Revealed: Britain’s most popular used cars of 2018

Popular used cars 2018

Britain’s used car market declined 2.1 percent in 2018, with 167,980 fewer secondhand motors changing hands compared with 2017. The decline wasn’t as severe as the new car market and is still the third highest year on records going back to 2001, with a total of 7.9 million transactions. Here, using data supplied by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), we reveal Britain’s most popular used cars, with the results presented in reverse order.

10. Audi A3 – 119,545 sales

Popular used cars 2018

The Audi A3 has been one of Britain’s most popular premium hatchbacks for many years, so there are plenty of used examples to choose from. The first A3s arrived in Britain at the tail end of 1996, initially as a three-door hatchback, with a five-door variant arriving in 1999. Today, it’s available in four body styles: three-door, five-door, saloon and convertible.

While the used car market was down in 2018, sales of hybrid, plug-in hybrid (such as the Audi A3 e-tron) and battery electric cars were up 27 percent to 106,658. Sales of petrol cars were down 4.2 percent with diesel holding steady with a 0.3 percent increase.

Find a used Audi A3 on Auto Trader

9. Renault Clio – 137,180 sales

Popular used cars 2018

Renault will reveal an all-new Clio at the 2019 Geneva Motor Show in March, but used examples remain very popular in Britain. The replacement for the Renault 5 arrived in 1990 and was named European Car of the Year in 1991. Last year, 137,180 Clios changed hands in Britain.

Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said: “It’s encouraging to see more used car buyers snapping up low-emission vehicles as supply grows – but those sales remain low as an overall proportion of the market. We still need the right policies and incentives from government to give new car buyers confidence to choose the cleanest petrol, diesel and electric models that best suit their needs, so that even more drivers can benefit from this exciting technology as it filters down to the used market in the coming years.”

Find a used Renault Clio on Auto Trader

8. Volkswagen Polo – 155,468 sales

Popular used cars 2018

Superminis remained the largest segment in 2018, with a huge 33 percent market share, although sales were down 3.7 percent to 2,618,544. The Volkswagen Polo was one of the most popular superminis, with used car sales of 155,468 in 2018.

Along with the used car data, the SMMT has also revealed the most popular colours for used cars in 2018. Black was the favourite with 1,663,013 transactions, followed by silver/aluminium (1,598,828) and blue (1,402,110).

Find a used Volkswagen Polo on Auto Trader

7. MINI – 160,258 sales

Popular used cars 2018

The MINI went on sale in the UK in July 2001, with buyers queuing up for a slice of retro-evolutionary motoring. Eighteen years on, it remains as fashionable as ever, with owners loving its styling, dynamics and personalisation options. Some 160,000 MINIs changed hands in 2018.

According to the SMMT, more used cars were bought and sold in the South East than in any other region, with 1,174,807 transactions taking place. Next up was the North West (838,278), West Midlands (791,444), East (767,240) and South West (753,284).

Find a used MINI on Auto Trader

6. BMW 3 Series – 194,164 sales

Popular used cars 2018

The BMW 3 Series is the only executive car to appear in the top ten, with used car sales approaching 200,000. Interestingly, the executive car sector was one of two segments to experience an increase in 2018, with sales up 9.3 percent.

With a new 3 Series hitting showrooms in 2019, the used car market could experience a flood of pre-owned examples as buyers upgrade to the newer model. Some 14 million units have been built since the 3 Series arrived in 1975.

Find a used BMW 3 Series on Auto Trader

5. Vauxhall Astra – 262,201 sales

Popular used cars 2018

The Vauxhall Astra might be struggling in terms of new car sales, but it remains in demand among used car buyers. Strong fleet and rental sales certainly help, with a ready supply of nearly-new examples hitting the market on a regular basis.

Last year, just 160,275 new Astras were registered across Europe, as sales plummeted by 27 percent. This made it Europe’s 21st most popular car; it’s unlikely to hold on to a top 25 slot in 2019.

Find a used Vauxhall Astra on Auto Trader

4. Volkswagen Golf – 262,508 sales

Popular used cars 2018

The Volkswagen Golf might be Europe’s most popular new car, but for Britain’s used car buyers, it’s only marginally more popular than the Astra. Last year, 262,508 Golfs found a new home, making it the most popular car with a semi-premium badge.

There are plenty of Golf models to choose from, with strong new car sales resulting in a huge supply of used examples. A cursory look on Auto Trader reveals cars ranging from Mk3s costing £250 to nearly-new Clubsports costing £40,000.

Find a used Volkswagen Golf on Auto Trader

3. Vauxhall Corsa – 313,702 sales

Popular used cars 2018

Britain’s third most popular new of 2018 was also the third most popular used car. But while 52,915 new Corsas were purchased last year, a staggering 313,702 used examples changed hands.

The current Corsa is the oldest car in its segment by a comfortable margin, so a replacement is long overdue. Fortunately, a new Corsa is on the way, based on the same platform as the next-generation Peugeot 208.

Find a used Vauxhall Corsa on Auto Trader

2. Ford Focus – 322,532 sales

Popular used cars 2018

Unsurprisingly, it’s a Ford one-two at the top, with the Focus finishing second with 322,532 used car transactions in 2018. Launched at the 1998 Geneva Motor Show, the original Focus shocked the world with its ‘New Edge’ styling, revolutionary interior and sharp dynamics.

The second-generation Focus arrived in 2004, before making way for the Mk3 model in 2011. The fourth-generation Focus went on sale in 2018, with prices starting from £18,300.

Find a used Ford Focus on Auto Trader

1. Ford Fiesta – 360,868 sales

Popular used cars 2018

Britain’s most popular new car is also the favourite used car, which will come as no surprise to anybody. The Mk1 Fiesta was introduced in 1976 and immediately struck a chord thanks to its low price, sharp looks and low running costs.

By sticking to that winning formula – not to mention introducing sporty variants along the way – the Fiesta has remained Britain’s most popular used car for many years. Last year, 361,000 used Fiestas found new homes in Britain.

Find a used Ford Fiesta on Auto Trader

Demand remains high

Popular used cars 2018

Speaking about the used car data, Nathan Coe, chief operating officer and chief financial officer at Auto Trader, said: “Whilst the impact of the ongoing fuel debate, WLTP regulations, and Brexit anxieties were keenly felt in the new car market, the used car market, which although marginally down on 2017, has shown resilience. It highlights that despite the dent in consumer confidence, demand remains high as consumers continue to change their cars on average every 3.3 years, which is still in line with the car parc turn trends we have seen over the last 10 years.”

Zero-emission cars in demand

Popular used cars 2018

“It’s encouraging that the growing level of consumer appetite in new AFVs (Alternative Fuel Vehicles) is starting to trickle through to the used car market, albeit growth is off a very small base. The trend in AFVs is being mirrored on our marketplace. For over a year fuel related searches attributed to AFVs remained flat at just 4 percent. However, between July and October 2018, searches grew to 7 percent. At the current trajectory, we anticipate one in ten fuel related searches will be for a zero-emission car by the end of the year,” he continued.

The market looks in ‘fine fettle’

Popular used cars 2018

James Fairclough, CEO at AA Cars, added: “The used car market slowed down slightly in the run up to Christmas with sales falling by 0.7 percent on the previous year. Considering the wider economic picture and ongoing consumer uncertainty, the market looks in remarkably fine fettle. Additionally, alternatively-fuelled vehicles continued to defy the overall downward trend and saw another uplift. Even though electric and hybrid cars still don’t make up a large proportion of the secondhand market, their ever-increasing uptake is a testament to the quality of stock available on used forecourts.”

Interesting few months

Popular used cars 2018

“While the government has started to withdraw its more attractive incentives for AFVs, the secondhand market is still benefiting from the knock-on effect of these grants from years past and continues to benefit from the arrival of nearly-new stock. The next few months will be interesting for the car market as a whole, but as always, the dealers who are responsive in their ability to source stock and provide adapted solutions online and on the forecourts will continue to grow in the year ahead,” he continued.

2018’s most popular used cars

The used cars you bought in 2018

It’s been a miserable year for the new car market, but following years of growth, there’s no shortage of used cars to choose from. Cazana, a valuations and sales tool specialist, has created a list of the most popular advertised cars registered after 2008. Read on to discover the most popular used cars of 2018.

20. Toyota Aygo

The used cars you bought in 2018

The Aygo shares its platform with the Peugeot 108 and Citroen C1, but while the French city cars do not make the list, the Toyota creeps into the top 20. On the Cazana website, we found first-generation Aygos for as little as £995, but you’ll pay significantly more for the second-generation model.

19. BMW 5 Series diesel

The used cars you bought in 2018

This is the first of three BMWs to appear in the top 20, with the 5 Series diesel securing 19th place. The sixth-generation F10 5 Series made its debut in 2009, with the current G30 model hitting showrooms in 2017.

18. Nissan Juke petrol

The used cars you bought in 2018

If the Cazana data is anything to go by, Britain’s used car buyers prefer the petrol Nissan Juke to the diesel. Interestingly, petrol and diesel cars are split 50-50 in the top 20, suggesting that ‘Dieselgate’ isn’t a major concern when it comes to pre-owned cars.

17. Mercedes-Benz A-Class diesel

The used cars you bought in 2018

The A-Class diesel is the 17th most popular used car of 2018 and one of two Mercedes-Benz models to make the top 20. The new ‘W177’ A-Class made its debut this year, with the premium hatchback showcasing a new face and eye-catching interior.

16. Mercedes-Benz C-Class diesel

The used cars you bought in 2018

Here’s the second Mercedes-Benz model, with the C-Class named as the 16th most popular used car of 2018. Many of the cars in the Cazana top 20 have been regulars in the monthly top 10 new car sales charts over recent years.

15. BMW 1 Series diesel

The used cars you bought in 2018

A new BMW 1 Series is set to arrive in 2019, but in the meantime, the current second-generation model is named as the 15th most popular used car. The 1 Series dates back to 2004, when the original model was introduced to replace the 3 Series Compact.

14. Ford Kuga diesel

The used cars you bought in 2018

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Ford occupies four slots in the top 20, although, more surprisingly, only three of the cars on the list could be classed as crossovers or SUVs. The Nissan Juke was 18th, the Ford Kuga is 14th, and there’s one more to come.

13. Vauxhall Insignia diesel

The used cars you bought in 2018

In the meantime, here’s the first of three Vauxhalls to make the top 20, with the Insignia diesel sitting in 13th place. Interestingly, no Audi, Land Rover or Renault models made the top 20.

12. Mini hatchback petrol

The used cars you bought in 2018

It will come as no surprise to find the new Mini in the top 20, with used car buyers preferring petrol to diesel. Next year, Mini will launch an electric version of its popular hatchback and we expect it to become one of the most popular EVs on the market.

11. Volkswagen Golf petrol

The used cars you bought in 2018

The Volkswagen Golf occupies two berths in the Cazana top 20, with the petrol version finishing 11th. Considering all the negative vibes around Volkswagen and ‘Dieselgate’, you might have expected the petrol version to finish higher than the diesel.

10. Ford Focus diesel

The used cars you bought in 2018

In common with the Golf, the Ford Focus makes two appearances in the top 20, but this time it’s the diesel model that finishes lower down the list. Next year, the all-new Ford Focus will enjoy its first full-year on sale and used versions will start to appear on the used car market.

9. BMW 3 Series diesel

The used cars you bought in 2018

There’s only one slot for the BMW 3 Series, and it’s the diesel version that makes the top 20. A new model was unveiled at the Paris Motor Show and the first cars will hit the streets in 2019.

8. Fiat 500

The used cars you bought in 2018

After a decade on sale, the Fiat 500 remains as popular as ever, with a 2016 facelift breathing new life into an ageing product. Given its success, it’s hard to imagine how Fiat could replace it.

7. Nissan Qashqai diesel

The used cars you bought in 2018

The Qashqai is the highest-ranked crossover and the only Nissan to make the top 20. We’re at that stage of the gallery where the captions are becoming repetitive and you’ve probably clicked away to read about a celebrity’s new handbag or what Meghan Markle will be eating on Christmas Day.

6. Vauxhall Astra petrol

The used cars you bought in 2018

If you’re still here, thank you. As a reward, here’s a photo of a Vauxhall Astra being put through its paces by a man wearing a pair of shades. It’s not Rob Bonnet but he’s definitely on it.

5. Volkswagen Polo petrol

The used cars you bought in 2018

According to Cosmopolitan, Meghan Markle might enjoy a light breakfast of sliced fruit, half a grapefruit, toast and coffee. Which is nice. As is the fact that the Volkswagen Polo is the fifth most popular used car.

4. Volkswagen Golf diesel

The used cars you bought in 2018

The Volkswagen Golf is the fourth most popular used car and the highest-ranked diesel car. Amazing.

3. Ford Focus petrol

The used cars you bought in 2018

Here’s the Ford Focus again, this time in petrol guise. Going back to that Cosmopolitan article, we understand Prince Harry will tuck into a breakfast of eggs, bacon, mushrooms, kippers and grilled kidneys this Christmas.

2. Vauxhall Corsa petrol

The used cars you bought in 2018

The Vauxhall Corsa boasts a 285-litre boot, which should be enough to transport a few boxes of grilled kidneys to Sandringham. The Corsa is the year’s second most popular used car.

1. Ford Fiesta petrol

The used cars you bought in 2018

Which leaves the Ford Fiesta to take the crown as the country’s most popular used car. If it’s not occupying the same slot at the end of 2019, we’ll grill our own kidneys.