26 Feb 2014

Five Cars You Probably Didn't Realise Are Still On Sale

Graham King takes a look at some cars that cling on to life, despite selling in penny numbers and/or being way past their sell-by-date


When it was launched in 2008 the new C5 was a huge leap forward over its ungainly, badly built predecessor. It was stylish, drove well enough and the build quality could just about give the Germans a run for their money. Every model came generously equipped and was extremely comfortable, either with the standard steel suspension or the hydropneumatic system fitted to top-spec versions and automatics. Unlike the idiosyncratic first-generation model, it was a genuine alternative to the Mondeo and Insignia. And probably just about the most soothing way of doing 50,000 miles a year.

It proved fairly popular for a few years, but in recent times sales have dropped off a cliff. The range was facelifted in 2011 but that didn't really help matters. I dare say most of the thousand or so that are sold every year go to Citroen loyalists and taxi firms (it is very spacious).

The C5 is still everything it ever was and still makes a lot of sense, even if it is getting on a bit. Unfortunately, you will probably walk straight past your local Citroen dealer and buy an Insignia instead.


In 2007 Fiat wanted to distance itself from its previous attempt at a mid-size hatchback, the decidedly stodgy Stilo, so revived an old name with the Bravo. Like the original Bravo from the mid-90's, the new car was very stylish, in fact by far the prettiest Focus rival available. It still is, come to think of it.

As you would expect from a Fiat, the rest of the Bravo was a bit of a mixed bag. The turbocharged petrol engines were very keen as were the diesels, even if they were rather harsh. But the handling wasn't as involving as the Focus's. Typically some of the interior plastics were a bit cheap and the build quality questionable. There wasn't much space either, but it was at least very good value. And very pretty. But now its been overtaken by the Kia Cee'd and Hyundai i30, which are much better and cost about the same.

The Bravo has never been a big seller in the UK and a 2011 facelift didn't change that. The range has been cut back to three models, and with sales in the low hundreds and Fiat's attention increasingly focused on the 500 family, the Bravo must be due for the chop soon.


While it was built in the UK, the Accord was everywhere. The fact the current generation hasn't sold in anything like the same quantities is probably less to do with the fact it is built in Japan and more to do with it being pitched at low-end Audi A4/BMW 3-Series territory, rather than the highish-spec Mondeo area it occupied before.

There's absolutely nothing wrong with the Accord per se. Indeed when SpeedMonkey tested one recently we found it perfectly acceptable; it drives well, the diesel engine is brilliant if held back by the thing's bulk, the interior's pleasant, the build quality is excellent, its good value, etc etc.

On paper, the Accord does everything a biggish family car should. But it doesn't have the image to compete with the Germans, the saloon isn't all that practical and the estate is outclassed by the Skoda Superb. Actually, thinking about it, I wonder how many people part-exed old Accords for new Skodas? I'm betting a fair few.

But I digress. The point is, the Accord is a good car, but it's hard to come up with a reason to actually buy one. Which is probably why there aren't that many about.


There's no getting away from the fact the Shogun is pretty ancient now. The current Mk.4 version was launched in 2007, though it was, in effect, a reskin and revamp of the Mk.3, introduced all the way back in 2000.

Its always been a bit crude to drive, and the ginormous 3.2-litre, 4-cylinder diesel engine is old hat now. But it comes with loads of kit and space, it's conspicuously good value, it's the only full-size SUV that you can still get in short wheelbase form, and it's pretty much unstoppable off-road.

Mitsubishi still sell a few hundred a year, probably to rural types who appreciate its ruggedness, value, and 3.5 ton towing capacity. Style-conscious urbanites who used to buy them for their seven seats have long since switched to the Volvo XC90 and Land Rover Discovery.


The ForTwo will be back in the news soon as the third-generation version and its Renault Twingo twin will be unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show in a few weeks. But you'd be forgiven for forgetting about the current one.

The Smart has always been billed as the ultimate city car, ultra frugal and so short you can park end-on to the pavement, although that never seemed to catch on. For a while it was even quite fashionable, but since it looked like a commercial ice maker I was never sure why. Then it was comprehensively out-fashioned by the Fiat 500 and people realised it wasn't very pleasant to drive, had a terrible gearbox and was generally fairly pointless.

It seems a couple of thousand ForTwos still find homes every year, most the tax-free hybrid. Presumably most live in London, not that I've seen one recently.