Brits buy four times as many used cars as they do new vehicles. The secondhand car market is a hugely important one, which is why there’s always so much interest on the latest sales analysis figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).
The latest date for 2018 has now been released, with the SMMT chief executive describing it as proof “the UK’s used car sector remains at a very high level… it’s great to see millions of consumers benefiting from some of the latest, safest and cleanest models now filtering into the market.”
There’s even a surprise amongst the figures. While new diesel car sales are very much in the doldrums, the reverse is true for used cars – petrol sales have fallen nearly 10 percent so far in 2018, with diesel used car sales up 2 percent. That reflects the boom in new diesel car sales in recent years… and a similar sales surge has seen 15.9 percent more hybrid, plug-in hybrid and electric cars change hands in 2018.
Used car market dips but sales still strong
Almost 5 percent fewer used cars were sold in the first quarter of 2018, a downturn that mirrors the one in the new car market. The SMMT is still eager to stress that this remains the third-highest Q1 for used car sales on record, with more than two million secondhand motors changing hands.
Superminis were the most popular used car, as they have been for what seems like forever, but dual purpose vehicles – that’s SUVs and crossovers – are the fastest-growing used car type. Almost 13 percent more of them changed hands in early 2018, with transactions easily topping the 200,000 mark.
But which are the best-selling used cars in 2018 so far? Here’s our rundown of British secondhand car buyers’ top 10 choices.
10: Audi A3
Audi unveiled the A3 at the Frankfurt Motor Show in 1996, with the car based on the platform of the Volkswagen Golf Mk4, which followed a year later. Initially available exclusively as a three-door hatchback, today’s A3 is available as a five-door Sportback, four-door saloon, convertible and performance S and RS models. Well over half a million A3s have been sold in the UK, 29,865 of which were snapped up as used cars in the first quarter of 2018.
9: Renault Clio
The first-generation Renault Clio arrived in the UK on 29 March 1991, having already scooped the European Car of the Year award. Since then, more than 13 million Clios have been sold across the world, including 1.2 million in the UK. Some 36,653 used Clios found a new home in the first quarter of the year.
8: Volkswagen Polo
With 38,421 sales, the Volkswagen Polo is slightly more popular than the Clio on the used car market. Earlier this year, the new Polo was named World Urban Car at the World Car Awards, while global sales passed the 17 million mark. In the UK, it has developed a reputation for solidity and reliability, making it a favourite of parents buying a first car for their grown-up offspring.
Many Mini buyers like to personalise their car when buying new, which is a double-edged sword for used car buyers. On the one hand, you can save money as many of the accessories don’t necessarily add to the residual value. On the other hand, you don’t get to personalise the car to your own tastes. That didn’t stop 40,040 used Minis finding new homes in the first quarter.
6: BMW 3 Series
Only the second premium badge and the largest car to appear in the top 10, Britons cannot get enough of the BMW 3 Series. For four decades, the 3 Series has been the default choice for motorists in search of class-leading dynamics, a quality interior and a rock-solid image. First quarter sales: 49,753.
5: Volkswagen Golf
Volkswagen design legend, Walter de Silva, once said: “One of the keys to the Golf’s success lies in its continuity. There are a handful of cars with a design that, like the Golf’s has been refined, tweaked and enhanced down the decades and thus become timeless.” He had a point, as highlighted by the fact that 67,033 used Golfs found a new home in the first quarter.
4: Vauxhall Astra
Spoiler alert: the top four is dominated by Vauxhall and Ford. Little wonder, when you consider the new car sales figures and the fact that so many are snapped up by the fleet market. Some 70,533 of you bought a used Astra in the first quarter of 2018.
3: Vauxhall Corsa
Meanwhile, 81,663 used Vauxhall Corsas rolled off the forecourt in the first three months of the year. Vauxhall’s popular supermini celebrates its 25th year on sale in the UK in 2018, with the first Corsa arriving in 1993.
2: Ford Focus
It’s a Ford one-two at the top, with the Focus finishing second with 83,781 used car sales. Last month, Ford unveiled the all-new Focus in London’s Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. It’s set to go on sale in the summer, with prices starting from £17,930. First quarter sales: 83,781.
1: Ford Fiesta
It’ll come as no surprise to find the Ford Fiesta at the top of the used car pile. Some 92,569 used Fiestas found a new home, which is more than the Polo and Clio combined. Examples of the latest Fiesta are already cropping up on the used car market, with prices starting from as little as £12,000.
Most popular used car colours in 2018
Black has now overtaken silver as Britain’s favourite secondhand car colour. Add in red and the top six colours dominate – four times as many red used cars were sold than the next-best hue, green…
Most popular regions for used car sales in 2018
By far the most popular region for used car transactions is the South East. This reflects the number of people in the region, but also suggests competition for cars is high there. So if you want to bag a bargain, it might be worth making a trip to another region, such as the South West, where cars may sit on forecourts or in the classifieds a little longer…
1: South East (298,653 transactions)
2: North West (220,155 transactions)
3: West Midlands (202,196 transactions)
4: East (196,013 transactions)
5: South West (191,049 transactions)