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Forecourt focus

Supermini values are sliding, with recent low-spec examples retailing for under £5k. Japanese models big on quality – such as Toyota Yaris, Daihatsu Sirion and Nissan Micra – now look superb value.

The charming and functional Yaris is a snip at just £4,500 for a basic 99T 1.0 S at an independent dealer. The GS has power steering for added driving ease: a 30,000-mile 99V retails at around £5k.

The efficient Sirion is often overlooked but offers nimble handling and eager engines. An 01Y 1.0E with 8,000 miles is just £4,000. A 1.0 EL, with electric windows and central locking is about £500 more at a supermarket.

The Micra is a reliable old-school supermini that's easy to live with. It's also very cheap now a replacement model has been announced. We've seen 02-plated basic 1.0 S three-door cars retailing for as little as £4,995 (list price is £7250).

How are the mighty A8s falling
Audi's A8 once had a sophisticated and exclusive image, but no longer. Despite its S-class-rivalling new price, five-year-old examples are Mondeo money.

Sport spec with leather and air con are the best choice; a 97P 2.8 Quattro with 60,000 miles is just under £11k at a non-franchised dealer.

A desirable (but thirsty) A8 4.2 quattro Sport, with Nappa leather and polished aluminium trim is around £13k at an Audi specialist for a 60,000-mile 97P.

And what is the reason for this plunging depreciation for the once-mighty A8?

Well, A8 simply isn't a Merc and it costs serious money to run. Of particular concern to the owner is the potential cost of having even the most minor of bumps. Repairs to the high tech alloy body can run into thousands of pounds.

Espace for improvement
The best-selling Renault Espace MPV has car-like handling and refined performance. It's also one of the most comfortable people carriers, with flexible loadspace or seats for seven. There's a new model due next year, so the current car is excellent value. A frugal 2.2dT RXE on 99T with 31,000 miles is £13k; a 99V 2.0 RT-X with 30,000 miles is £10k. A potent 170bhp V6 Grand Espace RXE with alloy wheels, ABS and a CD player is around £14k on 00W. Examples are from car supermarkets and independents; Renault dealers want at least £1,000 more.

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