Volkswagen Golf R

Cult performers star on value retention


The last of our conventional car Auto Bakkie Race Gumtree Pre-Owned Car Awards shootouts before we move on to our six utility vehicle features, round six of twelve looks at performance cars, which quite surprisingly maintain their value best of all categories we have looked at so far. Perhaps it’s their cult value, but on average, this quintet has looked after its owners best of all. 

Gumtree’s pre-owned advantage
The Gumtree Pre Owned Awards showcase the best used cars across twelve categories every year and with three previously-owned cars selling for every new one sold in South Africa, that’s quite pertinent. Also, while many Car of the Years choose their best new cars, only the Gumtree Awards seeks to determine the best used cars out there, while also singling out the five that also best retain their value before announcing the best car in each category.

So, based on Unitrans pre-owned car sales data, but in alphabetical order, the Audi S3, BMW M240i, Nissan 370Z, Subaru WRX STI and Volkswagen Golf R are already all winners in their own right because they best maintain their value among all used performance cars this side of six-hundred grand in the SA market. But which is our favourite, and how close – or how far we will be versus the full Jury decision come 24 October?

It was not long ago that we were testing these five performers when they were still new, so before we consider how they shape up against each other as pre-owned bargains today, let’s look back at what we said about them new, a year or two back…

Audi S3 – Wolves & Sheep
The Audi S3 and is quite conventional. It’s macho enough, but still reserved – it fails to flaunt undue expectations. But it performs like a car three times the price – this wolf in sheep’s clothing rushes to 100km/h in just 4.7 seconds. That’s quick – super quick.

S3 is also s a brilliant all-rounder – doing most of what you’d expect from a full bore super saloon like its S6 – or even RS6 siblings, it does so at the absolute minimum outlay. It’s a bargain that should never be overlooked – it’s the super sleeper – especially at the price.

BMW M240i – Two for Six!
Ten years ago, we were blown away by the first everyday car we’d ever tested at under 5 seconds to 100km/h. Now this regular growling three-litre turbo straight six coupe rushes to 100 in a little over four-and-a-half seconds, proving how cars have progressed in so short a time. 

And at 725 grand it’s also a pretty compelling step-down alternative, so if someone who bought a used 630i for R700K in 2007 wants to spend that sort of money on a BMW today, they may find this Two to be probably even better than that ten-year old Six. And that’s a fair compromise!

Nissan 370Z – Life in the Old Dog
It’s been around for a while, but Nissan’s latest 370Z packs in a good few novelties to keep it current – and topical. The good old 245kW 3.7-litre V6 is still mated to a six-speed manual gearbox, but now it gets auto double-de clutching and a LS diff.

So, it’s defter in steering, follows though splendidly and really enjoys a bit of slap and tickle to drift about with aplomb when appropriate. And with so few cars in its bracket to offer any real alternative, the good old Samurai fights on in pretty good style.

Subaru WRX STi – Maturing Like Wine
We have always had a soft spot for the Subaru WRX STi and we still love this latest Premium Edition with a few tweaks here and there. As ever the purposeful soundtrack and taut ride set this WRC-bred machine apart, while that splendid AWD driveline remains simply exceptional.

Now far more sophisticated inside and out versus those crass old original STis, Premium builds on an already impeccable platform to ensure STi remains quite a car. It certainly has its place and its pretty exclusive too – and it really was good to see our old friend.

Volkswagen Golf R – Beyond Reproach
Golf R plays an interesting game –  rivalling S3 Sportback, undercutting 240i by a healthy chunk and taking a hundred grand out of an A45. Yet it competes toe-to-toe with all of them and this new 213kW version is two-tenths quicker to 100 in our tests too. 

Still among our favourite cars, the brilliantly balanced King of Golfs is powerful, fast, frugal and brilliantly dynamic, while all at the same time offering a stylish and attractive set of wheels. And there’s more to it than just performance to ensure Golf R delivers beyond reproach.

Cult value?
Two years down the line, these five cars seem to defy the generally greater depreciation in used car value we have seen so far this year. They have all retained more than 80% of their new value, so on average they look after their owners’ pockets best. 

So much for Q-cars losing value faster, but the Golf and the Audi are the real winners in value retention at over 86% each, while none of the five are really bargains, so this one is very much a seller’s market.

Performance is king in this neck of the woods and to be honest, all of them impressed in our road tests. As we say above, ten years ago the slowest car here would have been among the quickest cars on the road, but now that level of performance Is the norm in this more or less entry performer niche, where the BMW all but edges the VW and Audi to 100km/h and that trio share out the honours in our other road test ratings.

Looked at versus fuel economy, the Audi pips the VW, with the BMW next up, while in more practical terms, the Subaru will do the best family job ahead of the BMW and Golf. Boring down to cost of ownership, the Nissan is the cheapest to maintain out of warranty and service plan, but while it has a long warranty, its maintenance plan will expire soonest, where the German trio all have another three years left.

There is however one car among this five that we believe stands head and shoulders over the rest and that’s the Volkswagen Golf R that is either best, or close to best in every aspect we measure here. 

But that’s just our view how our Gumtree Pre Owned Juror peers score this lot overall combined may very well be different, so watch for the final result when Gumtree’s best Pre Owned Medium Luxury Sedan is announced on Thursday 24 October.

In the meantime, come back every day or two to keep following our coverage on each category and use the links below to navigate between them. – Michele Lupini

Gumtree is offering South African motorists the opportunity to win a car by simply placing their vote for the People’s Choice Award. To vote simply go to click here and follow the prompts.

Gumtree Pre Owned Awards Program & Links
Budget City Cars 
Light Hatchbacks
Medium Hatchbacks
Medium Saloons
Medium Luxury Saloons
Performance Cars
Double Cab Bakkies
Crossover Vehicles
Entry SUVs
Medium SUVs
Large SUVs
Luxury SUVs
All The Winners

Auto Bakkie Race has revised its Road Test Rating System to deliver a more versatile 1-10 score. Over the past few years, very few cars tested ever achieve less than 75% in our previous scoring system and hardly any more than 95%. The new ABR Rating works in a 1 to 10 basis, where 1 represents a traditional score of  75% or less and 10 is 95% or more.

Auto Bakkie Race road tests all cars using state of the art Racelogic VBox test equipment, both at coastal altitude or at the Reef. All cars are tested starting at the same point on the same test road in all tests. Reef tests are differentiated by (1500m ASL). Where we have tested both sides, both sets of figures are published. Coastal acceleration data most often delivers quicker results due to the higher oxygen content of air at lower altitudes.