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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...
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
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.
Best used small car
Skoda Fabia 2015-present
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.
Best used family car
Skoda Octavia 2013-2020
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.
Best used MPV
Citroën Grand C4 Spacetourer 2018-present
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.
Best used small SUV
Seat Arona 2018-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.
Best used family SUV
Seat Ateca 2016-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.
Best used large SUV
Volvo XC60 2017-present
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.
Best used luxury SUV
Audi Q7 2015-present
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.
Best used estate car
BMW 5 Series Touring 2017-present
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.
Best used hot hatch
BMW M140i 2016-2019
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.
Best used convertible
Mercedes E-Class Cabriolet 2017-present
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.
Best used sports car
Porsche Cayman 2013-2016
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.
Best used coupé
Audi TT 2014-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.
Best used performance car
Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio 2016-present
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.
Best used hybrid
Hyundai Ioniq 2016-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.
Best used electric car
Nissan Leaf 2018-present
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.
Best used executive car
Audi A4 2015-present
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.
Best used luxury car
Audi A8 2017-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
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