There are often second-hand bargains to be had at car auctions. With a bit of savvy and insight, you could score the car you've always wanted for a lot less than you might think. Here, we look at five sensible and five interesting vehicles set to go under the hammer across South Africa over the next couple of weeks (lockdown level dependent, of course)...

Sensible:

 

1. 2015 Suzuki SX4 1,6 GL

With 46 480 km on the clock, this particular Suzuki SX4 still has plenty of life left in it. Despite the SUV-inspired styling, the 1,6-litre engine sends its 86 kW exclusively to the front wheels. While performance isn’t the SX4’s forte, the M16A powertrain is known for its unburstability and should prove to be reliable for plenty of years to come. A practical and spacious interior also houses plenty of standard features, including seven airbags, Bluetooth compatibility and air-conditioning. Being the base model, this GL does without automatic headlamps. With a trade-in value of R134 400, this well-equipped, low-mileage SX4 could be yours for even less than South Africa’s cheapest new car, Suzuki’s own S-Presso.

Where: MFC Auction House, Pretoria Rd (M57, Witfontein) Gauteng.
When: May 13, 2020

2. 2012 Nissan Qashqai 2,0 Acenta CVT

It may not be the most exciting second-hand option out there, but like the SX4 above, the Qashqai should serve you well for many years to come. With 102 kW and 198 N.m of torque on tap, the Qashqai provides adequate performance for the daily commute. Being the range-topping Acenta variant, there are plenty of features to make your life easier. Dual-zone climate control, a comprehensive trip computer and an array of airbags shipped standard on the top-tier Qashqai, with 18-inch alloy wheels giving the exterior some presence. While a mileage of just over 135 000 km would be a concern with some second-hand cars, the Qashqai has cemented its reputation as dependable family transport.

Where: SMD Bloemfontein, N2 South between Caltex and Exit 22, Witfontein, Brandford.
When: May 18, 2020

3. 2018 Volkswagen Polo 1,0 TSI Comfortline

The new Polo is an accomplished car. It manages to fulfill its role as a small hatchback by ticking all the boxes required by customers. While it's practical, economical and easy to drive, it manages to infuse these traits with a level of sophistication that is seldom matched in this class. Not only is the interior classy, but plenty of the switches and touchpoints have a premium feel that make the Polo feel special. While a few of the interior plastics are questionable, the overall feeling is one of quality. Adding to the refined driving experience is the 1,0-litre, three-cylinder engine. Some 70 kW moves the Polo along with conviction, the three-pot only making itself heard under heavy acceleration. With just under 31 500 km on the clock, this example still has the balance of its three-year/45 000 km service plan left. The estimated trade-in value is around R189 000, making this two-year-old Polo Comfortline cheaper than a brand-new base-model Polo Vivo.

Where: Aucor Auctioneers, 38 Paterson Rd, North End, Port Elizabeth.
When: May 19, 2020

4. 2015 Kia Grand Sedona 2,2 CRDi SX

Blessed with solid build quality, the Grand Sedona feels like it will last many years. Not only is the interior screwed together beautifully, it's a tremendous place to sit. Comfortable and spacious, the cabin is also packed with plenty of standard specification. All the creature comforts a large family could expect are there, including cruise control, air-conditioning and a full suite of safety features. The 2,2-litre turbodiesel produces 147 kW of power, but it's the 440 N.m of torque from a low 1 750 r/min that helps to move this heavy MPV with ease. Measuring more than five metres long, the Sedona is a big vehicle. Check for scratches and scrapes in the paintwork, and scuffed alloy wheels when inspecting at auction. With just under 110 000 km on the clock, this example at Bidvest Burchmore's in Durban should make for an excellent second-hand purchase. Remember, Sedonas of the same vintage (and with higher mileage) still sell for R350 000, so bid wisely.

Where: Bidvest Burchmore's, Umgeni Business Park, 121 Intersite Avenue, Durban.
When: May 14, 2020

5. 2012 Toyota Etios Xs 4-door

With just over 81 000 km on the clock, this eight-year-old Toyota Etios still has plenty of life left in it yet. The 66 kW 1,5-litre four-cylinder is exceptionally reliable, and easy to service, too. On the safety front, two airbags (as well as ABS) come standard. As this is the saloon variant, it doesn't offer the versatility of the hatchback, but with a boot measuirng 504 litres, it is still big enough for plenty of luggage. With an estimated trade-in value of just R75 200, it would come as no surprise if the Etios sold for that sort of money. These cars are in demand, thanks to their popularity as private taxis and Ubers. All the usual mod-cons are present, including central locking, air-conditioning and electric windows.

Where: SMD Durban, Service Rd, Old Durban International Airport, Durban.
When: May 18, 2020

Interesting:

 

6. 2013 Mercedes-Benz A250 Sport 7G-DCT

With just over 60 000 km on the clock, this A250 Sport has averaged just 8 500 km a year from new. Before the A45 was introduced, the A250 Sport acted as the halo A-Class, battling the Golf GTI for hot hatch supremacy. Unfortunately, a 7 kW deficit and a R10 000 premium saw the A250 disappear in the shadow of the accomplished VW. Still, the sporty A250 was a competent hot hatch in its own right, with a 0-100 km/h time of just 6,81 seconds. A subtle AMG bodykit ensured the A250 looked the part, with red detailing found both on the exterior and the interior. Overall, the 155 kW 2,0-litre turbocharged four-pot is a reliable powertrain, but make sure to check the camshaft actuators, which have been known to give problems on some vehicles. With an estimated trade-in value of R219 130, it could be a performance car bargain. A well-maintained example could very well be both sensible and fun to drive.

Where: MFC Auction House, Pretoria Rd (M57, Witfontein) Gauteng.
When: May 27, 2020

7. 2014 Audi RS Q3 Quattro

With 228 kW under the bonnet, this seemingly innocuous premium family SUV packs quite a punch. A 0-100 km/h time of just 5,68 seconds means the RS Q3 can hunt down hot hatches with ease while offering the practicality a young family needed. The 2,5-litre five-cylinder has done duty in a number of Audis, including the RS3 Sportback, RS3 Sedan and TT RS. While fairly well behaved, the five-pot does have a healthy thirst for unleaded. Servicing costs and replacement parts won't come cheap, so make sure you've budgeted for that if this sporting SUV tickles your fancy. Available from Aucor Auctioneers in Durban, this example has just over 104 000 km on the clock. If you're prepared to live with the fuel and repair bills, the RS Q3 could turn out to be an interesting purchase, providing the price is right.

Where: Aucor Auctioneers, 16 Imvubu Park Place, Riverhorse Valley, Durban.
When: May 12, 2020

8. 2005 Land Rover Discovery 3 TDV6 SE

With an estimated trade-in value of just over R89 000, there's no denying this third-generation Discovery could be quite a lot of car for not much money. Of course, it goes without saying the big seven-seater won't come without its problems. The 2,7-litre V6 turbodiesel has been a source of frustration amongst owners, with a common problem being the failiure of oil seals. The suspension that provides the Discovery 3's smooth ride has also been known to go wrong. While wiring faults can send the air suspension into a fit, the more common issue is the failure of the air-suspension compressor. Many long-term owners end up replacing the system for a more conventional coil-sprung setup. Despite the numerous faults that plague this large SUV, the Discovery is still a great car. Comfortable, refined and hugely capable off-road, this is the generation which saw the Discovery step on the toes of its posh cousin, the Range Rover. At the right price, the Disco 3 can be a great weekend off-roader, with a few modifications. 

Where: Aucor Auctioneers, 18 Sacks Circle, C/O Peter Barlow Street, Belville South, Cape Town
When: May 20, 2020

9. 2007 Mini Cooper S (R56)

Despite looking very similar to the model it replaced, the R56 Mini was actually an entirely new model. Every body panel was redesigned, while the platform was re-engineered to accomodate various engineering changes. Under the bonnet of the Cooper S is a turbocharged 1,6-litre four-cylinder engine, producing 128 kW; plenty in a car that doesn't weigh much. This example has done just over 117 000 km, which is average for a car of this age. Big on fun, the Cooper S is a wonderful example of a small hot hatch, with brilliantly balanced handling and crisp steering feel. Just be sure to look through the service history, as a few examples have suffered from timing chain issues. It's best to purchase an example with a comprehensive service history and that has had preventative maintenance carried out on the timing chain.

Where: MFC Auction House, Pretoria Rd (M57, Witfontein) Gauteng.
When: May 27, 2020

10. 2015 Ford Mustang 2,3 Ecoboost AT

Yes, I hear you sniggering, but the 2,3-litre Mustang is a perfectly capable cruiser. While it's missing the iconic V8 soundtrack that has become synonymous with this badge, if you can live without the burble of eight cylinders, there are good deals to be had on the four-pot. Available from Aucor Auctioneers in Bloemfontein, the Ecoboost Mustang is set to go to auction on 21 May. With an estimated trade-in value of R345 739, there isn't much at this price point that can match the Mustang for kerbside appeal. With presence in abundance, you'd expect the Ecoboost Mustang to be all show and no go. It may be four cylinders short of the GT, but the 2,3-litre is still capable of hitting 100 km/h in just 7,02 seconds, courtesy of its 233 kW. Interestingly, the facelift saw the power decrease to 213 kW. 

Where: Aucor Auctioneers, 1 Kruger Avenue, Estoire, Bloemfontein
When: May 21, 2020

Things to remember when buying a car from an auction:

1. Don't trust the pictures
If possible, try to view the car in person. This way, you can pick up on any body damage, rust or even poor repair jobs. While you may not be able to get behind the wheel, inspect the car as thoroughly as you can. Look underneath for any suspicious puddles. Check the condition of the tyres and the brake discs, too (if possible).

2. Check the VIN
This might just be the most important thing you can do. The VIN (vehicle identification number) can tell you many things about a car. It can reveal factory recalls, original powertrain and even the original colour sometimes.

3. Do your research
Research the make and model you're interested in. You may find your dream car at an auction, but it can quickly become a nightmare when the hefty (and unexpected) repair bills come your way. Check not only what the repair and maintenance costs will be, but also the book value of the vehicle. Overpaying at an auction defeats the purpose. 

4. Don't get lost in the excitement
As much as you want to get your hands on a car, remain focused and try not to get into a bidding war. It's better to walk away empty-handed than to sit with a car you didn't really want for more money than you should have paid. 

5. Stick to what you're looking for
if you're in the market for a reliable second-hand daily driver, don't get distracted by the more desirable vehicles that need plenty of work and/or repairs. While a cheap luxury sedan is very appealing, it might not fullfill the needs you require. However, if you are looking for a fun project, go right ahead...

Information and auction dates are correct at the time of writing. Images for reference only...