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The 10 best used car buys below RM100,000

Nothing beats the feeling of owning a brand new car but if you’re willing to buy a car that’s been ‘pre-loved’ you can get into something very tasty for the price of family sedan.

Buying a car is an important decision that requires careful thought. Why? Well aside from being the second most expensive decision we’re ever likely to make (unless you’re in the habit of buying Tiffany solitaire engagement rings), there are image and practical factors to consider.

Is your car merely a form of A-Z transport? Is it an extension of your personality? Are you looking to ferry the kids of have fun on a winding road on a Sunday morning?

So, with a mythical budget of between RM80,000 – RM100,000 and a thorough troll through the Motor Trader website, we present the 10 best used cars costing less than RM100,000. Just one reminder, all prices are negotiable so either get a lower price than what’s been advertised or walk away and find another example.

The Accord is Honda's large exec sedan model and great value at this price point

2009 Honda Accord 2.0 VTi (RM81,000)

Costing just below RM140,000 brand new, the Honda Accord is due for an update, probably in 2014. That doesn’t mean the current car is outclassed. Though it doesn’t seem to be as popular as the Toyota Camry, we’d rate the entry level Accord as a better car than the base Camry and subjectively anyway, it’s also better to look at. Don’t expect too much in terms of driver involvement and the brakes can be a bit weak and problematic but overall, assuming the mileage is acceptable, you’re getting a big, spacious and high-image saloon for the price of a B-segment sedan. Oh, and the fantastic Honda dealership network is a plus point too.

Yes it's 12-years old but a W220 S-Class has more prestige than any RM80k new car

2001 Mercedes-Benz S280 (RM81,800)

The W220 Mercedes-Benz S-Class had a tough act to follow as the replacement for the ‘cost no object’ W140 that preceded it so initial reactions were less than flattering. Build quality niggles and a feeling that the car is no longer the ‘ultimate executive limo’ caused massive depreciation, hence the low second-hand values. The S280 was the absolute bottom rung of the S-Class ladder but it may actually be the best long-term buy. It has fewer things that can go wrong on it and if you get a rare car with normal - as opposed to air, suspension then you may have a gem. At this price, expect mega mileage and there is more depreciation to come plus servicing will always be expensive, but you do end up with an S-Class Mercedes and star quality will never go out of fashion. You can find S320L examples for only RM70,000 or less but these have higher running costs and will have even more mileage on them.

The Mini Cooper has always been fun to drive at this price, it's affordable too

2005 Mini Cooper 1.6 (A) (RM85,800)

Like them or loathe them, you can’t deny that the Mini brand has cool factor by the truckload. BMW has cleverly managed to sell small cars at premium price tags and people keep coming back for more. You can actually find cheaper examples than this one, but we would recommend buying the newest one you can. By 2005, the R50 Mini Cooper was about to be replaced so all the bugs would have been ironed out by then. The Chrysler sourced 1.6-litre engine produced a decent 114bhp and 149Nm so performance is nippy though the CVT gearbox isn’t as nice to use as the manual. Check that everything is in good working order and you’ll end up with a fun and high-image car perfect for young and thrusting executives on the go.

Iconic design and VW build quality, the Beetle will look good for years to come

2007 Volkswagen Beetle 1.6 (A) (RM86,000)

As iconic as the Mini, the Beetle perhaps has even more fans due to its love-bug and hippie connotations. The New Beetle, the old one is called Beetle while the new one is The Beetle (go figure), was a hit when it debuted in 1998 though many complained about a lack of charm. A 2007 car is just halfway through the model life cycle so it should be problem free. The 1.6-litre car is not as common as the 2.0-litre version but then if all you want is style it’s the car to go for. It only has 101bhp and 148Nm so don’t expect to set any speed records. You do get a six-speed auto though and a vase to put flowers in but just like the Mini Cooper, this car is about looking good and getting people to look at you.

Old school and quick the Nissan 350Z is a great GT car. Chest wig not included!

2003 Nissan Fairlady 350Z (M) (RM88,800)

We’re getting into some serious money now so it’s time to look at a serious car. The 350Z is Nissan’s update on its Z cars and came about after the concept car drew rave reviews. It’s fairly old school in having a large capacity engine up front, rear wheel drive and only two seats. This example is an early car with the manual gearbox, which is more desirable for performance car fans. As with any sports car, condition is everything so get it checked out by an expert and look at consumables such as brakes, clutch plates and filters to make sure they’ve been changed on schedule and the car hasn’t been abused on the race track. This particular car is a grey-import but is being sold by a private seller so bargain hard to get the price down.

Buy this Subaru Impreza WRX and you too can pretend to be Petter Solberg on a WRC stage

2007 Subaru Impreza WRX (RM94,500)

If hairy-chest RWD sports cars aren’t your thing, then perhaps a turbo-charged 4-door rally special would be more attractive. The Subaru Impreza has been through so many incarnations it’s hard to keep up but this is one of the best from a price for performance standpoint. Also known as the Version 8 the car comes with a 2.0-litre turbocharged engine with 280bhp as standard. Almost every WRX we’ve ever seen has had some form of modification done to it, so if you’re interested make sure the owner lists out all the work. Problem areas will be brakes and clutches but the rest of the car is pretty much bomb proof. Track work is a very real possibility so if the car shows undue wear and tear, walk away and find another one.

It's barely a year old but you save nearly RM30k so this Pug 308 is superb value

2012 Peugeot 308 Turbo (RM94,888)

It’s not an old used car but when you can get nearly RM30,000 off the list price, it’s a deal that’s too good to ignore. This is probably one of the last pre-facelift units of the 308 Turbo sold, but that means the car comes with the 156bhp engine, six-speed auto, glass roof and a list of standard kit longer than on most luxury cars. The description says it’s a one-owner car and since it’s barely over a year old, there’s still close to two year’s left on the warranty so mechanical peace of mind is almost a given. Still, check for signs of abuse and ask the seller why they are selling the car. Since it’s from a dealer it could be a simple trade-in from a desperate seller so this could be one of the best bargains you’ll ever see.

It's nearly 16-years old but a Porsche Boxster will always be fabulous to look at and drive

1997 Porsche Boxster 2.5 (A) (RM98,800)

The only Porsche we could find to fit within our budget, the Boxster has always been our favourite convertible thanks to a combination of looks, handling, performance and that Porsche badge. This is the first generation car and an early example too so careful checks are needed. The basics include making sure the hood works flawlessly, the interior hasn’t faded due to the Malaysian climate and that the service records are up to date. Any major faults with a Porsche equates to a four-figure bill so don’t let the dream of owning one blind you to the ownership costs. The 2.5-litre flat-6 motor only has 201bhp and the 5-speed auto further saps your speed but for purity of handling, bombproof mechanicals and just to make your friends green with envy, a Porsche is the ultimate choice.

The S40 is a good used buy but haggle hard on the price and beware replacement parts costs

2008 Volvo S40 2.4 (RM83,800)

The all-new V40 will be launched in Malaysia later this year, but this 5-year old S40 still has much to recommend it. A facelift car, the S40 unfortunately gets compared to the Mercedes-Benz C-Class and BMW 3-Series so it comes off looking poor in comparison. Overall though there is nothing wrong with the car and the 170bhp and 5-speed auto gearbox combo is reliable and gives a very decent turn of speed. The trouble is that servicing costs are high so you should look for one of the many aftermarket service providers who can give a better parts and labour rate. Volvo is also suffering from a lack of dealerships so you can expect quite a bit of depreciation to come even on this car. Negotiate a price closer to RM80,000 though and you’ll get a very decent compact executive saloon that is loaded with safety kit and looks handsome too.

It's not very pretty but the X3 is a lot of BMW SAV for not a lot of money and it's nice to drive

2004 BMW X3 2.5 M-SPORT (RM93,800)

When BMW decided to venture into the SAV (Sport Activity Vehicle) market with the X5 nobody realised they intended to grow a full-fledged range of models too. The X3 was the second BMW X-car and was quite a change to its bigger brother. It looked ‘challenging’ when it came out and nearly 10-years of aging hasn’t improved the looks of this example. But, look beyond the sheet metal and you’ll find perhaps the most dynamic mid-size SAV of its time. The 2.5-litre engine was under stressed with only 190bhp and the ZF 6-speed auto is known for its reliability so this is a relatively painless BMW to own. Servicing costs are what you expect for a car costing nearly over three times more when new so make sure everything that should have been changed has been changed at the owner’s cost. Otherwise, it’s a cheap way to get into a BMW and depreciation will be less brutal than on a 3, 5 or 7 Series of similar age.

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