Britain’s used car market hit a record high in 2016, with 8.2 million cars sold – an increase of 7.3%. Figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) show superminis are the best-selling type of used car, although the popularity of SUVs rose fastest. We’ll count down the top 10 most popular second-hand cars in the UK last year. Is yours among them?
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10. Peugeot 206
The 1998-2006 Peugeot 206 seems ancient now, but it’s still among the UK’s top used sellers. A total of 126,176 changed hands last year.
The 206 was available as a three- or five-door hatchback, SW estate or CC convertible – the latter with a folding hard-top roof.
BMW launched MINI as a standalone marque in 2001, and it has been an unqualified success. Brits bought 143,066 used MINIs in 2016.
As well as emulating the original Mini’s styling, BMW also resurrected the ‘Cooper’ name – first used on sporty Minis in 1961. Today, the John Cooper Works is the flagship MINI.
8. Volkswagen Polo
Volkswagen’s oh-so-sensible Polo is the UK’s eighth most popular used car. We bought 154,855 of them last year.
A new Polo will arrive at the end of 2017, just months after its arch-rival: the new Ford Fiesta. Volkswagen’s focus for the next-gen Polo is said to be improving quality and interior space.
7. Renault Clio
Trendy colours, touchscreen tech and affordable prices put the Renault Clio seventh in the used car chart. A total of 178,684 Brits bought one.
The Clio was first launched in 1990 and is now into its fourth generation. Memorable hot versions have included the Williams, 182 Trophy and mid-engined Clio V6.
6. BMW 3 Series
It’s an oft-quoted statistic that the 3 Series now outsells the Ford Mondeo. That’s also the case in the used market, with 211,656 examples of the BMW shifted in 2016.
One secret to the Three’s success is the sheer breadth of its range, from 330e plug-in hybrid to M3 super saloon. There really is a 3 Series to suit everyone.
5. Volkswagen Golf
‘If only everything in life was as reliable as a Volkswagen’ said the ads back in the 1980s. And car buyers clearly agree, with 262,623 used Golfs snapped up.
If you prefer to buy new, Volkswagen has just launched the facelifted Mk7.5 Golf – including an updated GTI. And that means some tempting deals on the outgoing car.
4. Vauxhall Astra
For the first time in recent memory, the Astra is a genuine rival for the Focus and Golf, with several five-star reviews to its name. Used Astras – including the GTC seen here – are very popular too: 298,540 were sold.
There are hundreds of second-hand Astras in the classifieds, so you can afford to be fussy. Consider the practical estate if you want a value-priced load lugger.
3. Vauxhall Corsa
The Corsa traditionally plays second-fiddle to the Ford Fiesta in the new car charts, and the same is true for buying used. It finishes third, with 352,899 sold.
We can’t get excited about the Corsa, but it’s cheap to buy and parts are plentiful. The 1.0-litre three-cylinder turbocharged petrol is our pick of the current engines.
2. Ford Focus
The Focus blew the ageing Escort out of the water when first launched in 1998, and was the UK’s best-selling car for the following decade. It remains the second most popular used car: 374,590 found new owners in 2016.
The Focus has always been enjoyable to drive, although it lacks the upmarket feel of the (admittedly costlier) VW Golf. A 1.0 Ecoboost petrol Zetec would be our choice.
1. Ford Fiesta
So, to the UK’s most popular used car – and it’s no surprise to discover the Ford Fiesta taking the top spot. This evergreen supermini was the choice of 381,519 buyers last year.
If the Focus is good to drive, the Fiesta is brilliant. And the ST hot hatch is simply sublime. Ford has set the bar high for the next Fiesta, which arrives this summer.