2020 has been a challenging time for the new car market, with the latest figures from the SMMT suggesting that registrations are down by as much as 31% compared with last year.
The used car market has proved to be much more resilient, however. Sales are predicted to be reduced by some 17.5%, most probably cushioned by buyers who've gone for nearly new instead of brand new as a way of saving money. But how much of an effect has that had on the types of reviews our readers have been looking at?
We've compiled a list of the most popular used reviews on What Car? for some guidance. Our list presents an interesting mix of traditional used best sellers, premium SUVs and even one or two examples of models that have long since disappeared from their respective manufacturers’ price lists.
Over the next few pages, you can find out which have been the most popular used reviews on What Car? this year – and remember to check out the used pages to see all our new and updated used reviews.
10. Land Rover Freelander 2006-2014
Last year, the Freelander was near the top of this list. This time around, it's fallen significantly, perhaps due to increasing age and maintenance costs – particularly for 10-year-old Freelanders where a routine service is easily more than £1000 at a main dealer. Older examples do look quite tempting value now, and it still looks the part whether it's parked up on a posh London side street or caked in mud in a quaint Cotswold village.
Land Rover Freelander (cont.)
Adept off road
Decent equipment on mid-range models
Sloppy in corners
Some cheap-feeling interior plastics
9. Ford Focus 2011-2018
Another car that was significantly higher up the list last year is the Ford Focus. It's been pushed down some five places in part due to other, more premium family car rivals going up now that they've depreciated enough to provide a tempting alternative. The Focus is still an excellent value choice, and thanks to the large numbers sold new, finding a tidy used one in a desirable spec should be easy.
Ford Focus (cont.)
Lots of examples to choose from
Automatic gearbox reliability
8. Porsche Cayenne 2010-2017
Despite a deep recession, second-hand buyers still desire luxury SUVs and there are few that are more in demand than the Porsche Cayenne. Not only does it feel more like a car to drive, but the popular 3.0-litre diesel returns respectable economy numbers and stonking on-road performance. Servicing will be expensive, but it should work out to be a more dependable and better value buy than the equivalent Range Rover in the long run.
Porsche Cayenne (cont.)
Flexible rear seats
Expensive to run
Stingy standard equipment
Low-speed ride firm
7. Ford Fiesta 2008-2017
Beating its larger family car sibling, the little Fiesta continues to be a prominent figure in the used car market. It can't quite match the interior quality of a contemporary Volkswagen Polo, but this doesn't seem to matter because this small Ford is inexpensive to buy and run, and it's a brilliant car to drive - particularly when equipped with the gutsy 1.0-litre Ecoboost engine. Look for a Zetec model and you'll be treated to plenty of equipment, including a heated windscreen that'll save you freezing your fingers in frosty winter weather.
Ford Fiesta (cont.)
Great fun to drive
Composed and stable ride
Loads to choose from
Rear seats lack leg room
Boot could be bigger
6. Skoda Yeti 2009-2017
The only non-mover this year is the charming Skoda Yeti that has proved to be a hit with readers thanks to chunky, SUV-inspired styling, a practical interior and an excellent range of affordable to run engines. Some examples even have four-wheel drive and (when paired with the right tyres) are remarkably handy in slippery conditions.
Skoda Yeti (cont.)
Fun to drive for an SUV
Some efficient versions
Too much wind and road noise
Ride is jittery on poor surfaces
Removable rear seats are fiddly
5. Volvo V40 2012-2019
Think of the Volvo V40 as the stylish, sophisticated Swedish alternative to the Ford Focus because, essentially, that's what it is underneath. The good news is that this makes the V40 a nice car to drive, but it has a far smarter-looking interior that disguises its Ford roots almost entirely. Find one with City Safe and you'll get all sorts of additional safety tech.
Volvo V40 (cont.)
Smart, high-quality interior
Lots of equipment
Great safety standards
Too much road noise
4. BMW 1 Series 2011-2019
Ignoring the huge engines in the M135i and M140i models, the regular 1 Series is a highly sensible and affordable to run family hatch. Interior accommodation and boot space have never been its forte, but it's still decent enough for most needs. Look out for examples with a Professional Media pack for an upgraded infotainment and sat-nav system.
BMW 1 Series (cont.)
Economy in diesel versions
Class-leading infotainment system
Rear room a little tight
Not as well equipped as some
Relatively high prices
3. Range Rover Evoque 2011-2019
Even though this is the least reliable family SUV according to our latest What Car? Reliability survey, readers can't get enough of the Range Rover Evoque. To be fair, it looks great, you get a lot of standard equipment and the interior is pretty plush for what is supposed to be the 'baby' Range Rover, so it's understandable why it's so in demand. Just make sure you take out an extended warranty if you plan on buying one.
Range Rover Evoque (cont.)
Stylish inside and out
Choppy town ride
There are more practical alternatives
2. Audi A3 2013-2020
Almost making it to our top spot is our former Used Car of the Year-winning Audi A3. It was in 2020 with a new model, so pricing for these will have taken a hit. And when you consider that the latest car doesn't have an interior as plush as this and most of the engines are carried over, saving money on a nearly new example might be quite a smart move. The infotainment is a little compact, but that's a small price to pay.
Audi A3 (cont.)
Beautifully finished interior
Great to drive
Not as spacious as the VW Golf in the back
Firm low-speed ride
Lower trims sparsely equipped
BMW 3 Series 2012-2019
The Nissan Qashqai topped the list last year, but this time it's the turn of the previous generation BMW 3 Series. Stick with a post-facelift car from 2015 onwards for the revised 320d diesel engine to avoid costly timing chain issues, and you won't go far wrong. As with the 1 Series, look for a car with the Professional Media pack for an upgraded infotainment system.
BMW 3 Series (cont.)
Great to drive
Hard ride on M Sport suspension
Offset pedals in manual version
2015 onwards have an improved diesel engine
Find out what was the least popular used review on the next slide >>
Nissan Primera 1996-2002
Sadly, not even the dynamically excellent Primera GT could spark much interest in this quite forgettable car. The Nissan Primera lasted for another generation until it was replaced with the far more popular Nissan Qashqai.