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How to buy a serious premium SUV on a €30k budget - and 5 models to see first

It’s a crowded market out there at the premium end. We look at the models to watch.

THESE DAYS THERE’S no shortage of SUVs on the used market. In fact there is an ever-increasing array of models on offer, especially from so-called premium brands like Audi, BMW, and Mercedes-Benz.

More recently, other brands like Volvo, and even Volkswagen, have begun repositioning themselves as premium. Some might argue that premium doesn’t just mean a high price, as is more commonly the case with modern SUVs. However, the quality of cars being turned out is undoubtedly improving.

The upsides to buying a used premium SUV is that in recent years the standard of equipment levels has gone up as has the safety features. A rise in popularity of PCP and finance deals is ensuring a steady flow of higher-spec models coming back into dealer stocks after the typical three-year term is over and customers upgrade to a new model.

Here’s a look at just some of the premium SUVs that you can pick up on the used market for less than €30,000.

1. Volkswagen Tiguan

Source: DoneDeal

Not only did the current Volkswagen Tiguan take a jump up in price when the current model went on sale in 2016, but it also made a big leap forward in quality. The German car company is gradually becoming more premium, and the Tiguan is a prime example.

Used models are starting to come back onto the market with many featuring a high spec. That represents a good saving over buying a new model. Roomy rear seats and a generous boot tick the practicality box, and on the move it delivers a generally refined ride.

Large wheels do detract from the smoothness of what is already a firm ride, so we think opting for mid-level Comfortline spec with 17-inch wheels is a wise move.

2. Audi Q3

Source: DoneDeal

The Q3 has been one of the most successful models for Audi in Ireland. Its raised driving position and compact dimensions have made it popular. But against its fresher rivals, the Q3 is now starting to show its age, especially inside.

Sportier S line models do have more appeal, with painted wheel arches and usually larger wheels, but these will also command more of a price premium.

Unlike other smaller Audis, the Q3 was not available with the venerable 1.6-litre TDI, so if you’re looking for a diesel model, it’ll have to be a 2.0-litre version, and these account for almost all Q3s on the used market. If you do come across a 1.4 TFSI petrol, it’s worth a look, as this makes for a nicer driving experience and it suits the Q3 well.

3. Audi Q5

Source: DoneDeal

Audi brought a new second-generation Q5 to market in 2017, but these remain above our €30k budget here. The good news is that the first Audi Q5 was a very good car and strong sales have resulted in a good selection available on the used market. It set a high standard for refinement at the time, making it a great family SUV.

The only blot on its copybook is that the diesel engines can sound a bit noisy when you drive it harder. Range-topping S line models still look great today, but the SE versions feature good levels of equipment including heated seats and an electric boot lid on facelifted models from late 2012 onwards.

4. BMW X3

Source: DoneDeal

We’ll skip straight past the first generation X3 for obvious reasons and concentrate on the much-improved second generation version that went on sale in 2010.

If you’re never likely ever to go off-road and tend to avoid driving in poor climatic conditions, then it’s worth searching out the ‘Sdrive’ version that foregoes all-wheel transmission and sending the drive to just the rear wheels.

This transmission was only available on the less powerful, but more economical engines.

5. Volvo XC60

Source: DoneDeal

Volvo is indeed moving into the premium territory these days, with the Swedish company having little problem in shifting XC90s, some of which cost close to six-figures.

The recently launched XC60 has a starting price of just under €48,000, so we’ll stick to looking at the used versions for now. This version was on sale for almost a decade, and it earned an excellent reputation in that time.

A spacious interior and generous boot space make it popular with families, and of course, there are the numerous safety features. The all-wheel drive versions can be both expensive to run and repair, but the two-wheel drive models fare better.

More: Want an SUV for €15k? 4 lesser-known brands to consider>

More: Want a car that will make your driveway stand out? 4 real head-turners for under €15k>

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About the author:

Dave Humphreys

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