Back in 2007, Nissan launched the Qashqai. It was the small SUV that really reinvented the category, being just at home in the city as it was anywhere else. Think, for a moment, what this did for driving. Nissan essentially said enough was enough when it came to 4x4s. Yes, they were originally supposed to be used only in the countryside, but that just wasn’t what people wanted. They wanted something they could use every day that had the same utility as a big 4×4 but was also meant to be used in the city.
But because Nissan was a relative newcomer to the market, it really needed to do something special. As a result, it ensured that the Qashqai, which eventually won best SUV, was extremely well made. Nissan knew that being the new kid on the block meant that its offering had to be very attractive. That effort paid ultimately paid dividends and they sold tens of thousands.
We’re still reaping the rewards now. Because the Qashqai was so well made, it makes a good second-hand car purchase. And with prices coming down all the time, it’s never been more affordable to pick up an SUV. Click here for a used car finance quote to see what I mean.
The older models of the Qashqai had plenty of cabin space and a very large boot. Just be wary of some of the complaints that have followed the car around. Sometimes there was a knocking noise from the rear of the car, usually the rear shock absorbers. So keep this in mind if you ever have a look at a used model.
BMW 3 Series
But the Qashqai is not the only used car you should consider. What about the BMW 3 Series? Here is another car that redefined a genre, this time, the compact executive car class. What BMW did with the 3 series was extremely clever. They made an extremely good looking car that handled like a dream. In many ways, it was the benchmark for handling against which all other cars are compared.
The best second-hand models were built between 2005 and 2014. The cars were particular quiet whilst cruising and had excellent steering accuracy in the corners.
What was also quite remarkable about the car was the stunning MPG. BMW called it’s efficiency philosophy EfficientDynamics. As such it was always striving to make its cars as frugal as possible. The result was an executive car that offered 68.9mpg, which at the time came close to figures put out by certain famous Japanese hybrids. It also offers very low emissions, even by today’s standards. So if you are trying to be a little more green, this car allows you to do that on a budget.
If you do pick one of these up second hand, you’ll also be treated to a level of build quality that stands above many other cars from the decade just passed. Owners reported how impressed they were with the build quality, more so than the car’s overall reliability. And that’s in a sense, the basic reason why you’d want to pick one of these up. They are stylish and well built, and genuinely create a sense of professionalism.
As a country, we’ve been in love with the Focus since it debuted in the 1990s. And many of the first Focuses are still running well to this day. Today, though, I want to direct your attention towards the second generation of Focus, built after 2004, but before 2011. This category of Focus was a refined version of the original. It had good handling and a comfortable ride. It also came with an extremely generous boot, though not quite matching the likes of the Qashqai.
It’s not surprising, then, that the Focus has sat near the top of the best-seller list for a long time. Plus, it was again a car with great build quality. Though the running costs aren’t quite on a level as the other cars I’ve mentioned so far, it still does well compared to other hatchbacks of the era. In return for slightly lessened MPG and higher CO2, you get a very stable car that’s fun on winding roads. What’s more, if you’re lucky enough to pick up a Zetec or Zetec S variant, you’ll get a firmer, sportier ride.
Just make sure that when you do come to buy a second-hand version that there’s no evidence of water leakage into the cabin. And also, ensure that when you take the car out for a test drive, here’s no grumbling from the engine. These have been problems in the past for Focus owners.
We’re back to Nissan again here, and for good reason. Like the Qashqai, the looks of the X-Trail might take a little getting used to, but like the Qashqai, it was exceptionally well built. And thanks to its great visibility, and overall versatility, the car is proving to be a very popular second-hand model.
When the car originally debuted back in 2001 the world was amazed by the boot space. It cast aside the competition. It was the car’s family oriented features that made it so appealing. There was plenty of space in the back, an extra oddment space box and some beautifully judged trim.
The centrally mounted instruments gave the interior of the car a wonderfully symmetrical look. And the huge headlights provided amazing vision at night
What you got, in the end, was a capable 4×4 that could deal with heavy off-road use. Remember this car hails from an era before the Qashqai redefined city 4x4s. Nissan expected you to go off road in this car, and boy did they make it capable of doing so. There are few cars that can better climb a grassy embankment than the X-Trail.
If you get one of these second hand, make sure the transmission doesn’t whine and check that the clutch has been replaced. Servicing these can be a little more expensive than other vehicles, so it’s a good idea to make sure yours is in good working order.