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Revealed: the most searched-for used cars in 2017

The used car market is four times the size of the new car market in Britain. We buy more than 8 million secondhand cars every year, which means that the research activity around used cars is also huge.

Auto Trader is Britain’s biggest online used car marketplace, so its insights count. And it has just released figures that reveal Britain’s most searched for cars in 2017.

Search for a used car on Auto Trader

It is claimed 4 in 5 dealers selling used cars in Britain advertise on Auto Trader. Interestingly, 7 in 10 people using it do so via a mobile device: the smartphone is powering Britain’s used car searches more than ever before. There are a lot of them, too: 60 million cross-platform visits every month, says the analytics data.

Which, then, are the top 10 most searched for used cars in 2017? From the top, join us as we count them down.

10: Vauxhall Astra

The Vauxhall Astra has been built in Britain in years, and has been a top 10 new car best-seller for decades too. Needless to say, it’s a popular used car purchase as well – although perhaps not as popular as it used to be…

Search for a used Vauxhall Astra on Auto Trader

9: Mercedes-Benz E-Class

As the most-searched rankings of 2017 prove, Brits love their secondhand premium cars. The first entry in the top 10 is for Mercedes-Benz, with the executive-sized E-Class range.

Search for a used Mercedes-Benz E-Class on Auto Trader

8: Audi A3

The only Audi in the top 10 used car chart is the premium hatchback A3. It’s a posh alternative to cars such as the Ford Focus (and the Vauxhall Astra), and it was the eighth most-searched used car on Auto Trader in 2017.

Search for a used Audi A3 on Auto Trader

7: Ford Fiesta

The Ford Fiesta has topped the new car rankings for, literally, years. It’s no surprise to see it also appear in the top 10 used car searches, but it is a surprise to see it down in seventh place. Used car buyers are less eager to own a Fiesta than new car buyers, it seems.

Search for a used Ford Fiesta on Auto Trader

6: BMW 5 Series

The first BMW is, as with Mercedes-Benz, the executive-sized 5 Series. The 5er beats its arch-rival from Stuttgart though, with its driver-focused appeal seeming to hit the spot for more secondhand buyers than the plush Merc.

Search for a used BMW 5 Series on Auto Trader

5: BMW 1 Series

Following up the big 5 Series is BMW’s family hatch contender, the 1 Series. It’s not the most practical of cars, with rear seat space compromised by its rear-wheel drive layout, but the resultant enthusiast-pleasing drive impresses many a used car buyer.

Search for a used BMW 1 Series on Auto Trader

4: Ford Focus

The Ford Focus trails the Fiesta in the new car sales charts, but the tables are turned in the used car rankings. That’s despite the Fiesta brand name being around since the 1970s; the Focus only arrived in the late 1990s. Ford’s family fave also outranks its Vauxhall Astra arch-rival.

Search for a used Ford Focus on Auto Trader

3: Mercedes-Benz C-Class

It’s an all-German top-3 in the most-searched used car rankings 2017. First up is the Mercedes-Benz C-Class, a classy mid-size executive car that’s also a regular visitor to the top 10 new car sales charts.

Search for a used Mercedes-Benz C-Class on Auto Trader

2: Volkswagen Golf

In second place is Britain’s most sought-after used family hatchback, the Volkswagen Golf. It’s been sold since the 1970s and the firm has built more than 36 million of them: despite the Volkswagen ‘dieselgate’ emissions scandal, many thousands of secondhand car buyers still hanker after a Golf.

Search for a used Volkswagen Golf on Auto Trader

1: BMW 3 Series

Britain’s most searched-for used car in 2017 is… the same as 2016. And 2015. And… indeed the BMW 3 Series has been the most searched for secondhand car in Britain for seven years running. We really do love the 3 Series.

We also love our premium brands – Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz appear six times in the top 10 used car searches. Ford? Just twice, with Vauxhall appearing just once. When it comes to the used car market, secondhand buyers are hunting for luxury premium brands more than ever.

Search for a used BMW 3 Series on Auto Trader

Diesel cars: most searched for

Auto Trader has also broken down its search rankings in 2017 by fuel type. This is in recognition of the increased demonisation of diesel in 2017. So, which is the diesel we’re keenest to search for? Why, perhaps unsurprisingly, it’s the BMW 3 Series.

10: Volkswagen Passat

9: Audi A4

8: Ford Focus

7: BMW 1 Series

6: Audi A3

5: Mercedes-Benz E-Class

4: Mercedes-Benz C-Class

3: BMW 5 Series

2: Volkswagen Golf

1: BMW 3 Series

Search for a used diesel car on Auto Trader

Petrol cars: most searched for

It might be encouraging for Volkswagen to see that in the petrol car rakings, the Golf actually leads the BMW 3 Series. For more than 8 million secondhand car buyers, the scourge of dieselgate may already have been overcome…

10: Vauxhall Corsa

9: Honda Civic

8: Vauxhall Astra

7: Mercedes-Benz C-Class

6: BMW 1 Series

5: Audi A3

4: Ford Fiesta

3: Ford Focus

2: BMW 3 Series

1: Volkswagen Golf

Search for a used petrol car on Auto Trader

Hybrid cars: most searched for

Want to ditch diesel and petrol to go for an alternative fuel car instead? A hybrid is a great stepping stone to fully-electric cars, but the leader of the British market for hybrids perhaps isn’t the car you’d think – yes, the Toyota Prius has the awareness, but sales of the British-built Toyota Auris Hybrid still better it in the UK, which carries through to the used car market.

10: Volkswagen Golf

9: Toyota RAV4 Hybrid

8: BMW 3 Series

7: Lexus CT 200h

6: Toyota Yaris Hybrid

5: Mercedes-Benz C-Class

4: Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV

3: Mercedes-Benz E-Class

2: Toyota Prius

1: Toyota Auris Hybrid

Search for a used hybrid car on Auto Trader

Electric cars: most searched for

Zero-emissions electric cars comprise an ever-greater proportion of new car sales. The market leader is the Nissan Leaf, and it carries through this advantage to used car searches too – but there are some surprises amongst the top 10 cars. Predictions for the electric Mercedes-Benz B-Class coming out in third place, beating the Renault Zoe, anyone?

10: Vauxhall Ampera

9: Tesla Model S

8: Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV

7: Kia Soul

6: Hyundai Ioniq

5: Volkswagen Golf

4: Renault Zoe

3: Mercedes-Benz B-Class

2: BMW i3

1: Nissan Leaf

Search for a used electric car on Auto Trader

Richard Aucock :I'm Managing Director at Motoring Research. I run a bit, cycle a bit, have a huge love for the automotive industry.