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Top 50 used car buys based on MOT pass rate
We reveal the best cars aged three to eight years old for passing the MOT test first time - and the models with the highest fail rates...
A vehicle’s MOT history is one of the first thing used buyers look up when searching for their next car. As well as giving a good indication of how reliable a vehicle is, it also reveals how well previous owners have looked after it, including how thoroughly it's been serviced.
As a general rule, if you have two similar models on your list of potential buys, you're likely to be better off opting for the one with a string of advisory-free MOT passes, rather than one with lots of first-time fails.
What Car? has compiled a list of the top 50 secondhand cars from three to eight years old with the best first-time MOT pass rates, and the 10 models with the highest MOT fail rates.
We analysed 745,000 anonymised MOT records published by the Department for Transport to find out which used cars have the best MOT pass record. The average sample size for all the models in the top 50 was 1157 vehicles while the minimum sample size was 100 cars.
The data allowed us to calculate the average mileage of each vehicle when tested, split between cars that passed and failed, as well as their MOT results depending on fuel type, enabling us to find out whether different fuel variants had a better MOT record.
The top 50 chart contains everything from family SUVs to sports cars and city cars. Of the top 50 cars listed here, none scored less than 88% – meaning that 88% passed their MOT on the first try – making each one a worthy consideration as your next used buy.
The top 50 cars for passing the MOT test
50. Nissan Pulsar (2014-present)
Pass rate 88.40%
Average test mileage 28,739
The Pulsar failed to match the success of the Juke and the Qashqai in the sales charts, but it is a practical family car that has a strong MOT pass rate. Petrol models have an 89.21% average pass rate, while diesel models have an 86.89% rate. Prices start at less than £6000.
49. Jaguar XF (2015-present)
Pass rate 88.41%
Average test mileage 36,990
The second-generation XF is popular with fleet and business users. Diesel variants of the XF had an 88.43% pass rate, while petrol models achieved a slightly lower 87.88% pass rate.
48. Mercedes B-Class (2012-2019)
Pass rate 88.42%
Average test mileage 38,138
The second-generation compact MPV from Mercedes was available with efficient petrol and diesel engines, and also as the brand’s first fully-electric production car, the B-Class Electric Drive. Of the 17 B-Class Electric Drive models in our sample, just one failed its MOT – although the average mileage was significantly lower than those of the petrol and diesel models.
47. Honda CR-V (2012-2018)
Pass rate 88.48%
Average test mileage 41,855
The fourth generation CR-V is a popular used buy, with petrol and diesel versions gaining almost identical pass rates despite the average test mileage on diesels being nearly 10,000 miles higher. Prices for the CR-V start at less than £8000.
46. Audi Q3 (2011-2018)
Pass rate 88.59%
Average test mileage 41,676
Although the first-generation Q3 was sold with a choice of diesel and petrol engines, only 878 of the 4200 Q3s in our sample were petrol-powered. The average mileage on petrol cars was 30,474 compared with 44,487 for the diesels, which could be one reason why the petrol models had a slightly higher average pass rate. Prices start below £10,000.
45. Mazda MX-5 (2005-2015)
Pass rate 88.61%
Average test mileage 29,429
The third-generation MX-5 is ageing well, and continues to impress buyers with its great reliability and sturdy build quality. It is available with a choice of 1.8 or 2.0-litre petrol engines, although both are only offered with a manual gearbox. Prices start from just under £12,000.
44. Suzuki Grand Vitara (2005-2015)
Pass rate 88.67%
Average test mileage 42,821
The first Vitara went on sale in 1988, in the early days of the road-going SUV craze. This third-generation version is a much more rounded and grown-up proposition than the first model. It also has a better MOT pass rate than the fourth-generation version that replaced it in 2015. The later model sits in 53rd place with an 88.24% pass rate.
43. BMW X4 (2014-2018)
Pass rate 88.67%
Average test mileage 38,274
The first-generation X4 was launched in 2014 and has since proved a reliable used buy. The average mileage for vehicles that passed the MOT test first time was 37,535, while the average for those that failed was 44,061, so we'd recommend searching out a low-mileage car if you're considering buying one. There are plenty of petrol and diesel models available on the used market, with prices starting at £15,500.
42. Peugeot 108 (2014-present)
Pass rate 88.69%
Average test mileage 22,199
Despite it being in production since 2014, the average test mileage for the 108 was just 22,199, suggesting most owners use this small car for short trips. The 108 was sold exclusively with a 1.2-litre three-cylinder petrol engine and is available with either three or five doors.
41. Toyota GT86 (2012-2021)
Pass rate 88.89%
Average test mileage 35,879
A replacement to the GT86 was announced in April 2021, with its name changed to the GR 86. Like the GR 86, the GT86 was developed jointly with Subaru, with the latter's model called the BRZ. The GT86 was sold exclusively with a 2.0-litre petrol engine and is available with manual or automatic transmission. Prices for the coupé start at £12,790.
40. Skoda Superb (2015-present)
Pass rate 88.91%
Average test mileage 44,689
Popular with fleet and business users, the Superb offers a comfortable ride, masses of room and a range of punchy petrol and diesel engines. Petrol-engined models had a significantly better MOT pass rate of 95.35% than diesels, which managed 87.92%.
39. Lexus IS (2013-present)
Pass rate 88.96%
Average test mileage 48,905
With the third-generation IS, Lexus made the bold decision to offer the vehicle with a petrol or petrol-hybrid engine only. Petrol-hybrid variants accounted for 93% of our sample. They are popular with fleet users, and used prices start from £12,000.
38. Suzuki Celerio (2016-2019)
Pass rate 88.97%
Average test mileage 21,024
The compact city car from Suzuki was offered only with a 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol engine. The average test mileage suggests most cars have led a low-mileage life. The average mileage for vehicles that passed was 20,526, while it was 25,045 for those that failed.
37. Mercedes-Benz GLE (2015-2019)
Pass rate 89.01%
Average test mileage 32,800
Based on the third-generation M-Class, the GLE was available with petrol and diesel power and as a plug-in hybrid, although there were only 11 plug-in hybrid GLE 500e models in our sample. The diesel models in our MOT database had covered about 7000 more miles than the petrol models.
36. Lexus RX (2009-2016)
Pass rate 89.11%
Average test mileage 49,372
Despite the high average test mileage, the third generation RX is a highly reliable secondhand SUV. Unusually, the vehicles that passed their MOT first time had a slightly higher average mileage than those that failed: 49,613, miles compared with 47,408. Prices for the third-generation RX start at £16,000.
35. Mini Countryman (2010-2017)
Pass rate 89.14%
Average test mileage 33,423
Launched in 2010, the Countryman was the first small SUV version of the Mini. A reliable buy on the secondhand market, the Countryman was available with petrol or diesel engines, with both proving equally reliable in our sample of 2340 vehicles. Diesels had on average 10,000 more miles than petrols when tested.
34. Audi Q5 (2008-2017)
Pass rate 89.16%
Average test mileage 46,026
The first-generation Q5 may be long in the tooth but it’s still proving to be a reliable secondhand purchase. Diesel models made up the majority of cars in our 3006 vehicle sample. Prices for the first-generation Q5 start at £13,000.
33. Audi TT (2006-2014)
Pass rate 89.40%
Average test mileage 42,894
A long-term What Car? favourite, the second-generation Audi TT is a fun and dependable used buy. Audi offered the TT with a choice of petrol and diesel engines – the diesels had a higher average test mileage and a slightly poorer MOT pass rate than the petrols.
Pass rate 89.56%
Average test mileage 23,132
Toyota’s city car is available exclusively with a 1.0-litre three cylinder petrol engine. The average test mileage in our sample suggests many are used as urban runabouts, but as such they are a reliable used purchase. The Aygo is extremely affordable to buy and own, with prices starting at just £4250.
31. Toyota Prius (2016-present)
Pass rate 89.67%
Average test mileage 48,996
Popular with taxi and fleet drivers, the Prius is also a great used buy for those looking for a reliable car that's cheap to run. The Prius is also available as a plug-in hybrid, although these sold in very small numbers. Prices for the fourth-generation model start at £13,000.
30. Mercedes E-Class (2016-present)
Pass rate 89.68%
Average test mileage 53,771
A popular choice among fleet and business drivers, the E-Classes in our sample had a higher than average test mileage. With good build quality, the fifth-generation E-Class is a solid used buy. Prices start at less than £13,000 for diesel models and £18,450 for petrols.
29. BMW 2 Series (2014-present)
Pass rate 89.74%
Average test mileage 32,755
Building on the success of the 1 Series Coupé, the larger 2 Series was launched in 2014 as a Coupé, Convertible and the Active Tourer MPV. It is available with a range of petrol and diesel engines, and as a plug-in hybrid, and whichever you choose the 2 Series is a dependable used car buy.
28. Jaguar XK (2006-2015)
Pass rate 89.87%
Average test mileage 28,704
The XK was Jaguar’s answer to the Aston Martin V8 Vantage and Porsche 911. It proved popular in the UK so there are plenty of examples in the used market, with prices starting at £21,000. The average test mileage for vehicles that failed was 33,326, while those that passed had done an average of 28,183 miles.
27. Vauxhall Viva (2015-2019)
Pass rate 89.93%
Average test mileage 18,718
The Viva was Vauxhall’s city car, and it sold well in the UK until production ended in 2019 after Vauxhall’s takeover by Groupe PSA (now Stellantis). Available exclusively with a 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol, most Vivas have led a low-mileage life, with used prices starting from under £4500.
=25. Tesla Model S (2014-present)
Pass rate 89.94%
Average test mileage 44,613
Although the Model S is expensive if you buy it new, older examples are much more affordable, making it an excellent used buy if you're looking for a roomy pure electric vehicle. The high average test mileage suggests most owners make the most of the model's long electric range. Prices start at £35,000.
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