James Ruppert: Dream bangers for dream prices

As new car sales struggle to get going, the used car market continues to lead the way for those who want to acquire family and shopping motors. A company called ChooseMyCar has been crunching stats for online car searches. I’m not entirely sure how all this modern stuff works, but the interesting thing is that this is a rare glimpse into what the private buyer actually dreams about, and then searches for online. Oh, and it isn’t a Lamborghini.

A Kia Sportage: that’s what the people want. SUVs are the favoured choice of the working man and woman. Not some sleek estate, but a reliable, stylish well-warranted family car. And Sportages are fantastic – favourites at car supermarket warehouses, where I turned up a 2017 1.7 CRDi IDG Sportage with lots of useful kit, including sat-nav, Bluetooth and parking camera, and the balance of the Kia warranty. It had done 15,000 miles and was in tidy condition – and all of that for a reasonable £15k.

Next up is the good old Ford Fiesta, which is always there or thereabouts when it comes to the most wanted used cars. We’ll stick with looking at not very old examples here because that remains the dream used car for most buyers. Let’s also look at something interesting. A 2018 Fiesta 1.0 Ecoboost ST-Line has all the fancy alloys and driving lights details plus the lively three-cylinder engine. The one that caught my eye – another car being sold by a major retailer, this time purely online – had done 33,000 miles and was up for £11k, which looked fair enough money.

In at number three on the most-searched list is everyone’s family dream-boat drive, the Nissan Qashqai. It is hard to get excited, but this car certainly deserves our respect. At a Nissan dealer, I saw a 2019 1.5 dCi 115 Tekna that had just over 11,000 miles on the clock. The dealer made it clear that the buyer would be saving £10k on the new price and obviously it’s still covered by the manufacturer warranty. The asking price was £16,500, a decent offer at a main dealer.

There are more Fords in the top five, the Kuga and the Focus, plus the Peugeot 3008 on an equal number of searches. The Kuga is another inconveniently fashionable SUV and real car buyers must like them. Around £15,500 buys a 2018 1.5 Ecoboost ST-Line with 28,000 miles.

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Readers’ questions

Question: I recently bought a Jaguar E-Pace and it has a DPF fault. I have a copy of a JLR document for dealers where it advises that the fault is in the way customers use the vehicle. Can you offer clarity? Allan Law, via email

Answer: Diesel particulate filter issues can be an issue if you use the car for short journeys. If you clearly told the dealer what your driving style is and it follows the information in the document, you have strong grounds to negotiate a favourable trade-in for a more suitable car or for a refund minus usage. MA

Question: I have a Mégane RS with less than 6000 miles on the clock and it has flaking paint. Renault says it’s due to stone chips so won’t repaint it. What should I do? Bryan Brawley, via email

Answer: The wear and tear clause is such a poor excuse to hide behind; the paint shouldn’t be chipping off like that. Your best bet now is to put a complaint in writing with photo evidence to the Motoring Ombudsman, who will look into your case for you and lobby Renault on your behalf. MA