there will be a significant percentage of you who yearn for something a little older, perhaps feeling that the story of contemporary vehicle development isn’t to your tastes. We get that.
But just as there will be new buyers tempted by a used proposition, if you’ve always thought of yourself as a used car buyer and want somebody else shouldering the scary part of the depreciation curve for you, perhaps some of the new cars featured here could change your mind. Where are your dollars going? You’re the judge here.
WE’RE ALREADY getting the distinct impression that Ford’s latest Fiesta ST is shaping up as a potential hot hatch hall of famer, but can a 147kW front-drive tot really represent a viable alternative to 240kW of straightsix rear-drive M-badged mumbo from Munich? Spoiler alert: yes. Both are hugely entertaining on a good road and the Fiesta might even have the edge on interior packaging. There’s also the fact that the BMW is a couple of years out of warranty and there are a few things to look out for. 2015 was the year BMW applied the facelift to the F20 1 Series, and many prefer the styling of the ‘pre-LCI’ model. Oil consumption is high, with BMW deeming a litre per 1000km acceptable. Darty variable steering isn’t for everyone and only one of these cars is fitted with a proper mechanical LSD as standard – and it’s not the BMW. That said, the M135i has weathered the steepest part of its depreciation curve, so find a low mileage one and it shouldn’t cost a fortune to run. Look out for insurance bills, though. We were quoted $1932 per year for the BMW and a mere $880 for the Fiesta.
ON THE FACE OF IT, a 2017 Volvo XC60 D5 can’t hope to compete with the low running costs of a new Toyota RAV4 Hybrid. Or can it? Crunch all the numbers over a five-year ownership period and the results are illuminating. The Volvo comes in at 10.7c per kilometre, the RAV4 at 11.1c per km, so there’s really not a lot in it. The Swedish car’s pricier servicing, spares and insurance are offset by its low depreciation and excellent real world fuel economy. Back in 2017, the XC60 D5 Luxury was predicted to hold onto 56 percent of its new value after three years. Were that the case, you’d be able to buy one now for $39K, but it’s a measure of how well they’re regarded that residuals are that bit higher. Volvo reduced servicing costs for the XC60 back in 2019 from $2915 for a three-year plan to a capped $1895 deal. A 2017 XC60 would be coming out of warranty this year, so the market could see a glut. That’s great news for buyers, especially if you buy one where the previous owner has paid for the 5-year extended warranty. Demand for the Toyota? That’s still off the scale with huge waiting lists.
WE’LL BEGIN with a congratulations. If you’re reading this there’s a high chance you’re considering a wagon, and not an SUV, as your next purchase. Kudos. This pairing is fundamentally quite different, which makes choosing between them quite tricky. This Subaru Outback is the all-new model due to arrive in early 2021. It’s larger than before and has greater ground clearance and off-road cred, making it the clear choice if your family enjoys heading bush. If, however, you’re a keen driver, then the Audi offers a tempting alternative. The S4 was the sweet spot in the B8 A4 range and it remains a wicked sleeper thanks to a supercharged V6 with 245kW/440Nm. The Avant was only offered for 2012-13 meaning good used examples are hard to find. Expect around 65,000km on the clock and given we’re well out of warranty be sure to have the seven-speed DSG checked by a professional. Grumbly brakes due to problematic caliper seals are common. Insurance costs are high. You’ll fork out $3750 a year to insure the S4, compared to $1350 for the Subaru. Servicing costs are almost double, too. Ouch.
THERE IS a glut of new dual-cab utes coming to Australia soon and one of the most exciting is the all-new Mazda BT-50. Sharing its mechanicals with the equally fresh Isuzu D-Max, the new Japanese dual-cab is powered by a 3.0-litre turbo-diesel engine with 140kW and 450Nm. However, the real appeal of the BT-50 is its ‘Kodo’ design, which fuses a more upmarket look and feel with the bulletproof Isuzu mechanicals. But what if you want something even more hardcore? While Mazda is yet to reveal pricing for its new dual-cab, used examples of Ford’s 2018 Ranger Raptor are currently popping up for roughly the same price as the outgoing BT-50 flagship, the Boss. Used Raptors still have roughly a year worth of warranty remaining, and Ford’s capped-price servicing means that models with reasonable mileage would make a compelling purchase. You get a punchy 157kW/500Nm 2.0-litre turbo-diesel engine, but most importantly, there’s beefed-up suspension that improves the Ranger’s on- and offroad characteristics. For tough trucks, they don’t get much cooler.
HOMEBREW EXPLORERS and daring modern adventurers, it’s time to choose between a reborn legend or an Outback stalwart. Arriving later this year, the new Defender is crammed full of modern tech and creature comforts, and sitting near the middle of the crowded five-door 110 range is the SE D240. Priced at $91,300, it’s fitted with a 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel producing 177kW/430Nm. For about the same money, you can opt for a 2017 LC200 LandCruiser Sahara. Where the Defender makes do with moving 2323kg of heft with two litres, the LandCruiser uses a 4.5-litre twin-turbo diesel V8 to get its 2705kg body rolling. You will need to readjust your idea of ‘low-mileage’ when looking at used ‘Cruisers – if there are less than six figures on the odo, that’s barely run-in. MY17 Saharas are coming to the end of their warranty periods, so it’s important to be wary of excessive off-road use so you don’t fall foul of any ‘dusting’ issues that can require expensive repairs. Service both regularly, and you’ll have a vehicle that’ll take you as far away from society as your heart desires.
2020 Porsche 718 Boxster Spyder V 2014 Audi R8 Spyder
IF EVER THERE was a pairing to make your hands steeple, Mr Burns style, then this is it. Neither of these convertibles fall into the trap of being built for poseurs and hairdressers and instead offer all the benefits of drop-top motoring with few of the usual drop-top drawbacks. So which to choose? The Porsche makes a convincing case. As the convertible version of the much-lauded Cayman GT4, the Spyder offers sublime balance and a rifle bolt gearshift, though the central attraction is the all-new 4.0-litre flat six. Faults are hard to find, though the long gearing, which goads you into breaking the speed limit to enjoy the engine’s upper reaches, does spoil the fun.
If anything, the Audi’s V10 is even more exciting. It revs harder, is more exotic, is even more evocative to listen to, and crucially, it’s largely bulletproof. Supercars have a rep for being expensive to maintain, though services aren’t eye-watering. A yearly minor service is $770, while a major will cost between $1900-$3100. At this money you’ll snag either a lowmileage first-gen car or an early second-gen model. Check for body damage (repairing aluminium panels is exxy) and clutches and rear wishbones should also cop scrutiny. Now un-steeple those fingers and choose. There are no losers here!
2020 Toyota Supra V 2011 Nissan GT-R
AT FIRST GLANCE, this is a no brainer. Sure, both of these cars are Japanese icons but the GT-R is in a different league when it comes to performance. Its hand-built 3.8-litre V6 crushes the Supra for power and torque (390kW/612Nm vs 250kW/500Nm) and its sharper focus and grippier all-wheel-drive chassis will make it vastly superior at your next track day. Plus you also score two extra seats. Done deal. Actually, not so fast. Dig a little deeper and you’ll quickly realise that while this pair shares the same initial outlay, the GT-R is also in a different league when it comes to maintenance costs. The Toyota (read BMW) should be near-faultless thanks to its German/Japanese pedigree whereas things aren’t so clear cut with the Nissan. GT-R services have to be carried out every six months and each one will cost you $3000-$4000. At this price point your GT-R will have around 80-100,000km on the clock, so pay special attention to the gearbox as they can cost $10,000 to replace. Need a new set of factory-fit Dunlops? That’ll be a couple grand. So the question is: how game are you?
2020 AMG E63 S V 2018 HSV GTS-R W1
IT’D BE A BRAVER person than I to attempt to predict the future residual values of the HSV GTS-R W1. The very best of the delivery mileage examples are retailing at around $260K right now, so we’re effectively comparing two ‘new’ cars here. It’s just that one doesn’t have a warranty any longer. The high water mark for domestic car manufacturing, if you want to truly guarantee your investment, a 474kW W1 isn’t going to cost you anything in consumables. It has appreciated by an average of $30K per year, were you to believe that asking prices are representative of sale prices. We tend not to and have heard of W1s changing hands for less than $200K. That makes the W1 far less of an attractive nest-egg but even if prices were to remain in stasis, it’s still a heck of a lot cheaper to operate than the 450kW AMG. This one comes down to one crucial decision. If you’re intent on actually using the car, the Mercedes isn’t going to make you wince with every passing kilometre. So where does your money go: Priscilla, queen of the garage or ballistic ‘bahn-burner?