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Slowest-depreciating cars on sale

Trying to find the slowest-depreciating cars on sale? Here are 10 cars that won't drop in value too quickly.

It doesn’t matter how cheap your new car is to run or how much money you managed to haggle off the list price with the dealer – by far the biggest expense associated with new-car ownership remains depreciation.

Although this thorny subject is often played down or ignored entirely, it's hugely important and goes a long way to determining monthly finance payments – the slower a car depreciates, the smaller the difference between its new value and the 'final value' figure it'll fetch in a few years' time. That's why certain 'premium' models can offer more attractive monthly figures than less aspirational brands.

Best-value nearly-new cars to buy this year

With the exception of some extremely exclusive, expensive and high-performance collectors’ models, pretty much any new car you buy will shed a significant chunk of its value as the years go by and miles are added to the odometer, but you might be surprised by how varied the heroes and villains of depreciation actually are.

Several factors play a part: the brand, the exact engine and trim level chosen and even the colour. We’ve picked out 10 cars that suffer less from depreciation over the typical three-year/36,000-mile duration of initial ownership than rivals. The percentage figure represents how much of the car’s value is expected to be retained after that time.

We’ve attempted to keep this list to models that are at least somewhat ‘attainable’ to average buyers – so there are no limited-edition Ferraris, for example. While some of our selections are definitely ‘high-end’, you may be pleasantly surprised by a couple of them. Read on for more…

Porsche Panamera hatchback review

Carbuyer rating

4 out of 5

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The Porsche Panamera has aged very well; every generation has got considerably more handsome, and the latest car offers a package that’s very hard to beat. Perhaps thanks to its mix of performance, handling and practicality, it’s slated to retain 63.4% of its value after three years. The low running costs promised with the powerful hybrid models also contribute to the retained value, as these models offer supercar pace without some of the associated expense. That being said, the Panamera’s high initial price means the car stands to lose £34,642 in the first three years, but that’s still better than rivals.

Volkswagen California review

Carbuyer rating

4 out of 5

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Campervans usually tend to hold their value quite well, but many are large and not very appealing to drive. This is where the Volkswagen California exceeds, as it doesn’t feel unwieldy or cumbersome behind the wheel; the engines and driving experience are similar to that of several VW cars, too, so it’s not daunting to drive. Versatility is a key aspect of a camper, and the California offers enough space for comfortable getaways. These vehicles tend to sell for around £55,000, but you can expect to recoup 61% of the car’s initial value after three years.

Porsche 718 Cayman coupe

Porsche 718 Cayman Best Buy cutout
Carbuyer rating

4.3 out of 5

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There’s never been a Porsche with terrible residuals – the legendary German brand is one of the most respected of all and produces some of the most sought-after cars to hit the roads. Not everybody has the means to run a Porsche, though, and the 718 Cayman is made all the more tempting thanks to running costs that border on sensible. In fact, the entry-level 2.0-litre manual will return 58.4% of its purchase cost when you sell it three years down the line, eclipsing its soft-top 718 Boxster sister, which manages 55.3% with the same engine and gearbox. It seems Porsche enthusiasts know you don't have to take your top off to have a good time.

Porsche 911 coupe (2011-2019)

Carbuyer rating

4.4 out of 5

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The Porsche 911 is the archetypal sports car; it’s still the benchmark for most rivals and few have come close to beating the 911 in terms of interior quality, handling and performance. All 911s are desirable, regardless of age and condition, and that seems to have continued with the ‘991’ model, which was only recently replaced. It holds 57.3% of its value over three years, which is very impressive. Buyers of limited-edition and halo versions might be even more impressed, as some exclusive models can be worth just as much (or more) three years down the line.

Lamborghini Aventador coupe

Cars like the Lamborghini Aventador live on another plane to 'normal' cars
Carbuyer rating

3.2 out of 5

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A near-£300,000 Lamborghini is likely to be a car bought with the heart rather than the head, but those lucky enough to pay the entry fee should recoup 57.2% of the price after three years. The depreciation is probably easier to swallow written like that, as the value of the car will drop by £122,168 over those three years. Still, a V12-engined Lamborghini will always be worth a lot of money, especially as naturally aspirated V12s will be few and far between in the future. While the engine is one of the most exhilarating points of the car, the Aventador also has outlandish styling and a stunning noise - and the unbelievable running costs put off few potential owners.

Porsche 718 Boxster roadster review

Porsche 718 Boxster convertible front 3/4 tracking
Carbuyer rating

4.3 out of 5

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Just like the Porsche 718 Cayman above, the 718 Boxster mixes a near-perfect driving experience with manageable running costs. Some enthusiasts have grumbled about the sound of the four-cylinder 2.0-litre engine, but that doesn’t seem to have massively affected sales. Boxsters lose around 55.3% of their value after three years, which means it’ll cost owners almost £2,500 more than buying a Cayman over the same period. For some buyers, the ability to put the roof down makes that extra cost worth it; the more visceral experience is a big draw.

Peugeot 3008 SUV review

Peugeot 3008 SUV front cornering
Carbuyer rating

4.6 out of 5

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Most of the cars on this list are sports cars and supercars, so you might be slightly surprised that the Peugeot 3008 SUV sits alongside such exotic company. Our Best Medium SUV 2020 award-winner, the 3008 stands out against its rivals for a few reasons: its sharp styling, efficient engines, eye-catching interior design, great build quality and interior space all impress, and it seems used buyers are keen on Peugeot’s family SUV too. On average, it’ll keep 55.2% of its initial value when it’s three-years old, and having the lowest starting price on this list means the depreciation doesn’t sting too much either.

Ferrari 488 GTB coupe

Carbuyer rating

4 out of 5

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Ferrari currently offers some very limited-run models, with some costing millions of pounds, and these ultra-exclusive cars are unlikely to lose much value. Alongside these models, Ferrari’s bread and butter is six-figure supercars such as the 488 GTB, which are slightly more attainable but can suffer depreciation like any mainstream car. The 488 GTB is predicted to be worth 54.8% of its purchase price, but the depreciation is likely to level out more quickly because it’s a supercar with the extremely desirable ‘Prancing Horse’ badge. Like many supercars, its value should actually start to climb again if you own it for long enough.

Lotus Exige coupe

Carbuyer rating

2.7 out of 5

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Cars that have been on sale for a few years tend to have slightly worse depreciation than newer models, but the Lotus Exige is one car that bucks that trend. Despite being on sale since 2012, a brand-new Exige will still be worth approximately 54.8% of its value after three years. That’s primarily due to tiny sales figures, making the car relatively exclusive. The Exige uses a V6 petrol engine and is arguably one of the best-handling and most exciting sports cars on sale.

Lotus Elise roadster

Carbuyer rating

3.1 out of 5

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The Lotus Elise incurs similarly low depreciation to the Exige, for most of the same reasons. It may have been on sale for over a decade, but it’s sold in such small numbers that supply never outstrips demand. The Elise is neither cheap nor well-equipped, but has plenty of fans thanks to its light weight and focus on driving pleasure and simplicity. Its low kerbweight means a relatively small 1.8-litre four-cylinder engine can be used, and all models manage 0-62mph in under six seconds despite the cheapest having just 134bhp. On average, three-year-old Elises are worth around 54.4% of their initial prices.

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