James Ruppert: when shopping saloons, designer labels make great used buys

James Ruppert: Ford Mondeo Vignale

Used Mondeos are good value – and better still in Vignale spec

Reader Lee reminded me of a glory time for Ford of Europe when it was making models that people really wanted to buy. He has seen some of the classics that pop up on our pages.

“My absolute top car of its time and better than anything around was the Mk2 Granada Ghia,” he says. “This was such a wonderful, large, luxurious car and the 2.8 injection engine was lovely and fast.” Lee has owned plenty and the other day, when I saw a Mondeo Vignale estate in the wild, I wondered if the middle-management luxury car still exists on the used car market. It does.

So let’s start at the Vignale end of things. If anything is Granada-ish, especially when it comes to Ghia X spec, then it is one of these with the equally iconic Italian designer name. As you know, this is a Mondeo with knobs on. These are depreciation black holes so prices start at around £12,900, for which you will get a dealer-supplied 2016 2.0 TDCi diesel with an automatic gearbox and more than 75,000 miles. If you want the added practicality of an estate, then another 2016 example, but this time with a manual gearbox, is £13,900 with 65,000 miles.

If we were to create the full, 1970s-80s experience and sniff some petrol fumes, I would like to be the first to state the obvious that there are not many in circulation. A 2.0 Ecoboost automatic from 2016 with 31,000 miles is £15,200. The Mondeo Vignale is also available as a thoroughly modern hybrid. A 2018 one with 25,000 miles and an automatic shifter is a solid £20,000. Golly, don’t they have a lot of chrome fillets and bits on them? Wonderful.

Is anyone else doing this? Not as much. Friendly rival Vauxhall has the Carlton-esque Insignia in SRi VX-Line trim. Certainly, it seems to be the current-generation Partridgemobile. Anyway, you can get a 2018 2.0 diesel with 23,000 miles at around £15,500. Mind you, a 2018 1.6 petrol with under 10,000 miles is a rather tempting £17,999 under the Network Q scheme. Then again, a 2017 2.0 diesel SRi with 14,000 miles is on the same buying terms for £13,999.

Then there is the previous-gen Peugeot 508, which seems to be overlooked by many but is a saloon that you ought to consider in the mid to late part of its depreciation cycle. As we have been dealing at the higher end of the market, just under £15,000 will get you into a 2.0 BlueHDi 180 GT automatic with just 22,000 miles.

At least you wouldn’t spot many others on your motorway travels. Whether any of these moderns is as achingly cool as the old Ghia stuff, I leave that to you. Better fuel consumption, more comfy and safer will swing it for most.

What we almost bought this week

Lexus IS200: A straight-six 2.0-litre petrol engine, rear-wheel drive, sporty looks and a generous spec – Lexus’s tilt at the compact executive saloon market caused a stir back in 1999. We found a 2000 X-reg Sport for £995. It has done a heroic 173,000 miles but don’t panic: the seller is a Lexus tech who has cherished it and it has had only two owners.

Reader’s Ride

Julian Booth makes a great point: “Insurance companies can be quick to write off vehicles when all it takes is a bit of repair work to put the vehicle right. “Here’s my 11-plate Freelander 2, which had a small amount of panel damage to the front wing, rear passenger door, panel behind the door and end of the plastic bumper. It was purchased for £4500 and a check showed no chassis damage or distortion. “Second-hand parts were £175 and a quality respray means I have one of my favourite vehicles for £5550.”

Tales from Ruppert’s garage

BMW 320, 83,523 miles: If my calculations are correct, we are closing in on the Baby Shark’s last official MOT. I think the sills will be okay, but I would like them cosmetically enhanced soon. Otherwise, it is the tyres that give the most concern, despite having a full tread and a reassuring Michelin branding. The thing is they are pretty old now, so should be replaced. Meanwhile, my Michelin pressure monitor system from Fit2Go is working well. I positioned the unit in the top centre of the windscreen so it reminds me of BMW’s old check control system.

Reader’s Questions

Q. I’ve heard personal leasing is catching on as a way of getting a new car. Is it better than personal contract purchase (PCP)? Derek Longfellow, Peterborough

A. Both methods require you to put down a deposit, typically equal to three monthly payments, and pay the balance over, for example, three years. Which is better depends on your circumstances, but one downside of leasing is that – unlike a PCP, which gives you a choice – you must hand the car back at the end of the term. This means that to avoid any penalty charges, you must keep the mileage within the agreed limit and the vehicle in tip-top condition. Given life’s uncertainties, that could be a pain. John Evans

Q. I’m torn between a Skoda Citigo and VW Up. Styling and image differences aside, what’s to choose between them? Susan Holmes, via email

A. Prices start at £8890 for the Citigo and £10,080 for the Up. The VW offers up to five engines to the Skoda’s two and the Up is available with an automatic gearbox but the Citigo isn’t. Ups go from insurance group one, the equivalent Citigos group two. The Up is available with more optional styling packs. The Citigo is cheaper and simpler and its dealers score high on customer service but you’ll feel cooler in an Up. John Evans


Ford looks to Vignale brand to boost European sales

Top 10 best compact saloons 2019

The Ford Mondeo 25 years on

Source: Autocar Online

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