James Ruppert: Why used cars are the stars of the sales charts

The new car sales statistics are endlessly fascinating and the half-year ones are now in. Not relevant to the used motors we talk about right here? Actually, they are. Despite the 145,377 registrations in June, which amounts to a 34.9% fall, what we learn is that it’s the private car buyers who are still buying real things. It’s the business sector, which the car industry panders to, that has unsurprisingly faded away. The used market – three times the size and possibly more in the coming months – will be powering away. Indeed, many private buyers are shifting from new to used and a glance at the best new sellers suggests there will be shortages of these models.

In at number one for June is the Vauxhall Corsa (4528 sales), which has had a revamp recently. Hard to go wrong with a Corsa. There are, of course, millions of used ones to choose from and my eye was taken by a 2012 1.3 CDTi Ecoflex Exclusiv. Here is minimal motoring at its very finest. Zero road fund licence is a good start. Officially, it should return 78mpg, but anything over 70 is a bonus. With 70k miles under its wheels and five practical doors, this one had an asking price of £2995, which seemed very reasonable.

Another small hatchback staple at number two (4386 sales) and overall number one for 2020 so far is the fabulous Ford Fiesta. There are a lot of the 1.0 Ecoboosts around and I saw a private 2013 example in Zetec specification with 65k miles for £4299. It came with quite a lot of extra carbonfibre-effect trim and fancy alloys, which were factory fit and not aftermarket, and will deliver 65mpg.

The Toyota Yaris (4200) is on the third step of the podium for June registrations. That’s on 0% APR and £169 a month at the moment. Used, though, there are some great opportunities. At a Volkswagen dealer, one of their part-exchanges was making the new Polos look daft. A 2012 Yaris 1.3 VVT-i TR with just over 60k miles and a couple of previous owners, it was up for a truly reasonable £5000. Because it’s at a dealer, there has to be a warranty, but a three-year one is on offer – for extra, of course.

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Question: Could you suggest an affordable EV for my daily commute of 90 miles, most of which is on the motorway? I would be able to charge the car at home but not at work. Peter Lobb, via email

Answer: Your best shot is a Nissan Leaf – specifically the 30kWh version from 2016 onwards, which should easily cover more than 100 miles. However, you’ll need about £11k. A Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV for £10k or a Toyota Auris estate for £9k are hybrid alternatives. MA