Used cars that pass their MOT the most - and the least
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 things used buyers look up when searching for their next car.
As well as giving a good indicator of how reliable a vehicle is, a car's MOT history also reveals how well previous owners have looked after it. 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 at three to eight years old with the best first-time MOT pass rates.
We analysed 745,000 anonymised MOT records published by the Department for Transport to find out which used models have the best MOT record. Each vehicle in our list has a minimum sample size of 100 cars, although the average sample size for all the models in the top 50 is 1157 vehicles.
Here we reveal the top 20 models for passing their MOT test first time and the bottom 10.
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20. BMW i3 (2013-present)
Pass rate 90.46%
Average test mileage 27,717
With two distinct models available, we were interested to see how the fully-electric i3 compared with its hybrid stablemate in our MOT chart. However, there was little to choose between them. The all-electric model registered an impressive pass rate of 91.80% while the hybrid version scored 89.85%.
19. Mercedes S-Class (2014-2020)
Pass rate 90.52%
Average test mileage 48,430
The Mercedes S-Class is the company flagship and is laden with all the latest electronic gadgets. However, it achieved an impressive pass rate of more than 90%. Hybrids were the best performing S-Class models at MOT time (91.25%), with diesel models (90.71%) outperforming petrol-powered examples (88.79%).
18. Honda HR-V (2015-present)
Pass rate 90.60%
Average test mileage 25,605
The HR-V is the highest-ranked Honda in this list, and it contributes to a strong showing from Honda, which has the fifth-highest overall pass rate of all the brands in the study. The 1.5-litre petrol is our favourite and prices for models with that engine start from around £7500.
17. Audi TT (2014-present)
Pass rate 90.63%
Average test mileage 27,997
The TT is more than 20 years old and the third generation of Audi’s popular coupe and convertible is every bit as dependable as its predecessors. With a wide choice of engines and gearboxes, a practical design and prices starting from around £11,500, the TT is as sensible as cars in this segment of the market get.
16. Audi A8 (2010-2017)
Pass rate 90.77%
Average test mileage 53,647
The highest-ranked Audi for passing the MOT test first time is the company’s flagship model, although it's the diesel models that are the highest achievers. Petrol A8s have a pass rate of 85.45% compared with 91.81% for diesels. Both scores are impressive, though, given that the A8's average test mileage is at least 20,000 miles higher than models with higher pass rates.
15. Mercedes GLC Coupé (2016-present)
Pass rate 90.78%
Average test mileage 32,446
The GLC Coupé is an SUV based on the same underpinnings as the Mercedes C-Class saloon, but its sporty styling and more raked roofline make it an appealing alternative to conventional family SUVs. The 220d is the sweet spot, delivering decent performance and 48.7mpg (under WLTP conditions).
14. Jaguar F-Type (2013-present)
Pass rate 90.83%
Average test mileage 23,014
The F-Type is the highest-placed British-made model on our MOT pass rate chart. Built at Castle Bromwich, the F-Type will be the last Jaguar sports car to be powered by a petrol engine – and it shouldn’t pose many problems when the time comes for its MOT.
13. Mercedes GLA (2014-2020)
Pass rate 90.93%
Average test mileage 33,093
The Mercedes GLA and BMW X1 were showroom rivals as new cars and they’re separated by only a couple of percentage points here. Essentially a taller-riding version of the original Mercedes A-Class, the beefy-looking GLA does better than its compact hatchback sibling, which doesn’t even make the top 50.
12. BMW X1 (2015-present)
Pass rate 90.95%
Average test mileage 29,753
The second-generation BMW X1 is available with front-wheel drive or part-time four-wheel drive and provides sharp driving dynamics in a practical small SUV package. The most dependable X1 models are the petrol derivatives – they have a pass rate of 93.83%, compared with 90.63% for diesel versions.
11. Mercedes SL (2012-2021)
Pass rate 91.67%
Average test mileage 25,832
The Mercedes SL is a mainstay of the German brand’s range and its flagship two-seat convertible. Although SL means 'sports lightweight', it’s actually a luxurious roadster that weighs nearly two tonnes. Despite having many complex features and a stack of standard equipment, it’s reassuring to know it has such a strong MOT pass rate.
10. Mazda CX-3 (2015-present)
Pass rate 91.91%
Average test mileage 25,652
You don’t have to buy a luxury SUV with a prestige badge to enjoy enduring MOT success. The Mazda CX-3 is a smart-looking small SUV that is engaging to drive and has a superb MOT pass rate. Our top choice is the 2.0-litre petrol, which was more likely to pass than the 1.8-litre diesel.
9. Lexus RX (2016-present)
Pass rate 91.95%
Average test mileage 27,721
The Lexus RX 450h combines a 3.5-litre V6 petrol with two electric motors to produce 308bhp and official average fuel consumption of 47.9mpg. As luxury SUVs go, it’s a sensible choice, especially when you factor in its MOT pass rate – although models registered before 1 April 2017 are cheaper to tax than later examples.
8. Mazda MX-5 (2016-present)
Pass rate 92.62%
Average test mileage 16,399
The latest MX-5 has a better MOT pass rate than the previous model, and you can find early examples for as little as £11,000. It comes as a soft-top or a versatile RF, which stands for retractable fastback. The low average test mileage of this model suggests that many cars are cosseted examples used only at weekends rather than for the daily commute, but that doesn't detract from its strong performance.
7. Porsche Macan (2014-present)
Pass rate 92.91%
Average test mileage 32,289
Porsche made its name producing sports cars, but its compact SUV brings the trademark Porsche qualities of superb handling and thrilling performance to a new sector of the market. The Macan also has a brilliant MOT pass rate – petrol versions proved the best in that respect at 93.72%.
6. Porsche Cayman (2013-2016)
Pass rate 92.94%
Average test mileage 23,224
The Cayman isn't just a hugely capable sports car, it's also highly proficient at passing the MOT test. Mileage does appear to be a factor here though: on average, Caymans that failed their MOT had typically covered nearly 8000 miles more than those that passed.
5. Porsche 911 (2012-2019)
Pass rate 93.72%
Average test mileage 20,484
The Porsche 911 is a performance icon and can also be relied upon to give MOT testers minimal cause for concern. As ever, this generation (the 991 series) comes with a comprehensive choice of engines and body styles, all united by the same pin-sharp driving dynamics and an MOT pass rate good enough for a top five finish here.
4. Lexus NX (2014-present)
Pass rate 93.82%
Average test mileage 32,413
Lexus models are always near the top end of any customer satisfaction or reliability survey so it’s no surprise to see the latest NX here. The petrol-only version of the premium SUV was phased out in 2016, so the petrol-electric NX300h hybrid accounts for the lion’s share of vehicles in our data. You can pick up used examples from £15,500.
3. Porsche Boxster (2012-2016)
Pass rate 94.10%
Average test mileage 22,243
The third-generation Boxster fills the last podium place in our chart and is one of four Porsches to feature in the top 10. Porsche topped the manufacturer standings as the only brand with an overall pass rate above 90.00% so it clearly knows how to engineer vehicles that last – and its entry-point model is no exception.
2. BMW i8 (2014-2020)
Pass rate 95.97%
Average test mileage 21,738
The BMW i8 is is one of only two vehicles to register an MOT pass rate of more than 95%. With its butterfly doors and efficient powertrain, the i8 combines head-turning looks with an official average fuel consumption of 128.4mpg.
1. Hyundai Ioniq (2017-present)
Pass rate 96.18%
Average test mileage 22,710
Top place in the MOT pass rate chart goes to the Hyundai Ioniq, proving that efficiency and dependability can go together. The majority of vehicles in our analysis were the hybrid rather than the pure-electric model, but whichever Ioniq you choose you can be certain it won’t give MOT testers much to worry about.
So that's the best cars for passing their MOT test - what about the worst?
10. Kia Sorento (2010-2015)
Pass rate 75.00%
Average test mileage 60,671
The second-generation Sorento is a large seven-seater SUV that suits most family needs. Only available with a diesel engine, the 2.2-litre CRDi diesel delivers a good balance of performance and economy. Kia’s leading seven-year warranty will be out of date for most models so it’s worth doing your homework when buying.
9. SsangYong Korando (2011-present)
Pass rate 74.72%
Average test mileage 40,472
The Korando is a rival to the Nissan Qashqai and Kia Sportage, although it hasn’t achieved the sales success of either of those models. From launch, there was a single 2.0-litre diesel engine available, upgraded to a 2.2-litre unit in 2014 when the model was given a refresh. Buyers have a choice of two or four-wheel drive, with prices starting at £6000.
8. Citroen DS3 (2009-2016)
Pass rate 73.80%
Average test mileage 43,405
Before DS became a standalone brand, it was part of Citroën. The DS3 was sold as a rival to the Mini, and came with a lot of personalisation options for owners. Diesel-engined DS3s performed worse than petrol models, with an average pass rate of 71.43%, compared with 76.03% for the petrols, but the diesels had covered around 13,000 more miles when going in for their latest MOT.
7. Vauxhall Antara (2006-2015)
Pass rate 73.79%
Average test mileage 48,729
The Antara was sold as a rival to the Volkswagen Tiguan and Ford Kuga, and was available with a 2.4-litre petrol or 2.2-litre diesel engine. The latter was by far the most popular (and suitable) choice, and accounts for most of our data on the model.
6. Renault Megane (2008-2016)
Pass rate 73.53%
Average test mileage: 53,029
A rival to the Ford Focus and Volkswagen Golf, the Megane was available with a petrol or diesel engine, although the latter accounted for nearly two-thirds of our 1722 vehicle sample. The high average test mileage could be one reason why more Meganes failed the MOT test first time.
5. Fiat Punto (2005-2018)
Pass rate 73.52%
Average test mileage 37,377
The third-generation Punto was launched in 2005, with a facelift introduced in 2012 (all cars in our sample are facelifted models). Although the Punto was sold with a choice of petrol and diesel engines, petrol engines accounted for 90% of our sample.
4. Ford Galaxy (2006-2015)
Pass rate 73.38%
Average test mileage 86,998
The Galaxy is popular with fleet and taxi drivers, and the high average test mileage of the cars put in for the MOT test suggests many have led a hard-working life. That could be one reason for the Ford MPV's low MOT pass rate.
3. Vauxhall Corsa (2006-2014)
Pass rate 73.18%
Average test mileage 48,319
The fourth-generation Corsa is popular with new and young drivers because it's a very affordable used buy, with prices starting at less than £3500. As our research shows, though, it’s worth doing your homework before you buy because more than a quarter of cars failed their MOT test on the first attempt.
2. Hyundai i800 (2007-present)
Pass rate 71.36%
Average test mileage: 44,458
Hyundai's van-based MPV has seating for eight, making it a popular choice for use as a taxi or minibus. It's fitted with a 2.5-litre diesel engine that offers decent economy and performance. It's advisable to check the MOT history of a potential purchase before you buy to avoid picking an example that's led a particularly gruelling life.
1. Peugeot 5008 (2009-2016)
Pass rate 70.81%
Average test mileage 51,747
The previous-generation 5008 is a great choice for families who want a practical and economical car, and the BlueHDi diesel engines are particularly good on fuel. However, as our research shows, it pays to do your research before you buy because many examples have a fairly high mileage and a poor record for passing the MOT test first time.