The Motoring Depreciation Report
Which car makes and models hold their value the longest?
Once people learn to drive and have the ability to buy their own car they all want to buy their dream motor. In 2020 there were just under two million vehicles sold in the United Kingdom both new and second-hand. Although this is down from the 3.1 million peak in 2016 it still shows that a vast number of cars are changing hands each year up and down the nation.
With so many people making the big decision to invest in a new set of wheels, there are many factors that they have to consider. One of these is depreciation, how well will their car hold its value, and how much of their investment could they possibly get back.
Therefore, using data we are able to reveal which car makes and models in the country have the lowest average rates of depreciation over a three-year period. On the flip side, we have also determined the makes and models with the highest average depreciation, showing where you can find a bargain on the second-hand market.
We used a car depreciation calculator to discover which of the nation’s favourite brands have the highest rates of depreciation. Separately, we delved deeper into the data to present the individual models currently on the market with the highest and lowest depreciation rates.
How Depreciation Affects Car Models
Since Karl Benz patented the first-ever car (the Benz Patent-Motorwagen) in 1885, many companies have come and gone in the pursuit of creating motoring perfection. From the Motown monsters of Ford and GM that ruled the world from Detroit in the ’50s to the technologically dependable Japanese cars, to the flair and passion of Italian sports cars. All across the world many companies develop and trade cars of all different shapes and sizes, and many of these trade in the UK.
We have therefore looked at the depreciation rates for 278 models of new car being sold on the market, to see which models have the highest amount of depreciation, and which will hold their value the best.
Models with the lowest rates of depreciation
1 – Volkswagen Polo, average 3 year depreciation of 9.28%
The two models with the lowest rates of average depreciation over three years are also two of the UK’s most popular car models, the VW Polo, and VW Golf. The Polo is the smaller, and slightly cheaper of the two models with a brand new cost of £15,045. After three years on average it will still be worth £13,649, this equates to a depreciation rate of 9.28% making the Polo the lowest depreciating model in the country.
2 – Volkswagen Golf, average 3 year depreciation of 9.96%
The VW Golf has been produced since 1974 and has been continually been one of the UK’s most popular medium sized hatchbacks through eight generations, if you buy a new Golf it will depreciate by an average of 9.96% over a three year period. This means that if you bought a Golf brand new for £20,995, it would still be worth £18,867 after a period of three years.
3 – Land Rover Range Rover & BMW 6 Series Gran Turismo, average 3 year depreciation of 10.14%
Those two are both very affordable cars, but the third lowest depreciating model certainly isn’t. Even at its cheapest entry level price a Range Rover will set you back £83,665, but this big investment will be rewarded with good resale value as on average after three years it will still be worth over £75,000, this equates to a depreciation rate of 10.14%. Similarly the BMW 6 series Gran Turismo costs more than double the Golf, and also has an average three year depreciation rate of 10.14%.
Models with the highest rate of depreciation
1 – Mitsubishi Shogun Sport, average 3 year depreciation rate of 58.39%
Mitsubishi’s off road vehicle the Shogun Sport is the car with the highest average levels of depreciation in the UK, over three years it will lose 58.39% of its value. This means that if you spent £37,840 on a brand new Shogun, after three years it would only have a comparatively paltry value of £15,745.
2 – Audi A6 Allroad Quattro, average 3 year depreciation rate of 58.37%
Audi has long been associated with four wheel drive cars and the quattro name, ever since dominating the world rally championship in the early 80’s. This particular car with the second highest depreciation rate on average is the Audi A6 allroad quattro, this four wheel drive estate loses an average of 58.37% of its value over three years.
2 – Vauxhall Combo Life, average 3 year depreciation rate of 58.37%
Thirdly, the Vauxhall Combo Life also loses 58.37% of its value over the same period. Despite being much cheaper than both of the cars above it, the Combo will depreciate at exactly the same rate as the Audi. If you brought a new Combo for £20,135 it will only be worth an average of £8,383 after three years.
How Depreciation Affects Car Makes
As well as studying the specific car models being sold across the UK we also looked at the average depreciation of the car manufacturers across all their models. Whilst different models come and go, it is often the maker and brand name which endures throughout the decades. Over that time some have earned a greater reputation than others, which effects there levels of depreciation.
After looking at the average three-year depreciation of fifty of the UK’s biggest car brands, we have been able to identify those which hold their value the best and those which could lose you a lot of money.
1 – Lamborghini, average 3-year depreciation of 10%
The company with the lowest average three-year depreciation rates in the UK is the Italian supercar maker Lamborghini. Since they burst onto the scene with the 180mph Miura in 1966, Lamborghini has been a byword for automotive style, panache, and pantomime vulgarity. Although they have become slightly more restrained in the 21st century, the three current models are still outrageously expensive and powerful. Luckily if you invest in a new Aventador or Huracan they’ll only lose an average of 10% in value over a three year period.
2 – Ferrari, average 3-year depreciation of 15%
Another Italian supercar brand with low depreciation rates is Ferrari, the new cars adorned with the prancing horse logo will only lose an average of 15% of their value over a three year period. Currently, Ferrari sells ten different models in the UK, and although each one will set buyers back a pretty penny, the cars will, on average, retain most of those pennies.
3 – Caterham & Lotus, average 3-year depreciation of 20%
Two British sports car companies have the joint third-lowest average depreciation rates at 20%. As these two companies have been intrinsically linked over the years it is unsurprising that they share the same depreciation rates. Known for making small, agile, lightweight sports cars, both Caterhams and Lotuses are designed to give you a pure driving experience.
Makes with the highest rates of depreciation
1 – Cadillac, average 3-year depreciation of 65%
Cadillac was once the jewel in the crown of the American motor industry, the luxury manufacturer is a subsidiary of General Motors and has been known throughout the decades for its lavish luxurious automobiles. Currently, only one vehicle is sold in the UK, the XT4 luxury SUV, and with high average depreciation rates of 65% over three years, a Caddie might not be the best investment on this side of the Atlantic.
2 – Seat, average 3-year depreciation of 60%
Seats have the next highest average rates of depreciation at 60%, the VW owned Spanish car manufacturer was the 16th most popular new car brand in the UK in 2019. Seat is best known for popular small cars such as the Ibiza and the Leon, which are cheaper rebranded versions of small VW hatchbacks. If you’re thinking of choosing a Seat over a VW though beware that the latter has a 20% lower average depreciation rate.
3 – Alfa Romeo, average 3-year depreciation of 55%
Alfa Romeos have gained a reputation for two things over the years: on the one hand, breathtakingly beautiful cars that evoke passion and adoration from owners, on the other hand, terrible reliability problems and all the frustration that comes with that. Although current Alfas are much more reliable than those from the past, their reputation must still linger over them as new models depreciate 55% on average over three years.
- To find the value of new cars sold in the UK now we used data from carpages, supplemented by manufacturers websites.
- We then used a depreciation calculator to calculate the value of the makes and models after three years (deleting any models that did not have data on the calculator site).
- We then calculated the rate of depreciation over the three years.
- For the car brands we took the overall average depreciation of the brand over three years from the home page of the car depreciation calculator
- Whereas, for the individual models we only looked at the cars currently being sold new on the market (therefore excluding data on the depreciation calculator for models that are no longer in production).
- Therefore, some brands have a different overall rate of depreciation to the average rate of the individual models that we studied (as the brand rate also includes models not currently on the market).
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