Sure, buying a car brand-new has its perks. Things like the knowledge that nobody else’s bum has creased the seat fabric, that you’ve got the full factory warranty to cover any defects, and the reassurance that your car has never ever been in a crash.
However, those things come at a significant cost: depreciation. It’s the biggest financial drain that comes with car ownership, and most cars will see a massive chunk of their purchase value lost in the first three years. Bummer.
Yet, if you’re the kind of savvy shopper that doesn’t mind buying something used, depreciation very much works in your favour. Don’t need to drive the latest and greatest model? Opting for something that’s three years old could save you a bunch of cash.
So which cars cop the most depreciation after three years, and are thus ripe pickings for bargain hunters? We’ve trawled through resale data supplied by industry monitor Glass’ Guide to give you a segment-by-segment breakdown of Australia’s depreciation darlings:
Mitsubishi Mirage ES manual
- Three-year resale value: 41 percent
- Original RRP: $13,490
- Three-year estimate: $5665
The Mitsubishi Mirage may not quite equal the popularity of its main rival, the Kia Picanto, but Mitsubishi’s compact hatchback depreciates faster to give it an edge on the used car market. Yes, there’s an automatic and it’ll cost just a few hundred more, but for outright value it’s the base Mirage ES manual that’s a supremely wallet-friendly buy.
Holden Astra LS manual
- Three-year resale value: 46 percent
- Original RRP: $20,490
- Three-year estimate: $9425
Small cars tend to hold onto their value pretty well, with only a few exceptions. The Astra is one of them. The Euro-built Holden Astra hatch is a great-driving car with a comfortable interior and all the right equipment for everyday commuters, and the fact it cleaves more than half of its retail price in just 36 months means it’s great buying as a used car.
The manual actually has some appeal as a driver’s car, however the automatic option has an identical resale figure, so you won’t need to pay much more to secure one if you’d prefer a self-shifting gearbox.
Mind you, the Astra isn’t the fastest-depreciating vehicle in the small car segment. That honour goes to the Alfa Romeo Giulietta Super manual, which loses 56 percent of its original value $29,900 value to become a $13,156 bargain with plenty of Italian panache. However that’s still several grand more than the Astra, for a car that isn’t as good. We’d steer toward the Holden.
Skoda Octavia 110TSI manual
- Three-year resale value: 43 percent
- Original RRP: $25,890
- Three-year estimate: $11,132
The Octavia is already one of the keenest deals in the midsize market when brand new, and a low retail price coupled with high depreciation means it continues to hold the value crown for years down the line. A satisfying driver’s car, it’s also efficient and nicely designed both inside and out with plenty of European flair.
For an Asian alternative, the Toyota Camry doesn’t fare much better than the Skoda when it comes to resale, with most variants retaining just 44 percent of their purchase cost after three years. That means you can snare a base model Ascent petrol for a little over 12 grand once they’re at 36 months of age – which is a great deal, as the current Camry is a well-rounded, well-built and dependable sedan.
Holden Commodore LT 2.0L
- Three-year resale value: 36 percent
- Original RRP: $33,690
- Three-year estimate: $12,128
The Holden Commodore gets absolutely savaged by depreciation, with Glass’ giving the entry-level LT 2.0-litre turbo petrol just a 36 percent resale value at the three-year mark. That sees a car that once cost north of $33K drop to just over $12K as a used car, and given the sheer roominess of the Commodore’s cabin (not to mention its smooth, powerful and efficient turbo four-pot) that means you get a hell of a lot of metal for your money.
Interestingly the Skoda Superb 162TSI does even worse for resale than the Commodore, hanging on to a mere 33 percent of its $43,990 original retail sticker to sit at $14,516 after three years. It doesn’t have the power of the Commodore, but with a used value that’s not too far off that of the Holden it’s an intriguing alternative if you don’t mind paying a touch more.
Infiniti Q50 2.0t Pure
- Three-year resale value: 35 percent
- Original RRP: $54,900
- Three-year estimate: $19,215
Infiniti has been having a tough time getting traction in the Australian market. Despite its products being reasonably good cars in their own right, the competition in the premium segment is fierce indeed.
Ergo, they’re bargains as used cars. The base model Infiniti Q50 Pure 2.0-litre turbo may not have the sheer mechanical thrust of its twin-turbo V6 sibling, but it’s a good get with a retained value of just $19,215 after three years – at which point it’ll still have a year of coverage remaining on the factory warranty.
A mid-size premium sedan for less money than a new Hyundai i30? You read that right!
Haval H2 City 1.5L manual
- Three-year resale value: 41 percent
- Original RRP: $19,990
- Three-year estimate: $8195
The Haval H2 doesn’t really have a whole lot going for it, being one of the least impressive small SUVs on the market. It is, however, exceedingly cheap to purchase, and even cheaper to buy used. Less than ten grand for a high-riding small SUV really isn’t a whole lot of money.
Prefer an automatic? You won’t need to fork out much extra, as that model only retains 42 percent of its original purchase price.
If you want a REALLY small SUV, the Suzuki Ignis is another depreciation gem. The base Ignis GL manual retains only 44 percent of its original value over three years, meaning roughly $7000 should see you land one of the tiny crossovers in your garage. That said, its diminutive size won’t be for everyone.
Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV ES
- Three-year resale value: 42 percent
- Original RRP: $45,990
- Three-year estimate: $19,315
Here’s a bargain that more Australians should be taking advantage of. Not only is the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV the only plug-in hybrid SUV in the mainstream market right now, (which gives families the ability to avoid spending money on petrol) but it also cops huge depreciation that makes a pre-loved example cost less than a much-less-useful Mazda CX-3 does when new.
Haval H9 LUX
- Three-year resale value: 52 percent
- Original RRP: $40,990
- Three-year estimate: $21,314
Large SUVs are another vehicle category that generally does pretty well for retained value. After all, the Haval H9 that we’ve selected here still clings to more than half of its original purchase cost after three years, and it’s essentially a Chinese bootleg of a Toyota Prado.
But though “heavily inspired” by Toyota’s popular offroader, the Haval H9 actually has a lot going for it – not least of which is its ultra-keen $21K three-year estimated value. It’s a capable offroader that our friends at 4x4 Australia say will confidently weather the rough stuff, and should fit the bill for anyone looking for a cheap trail-ready wagon.
Somewhat surprisingly, the Japan-built Mitsubishi Pajero GLX 3.2L retains less value than the Haval (51 percent at $53,990RRP, for $27,543 after three years). A higher RRP means it still costs more as a used car, however, which makes the Haval H9 Lux the cheaper option.
Infiniti QX70 5.0S Premium
- Three-year resale value: 42 percent
- Original RRP: $104,400
- Three-year estimate: $43,848
V8 power? A sleek yet jacked-up bodystyle? Solid Japanese engineering? Dirt cheap as a used car? The Infiniti QX70 5.0S Premium is all of these things, thanks to hefty depreciation cutting it down from being a six-figure car when new, to something far more affordable when used.
If you’re not stressed whether it has a V8 or not, then opting for the 3.7-litre V6 version of the QX70 will trim the price even further, with the entry-level QX70 3.7 GT sporting a post-depreciation price that’s over $10,000 under that of its V8 brother.
Toyota 86 GT manual
- Three-year resale value: 50 percent
- Original RRP: $31,440
- Three-year estimate: $15,720
The Toyota 86 remains one of the sweetest-handling cars on the market today, and a healthy supply of them on the used market and generally low demand for sports cars means that you can bag a three-year-old one for about the same money as a new Toyota Yaris.
If you’d like something with a heck of a lot more grunt, the the Nissan 370Z N-Sport manual has the same 50 percent resale score as the 86, but a 245kW 3.7-litre V6 that flexes nearly 100kW more than the Toyota 86’s 2.0-litre flat four. With a projected three-year resale of $24,245, the Nissan 370Z (below) offers a lot of performance for the money.
It’s worth noting that there are several other sports cars that depreciate more than the above two, vehicles like Mercedes-Benz’s SL (48 percent) and SLC (46 percent) and the Jaguar F-Type (49 percent), however with many of them having retail prices that are deep into six-digit territory, they still don’t end up as ‘affordable’ at the three-year mark.
Great Wall Steed 4x2 2.0L diesel manual
- Three-year resale value: 29 percent
- Original RRP: $18,990
- Three-year estimate: $5507
We’ve saved the best for last. Well, not the best, but you know what we mean. The Great Wall Steed is a bare-bones workman-grade ute that’s already dirt-cheap when parked on the showroom floor, but a brutal 29 percent retained value means it’ll cost less than six thousand dollars when it clicks over to three years of age.
And for shoppers just looking for a basic work ute to get the job done, that price projection is no doubt more attractive than any feature list. In case you were interested, the Great Wall Steed has the dubious distinction of having the lowest resale value of any car currently on sale according to Glass’ Guide.