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buying advice

How to buy a savage SUV on a €12k budget - and 4 models to check out

Want a big car with a big badge? Here’s where to look.

FOR THE LAST few years, SUVs have been one of the most popular segments in Ireland.

More recently crossovers, or smaller SUVs, have begun to also increase in popularity, with more and more car makers now introducing models to this part of the market.

But when it comes to used SUVs, there are now some great value deals to be had – especially when it comes to premium brand models. Here’s our pick of some savage second-hand SUVs that you can pick up for under €12k.

1. Porsche Cayenne (2003-2010)

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The Cayenne was a significant change for Porsche, the company best-known for producing some of the finest sports cars in the world. Some thought the company had lost the plot by introducing an SUV, but it turned out to be a massive hit, with the first-generation going on to sell more than 270,000 units.

It does share some components with the Volkswagen Touareg and first-gen Audi Q7, but much of the fine-tuning is different. The 3.2-litre petrol V6 is a common choice and has decent levels of performance.

As with many premium vehicles, the Cayenne can be expensive to run, and not just when it comes to filling the tank. It is well-known for being hard on tyre wear, and those aren’t cheap to keep replacing. There is a good selection of examples on the used market, so choose wisely.

2. Land Rover Range Rover Sport (2005-2013)

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More commonly known just as the Range Rover Sport, this SUV sold in pretty significant numbers in Ireland and is one SUV that still cries Celtic Tiger.

These days there are plenty on the used market, but sadly there are still lots of these now that either look tired or have been tarted up with ghastly aftermarket wheels. Steer clear of non-OEM 20-inch wheels, as these required a damped steering rack, so those with these wheels fitted after won’t handle anywhere near as well and may be prone to other steering problems.

Look around for a tidy one, especially with low mileage, and a Land Rover service history. One of the most well-known issues is the air suspension, which can be prone to developing leaks and is costly to replace. Other expensive fixes include brake pipes and turbos in the diesel engines.

3. Audi Q7 (2006-2015)

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The Q7 was Audi’s answer to the BMW X5 and Mercedes-Benz ML. Its looks have now started to date, especially compared to the current version, but it remains a large, imposing SUV.

Inside, the cabin is well made but is now showing its age. Buyers with kids will like the seven-seat functionality, and it still manages to retain a useful boot size.

Diesel engines are naturally the order of the day here but do look carefully at the service history. Early models don’t have a great reliability record, with 2006 models scoring the second least reliable in warranty surveys. That aside, it rides well and has reasonable levels of performance.

Many of these have also been converted to commercials, which may be of interest to some business buyers.

4. BMW X5 (2007-2013)

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The second-generation BMW X5 models are now starting to come down in value. This model was the first X5 to offer a seven-seat option, although the two rearmost seats are quite small and are at best suited to small children. Stick to the five-seat model, and you get a spacious cabin that has a solid, premium feel to it.

Considering its size, it handles reasonably well and on longer journeys has a comfortable ride. As with many upmarket SUVs, larger alloy wheels are common but they can hamper the ride quality – so if you like things to be smooth on the road look for models with18-inch wheels.

Watch out for any suspension issues and check that all of the infotainment systems are working correctly. If you take a test drive and find that the gear shifts from the automatic gearbox are a bit rough, it could just need a change of transmission fluid.

More: How to buy a car that will run for years – and 3 models to check out first>

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