Although 2019 was a year of declining new car sales, the used car market was more positive. Almost 8 million used cars changed hands in 2019, a figure barely changed on 2018 – meaning the British secondhand car market remains around three and a half times BIGGER than that for new cars.
Figures from trade body the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) show sales of newer ‘Euro 6’ cars sold since 2015 (they have the cleanest emissions and are exempt from upcoming Low Emissions Zone (LEZ) restrictions) grew 32.5 percent. Electric car sales rose 21.8 percent, albeit taking just 0.2 percent of the market; diesel, surprisingly, fell just 0.6 percent.
But which are the UK’s most popular used cars? Here, we run through the 20 most searched for secondhand cars British motorists are buying
20. Vauxhall Zafira
People carriers have fallen out of favour in recent years and Vauxhall no longer sells new versions of the seven-seat Zafira Tourer. But the Zafira MPV line-up still has a decent used car following, making the top 20 most purchased secondhand cars in 2019.
19. Ford Mondeo
British buyers also no longer favour large cars without a premium-brand badge. The BMW 3 Series has taken over the market Ford’s Mondeo once had a stronghold on, explaining its fall down the rankings on the used car market.
18. Fiat 500
The popular Fiat 500 is a small, stylish three-door city car that’s been on sale for a few years now, explaining why there are growing numbers changing hands on the used car market.
17. Mercedes-Benz A-Class
A regular new car top-10 best-seller, the Mercedes-Benz A-Class is a good used car buy for those who want a premium-branded alternative to a Ford Focus (and don’t mind trading a bit of interior space along the way).
16. Honda Civic
The British-built Honda Civic is a super-reliable family hatchback that has a good reputation amongst used car buyers. The high-performance Civic Type R is particularly sought-after.
15. Toyota Yaris
Speaking of ultra-reliable… the Toyota Yaris is a brilliantly dependable supermini small car that even offers a fuel-sipping, low-emissions hybrid variant.
14. Audi A4
Remember we mentioned the Ford Mondeo? Even the Audi A4, another rival, is more popular amongst secondhand car buyers. Most used A4 models are TDI diesels, reflecting the fuel’s popularity when it was new.
13. Nissan Qashqai
The Nissan Qashqai was a pivotal model for the Japanese brand with a second home in Britain. The world’s first crossover SUV, it kickstarted the fortunes of the company here in the UK and is now a regular on the used car shopping lists of UK families.
12. BMW 1 Series
The BMW 1 Series has a premium badge and is great to drive, but it isn’t the most practical of five-door family hatchbacks. Twentysomethings like it, trading up from their first budget car into something more stylish – it has a great image but isn’t too expensive to buy or run.
11. Mercedes-Benz C-Class
Another popular choice for families who may previously have purchased a Ford Mondeo is the Mercedes-Benz C-Class. Offered as a saloon, estate, coupe and convertible, there really is a model for everyone.
10. Renault Clio
The ever-popular Renault Clio has been Britain’s favourite Renault for decades and shows no signs of falling out of favour any time soon.
9. Audi A3
The Audi A3 is another German alternative to the BMW 1 Series and Mercedes-Benz A-Class. It is very popular amongst new car buyers, meaning there is plenty of choice on the secondhand car market.
8. Volkswagen Polo
British car buyers love their supermini small cars and, helped by brilliant marketing campaigns over the years, the Volkswagen Polo is a used car buy that’s always in favour.
The perennially popular Mini is arguably the world’s most successfully remastered retro car. The firm encourages personalisation when new, meaning the variety of choice on the used car market is enormous. It’s a fun process searching for a used example!
6. BMW 3 Series
Used car marketplaces such as Auto Trader regularly report the BMW 3 Series is one of the most searched-for used cars. Its popularity is proven by it sitting just behind Britain’s regular top-5 used car buys. Which are…
5. Vauxhall Astra
In fifth place, it’s the Vauxhall Astra family hatchback. Thousands are sold each and every month, so there are lots available secondhand and over 240,000 changed hands last year. However, in recent years, an arch-rival has proven more popular with new car buyers…
4. Volkswagen Golf
… That car is the Volkswagen Golf – which for some months in recent years, has been Britain’s best-selling new car of all. The choice on the secondhand car market is vast: there are regularly well over 10,000 for sale at any one time on Auto Trader and used car buyers bought 260,000 of them last year.
3. Ford Focus
For decades, the Ford Focus has been a go-to hatchback for growing families. The range encompasses every option with the high-performance Focus ST and RS models proving particularly sought-after. Secondhand Ford Focus sales topped 293,000 last year.
2. Vauxhall Corsa
The favourite type of car for British buyers is the city-friendly supermini hatchback. The Vauxhall Corsa has been on sale since back in 1993 and is thus a familiar sight on the used car market. Almost 300,000 were sold in 2019.
1. Ford Fiesta
And the most popular used car of all? Why, the car that’s also regularly our favourite new car, the Ford Fiesta. It’s been part of the British landscape since way back in 1976 and is the go-to model for secondhand car buyers, with a staggering 351,767 used Ford Fiestas changing hands in 2019.