Buy them before we do: second-hand picks for 23 April

I’ll stick my neck out and assume that showrooms reopened last Monday and, since then, everyone has been seized by the idea of spoiling themselves and buying something outrageous. What could tempt you? How about a McLaren MP4-12C?

As with a used car at any price point, but especially with something as expensive and rarefied as a 12C, details matter. Our find is a later 2012 car with the uprated (616bhp) engine and all the software improvements that the earliest models should have had. Saying that, the modifications were thankfully retrospectively applied by McLaren to earlier cars.

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Our 12C has done 40,000 miles, which is more than most, but it has full McLaren service history and just one former keeper. Blue isn’t the most exciting colour, but on the other hand, it’s a rare shade that won’t draw unwanted attention, if that’s possible.

When new, including the £20,000 worth of extras that its buyer chose, this car cost around £190,000, so paying £69,995 surely doesn’t represent a bad saving at all.

Admittedly, the 12C is shaded by later McLaren models, not least the 720S. However, a 2018 example of one of these will set you back twice as much as our discovery.

If you’re tempted by the idea of owning a 12C, it’s worth checking on your test drive that its warning lights don’t suddenly spring into action. It’s alarming when this happens, but pulling over and restarting the car after a couple of minutes should ensure that they go out and stay out.

Also give the hydraulic suspension a thorough workout: the accumulator can fail, although it’s not expensive to replace – at least in McLaren terms.

Ariel Atom 3.5 £34,000: If you want to go wild, why not try this 2012 Ariel Atom? It may have been the base model in the line-up, with its 245bhp 2.0-litre Honda engine, but it has the stiffer Mk3.5 chassis for even more handling thrills. Our 2012 example has done 12,000 miles, which is a lot of flies in the teeth.



Jaguar XF 2.0d Portfolio £11,000

Felix Page: Few brands are as synonymous with bang-up-to-date technology as Lexus and, fortunately for us, few are so afflicted by such steep depreciation curves. Here’s a snazzy saloon that your neighbours will believe is brand new, and with every option ticked, you could probably convince yourself, too.

Max Adams: Steep depreciation? You want the Jaguar XF, mate. Not only that, but also my top-spec Portfolio example is an option-packed special with a 10.0in infotainment screen, full smartphone capabilities, a 360deg camera, automatic parking, a digital instrument display, heated seats all round… and I could go on.

FP: Yes, but there’s not much in the way of modern tech under its bonnet, is there? My Lexus’s refined petrol-electric hybrid powertrain is capable of Toyota Prius-baiting fuel economy figures, whereas your clattering diesel was the reason Autocar awarded the XF four-and-a-half stars instead of the full five.

MA: Your IS got a paltry three-and-a-half. Besides, ICE, electric and even hybrid systems have been employed since cars were invented, so your argument is rather outdated, I’m afraid.

FP: Hmm, I wonder which of our cars will be seen as the more outdated when non-electrically assisted motors are banned from all British city centres?

Verdict: Both are impressive bits of kit, but I’ll take the Lexus.