Top 10 best nearly new cars 2021
If you can’t justify buying a brand-new car but want all the latest features, a nearly new car will appeal. Here are the best
A car loses value and technically becomes ‘used’ as soon as it’s registered, even if it hasn’t been driven. Dealers sometimes pre-register cars to boost their sales figures, or in order to use them for test drives or as staff cars.
This is good news for savvy buyers, who can save significant amounts of money by choosing a pre-registered or ex-demonstrator car instead of one that’s built to order. For the purpose of this guide, we’ve classed nearly new as anything up to a year old and without high mileage.
While some of the cars on this list are good value when nearly new because they suffer huge depreciation in the first year, others make the list because they’ve recently been replaced by newer versions. If you want a new car but don’t need the very latest infotainment setup, models that have just been replaced tend to be good value. As they’ve been superseded by a new model, dealers tend to want to get rid of them - and will often offer discounts accordingly.
We’ve not featured electric cars due to the specialised nature of that part of the market but the cars in our list are all either still available new today, or were until quite recently. Each one has its own unique appeal, while offering a massive saving over the price when brand new.
The latest Renault Captur won the Carbuyer Best Small Family Car of the year in 2021 and it makes a fantastic nearly new car. A high-tech and high-quality interior make it one of the frontrunners in the small SUV class, while a big boot (thanks to sliding rear seats) means it’s not a case of style over substance.
Renault has made the Captur relaxing to drive, rather than sporty. As a result, the Captur won’t win many drag races but its engines are punchy enough and won’t cost much to run. The lowest running costs come from the plug-in hybrid E-Tech model but it’s more expensive than other versions. However, you can save around £5,000 (more in some cases) compared with a brand-new model by buying a year-old Captur, which makes it even more appealing.
One of the best ways to save money on a nearly new car is to buy a model that’s recently been replaced. That’s true of the Mercedes C-Class so, if you don’t mind having the very latest interior layout, the previous model may be worth investigating. The C-Class trades on elegance and luxury, and even a car produced in 2020 will feel opulent.
It’s worth noting that the last C-Class was only facelifted in 2019, so you’re not getting outdated technology by plumping for a nearly new model. There are economical diesels, powerful petrols and several different plug-in hybrid options, all of which are excellent motorway cruisers.
The latest Hyundai Tucson is one of the boldest SUVs on the block, and some of its styling details and interior features wouldn’t feel out of place in a much more expensive luxury SUV. But that doesn’t mean you should immediately dismiss the old model.
For a start, the previous model is still a smart-looking machine, and has all the space and equipment to satisfy a family. At the time of writing, we found a pre-registered example with just 20 miles on the clock for £22,000 - a decent saving compared with the cost of the new model, and we suspect further discounts wouldn’t be too hard to find.
Luxury saloons like the Audi A8 are great nearly new buys. They’re still not exactly cheap but they do represent great value compared to a brand-new one because they lose so much value in depreciation as soon as they’re registered. For a high-spec Black Edition model with a diesel engine, Audi charges around £80,000 but on BuyaCar there are some examples of the A8 from this year with just a handful of miles for £55,000. A three-year-old A8 can be bought for under £35,000.
Few cars are more opulent than the A8. It’s a festival of Audi’s latest technology and best materials. There’s always the worry of big bills with a car like this and servicing may be more expensive than more humdrum models, but we wouldn’t expect anything major to go wrong with a nearly new Audi A8.
The SEAT Ibiza has just been facelifted, so look out for deals on Ibizas that were built before the update. It’s very difficult to spot the changes to the styling, so you’ll still be driving a car with a sharp design and sporty touches. The Ibiza shot to the top of the supermini class when it launched in 2017, with its looks, driving experience, interior and practicality all coming in for praise.
Inside, the materials are a little cheap in places but no worse than its rivals, and tech fans are well catered for. Most models get a glossy touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, while high-end versions get luxuries like LED headlights and a digital instrument cluster. Unless you want cheap insurance, go for one of the ‘TSI’ petrol engines; the ‘MPI’ is too slow. An efficient diesel has been available, and there’s a choice of slick manual and automatic gearboxes.
A lightly used Peugeot 308 should be available for a very decent price, given that it doesn’t tend to keep its value particularly well and a new Peugeot 308 has now gone on sale. The new 308 looks like a sharper version of its predecessor, so there’s not a huge difference between the two in the styling department.
A big boot impresses (even if it comes at the expense of rear-seat space), while the interior is certainly different to more conventional cabins from Ford and Vauxhall. Check your preferred driving position before you buy, as the small steering wheel obstructs the dials for some drivers. Even entry-level 308s come with a generous level of standard equipment.
Drive through any suburban estate and you’re likely to come across at least one second-generation Nissan Qashqai. It captured the attention of thousands of buyers, many of whom saw it as the ideal family vehicle. Now, there’s a new one, which has a nicer interior, electrified powertrains and a slightly bigger boot.
The outgoing Qashqai used the same 1.3-litre petrol engine as the new car, so the driving experience is broadly similar. If you can live with a slightly dated cabin, a used Nissan Qashqai will prove to be good value compared to an equivalent new model.
Walk into a Renault showroom to look at a Megane and you’ll now only see plug-in hybrid versions. Renault slimmed down the range recently, getting rid of the petrol and diesel models. If you want one of these, there should be good deals to be had as dealers may be looking to get rid of the slightly older models. At the time of writing, there are also pre-registered plug-in hybrid estate models on BuyaCar for under £24,000; a £7,000 saving on brand-new.
The Megane brought dashing looks and plenty of other reasons to buy one but a lot of buyers went for its rivals, or SUVs like the Renault Captur and Renault Kadjar. That’s a good thing for used Renault Megane buyers, as two-year-old low-mileage examples will cost noticeably less than a used Volkswagen Golf of a similar age.
There aren’t any massive bargains to be had on a nearly new Kia Sorento but this is the car that finished first in our 2020 Driver Power owner satisfaction survey; that tells you all you need to know. Owners love the practicality and ability of the Sorento, not to mention the high-quality interior and all the kit that’s featured as standard.
Perhaps the only downside is that the Sorento’s 2.2-litre diesel engine is neither fashionable or cheap to run but it’s incredibly well suited to the Sorento. A used example will be a great companion for years to come, especially with Kia’s generous seven-year/100,000-mile warranty.
The Vauxhall Corsa has been the UK’s best-selling car so far in 2021, and that means there are plenty on the nearly new market. Part of the Corsa’s success comes from low monthly payments, and buying a lightly used Vauxhall Corsa should guarantee lower figures than a brand-new one.
Basic SE models might go without the visual pizazz of SRi and Elite versions but they do have LED headlights and a touchscreen. With so many around, you should be able to find a specification to suit you. That extends to the engine as well; most have small, economical petrol engines, while diesel and fully electric versions are also available.