How to choose the car that’s right for you? It’s a hard question and it’s getting harder by the day. Ecologically friendly or best performance? Cheapest to buy or cheapest to drive? Well known brand or quirky underdog? Equipped with the latest innovations or proven technology? The questions go on and on.
One way of arriving at a good decision is to ask yourself the following: Would you rather have a low-entry level version of a great car? Or the best possible version of a less prestigious brandmodel?
Or to put it differently: Would you rather drive a cheap great model or a great cheap model?
Thinking about this will offer you valuable insights on your personal preferences. So let’s go through the different pros and cons of either option to help you arrive at a decision.
Great car makes: Tradition and Excellence
What defines a great brand?
Sometimes, its history. Some of the world’s biggest makes have been in business for over a century. Some, such as Mercedes Benz, have even been around from the very beginning. When you’re buying one of their cars, you’re not just buying a mode of transportation. You’re tapping into a long and proud line of tradition.
Is more worth more?
Regardless of your line of business, if you manage to stick around and remain relevant for several decades, you must be doing something right. In fact, you need to be doing something better than the competition. Great brands are mainly defined by their excellence. Sometimes, it’s the build quality. At other times, it’s the sensation you get when driving their cars. Or maybe the designs are out of this world.
Whatever it is, owning a vehicle by a great car brand will install trust and confidence. Of course, this comes with a price. So the real question is this: Is it worth your money to invest more?
What do YOU want?
As so often, this is a question of preferences. If you feel like a car should mainly take you from point a to point b, then there is probably very little point in spending a lot of money on it. If, however, you expect just a little more from a vehicle, then it’s time to start looking at your options.
One of the best places to begin that journey is at the entry level of a great brand. By this we mean the cheapest model offered by a prestigious brand. It will usually be their smallest vehicle and come with only the most basic extras, if any. Essentially, you’re buying the essence of excellence with very little added on top.
Compared to what?
So now we have two types of drivers. How do we know which car is best?
Of course, you could compare a bare-bone model of a high class manufacturer with a bare-bone model by a brand with a less impressive reputation.
Let’s say, you take a Volkswagen Polo and compare it to a Dacia Sandero. The price difference between the most basic versions of these two cars is almost £9,000. That’s a lot of money. But it does seem appropriate. After all, you’re comparing a celebrated class leader with a charming and popular, but ultimately inferior alternative.
What, however, if you were to compare the most basic Polo to the very best Sandero?
This is a far more interesting (and also a far harder) choice.
In its luxury version, called Sandero Comfort, the Dacia makes for a serious competitor to the Volkswagen. For comparison’s sake, we added the following items to it:
- TCE 90 engine, offering more torque
- Pearl Black colour
- Alloy wheels
- Leather Upholstery
- Soft feel steering wheel
- Electric rear windows
- Rear parking camera
- Emergency spare wheel
- Front central armrest
In short, we added every single extra available for this car. Now, the Sandero is still cheaper than the Polo. But the difference has shrunk to £3,000.
How to take your pick in this situation? Here are some considerations to help you take the right decision.
A cheap great car: That special feeling
As we mentioned, great brands have earned their reputation. You may not be a fan of their aesthetics. But objectively, they offer great value in at least one major department.
Usually, great cars offer the highest possible quality when it comes to individual components. They tend to be more long-lasting and require fewer repairs. This also makes them retain their value better. Almost by default, brands like Audi, Mercedes or Range Rover have low depreciation rates.
Especially when you’re buying used, it can give you piece of mind to buy a trusted make. Nothing’s worse, after all, than finding out about hidden problems with a used car afterwards.
Great car brands are very often also great innovators.
This means you’ll get the latest and the best technology with your purchase. Practically speaking, this should make your car:
- more economical
- easier to drive and park
Of course, not all of this is ever guaranteed. Although the Polo is quite expensive, it offers desperately few advanced safety features in its most basic version. Park assist, cruise control and pre-crash preventive occupant protection are all optional extras.
Twist in your sobriety
Clearly, then, buying a cheap great car doesn’t just have its perks. For starters, even entry level models of expensive makes can still be prohibitively expensive. You simply won’t find a truly cheap BMW, for example, or a budget-priced Lexus.
These brands have built their reputation on exclusivity and a no-compromise policy. Their cheapest models will still be out reach for most of us. And even a competitor crammed with extras like the Sandero Comfort will still be a lot cheaper to buy. (Also we should also add that quite a few of the extras we bought for thw Sandero were, in fact, included in the Polo, such as alloy wheels)
Driving an expensive brand is possible only if you stop dreaming about buying new.
That need not be a problem, however.
The second hand market has completely changed the game and put even many of the top brands within reach. Because more expensive cars depreciate slower, the difference between a cheap great model and a great cheap model will become even bigger. Still, in nomimal terms, it will become a lot smaller.
Finally, the basic level version of a car can sometimes feel very sober indeed. There’s nothing wrong with a minimalistic approach, but especially some of the German brands (or something like a Range Rover) can occasionally take this to extremes.
Maybe you’re fine with that. And minimalism does have its appeal. But if you would love to feel just a little more pampered, you should start looking for alternatives.
A great cheap car: More, more, more
Going for a cheaper brand gives you a lot more options. Most obviously, it will mean you can get a lot more extras and a more powerful engine. Many of these are not just useful, but can feel pretty essential:
- Airconditioning will help you stay cool in the summertime, for example.
- An inbuilt sat nav has a few advantages over using a smart phone.
- And various technological features contribute to your own safety.
Instead of opting for more extras, you could also go for a more powerful engine.
In fact, many of the cheaper models are cheap precisely because they lack horsepower. Arguably, some of them are simply not strong enough. Although they will do the job for small rides through town, they will let you down on the highway. This is something the Dacia Duster has often been criticised for.
By selecting a stronger engine, these cars will suddenly give you a much better driving experience.
On the downside, of course, even a fairly expensive model by a less reputable brand will still tend to be of lower quality and thus, have a shoter longevity. Its resale value will be lower, too – which you should factor into your overall calculations.
How to put all of this into practise? We have two recommendations if you can’t yet make up your mind:
If you’re tending towards buying a cheap great car, but would love just a little more extras, there’s a very simple solution: Buy the most basic version now – and upgrade later.
Many extras can be added without any problems at a later date, which also allows you to evaluate more clearly, what you really need or want.
If you’re tending towards a great cheap car, but would like a little more luxury, here’s a consideration: In some cases, the price difference between the upper end brand and the cheaper one are so big that you could even go for a bigger model instead of the direct competitor.
This is a very interesting option indeed. Let’s return to the example from above. Instead of buying a Sandero, you could instead go for a Dacia Duster Prestige. It comes packed with extras and a pretty good engine, is a lot bigger than the Polo and still less expensive! You’ll get more leg and trunk space, a true family SUV with all of the associated benefits and a great looking design.
Whatever your preference, CCC has the car you’re looking for.
From the start, we’ve carried models from a wide range of brands and many different price ranges.
Sandero or Polo? Fiesta or Sportage? We have them all.
Do drop by in our Manchester showroom or start browsing our digital showroom.