Disclaimer: This is a totally opinionated article which does not aims to influence any consumer choices or defame any manufacturer or model. Its only goal is to provoke petrolheads to argue about cars and their relative value.
There is endless content on the internet that discusses the best possible deals, countless awards and prizes are given to the best cars every year, yet there is no such material that pinpoints what not to buy. It is time to change that and look at the aging, outdated and overvalued models of the car market that are now outclassed by competitors and no longer seem to justify their price tag.
Mitsubishi Space Star / Mirage
That's some pretty nice facelift, but hardly enough to lift the little Mitsubishi's position.
Let's start at the bottom, because the issue about the Mitsubishi Space Star (Mirage in some countries) is pretty obvious. It never was a good buy in the first place. Mitsubishi brought in this model to form somewhat of a bridge between the small and subcompact car markets and replace the aging Colt. Problem is that a second hand Colt is still a better car, even if it lacks some of the modern features from the Space Star. The replacement is cheap and cheap to run, but lacks any kind of fun or style that makes its rivals more worthwhile. Which is odd because Mitsubishi has a line of kei cars in its domestic Japanese market that can do both. To tell the truth, the Space Star doesn't really have any known faults or quality problems, it's simple as a 4-wheeled vehicle can be, but it cannot undercut the ultimate budget-car, the Dacia Sandero and is just not on par in terms of refinement with the Volkswagen up! or the new Hyundai i10.
What to buy instead: Hyundai i10, Dacia Sandero
Citroën C4 Cactus
In the process of making the Cactus widely acceptable, Citroën lost its mojo.
Going further up the ladder we find a French crossover with questionable intents. The C4 Cactus was designed to be a regular quirky Citroën on the outside, but to have a reliable and simple engineering basis. That recipe worked until the facelift, which almost totally removed the so-called AirBump elements from the car. Now it's only a cheap car that can no longer distinguish itself from the rest. And that is a problem, because people will start comparing it to other automobiles with similar dimensions and realize that the C4 Cactus is actually not such a good buy. The Cactus even has an in-house competition, the C3 Aircross which is almost 2000 € cheaper and - albeit a bit smaller on the outside - has a far bigger boot space inside, has more up-to-date tech and is maybe slightly more interesting. Or there is the new Nissan Juke which became less ugly than its predecessor, but is still a character of its own. And sadly, that applies to almost all other cars in this class ranging from the Suzuki Vitara through the Hyundai Kona to the Jeep Renegade: they have better value and are more colourful. The C4 Cactus went from being one of the most cheerful vehicles to be totally average in the subcompact crossover field. And the new progressive shock-absorbers on the Cactus are simply not enough to compensate for that.
What to buy instead: Citroën C3 Aircross, Nissan Juke
Opel / Vauxhall Astra
The Astra is still a decent car, but the engine line has been curtailed and its gadgets are no longer cutting-edge.
After the takeover of Peugeot, the GM-based Opel models have been neglected in terms of updates. That shows less on the Insignia, but more on the compact Astra. It may have been the European Car of the Year in 2016, but compact cars are such a competitive market that this is simply not enough a few years later, especially since the current generation was engineered under heavy financial pressure resulting in cheap details here and there. It is still not a bad car, it's just that everything else seems a little bit better by now with nicer interiors, bigger boot or smarter infotainment systems. Fear not from Astrapocalypse though, - no one has to regret going for a Škoda, Fiat, Renault, Toyota or KIA hatchback instead - since fleet operators love the Astra as it ticks all their checkboxes. But it just feels like the Astra is a platform that the parent company doesn't want to hang onto and keep fresh.
What to buy instead: Škoda Scala, KIA Ceed
This must be one of the new, revolutionary grey shades introduced.
I'm aware of the fact that the Mondeo has gained huge popularity amongst fellow Grand Tour viewers, but the elephant in the room is that compared to other cars of similar category it's a lackluster. The current generation has been in production for quite a while now and it's no secret that it wasn't a huge evolution over the previous one. It received all the compulsory safety and entertainment extras over the years, but Ford - being busy with layoffs and company restructuring - didn't seemed to bother more than absolutely necessary. The Mondeo received a hybrid variant, but no more fast Ford editions. Which is a problem, because Peugeot for example has a pretty hot GT version of the 508 and VAG (Škoda, Volkswagen) has models with 200+ hp drivetrains too. The Mondeo is still roomy and elegant, but is no longer the cheapest, which means that on the lower side of the price list the KIA Optima or Mazda6 may eat into its market share with better quality and more favourable warranty offers. Ford will keep the Mondeo in production for a few years and I'm sure they will retaliate with an even better one, but for now it's a bad deal stranded with old engineering under the hood against new boys in the district.
What to buy instead: Peugeot 508, Mazda6
Jeep Grand Cherokee
You can do off-roading in less expensive rivals too.
The Fiat - Chrysler merger brought a lot of new cars and a lot of old-fashioned ones were thrown into the trash bin. The last survivor is the Grand Cherokee, which sells for a whopping 15.000 € more than the non-Grand, now Fiat-based Cherokee (45.000 €). And that has to do more with the engines than the size, as the Grand Cherokee is still equipped with V6 diesel units (standard) and V8s that start at 90.000 € trim levels. That's some serious money even for a large SUV and - while it naturally includes lots of leather, luxurious extras and CO2 fines - the basic design is still a 10 years old Chrysler-Jeep. That is not a good pedigree for a car that wants to play in the Range Rover-league, even if they constantly release high-performance variants. There are only better alternatives on the now endless SUV-landscape, but the best advice one can give is something like this: if you want a Jeep, go for a Fiat-era one, if you simply want a large premium SUV that shields you from the outer world, look at things like the Volvo XC90 or the Lexus RX.
What to buy instead: Any other Jeep, Volvo XC90
Maserati GranTurismo / GranCabrio
2020 is the last model year for both chassis. But the end is also the beginning of something new...
This category is more about prestige than price, but if GT car customers would be reasonable people, they'd probably be interested in the fact that the GranTurismo has been in production since 2007. Some changes happened over the years, but the Quattroporte it was originally based on have been retired in 2012 and the GranTurismo never received the new platform of the most recent 4-door model. The early-2000 underpinnings have been solid, but not immortal. The world marched on and the image of the GranTurismo faded heavily, many new technologies and gadgets were just incompatible with the old design. The GT crown of today is held by the likes of the Mercedes-Benz AMG GT, the Bentley Continental or the Lexus LC, setting a pretty tough environment for Maserati. They are aware of the fact that the GranTurismo is no longer competitive, so the end of production has already been announced. It's over - they are assembling the last ones, retooling the factory and preparing for something completely different. But that's another reason not to buy one, as collectors will be rallying to scoop up the last examples of a long-running Italian V8 grand tourer. Any farewell words? Well, if you haven't bought a GranTurismo for 13 years don't do it now.
What to buy instead: Mercedes-Benz AMG GT, Bentley Continental GT