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Used-Car Buyers Are Spoilt for Choice

The recent What Car? used-car awards have highlighted just how good the market is for high-quality and low-cost used cars.

The Ford Focus took the gong as the best used-car buy, but the list included examples from a wide range of manufacturers, including Citroen, Hyundai and Nissan. The magazine’s writers assessed a wide range of used-car qualities, including comfort, reliability, driving characteristics and, of course, price, before making up their minds. They then came up with the best model in every class in the market. 
The best overall car was adjudged to be the Focus 1.6 Zetec petrol model. It was reckoned to be a superb all-round vehicle, with plenty of space for four adults and their luggage also. The Focus is well priced on the market, in plentiful supply and has a great reliability record. It is also a great driver’s car, with excellent handling characteristics, making it a fun car to drive. The judges appreciated the choice of models on offer and they agreed that a model from 2011 with around 12,000 miles on the clock would represent the sweet spot for a second-hand purchase. 
Clearly, the good old family hatchback won’t appeal to everyone, and the judges made sure their list has a model to appeal to most tastes. A used car that is around three or four years old is often a good buy, as its value will usually have halved due to depreciation and modern reliability is such that the car should have plenty of reliable life left in it.
The best city car was reckoned to be the Hyundai i10 in Comfort model guise with the 1.2 litre engine. The sector has some excellent little cars but the i10 edged it, being economical around town but still capable of decent comfort on the motorway. The What Car? judges reckon that a 2010 example with around 50,000 miles under its belt is the best value at around £4,000. 
Ford returned to the podium in the best small car class with the Fiesta. The 1.25 Zetec was adjudged to be the best model. The Fiesta has been around for such a long time that it is not surprising that Ford has got it so right. It is Britain’s best-selling new car and that means that supply on the second-hand market is good. The Fiesta has a great choice of engines, and the space and comfort of the model is excellent and belies its small-car status.
Ford also took the gong for best family estate with the Mondeo 2.0 Zetec TDCi 140. It has a cavernous boot, a key factor in the category, and an excellent level of equipment. Comfort is good and the trim in the cabin is of good quality with attractive finishes. A Mondeo estate with 40,000 miles on the clock can be had for around £9,000. 
In the small SUV segment, Nissan’s Qashqai reigns supreme. This British-built car is a big seller around the world and has opened up key markets such as Russia for Nissan. It is a stylish car and well equipped, while Nissan’s build quality at its Tyneside plant is close to faultless. A Qashqai that has covered 25,000 miles is a snip at £10,000. Being such a big seller, there are plenty of examples out there to choose from.
MPVs are also extremely popular with UK motorists, and the Citroen C4 HDi VTR+ took the prize in this category. MPVs need to be versatile and the C4 excels in this area, with great seat combinations and plenty of space for passengers and luggage. It also drives extremely well, with none of the van-like handling which is often a drawback in this sector.
For those with deeper pockets or more exacting tastes, the competition also revealed the best executive and sports cars. The best executive car was the Lexus IS220d SE. This compact saloon offers outstanding comfort, decent performance and excellent reliability. The Mazda MX-5 2.0 Sport won best sports car, with the folding steel roof adding extra practicality to a simple but successful package.

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