Are COE cars good buys? Here’s what you should know

bmw 320i convertible

COE cars are typically cars that are more than 10 years old, or already have their COE renewed, hence the term COE car. On the other hand, PARF cars are cars that are less than 10 years old without a COE renewal.

COE cars may be good for you if :

  1. You badly want a car that was too expensive when new. Now that it’s COE renewed, it’s much more affordable (e.g a COE Maserati GranTurismo 4.2A can be had for under $150k, which is around the same price as a brand new Toyota Camry from Borneo Motors as of the time of writing)

  2. You can’t afford the monthly payments on a PARF car (COE cars can have lower monthly payments since the price is lower, and the loan tenure is longer)

  3. You just want the cheapest car possible, so that you can spend the least amount of money on transport (e.g getting a COE Toyota Vios 1.5 that costs only between $5k – $6k per year in depreciation)

  4. The car model that you die die wanted when you were younger is no longer in production (e.g Evo 9 ๐Ÿ˜‹)

There could be other reasons, feel free to let me know. But generally, I think these are the main reasons for getting a COE car.

Now – my take is that COE cars can be good buys if it suits your needs. And since everyone has different needs, COE cars are definitely perfect for someone out there.

BUT take note of the following :

  1. COE cars may not be as reliable as PARF cars, since COE cars are older, they may be less reliable due to wear and tear. And because they are older, getting parts for them may not be as easy since the parts may be out of production

  2. It may be harder to get a loan for a COE car since not all banks finance them (and the interest rate for COE cars tend to be higher as well)

  3. COE cars have higher road tax (since road tax rate increases from 10th year onwards)

  4. I can’t be too sure on this, but from what I’ve seen and read online, it seems that COE cars can be harder to sell as compared to PARF cars

If you more or less get the idea of COE cars from the above, let’s explore some nice cars I found that could be for a COE car buyer.

Now obviously I don’t know your needs/budget etc. So the cars I’m sharing below are just COE cars that got my attention because of the price/looks and other factors that make me excited.

1. If u want a car that looks sporty but is cheap and reliable

Honda Civic. Check out this one that’s been modded to look like a Type-R :

Saw this car awhile back but I can’t seem to find the listing anywhere now. Perhaps if you get a Civic you can use this as inspiration ๐Ÿ˜…

2. If u want a car that looks sporty but is not that cheap and has about average reliability

BMW Z4 is a car that comes to mind. There are of course, other models that also fit this description later on in this post.

3. If u want to make your workshop rich

“I wanna get a car that has terrible reliability so I can spend all my time and money at the workshop!”

Say no more, I gotchu fam.

Here are your choices :

  1. An old French car (Renault/Citroen)
  2. A continental car (BMW/Merc/Audi) with high mileage and dubious service records
  3. A sports car that you know has been thrashed and has more than 6 owners
  4. A car that is selling much cheaper than similar cars in the market (best to go down and see the car yourself since some cars are priced to sell due to the owner’s circumstances.)
  5. Any car where the salesman does not allow you to send for a pre-purchase inspection. Seriously, just walk away.

I may be exaggerating a bit in the above since personally I think the reliability of a car boils down to how well it was maintained by its previous owners.

So, yes I’m saying a high mileage car can be reliable if it was maintained properly.

But generally, I’d avoid any of those cars above unless I know what I’m doing.

4. If u want to spend the absolute least amount of money on a car

You just want something cheap to get around in.. or you just don’t give a damn about cars. Either way, I humbly present to you …

The Vios and the Honda Fit. These cars are also fantastic for beginners.

My choice : the Honda Fit – since it has a 1.3 engine vs the 1.5 in the Vios, so roadtax is abit cheaper. Plus it can be modified to look sporty… well, kind of.

honda jazz
toyota vios

3. If u want to look atas on the cheap

Here are some luxury cars I found with depreciation of below $7k/year :

Audi A3, A4, A5

BMW 320i Convertible

Mercedes C180

My choice: The A5. Looks good, is powerful enough and provides a good driving experience. The sportback is practical as well ! Watch the review here.

The C180 doesn’t look that good to me, with its peanut-shaped headlights, but is probably the most reliable car in this group. The 320i is nice to look at and fun to drive but underpowered.

2010 audi a5 b8 sportback in kaki bukit, singapore
Audi A5 Sportback

6. If u want to look even more atas on the cheap

Stretching the depre budget to about $9k/year – You can get a BMW 5/7 series or Mercedes E/S Class. If you like Audis, you can also consider the C6 A6.

The C7 A6 came out in 2011 (later than the 5er and E-class) so it’s depre is still quite high. Wait for next year when their COE gets renewed!

YouTube video
YouTube video

My choice: 5 series or E-Class. Depends – E-Class is probably more reliable BUT has that ‘Uncle car’ look – while the 5 series is definitely more fun to drive.

If you asked me this same question next year when the C7 A6 gets their COE renewed, then I’ll probably go with the A6.

I love the way it looks, the interior is fantastic and I like the way it feels on the road. Plus – I find that there are too many 5 series and E-Class around ๐Ÿคท๐Ÿปโ€โ™€๏ธ

(Review for the C7 A6 coming up after Circuit Breaker)

Whatcar did a comparison review of these 3 cars here.

7. If u are a family man

Can’t go wrong with the Toyota Wish, Estima or even the Honda Stream.

If the above cars are too good looking and you want something uglier, do consider the Toyota Picnic.

No car screams “I am a father!” like the Toyota Estima

8. If u are a JDM fan

I don’t even know why I have to write this. If you’re looking at one of these cars, you probably know what you’re getting into. But for the sake of sharing (and that Evo 9 looks DOPE!), here are some JDMs you’d wanna consider :

The ever so popular Evo 9, the less popular Evo 10, Subaru WRX, and the super expensive Honda S2000

YouTube video
Evo 9
subaru wrx sti
WRX (this is an STI, but you get the idea)

The Evos and the S200 are the more expensive cars in this list, with the lowest depre at ~ $10k/year to $19k/year for the Evo, and $12k+ to $16k+ for the S2000.

Okay ! Hope you get an idea of what COE cars are good for, whether you should get one and some nice COE cars to suit different needs. Till next time ! (Which is probably in the next few days since we release videos/articles every single week)

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