Car Buying Advice - Shop sMart for Used Cars


Looking for a used luxury car with plenty of space for all the family? Motoring Correspondent Jonathan Crouch looks at some desirable, yet affordable options.

Jonathan CrouchJonathan Crouch

December 2016

Transporting your family in luxury can be expensive, particularly if you’d like a car with a premium badge on the bonnet. Perhaps a better way to go is to get a late, low mileage family-sized luxury car that’s been well looked after. That approach certainly gets you a lot more for your money and if it appeals, here are three options you could look at.

This month’s affordable used car choice

Volvo V70
The 3rd generation Volvo V70 (2013 to 2016) - a very spacious estate

Before the advent of people carriers, sports utility vehicles and crossovers, if you wanted a family vehicle with a serious amount of space inside, you need a large Volvo estate. From the turn of the century, Gothenburg’s large station wagon was badged ‘V70’ for the modern era and continued to be as uncompromisingly big and practical as ever, bridging the gap between medium range Mondeo sized estates and the very largest fully-fledged Executive-shaped station wagons.

Since we’re looking at late, low mileage options here, in this case, we’re going to focus on the very last MK3 V70 variants produced between 2013 and 2016. Choose your model carefully from this era and you’ll get yourself a car fitted with Volvo’s efficient ‘Drive-E’ engine technology. With that kind of powerplant beneath the bonnet, a used V70 can make a lot of sense.

Prices for these last of the line third generation V70 models start at around £15,500 for a 2013-era base ‘Business Edition’ variant with the brand’s efficient ‘Drive-E’ D4 engine. There’s not a lot more to pay if you want a pokier D5 version from this year, but bear in mind that if you go for one of those, you’ll be getting the older, much less efficient Ford-derived unit. Prices rise up to around £22,000 for a later 2016-era car. If you’re interested in the mid-range D3 engine, well the ‘Drive-E’ version of that wasn’t introduced until 2015. For a ‘Business Edition’ D3 from that year, you’re looking at around £18,500, with prices rising to around £21,200 for a later late-2015-era car.

Whatever your choice, what you get is a very spacious estate indeed. If you completely flatten the rear bench, up to 1,600-litres of space can be freed up if you stack to the roof. If that still isn’t enough, then there’s a fold-forward front passenger seat so you can take longer items like kayaks and surfboards. So it’s good for packages. But what about for people? Take a seat in the rear and you’ll find that three fully-sized adults will just about fit comfortably, enjoying decent standards of leg, head and knee-room.

As for what to look for, well most of the V70 owners we surveyed were very happy with their cars – as you’d expect they would be. By this time, most of the earlier faults on third generation V70 models had been ironed out. However, as you’d expect, there were some issues. One owner reported that his car rapidly got through brake pads, these having had to be replaced 4 times in 7 years. The same buyer also reported his V70 to be something of a tyre-eater, front tyres in that case lasting only a year or around 12,000 miles. Another owner we found had experienced Electronic Management Unit problems, while another had had to replace an engine flywheel. Over the course of V70 production, there have been various reports of auto transmission shifting problems: usually, these seem to have been caused by software issues, so get this checked out before agreeing to full mechanical replacements.

Used Volvo V70 cars for sale

Want a tip for something a little trendier?

Peugeot 3008
There's nothing quite like a Land Rover Discovery

Want something a little more fashionable? Well what about a family-sized SUV? There’s nothing quite like a Land Rover Discovery and a 2014 model year package of final improvements for the fourth generation version cemented its position as the most practical and capable choice in the large SUV sector. These updates added extra high-tech equipment, a whole raft of subtle cosmetic updates and a greater emphasis on improved efficiency and lower emissions. The result was an even more compelling multi-purpose proposition that makes eminent sense as a used market buy in this segment.

Inside, there’s room for seven people courtesy of fold-out seats in a huge cargo bay that’s accessed via a neat asymmetrically-split two-piece aluminium tailgate. So in true Range Rover style, you can use it as a picnic seat or a viewing platform, plus there’s the added advantage that you need only raise the top part if you’re putting in small items. If you’re accessing the whole luggage area, there’s 280-litres if all three seating rows are in place, 1192-litres if the third row seats are folded and a class-leading 2,558-litres if both second and third rows are flat.

As for what you’ll pay, well you'll find 3.0-litre SDV6 versions of the post-2014 version of this Discovery 4 starting at around £29,000 for a ‘GS’ model from 2014, with ‘GS’ prices rising to around £36,000 for a later ’16-era car. Go for ‘SE’ sec and you’re looking at a price span of between £32,000 and £38,000 from the ’14 to ’16 era. If you really want to spoil yourself, a top ‘HSE Lux’ variant will be priced n the £41,000 to £48,000 bracket for a ’14 to ’16-era car.

And what to look for? Well, the Discovery used to have a distinctly second rate reliability record, but throughout its life, the Disco 4 improved things by leaps and bounds and by the time of this post-2014-era model’s introduction, most faults had been pretty effectively ironed out. Check if a tow bar has been fitted and also check the tyres for odd wear patterns. Although the Discovery is very capable off road, there are limits to its ground clearance, so inspect the underside for signs of damage to the suspension, exhaust and front valance. The diesel engine is a tough unit and if you're test driving the car on a cold day, don't be worried if the Stop/Start system fails to kick in. The engine is programmed to keep running at temperatures below three degrees Celsius.

Used Land Rover Discovery cars for sale

And if your used car needs to have a premium badge...

Audi Q5
The Audi Q5 - great on tarmac and pretty effective for light off road use

For a premium choice this month, what about the face-lifted first generation version of Audi’s Q5 mid-sized SUV? In 2012, this improved first generation model got a range of more efficient engines and even more car-like driving dynamics that made this model great on tarmac and even pretty effective for light off road use. There’s loads of advanced technology and a beautifully practical interior crafted in Audi’s own inimitable style. In short, if you can afford it, you’d like one.

As for prices for this post-2012-era model, well Q5s hold onto their value pretty well and all come as standard with quattro 4WD. We’re going to assume you want a diesel – most buyers do. Most of the examples you’ll find will have the volume 2.0 TDI diesel engine. Go for one of these in the post-2012 face-lifted guise we’re looking at here and you’ll be looking at paying somewhere between £17,500 to £19,000 for a 2012-era car, the figure varying depending on spec and mileage. Go for a later 2.0 TDI Q5 and you’ll probably be paying somewhere in the £20,200 to £22,500 bracket. If you want a pokier option and can afford to stretch up to the 3.0 TDI variant, prices start at around £21,500 for a 2012-era car, with the figures rising to around £25,200 for a 2014-era model. In 2014, the 3.0 TDI variant got a pokier 242PS engine. Prices for this in the 2014 to 2016 era sit in the £25,000 to £33,000 bracket, again, the figure dependent on age, spec and mileage.

As for what to look for with a Q5, well the reliability record here is as good as you'd expect from Audi. Most Q5 owners we surveyed were very happy with their cars but inevitably, there were a few issues reported. One owner reported premature brake wear, another talked of excessive oil consumption and another had a complete transmission failure. One owner had a problem with shuddering and bucking on inclines, something which was eventually traced to the need for a new fuel injector. As for minor issues reported that you might want to look out, well one owner had a problem with rattles in three areas of the car – in the driver’s side door, in the driver’s seat belt mount and around the area of the cargo cover.

It’s unlikely that too many Q5s will have been used off-road in anger but just in case, give a thorough check to the under body of the car and make sure those wheels are in decent shape.

Used Audi Q5 cars for sale