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How to buy our Used Car of the Year winners

Planning to buy a used car in 2021? Don't do anything until you've read our recommended list of Used Car of the Year winners...

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Planning to buy a used car in 2021? Don’t take the plunge until you’ve read our recommended list of Used Car of the Year winners.

Many find buying a used car to be a hugely daunting experience, but it needn't be so. We don’t blame you if you’re feeling a modicum of trepidation – especially if, like most people, you want to make sure you get the best deal out there.

Fortunately, we have our own used car site that you can search for used and nearly new car, with all listings guaranteed to be less than eight years old, have covered less than 100,000 miles and have the added peace of mind of a warranty. But which cars should you search for in each class? Here are our recommendations.

Best used value car

Hyundai i10 2014-2020

Used Hyundai i10 2014 -present

The Hyundai i10 is a remarkably spacious town car, yet it is also quite a capable performer on the motorway with the larger 1.2-litre engine. Go for an SE Premium model from 2017 onwards and you'll get an easy to use touchscreen infotainment system with smartphone connectivity. 

Skoda Fabia

You can't go wrong with the excellent Skoda Fabia. For three years it has won our small car category because it's a great all-rounder with a spacious interior and practical boot, a well-made dashboard and a big-car feeling to how it drives. It should be reliable, too, thanks to the Fabia finishing in the top 10 in the value and small car class of the What Car? Reliability Survey. Seek out an SE model and you'll get all the equipment you'll need. 

We found: 2017 Skoda Fabia 1.2 TSI SE 90, 21,503 miles, £7325

Read our used Skoda Fabia review >>

Find a used Skoda Fabia for sale >>

Best used family car

Skoda Octavia 2013-2020

Used Skoda Octavia Hatchback 13-present

It may have been replaced with a new model, but the previous generation Octavia is still a winner in our eyes. Particularly if you need to carry luggage because this Skoda has a boot that can shame most luxury SUVs that cost considerably more. Indeed, this impressive practicality is one of the reasons why it has been popular with private hire firms, so pay particular attention to the service history and condition of the interior of high mileage examples. Our favourite engine is the 148bhp 1.5 petrol that has plenty of power and a minuscule thirst.

We found: 2019 Skoda Octavia 1.5 TSI SE Technology, 6925 miles, £13,845

Read our used Skoda Octavia review >>

Find a used Skoda Octavia for sale >>

Best used MPV

Citroën Grand C4 Spacetourer 2018-present

Citroën Grand C4 Spacetourer 1.2 Puretech 130 Touch Edition

Family road trips could be made far more bearable with the Grand C4 Spacetourer because everyone gets a great view out thanks to slim pillars, a panoramic windscreen, and large side windows. The interior itself is well thought out and the handy extra seats in the back make this Citroën very versatile. Diesel models have had a recall for the Adblue emissions system, but the fix is a simple software update that can be quickly completed at a Citroën dealer.

Used Seat Arona 18-present

Unlike many of its rivals, the Seat Arona manages to both ride well and handle tidily - almost as well as an Ibiza. The boot is big for this class of car, too, especially useful for young families. Go for a 1.0-litre SE Technology car for decent performance and economy, along with a larger infotainment screen. There was an issue with the central rear seatbelt, but a recall has been issued for that.

We found: 2018 Seat Arona 1.0 SE Technology, 14,000 miles, £10,995

Read our used Seat Arona review >>

Find a used Seat Arona for sale >>

Best used family SUV

Seat Ateca 2016-present

Used Seat Ateca 16-present

You'd expect a family SUV to be very family-friendly, and the Seat Ateca certainly is. Few rivals are quite so accommodating inside, and even entry-level versions have plenty of equipment to keep everyone happy. Seek out a 148bhp petrol and you'll have a chunky SUV with plenty of performance, even when fully loaded. 

We found: 2017 Seat Ateca 1.4 EcoTSI Xcellence, 28,050 miles, £14,995

Used Volvo XC60 long-term test review

Lots of safety equipment and a pleasing interior are all present and correct in the Volvo XC60. For less than £25,000, you can get the present shape model, unlike key rivals for similar money, and while it isn't the last word in driver appeal, it is very cosseting and relaxing to drive. Make sure that all the latest software updates for the automatic emergency braking system and emergency SOS system have been carried out, but this should have been done if you're buying an example through the Volvo approved used scheme at a franchised dealer.

We found: 2017 Volvo XC60 2.0 D4 R Design auto, 37,444 miles, £24,490

Read our used Volvo XC60 review >>

Find a used Volvo XC60 for sale >>

Best used luxury SUV

Audi Q7 2015-present

Audi Q7 front cornering - 67-plate car

The Q7 continues to be one of the finest luxury SUVs around despite being around since 2015. In fact, we still rate pre-facelift versions because of an easier to use infotainment system, unlike the twin-touchscreen set up in the latest car. Despite its complexity, the Q7 came second in the luxury SUV category of the latest What Car? Reliability Survey, making it more dependable than most.

We found: 2018 Audi Q7 3.0 TDI S Line auto, 28,711 miles, £32,000

Read our used Audi Q7 review >>

Find a used Audi Q7 for sale >>

Best used estate car

BMW 5 Series Touring 2017-present

BMW 5 Series Touring front three quarters

If we had to suggest the ultimate all-round car, a BMW 5 Series Touring would be a very strong contender because of its classy image, luxurious interior, refined and efficient engine, plus excellent practicality. Add in a decent driving experience and you have one of the most capable cars ever made. There were a couple of bugs on early examples, such as the brake lights sticking on, but a third place finish in the luxury car class in the latest What Car? Reliability Survey suggests these teething troubles have been overcome.

BMW M140i

The BMW M140i offers used car buyers a unique package in the hot hatch class: an incredibly brawny six-cylinder engine coupled with rear-wheel drive. It certainly delivers a more exciting driving experience than rivals like the Audi S3 and Volkswagen Golf R, and one that will not be repeated because the latest M135i has now been tamed with four-wheel drive. Get one while you still can, but not before you check the condition of the brakes and tyres since the previous owner may have driven their M140i hard.

We found: 2017 BMW M140i 5dr, 35,000 miles, £17,695

Read our used BMW M140i review >>

Find a used BMW M140i for sale >>

Best used convertible

Mercedes E-Class Cabriolet 2017-present

Mercedes-Benz E-Class Cabriolet

The Mercedes E-Class Cabriolet is a supremely classy four-seater convertible that'll make onlookers green with envy. Especially when they find out how reasonable used prices are compared with what they were when new. Most examples available have a frugal 2.0-litre diesel engine, so running one won't break the bank either. Look out for examples with the 'Premium' package for a larger infotainment screen, or 'Premium Plus' for that and a configurable digital instrument cluster and upgraded sound system.

Used Porsche Cayman 13-16

The enduring appeal of the Cayman's sonorous six-cylinder engine and snickity six-speed manual makes it the obvious sports car choice over its competitors. But it also impresses as a practical everyday car due to having two decent sized boots, along with a plush interior to cover lots of miles in. Early cars had an issue with a loose bonnet catch and a few examples have had problems with airbags, but recalls have been issued for both of these.

We found: 2014 Porsche Cayman 3.4 S PDK, 31,500 miles, £32,995

Read our used Porsche Cayman review >>

Find a used Porsche Cayman for sale >>

Best used coupé

Audi TT 2014-present

Used Audi TT 15 -present

A used Audi TT is stupendous value for money considering its rock-solid interior, hatchback versatility, and excellent driving dynamics. Aim to get a Sport model to avoid an overly firm ride. If you're after one built before May 2019, check that the recall for installing additional shielding for the fuel tank has been carried out.

We found: 2016 Audi TT 1.8 TFSI Sport, 38,400 miles, £14,500

Read our used Audi TT review >>

Find a used Audi TT for sale >>

Best used performance car

Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio 2016-present

Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio

The Italian stallion that is the Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio is not just a breath of fresh air due to it being a wonderful alternative in a class usually dominated by uber-powerful German rivals, but because its 509bhp twin-turbo V6 offers such electrifying performance, coupled with delightfully sharp steering. Speaking of steering, if you find excessive tyre scrub or wear, this is a consequence of the aggressive steering geometry in order to give the car such quick steering, so a suspension or steering alignment won't do anything to alter this.  

Used Hyundai Ioniq 17-present

Hybrid cars tend to be expensive, heavily compromised, or both. But the Hyundai Ioniq bucks this trend with traditional family car practicality, refined hybrid motoring, and supremely low running costs. There are two recalls for the Ioniq at the moment, but as for any other issues, even the earliest examples still have some manufacturer's warranty left, so you should be covered if anything untoward occurs. 

We found: 2018 Hyundai Ioniq 1.6 GDI Premium, 19,400 miles, £13,449

Read our used Hyundai Ioniq review >>

Find a used Hyundai Ioniq for sale >>

Best used electric car

Nissan Leaf 2018-present

Nissan Leaf

The original Leaf was a bit of a trailblazer in terms of popularising electric cars for the masses, but this second-generation Leaf builds on that by offering a more refined drive, greater electric driving range and more safety technology, making it a valid alternative to a traditional family car. Early cars had an issue with slow charging, but this has been improved upon with a software update, so make sure that's been carried out.

New Vauxhall Insignia Grand Sport vs used Audi A4: which is best?

We already knew that the Audi A4 was an excellent car thanks to its 2015 Car of the Year Award, but when we saw how good value as used one is, there was no question about awarding it our used executive class win. If you don't do many miles, a 148bhp 1.4 petrol model offers plenty of performance for a spectacularly low price. If you're looking at buying an automatic 'S Tronic' model, make sure the recommended gearbox fluid changes have been carried out every 38,000 miles.

We found: 2017 Audi A4 1.4 TFSI Sport, 22,322 miles, £12,999

Read our used Audi A4 review >>

Find a used Audi A4 for sale >>

Best used luxury car

Audi A8 2017-present

Used Audi A8 Saloon (17-present)

For similar money to a brand-new, entry-level BMW 5 Series, you could have a two-year old Audi A8 from the upper echelons of the luxury car class that gets all the latest safety tech, plus a peerless ride over even the lumpiest city streets because of standard air suspension. Make sure you check that the infotainment system is running the latest software and that the four recalls that have been announced so far have been taken care of before purchasing.

We found: 2018 Audi A8 50 TDI, 7466 miles, £31,700

Read our used Audi A8 review >>

Find a used Audi A8 for sale >>

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