Industry Blogger | Judging a Book by its Cover

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It’s no secret that car manufacturers use common parts across the various ranges and brands that they sell. They need to be able to generate the economies of scale that make the cars profitable. This is why you will find bits of VW in Audis, Toyota parts in Lexus, BMW in Mini’s and so on. Hence you see Renault and Mercedes developing the latest Smart Car and Twingo together. It’s why the big car companies share engine and chassis technology all the time. They have to do so survive, and it’s an increasing trend.

This generates a very interesting scenario for the used car buyer. ‘Platform sharing’ means you can get exactly the same mechanicals with a different body and badge in the same part of the market and for very different money. Indeed if you look at the family hatchback area you can see that the VW group have at least four cars that compete directly with each other. You can see this as A. Totally mad or B. indicative of the VW groups total domination of the European car market. Either way it’s great for the consumer. You may not realize the massive price differential between a Seat Leon and a mechanically identical Audi A3. It’s sobering stuff, particularly if you consider it’s easily possible to pay nearly £35,000 for a new Audi Q3, which runs the same mechanicals as the cars mentioned here.  So, here from the pages of, are four picks that show this trend in action.

Volkswagen Golf

Side image of the VW Golf

The Golf

The Golf is the definitive family hatchback. So much so that it has donated its name to the class for some years. The ride handling compromise is second to none and although the current platform is two generations old it’s still pin sharp. The cabin is sublime and it feels very, very well put together. Should hold its value well too. Cars for sale: A three year old car with the economical 2.0 diesel, in silver with only 28,000 miles on the clock can be had for £12,995.

Audi A3

The sporty and beautiful Audi A3

The A3

It’s amazing how much the right badge can set you back. Here’s a car all but identical to the Golf above. A 2010 A3 with the same engine, chassis and mechanicals – yet it’s far, far more expensive with the big wheels and jarring sports spec. And this despite the model having been launched in 2003. Cars for sale:  A three year old car, in black, with 28,000 miles and a 2.0 diesel engine is for sale at £16,500 Want to pay £4,500 for a badge? Go ahead and read on….

Seat Octavia

Side view black Skoda Octavia

The Octavia

A highly underrated and oft-overlooked car the Octavia is something of a favourite here at UsedCarExpert, which should tell you all you need to know. Big, comfy and tough – the Octavia takes the best bits of the Gold and adds a bit of Czech flair and common sense. Not that cheap anymore but still good value. Cars for sale: A three year old car with less than 35,000 on the clock and the same 2.0 diesel unit as the other cars is on sale for £11,000. A bargain by any standard.

Seat Leon

SEAT Leon from the front

The Leon

The least popular of the four Golf-based cars here. The Seat badge has never really taken off here in the UK – the little Ibiza being by far and away the best seller – and that’s a shame because an MPV like the Leon is a great car that handles seriously well and is just as practical as the Golf. Cheap too. Cars for sale: A three year old car with less than 40,000 on the clock and the same 2.0 diesel unit as the other cars but with the added bonus of a DSG semi-automatic gearbox is on sale for £9,000. That’s £7,500 less than the A3!

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Posted by admin   @   26 July 2012

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1 Opinions

  • Full Throttle

    I would choose Audi A3!

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