Britain’s used car market had a great 2023, growing by 5.1 per cent.
Second hand vehicles were snapped up by motorists wanting cheaper wheels during this period of high costs of living.
The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders recorded 7,242,692 used car transactions last year, which is 350,000 more than in 2022.
So, of those seven plus million used cars bought and sold, which models changed hands most commonly? We reveal all using SMMT data below…
10. Audi A3 – 118,805 transactions
The stylish and premium Audi A3 came in 10th place, with 118,805 used transactions in 2023
Grabbing the last spot in the top 10 is the smart and stylish Audi A3.
A hatchback that’s been popular since its launch way back in 1996, the A3 is now in its fourth generation. It’s a premium all-rounder that ticks the box for badge appeal, a classy interior and a good balance of both practicality and style.
There are a great range of efficient engines to choose from, and it’s spacious enough for a small family. But it’s the luxurious cabin, svelte design and – in comparison to similar-generation rivals – fancy tech that makes this gateway into the Audi brand so enticing.
9. Nissan Qashqai – 120,286 transactions
Famed for really igniting the compact crossover market segment, the Nissan Qashqai saw 120,286 used transactions last year
The car that really kicked off the family SUV trend and the compact crossover mayhem, the Qashqai launched in 2007 and has been a runaway success ever since.
It wasn’t the first crossover but it was the one that captured imaginations.
While offering owners the higher driving position and chunkier rugged looks of a 4x4s, it still retains the daily charm and ease of a smaller hatchback.
But it’s the low running costs and affordable price point that make the Qashqai so appealing to so many.
8. Volkswagen Polo – 141,135 transactions
The Volkswagen Polo is the smaller sister of the Golf, and a very popular used car with 141, 135 used transactions
Gracing the UK’s roads since 1976, the VW Polo is a staple small car that pretty much everyone likes.
It’s the little sibling to the VW Golf – a perfect town get around, and also a refined motorway cruiser. Cheaper to run than its bigger sister, it’s very economical across the engine choices, comfortable and sophisticated.
It’s also more affordable than rivals like the Audi A1, meaning the Polo offer a decent blend of badge appeal and value for money.
7. BMW 3 Series – 155,100 transactions
One of the most popular saloon cars in the world, the 3 Series has always combined performance with luxury
The first of the saloons to enter the top 10, the 3 Series is one of the best executive cars you can buy – new or used.
The 3 Series has been a part of our lives for over 40 years since the E21 first graced our roads, and it remains a flagship of the BMW brand.
One of the most popular sports saloons in the ’70s, six generations later the 3 Series of today effortlessly combines performance from efficient yet punchy engines with smoothness and refinement.
It’s also considered a bit of a looker. And the interior is a heady mix of lush leathers and driver comforts as well as user-friendly infotainment and tech.
6. Mini – 158,298 transactions
The Mini Hatch has been a popular choice since BMW brought it back to the back in the early 2000s – and with 158,298 used models changing hands last year, this is an in-demand second-handmotor
The Mini is a British legend. A personification of the blue, red, white of the Union Jack.
From Mr Bean to The Beatles, the Mini has had some of the most notable owners in the world –famous or fictional. Add the clout this little car gained when it won The Monto Carlo Rally in one of the most spectaculars victories in the history of international motorsport, and you can see why its still much-loved today.
From the Cooper S to the Mini Electric – the hatchback line-up has a range of powertrains and performance for all tastes when it comes to used purchases.
5. Vauxhall Astra – 160,736 transactions
The Vauxhall Astra gives you a lot of hatchback for your money and used buyers agree with 160, 736 transactions last year in the used car market
Although a sensible Sally rather than an enthusiast’s dream garage car, the Vauxhall Astra has long been one the UK’s most popular cars because it’s solid bang for buck.
It first debuted in the UK in 1981, replacing the Vauxhall Viva, and – until recent years – has been among the best-selling cars in Britain ever since.
A five-door hatchback that’s big enough for a small family, it’s understandable by the Astra is a go-to for some many Britons.
The last two generations of Astra have been considered a huge step up – with more space, a wider range of efficient engines, and better tech.
4. Ford Focus – 223,417 transactions
Production of the Ford Focus ends in 2025, but the used market is booming with 223,417 models changing hands in 2023
Between 1999 and 2009, the Ford Focus was the best-selling new car in Britain.
But Ford has confirmed its family car will cease production in 2025 as Ford shifts its attention to electric vehicles.
As well as snapping up a piece of soon to be motoring history, the Focus underwent a heavy update recently, so second hand buyers will be getting a lot of car for the money when buying nearly new.
It’s known for matching more expensive rivals for space, interior build quality and comfort. Available as a hatchback or estate, either Focus is family-friendly, but the estate is the spacious, long-haul holiday option.
3. Volkswagen Golf – 227,427 transactions
The Golf is the small family car that everyone is happy to be seen driving – and VW’s best-selling model
The Volkswagen Golf is VW’s best-selling model historically.
One of the classiest compact small family cars, it’s been around since 1974 and a worldwide hit.
The original Mk1 is now a covetable classic. Most of the early Golf’s were three-door but there are now many variants, and the five-door is a go-to affordable runaround for families.
Each generation of the Golf is widely acknowledged to improve on the last, while always retaining the suave and sophistication its loved for.
These days you can also buy a e-Golf if you want to fully commit to the eco electric life, or a plug-in hybrid GTE if you want a bit of both.
2. Vauxhall Corsa – 237,705 transactions
The Vauxhall Corsa changes hands 237,705 times last year putting the model in runner’s up position
The Corsa entered the UK market in 1993, replacing the infamous Nova. The supermini proved to be a huge hit for the marque, becoming its top selling model.
There have been five generations of Corsa, meaning there’s plenty of choice across all budgets – which might explain why it is the second most commonly traded cars.
More recently, Vauxhall has ditched diesel engines from the range, meaning those wanting a Corsa with an oil burner under the bonnet will need to buy a pre-2022 car.
The Corsa-E electric supermini is another option for those conscious of car’s carbon output.
1. Ford Fiesta – 308,017 transactions
Coming out on top, there were 308,017 used Ford Fiesta transactions in the UK in 2023
Droll roll please…. and in the top spot is the Ford Fiesta.
Ford’s second appearance on this list, the Fiesta is the brand’s most successful model of all time.
Arriving in 1976, Ford has produced over 22 million Fiestas worldwide. In the UK alone the Fiesta has topped the sales league 16 times.
More than 4.8 million were sold to Britons, which is more than any other car. Some 1.5 million remain on the road today, so it remains the nation’s most common model.
And yet like others on this list, the end of the road has come for the Fiesta: Ford has discontinued the Fiesta as of June 2023 as it goes all-in on electric.
Ford has, for as long as the Fiesta has been around, marketed it as a safe car that handles well, is advanced but cheap to own and for a small car, big on the inside.
And used Fiestas today still ring true to that mantra.
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