Five underrated cars you might buy for a bargain price

  • Thursday 1st January 1970

We take a look at five great but underperforming cars from different segments, to see where good buying may lie.

New-car sales were down by 12.8 per cent in July compared to the same month last year.

When looking at the figures on a year-to-date basis, this downward trend grows to 19.2 per cent in decline.

You can read colleague Joshua Dowling's full July VFACTS report here, which goes through the nitty-gritty of the market in great detail.

After sifting through the numbers, a few nameplates emerge as having a hard time in the market.

There could be multiple reasons for this. Stock shortage can be one culprit, as factories struggle to return to peak efficiency during the pandemic. This reason will sure enough be the case for a small portion of these under-performers.

However, more often than not, stock is not the issue. The other, more likely culprit, is a lack of demand – due to the current situation and economic predicament that we currently find ourselves in.

A quick search of each of these under-performers returns plenty of online dealership listings, both new and demonstrator, from across the country. That leads me to believe shortage of stock is not an issue. This makes them all ideal candidates for some prudent negotiation, then.

Let's take a look at a selection of five vehicles from different segments, to see where bargains may potentially lie.

Light cars under $25,000 – Volkswagen Polo

The Volkswagen brand's entry point the Polo hatch is doing it tough, as is the whole segment, for that matter. Plenty of alternatives from this segment will likely make good buying, but the VW stands out in particular.

The reason why is that there's currently more than 300 new and near-new demonstrators listed online, in the national marketplace. Given that this is just a peep into the total stock pool that's available, expect there to be even more out there on offer.

As a whole, this nameplate is down 42.5 per cent for the year of 2020, when compared to the same time period of 2019. For the month of July, 365 were reported to have found new homes, down from 438 this time last year.

There are plenty of variants of Polo offered, too, from entry-level manual models right up to the fiery GTI. Consider most tastes and expectations to be well catered for by the Polo.

Small cars under $40,000 – Mazda 3

The Mazda 3 has struggled since its move upmarket with the current generation.

Prices were up across the range, with the cost of entry lifted by a hefty $4500. That makes the current base-model Mazda 3 more expensive than the mid-grade model from the previous generation.

It also went on record too stating that the new car would sell less than the old one. By how much was not addressed, but the figures as of the month of July are certainly not worthy of celebration.

Mazda reported selling just 1224 in July, down from 1894 last year. However, the year-to-date figures say a lot more than that.

So far, a total of 8459 have reportedly left Mazda's possession, compared to 17,109 last year. That's a downward trend of 50.6 per cent.

If you're looking to jump into a small hatchback, then be sure to visit a Mazda dealer to see what deals they're willing to cut.

It's scored well here at CarAdvice, consistently netting in the eights, and some, depending of the variant tested.

Available in both hatch and sedan body types, the mid-level Evolve and top-spec Astina models are the picks of the range, having both scored well into the eights when assessed by the team here at CarAdvice.

Small SUVs under $40,000 – Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross

As expected, the most popular products are somewhat resisting the effects of the current economic situation.

Small SUVs are showing signs of recovery, with their reported July figure of 8144 examples sold surprisingly up when compared to last year's monthly count of 7330. However, overall year to date figures for the segment are down, by only 6.3 per cent.

The Eclipse cross is not weathering the storm too well at all, when compared to the wider segment.

Its year to date figure of 2382 results in it being down a whopping 43.9 per cent. Given the overall segment is down only 6.3 per cent, consider the Eclipse Cross not firing on all cylinders with the punters.

A quick peep at the online dealer new and demonstrator listings shows nearly 500 ready for new homes, so good buying is out there to be had.

If you're considering a small SUV, it might not be a bad option. Take a look at some of our reviews to get a better picture, and see for yourself whether it's worth your consideration:

Medium SUVs under $60,000 – Nissan X-Trail

As the single largest segment in the whole of the Australian car marketplace, one would assume that finding a cracking bargain in the sub-$60K medium SUV battleground would be close to impossible.

If cars are selling, why incentivise them to move? A fair point, and likely to be the case with some models, but not all nameplates are delivering for their brand owners.

From a segment standpoint, it remained relatively flat when looking at monthly performance versus the year before.

However, year-to-date, it is down 17 per cent. This means 17,397 fewer medium SUVs below $60K have been sold since the start of 2020 when compared to the same time period in 2019.

So, where is good buying likely to be found?

Nissan's X-Trail is down 28.9 per cent year to date. Its monthly figure further contributed to the slide, as it was also down by a similar 26.4 per cent.

Exactly 400 fewer X-Trails reportedly made it out of the showroom in July, compared to the year before. In total, Nissan is short 3239 against last year's figures.

What may also help the cause of driving a bargain is its age, as this version is now seven years into its product lifecycle.

Consider it the perfect storm to drive home a great deal. There's plenty available on the ground too, with a quick search revealing over 500 examples offered as either dealer new or dealer demonstrator cars.

Take a read of our latest X-Trail reviews, if this piques your interest:

Sports cars under $80,000 – BMW 2 Series Coupe / Convertible

Fancy a European two-door rear-wheel drive sports car? Well, if you're one of those rare, select few, then I have some good news for you.

BMW's rear-wheel-drive 2 Series range looks to be a prime candidate for nabbing a bit of a bargain currently.

The month of July saw this model range down 71.1 per cent. Yearly figures are down 34.9 per cent. Only 22 were sold in July. There's over 100 new and demonstrator listings online for Coupes and Convertibles. You do the math.

Some of those online listings are for the M240i version, too, which remains as an absolute peach of a car.

But don't take my word for it, James Ward scored it 9 out of 10. That's a glowing recommendation if I've ever seen one.

Now could be your time to step into a sporty number. Definitely consider the M240i, if the budget can make the stretch.