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Looking for a used car that's a bit left-of-centre, yet also not too out-there? Here are 5 PARF cars you can find today that might do the trick!
Category: Car Buying Advice
COE premiums may have dipped in the previous round, but that hasn't made buying in the new car arena any less painful than before. It thus stands to reason that some buyers are looking to the second-hand market instead, for a car that suits their needs at a slightly more palatable cost. (We say 'slightly' because prices have risen uniformly anyway.)
You have two options here: PARF cars, which are still running on their original COEs, and COE cars, which have been renewed for either five or 10 years. Going for the latter option isn't necessarily risky considering that properly-maintained modern cars are more than capable of lasting past 10 years, but it's also understandable that you'd want to play it safe and choose something that's still on its first legs.
But yet another benefit presents itself when looking at the used car market: It's a wonderful treasure trove for options that are either left-of-centre, or that may no longer be on sale. To the family man or lady out there that's more comfortable in being road-anonymous, yet also desires a little twist from their rides, here are five models spanning different body styles and brands that warrant a second glance.
Stationwagon: Hyundai i30 Wagon
Registration years: 2018 - 2019
Price range: $83,800 - $98,888
Range of annual depreciation range (currently listed): $11,130 to $12,890/year
It's a shame that station wagons aren't more well-loved in Singapore, considering the incredible utility, and sometimes, value that they can offer. Then again, the preference for other body styles does have a positive flip side, since it surfaces the opportunity to own and drive something slightly different. Case in point: The Hyundai i30 Wagon.
The Wagon variant of Hyundai's best-selling hatchback is one of the few station wagons in the compact "budget" (the inverted commas should be evident if you're Singaporean) segment that you can buy here. Using the i30 as its blueprint means that even the extra length doesn't make the Wagon feel too unwieldy; at 4,585mm, its body is still shorter than that of compact family sedans like the Toyota Corolla Altis. But you do get a much larger trunk than the hatchback, since capacity stands at 602 litres (and can get bumped to 1,650 litres).
Styling isn't changed too radically from its shorter sibling - it's basically just stretched - and since the i30 is arguably a handsome hatch, the Wagon is also more than easy on the eyes.
Another point to note is that only the 1.0-litre turbo-engine variant of both the i30 and i30 Wagon are now on sale brand-new, no thanks to the power caps placed for cars on Category A. If you don't mind going without the mid-life facelift (that brought in a new grille, Hyundai's SmartSense, and better infotainment connectivity), the previous 1.4-litre turbo-engine with its extra cylinder may just provide you with that extra oomph when driving.
Read our review of the Hyundai i30 wagon when it was released here!
Full-sized MPV: Honda Stepwagon Spada
Registration years: 2018 - 2021
Price range: $125,800 - $163,988
Range of annual depreciation range (currently listed): $15,100 to $18,310/year
Enjoy the cavernousness of a Honda Odyssey or Toyota Estima/Previa, but afraid that you might walk up to the wrong car in the car park? The chances of that happening will probably be lowered (not eliminated, we hasten to note) with this: Honda's fifth-generation Stepwagon, stylised 'StepWGN' in Japan.
Everything you'd possibly desire from a full-sized MPV is here - the choice between seven or eight seats, powered sliding doors, as well as van-like proportions to give you the feeling that you're piloting a spaceship. But this particular StepWGN does this with a couple of twists.
Firstly, Honda's engineers have tinkered with the tailgate such that it not only opens upwards, but also has a barn-door like mechanism that allows one part to swing open sideways.
Designed with tight spaces in mind, this enables access to the rear of the car without you having to worry that there isn't enough room for the entire tailgate to be raised. It's the sort of feature only the Japanese would be able to come up with, and even has a fitting name to boot (ha ha); it's called the 'Waku Waku gate', which means 'exciting gate' in Japanese. Cute.
Secondly, the Stepwagon differentiates itself from the aforementioned full-sized Jap MPVs on the powerplant front.
Its debut was not only notable for those Waku Waku doors; it also helped to usher in a new engine (this would later find application in a very well-loved sedan): Honda's (then) all new, 1.5-litre VTEC Turbo unit. Sadly, we haven't gotten to drive the Stepwagon here at sgCarMart, but we don't doubt that it could keep up with its aforementioned key competitors, both in terms of pace and efficiency.
Compact family sedan/hatchback: Mazda3 2.0 Sport
Registration years: 2015 - 2018
Price range: $53,800 - $74,888
Range of annual depreciation range (currently listed): $11,470 to $12,390/year
Enjoying widespread favour with PHV/rental fleets means that the Mazda3 is often given short shrift in the motoring community. In truth, however, it's a true testament to Mazda's car-making magic. Its well-supported front seats, spot-on driving position and alert steering, especially, are rivalled by few in the mass market, much less something that boasts its fuel economy.
If we've ever had anything to quip about regarding the Mazda3, however, it's that its 1.5-litre N.A. sometimes feels less than up to scruff, especially at highway speeds; we'd go so far as to call it its lingering achilles heel. Thank god there was this then: The unfortunately short-lived, but sublime 2.0-litre SkyActiv-G variant.
Named the 'Mazda3 Sport' by local authorised dealer Trans Eurokars, this more energetic variant received only blink-and-you'll-miss-it cosmetic tweaks; the sedan's trunk is affixed with a subtle spoiler, the hatch gets twin exhausts (instead of the single one on the 1.5-litre variant), while both ride on 18-inch alloys over the standard 16"s. That last bit, however, is arguably the most important - something has to support that extra 44bhp and 60Nm of torque.
As the market stands, depreciation for the Mazda 3 Sport is on par with what you'll see for the higher trim levels of the current generation on sale, which sadly, also only come with the smaller engine. While the Sport's tech and refinement may be slightly stuck in the past, all that extra dynamism - and exclusivity - bundled into the same family-friendly package presents a tempting deal-breaker.
Compact executive sedan: Infiniti Q50
Registration years: 2015 - 2020
Price range: $60,000 - $129,888
Range of annual depreciation range (currently listed): $12,070 to $15,130/year
If left-of-center is one of the underlying themes of this list, need we say more about this entrant? You'll notice that Polestar has silently (on the move, not in terms of marketing) replaced Infiniti in the line-up of local authorised dealer Wearnes, following the latter's announcement that it would stop producing RHD cars. That means that every Infiniti out there is now extra exclusive.
But then again, non-attention seekers need not fear; the Infiniti Q50's party trick is being concomitantly anonymous and outstanding. While that badge may still garner curious looks, everything else about it - from its parent company to its reputed reliability - is un-worrying and uncontroversial. It even manages to look muscular and modern with its 'water-inspired' design without running the risk of dividing opinions.
All of this is not a bad thing considering that the Q50 is supposed to appeal to the crowd that enjoys an upmarket ride without too much dazzle. We noted comfort and refinement to be the key strengths of the Q50, and while it certainly won't be winning drag races, the turbocharged 2.0-litre four-pot found in most units here is punchy enough, and very, very smooth.
For every 10 Audi A4s, Lexus ISes, BMW 3 Series and Mercedes-Benz C-Classes out there, there's probably only 1 Infiniti Q50 on our roads, making it a compelling (and surprisingly low-depreciating) alternative. As a side note, maintenance also shouldn't be an issue since Wearnes is still around to handle servicing.
Read our review of the facelifted Infiniti Q50 when it was released here!
Mini MPV: Volkswagen SportsVan / Golf SV
Registration years: 2016 - 2019
Price range: $59,800 - $101,800
Range of annual depreciation range (currently listed): $11,350 to $12,010/year
The mini MPV segment (the term itself feels oxymoronic) has thinned out considerably in recent years - we no longer have the coach-doored Opel Meriva, nor glasshouse-like Citroen C4 Picasso - leaving only the BMW 2 Series Active Tourer and Mercedes-Benz B-Class as its last, premium-only reps today.
Go back in time just a little, however, and you'll also find this well-mannered, slightly taller Golf standing before you. The SportsVan / Golf SV takes the same formula (and MQB platform) that's made its sibling well-loved, but sprinkles a bit more practicality over it.
Rear passengers not only get fold-down tray tables, but just as importantly, more headroom too. Meanwhile, boot space is generous at 500 litres (120 litres more than that generation's Golf). As a pleasant surprise, all that extra length, height, weight and width doesn't actually translate into a drastically dulled drive. In our time with the car years back, we noted that the Golf SV holds onto the road very well, while responding to inputs predictably and obediently.
Being the larger twin fraternal twin to the Golf Mk7/7.5, we'll also say the infotainment systems inside the Sportsvan/Golf SV (the former is pre-facelift) are where we've most enjoyed the tinkering of VW Group in recent memory. Pre- and post-facelift, they offer a well-weighted balance between tactility and touch-operability, and thus feel modern without coming off as trend-chasing. For those hopping off hatchbacks (but certainly not onto SUVs), this one's a compelling option.
Read our review of the facelifted Volkswagen Golf SV when it was released here!
*All figures based on listings as of 26 April 2022.
If these PARF cars don't tickle your fancy, you'll be sure to find one that you like out of the thousands of listings here!