If you’ve got R500 000 to spend, why settle for used? Well, you’d be amazed what you can get for that kind of money. On the second-hand market, half a bar will go very, very far.
For R500 000 you can buy plenty of great, new cars. You can also purchase a relative bargain if you opt for a demo or low-mileage used car; something that would normally go for around R600 000. But we’re not talking about that here. No, we’re talking about crazy over-the-top 4×4s that you wouldn’t expect to be able to get your hands on for R500 000.
The fact of the matter is, cars at the top end of the big/powerful/exclusive/impractical/thirsty spectrum don’t always hold their value terribly well. You can easily find that a vehicle that was priced at more than R1 million just a few years ago is suddenly worth a mere R500 000. That’s obviously very bad news if you’re the original owner, but it’s great news if you’ve always wanted to treat yourself to a mean machine or luxury barge. Spending more than a million is tough to justify, but what about R500 000? Suddenly a luxury SUV starts looking like a real bargain.
Just before we examine some of the options available, however, it’s worth mentioning explicitly that you need to consider more than sticker price when shopping in this league. Maintenance on a R1 million+ vehicle can be crippling, and should something like a turbo go, you could be looking at a bill that equals the value of the car. So it’s important to be thorough and careful. A full service history is a must, and the lower the mileage, the better.
The Luxury Barge – 2011 Mercedes-Benz Gl500
The massive Mercedes-Benz GL500 is one very classy SUV. It’s incredibly powerful and oozes luxury, but never ventures into outright gaudy or ostentatious territory. It’s as sober and understated as a top-end luxury SUV could probably ever be.
It’s also got absolutely every-thing you could reasonably ask for: all the power you require, great comfort, top-end finishes and a very capable 4×4 system. This particular vehicle seems like a pretty solid buy. It appears clean and well looked after, and it’s got a full service history. Its mileage isn’t fantastic (90 000km), but it is more than five years old, so it’s about as good as you could hope to find.
The biggest concern, though, is probably that 5.5-litre V8, which promises to be very thirsty. But that is part and parcel of this sort of offering. A luxury 4×4 needs a burly engine, otherwise you might as well settle for an altogether more sensible vehicle. Come on, it’s an off-road icon.
Buy it because That’s a lot of luxury for R500 000.
Don’t buy it because You don’t want to spend all your money on fuel.
BEFORE YOU BUY: Double check the service history, and have the vehicle checked mechanically, too.
Price R499 999
Mileage 90 000km
Engine 5.5-litre V8 petrol
Transmission 7G-Tronic Automatic
The Bargain Beemer – 2013 BMW X5 xDrive30d
The BMW X5 is one of the original luxury SUVs. It’s been around for a long time and all that experience and heritage is clear in the quality of the more recent models. The X5 is an excellent all-round SUV. Sure, it’s not a rough off-roader, it’s not going to go where a GL500 or Range Rover are going to go, but it’s capable enough. More importantly, it is extremely composed on tarmac. Find a twisty piece of tar and the BMW is very fun to drive.
Another great feature of this particular X5 is its oilburner. The 30d is a great powerplant, delivering great big dollops of power and torque without being overly thirsty. It’s fun but sensible. Powerful, yet fuel-efficient. Buying a vehicle with a complex turbodiesel engine is always a bit of a risk, though. What if something goes wrong? Well, then you’re left with a huge bill. But this particular example only has 56 000km on the clock, which isn’t too much, and it still has a bit of its service plan left. That makes it a far less risky buy.
Buy it because As far as luxury SUVs go, this is actually a pretty sensible buy.
Don’t buy it because You know what they say about BMW drivers…
BEFORE YOU BUY: Check the service history. Try to make sure that turbodiesel is in a good condition.
Price R499 950
Mileage 56 640km
Engine Three-litre turbodiesel
Transmission BMW Steptronic Auto
The Sandton 4×4 – 2013 Range Rover Evoque SD4 Dynamic
It should be no surprise that there’s a Range Rover on this list. However, instead of looking at an oldish Range Rover Sport with a supercharged V8 (there’s no shortage of these available online, incidentally), we thought we’d subvert expectations and showcase something from left field: a Range Rover that’s actually quite a sensible buy.
This is a 2013 Range Rover Evoque with a 2.2-litre oilburner. It’s a Range Rover, boasting all the luxury that implies, but it’s easy to live with. It isn’t too big to pilot along busy city streets, and its engine is frugal. This example has 74 500km on the clock, which is a bit more than we’d like, but it does have a full service history. It also still has the balance of a five-year/ 100 000km maintenance plan. Overall, this is a very nice little 4×4 that you can buy for R500 000 without feeling too guilty or self-indulgent.
Buy it because It’s a sensible and affordable Range Rover.
Don’t buy it because You don’t want to be teased by your mates from the Land Rover Club.
Before you buy Check the service history. Try to make sure that turbodiesel is
in a good condition.
Price R499 995
Mileage 74 500km
Engine 2.2-litre turbodiesel
Transmission Six-speed automatic
The Unconventional Choice – 2015 Audi A4 Allroad 2.0TDI
This is an unexpected choice, especially in South Africa, where station wagons aren’t terribly popular, but we couldn’t scroll past this Audi A4 Allroad without giving it a nod. A station wagon is a wonderfully practical car; loads of space but still easy to handle. This A4 Allroad has the added allure of some off-roady styling and an AWD system.
Under its bonnet is a diminutive, but still potent, two-litre oilburner that offers 140kW of power and 400Nm of torque. It’s a very recent 2015 model with a mere
21 000km on the clock and loads of maintenance plan and warranty left. It has a full franchise service history, too. It’s not an obvious buy, but the more you look at it, the more sense it makes. Sure, you’re not going to tackle 4×4 trails in it, but for everything else, it’s a great car.
Buy it because You don’t actually need low range and a diff lock.
Don’t buy it because You actually need low range and a diff lock.
Before you buy Get a dog. Station wagons are perfect for people with dogs.
Price R469 995
Mileage 21 000km
Engine 2.0-litre turbodiesel
Transmission S-Tronic automatic
The Individualist – 2013 Infiniti FX50 S
Right, we’ve been sensible long enough now, so here’s another thirsty and impractical 5.0-litre V8. This is also a bit of an unconventional choice. What do most people do once they’ve scrounged up enough cash to afford a premium
vehicle? They buy a German car, just like everyone else.
So here’s something for the individualists: an Infiniti FX50. This one is the premium S version with a big V8 that pushes out a lot of power. It is fast, fun to drive and well equipped. Sure, it’s not a German car, but it showy and dramatic enough to still impress the neighbours, and that V8 will announce your arrival (and departure) wherever you go.
This particular car has 44 000km on the clock, which isn’t a lot for this kind of
engine, and it has a full franchise service history.
Buy it because You like swimming against the stream.
Don’t buy it because You want everyone to be perfectly aware that you’re driving a ‘premium’ car.
Before you buy Drive a Teutonic SUV with an oilburner.
Price R499 990
Mileage 44 000km
Engine 5.0-litre V8 petrol
The Crazy Hybrid – 2010 Porsche Cayenne S Hybrid
Here’s a rather interesting find: a Porsche Cayenne hybrid. It promises (and delivers) great performance, without forcing you to spend thousands upon thousands at the filling station. Just have a look at some of the original reviews online, and you’ll see how impressed people were when it first came out. The Cayenne S Hybrid boasts a 3.0-litre supercharged V6 petrol mill that’s boosted by an electric motor, delivering a total of 283kW and 578Nm of torque. That’s V8 levels of performance, but without the associated fuel bill.
That said, this is quite a lot of money for a vehicle that’s more than six years old. And then there’s the fact that plenty can go wrong in a vehicle as complex as this. On the plus side, though, the vehicle only has 60 000km on the clock and has a full franchise service history. You couldn’t quite call this a sensible buy, but it is certainly an interesting one.
Buy it because It is a ‘spiritual predecessor’ to the 918.
Don’t buy it because You’re worried about repair bills.
Before you buy Listen to the sweet, sweet sound of a roaring V8.
Mileage 59 950km
Engine 3.0-litre V6 supercharged petrol with electric motor
Text: GG van Rooyen