Buy them before we do: second-hand picks for 7 May

New car sales and the PCP finance deals that support them get all the attention, but smart folk buy nearly new, where cars still smell and feel like new but cost much less.

With showrooms now open again, we’ve found five great nearly new car deals, starting with this BMW 3 Series: a 69-reg saloon with 8000 miles and the Plus pack (heated front seats with upgraded upholstery).

It cost £34,260 new, but you could easily have negotiated £2500 off that figure, taking it down to £31,760 – or almost exactly £10,000 more than our one-year-old example.

Savings like this are why buyers can’t afford to ignore nearly new cars. Not only do they save a fortune on the list price, but also the monthly PCP payments for them are lower.

It’s not as if our example is being advertised by an independent dealer, either. Instead, it’s an approved-used BMW with all the bells and whistles that the marque’s scheme offers.

Admittedly, SE trim has since been replaced by enhanced SE Pro, which offers only an automatic gearbox. However, this just pushes the new price to £37,865 before any discounts, making our one-year-old SE manual look more tempting still.

In any case, SE trim gets you lots of great features as standard, including V-spoke alloy wheels, adaptive LED headlights, sat-nav and parking sensors front and rear. So just £21,750 for Autocar’s five-star executive class leader.

There’s much talk of diesel cars falling out of favour, but while this is definitely true of new ones, used examples still appeal to cost-conscious high-mileage drivers, thanks to their superior economy.

Renault Kadjar 1.3 TCe GT Line £16,499: This version of the Kadjar would cost you around £23,000 new, but why pay that when you can have a 70-reg car with 1400 miles for £6500 less? Probably for the new car smell, a 12- month-longer warranty and zero-rate finance. But us? We’d take the saving.

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Peugeot 108 1.2 Puretech Allure 5dr £4990

Felix Page: Behold the 2008 World Car of the Year: freshly MOT’d and on your driveway for a mere £3990. Aside from this example’s impressive presentability and provenance, the Mazda 2 is one of those rare runarounds that blends pleasing dynamics with durability, practicality, manoeuvrability and kerb appeal. You will never lose it in this colour, either.

Max Adams: ’Snot the city car I would choose… Sorry, I’m just disgusted by that verdant hue. My Peugeot 108 is a true city car in size, yet it has all the modern accoutrements of a big car, such as touchscreen infotainment with smartphone connectivity, a reversing camera, keyless ignition and so on. Plus it has safety technology that isn’t two decades old.

FP: Call me a worrier, but the first thing I noticed is that your Pug’s towing eye cover is missing. Why has that been off in the first place?

MA: Heroically rescuing a much older car? Shedding weight? Who knows. But this a spring chicken, having done only 19,000 miles, so I doubt that mechanical maladies are the reason.

FP: I don’t think 70,000 miles in 10 years is bad going for my Mazda, and its pristine bodywork suggests that few of those miles have been in the city – which is also good news for the clutch, brakes and alloys.

MA: Well, if the previous owner(s) of your 2 didn’t think it was suitable for the city, why would James pick it?

Verdict: It’s not easy being green, but that Mazda does a pretty good job. I’ll have it.