It’s one of life’s great curiosities that luxury saloons suffer heavy depreciation from the moment they’re bought new. Makes no sense. Luxury saloons represent the pinnacle of their respective manufacturers’ abilities in terms of technological excellence and brilliance in driving dynamics, but the second-hand market runs scared of them.
Which, of course, is good news for you should the idea of a car designed from the outset to be luxurious appeal more than the notion of a good yet basic car glammed up to mimic the breed.
For the sake of our argument, let’s take into consideration the luxury version of the perfectly good mainstream car, the Ford Mondeo. In top-level Vignale trim (pictured below) with a diesel engine and Powershift automatic gearbox, the Mondeo will set you back £34,195. In return you’ll have a plush bit of kit that’s entertaining to drive, quiet, comfortable, and packed with electronic goodies that pamper you and keep you safe. You could legitimately argue that it’s all the car you’ll ever need. And yet…
TIME TO THINK BIGGER
For the price of that Mondeo Vignale, you could bag yourself any number of genuine luxury cars from prestigious manufacturers. More space, more refinement, more performance, a greater sense of automotive wellbeing. They’ve got presence and style. Yes, they’ll be second-hand, but in some instances not as second-hand as you might imagine.
Cars such as the Audi A8, BMW 7 Series, Jaguar XJ and Mercedes-Benz S-Class typically are bought by companies in the first instance, and companies buying or leasing vehicles that are sometimes knocking on the door of £100,000 or more aren’t likely to scrimp on the maintenance.
Now picture the drivers of such cars. Very senior executives, a group not prone to vehicle abuse. Probably doing most of their driving on motorways or commuting from leafy districts on the outskirts of big cities. Maybe they’re so senior they have a chauffeur. No chauffeur is likely to rag around in the boss’s chariot. So vehicle condition in most instances isn’t going to be an issue.
Perhaps a bit strangely, neither is mileage. Whereas executives lower down the pecking order – think those who drive an Audi A6 or Mercedes-Benz E-class – are prone to scurrying around the countryside racking up huge mileages, those granted pole position in the office car park seemingly are stuck in the boardroom and don’t travel far.
THE LUXURY OF CHOICE
For evidence of that, consider the 2016 Audi A8 LWB SE Executive that popped up first on our trawl through CarGurus’ listings for luxury saloons; just 18,421 miles on the clock and yours for £32,900.
Or if an Audi isn’t your thing, how about a petrol-engined BMW 740Li that has travelled a mere 17,000 miles in its two-year life and is on a forecourt for £25,995? A left-field choice, perhaps, but if you fancy a bit of Italian opulence, £28,750 buys you a 2016 Maserati Quattroporte V6 turbodiesel that has yet to reach 15,000 miles.
Or you could go for a 2014 Mercedes-Benz S400 L Hybrid AMG Line with a paltry 24,000 miles on the odometer and a £28,495 price sticker in the windscreen. And then there’s devilish temptation in the thought of a 6.0-litre W12 Bentley Flying Spur in Mulliner trim, 16,000 miles on the odometer, and marked up for £29,950 in 2019 when it originally sold for £150,000 back in 2007. Just bear in mind that the fuel costs would probably bankrupt you even if you didn’t use the car much.
BACK IN THE REAL WORLD
Of course, it’s not quite that simple. Luxury cars cost more to service than run-of-the-mill motors and potentially a lot more to fix should something go wrong. Also, big, powerful saloons can’t match the fuel economy of a turbodiesel Mondeo, although if you’re not regularly doing big trips that could be less of an issue.
There’s also the sense of a gamble that comes with the fact that most of the luxury cars we’ve mentioned will have only a small part of their manufacturer warranty left, if any at all. A worry, certainly, but be slightly reassured by the number of top-flight Mercedes, BMWs and Audis being used for airport runs by prestige travel companies: many of those drivers buy their cars second-hand and they can’t afford to have a vehicle that’s unreliable.
Last but not least, you’ll have to accept that the period of heavy depreciation for your luxury car is most likely far from being over. While the same could be said if you were to opt for the posh Mondeo, or indeed an equivalently priced Mercedes-Benz C-Class or BMW 3 Series, it will always be the new car, with its full warranty and brand-new parts, that represents the safer buy. To buy a true luxury limo, then, is almost certainly going to be the braver choice – which is one of the many reasons it’s so compelling.
In the market for a used car?
CarGurus makes it easy to find great deals from top-rated dealers. CarGurus compares price, detailed vehicle data and dealer reviews to give each used car a deal rating from great to overpriced, and sorts the best deals first. Find out more and begin your used car search at CarGurus.