/ Motoring

How much are you willing to spend on a car brand name?

Kia Pro_Cee'd GT

The UK economy might be showing some signs of progress, but many of us are still feeling the squeeze. This makes shopping for a new car even tougher. Would you turn to a budget brand for your new motor?

A car is the second most expensive purchase that many of us will ever make. And when you’re parting with tens of thousands of pounds, you want to make sure that the car you buy is up to the job, right? But does that mean you have to pay premium prices for a big name brand? I’m not so sure…

If you’re looking for a good quality and fast hatchback, the default option for many is a Volkswagen Golf GTi. What you get is a speedy, beautifully constructed machine which is easy to live with, but equally good at plastering a massive smile on your face. However, you’ll have to stump up over £25,000 for the privilege.

Kia vs Volkswagen cars

I recently spent a week with the Kia Pro_Cee’d GT (pictured) and was impressed with its performance and general feel-good factor. No, it’s not as polished as the German competition and it won’t retain its value as well when you come to sell it in a few years – but you’ll have spent around £6,000 less in the first place. And I don’t know whether a Volkswagen badge is worth that much more…

Shop around and the outlook gets even bleaker for potential Golf buyers since you can find larger discounts on the Pro_Cee’d GT than the Volkswagen. Take these into account and you’ll have to raise an extra £7,000 to put a Golf on your drive. Despite the increased cost though, there are evidently people out there who are happy to pay for premium models – the BMW 3 Series for instance, vastly outsells the cheaper and larger Ford Mondeo.

But the question is, how much of a premium are you willing to pay for the ‘right’ brand? And which factors will make you reach further into your wallet – economy, equipment, performance, resale values, perceived quality? You tell me.


I buy cars based on a mix of comfort and practicality. Every time I go looking, I end up with another Volvo!

There is little doubt that for any given specification wish list you can either buy a car with “a badge” and pay more or you can buy a car with a “less desirable badge” and pay much less.

But which is the best approach?

Buy the badge for more dosh and usually (but not always) you get something at least better screwed together and made out of more robust components. It will usually last longer, but you’ll still probably experience high depreciation, mainly because should anything go wrong “the badge” is usually expensive to mend.

Buy the less desirable badge and it will very probably do the same job, at least initially, but might not be so well put together, and from lower quality or less robust components. It won’t last so long but you won’t pay so much for it.

So really it’s about individual choice. Pay less and replace more often or pay more and keep longer. But there is also that other very human factor, snob value or show off factor that can often defy all logic.

We are just in the process of trading in our old KIA Picanto (54-reg) for a much newer KIA Rio. The old KIA cost £3000 in Feb 2010, and has been used as a runabout by my wife, covering just 3000 miles/year.
As you might expect, with so many cold starts the motor is a little worn, even at 62000 miles. The only failure we’ve had, though, was a power steering pipe in the hard winter of 2010/11, which I believe was due to snagging it on ice and deep snow by the side of a main road. Cost for depreciation has been only 21p/mile, even on such a low mileage.
The Rio is an order of magnitude better than the Picanto in ride quality and general driveability, yet the two year old one we are buying cost only half the current new price and has completed just over 16000 miles. And of course we have the balance of the seven-year manufacturer’s warranty to avoid costly repairs (which from experience aren’t unlikely anyway) until at least March 2018.
So all you badge freaks keep up the good work avoiding KIAs, and we will keep profiting from your profligacy!

Ray Couch says:
25 January 2014

Having been a Mercedes owner driver for 8 years, I decided to buy the new A class. then i read all the reports and costs. Then I went for a test drive in a Hyundia whos top of the range i20 model costs less than half of the A class. I take delivery of the Hyundia in the middle of March. Watch this space as how I get on.