AA Buyer's Guide: Exploring used car trends
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What was hot in 2020?
Last year, sales of used passenger vehicles were dominated by hatchbacks: eight of the top 10 were available in hatch variants.
There were a total of 113,140 used passenger import registrations, which was a drop of 19.5 per cent compared to 2019. This was unsurprising, given the year had its share of difficulties due to the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic and its effect on international supply chains.
The Mazda Axela was the vehicle of choice; understandable due to the fact it’s versatile and available in hatch and sedan options. There’s also a variety of engines and transmissions to choose from, and the models between 2013
and 2015 have a five-star safety rating. The third-gen Axela has a very sleek silhouette.
Mazda had moved away from the Ford C1 platform in 2014 and adopted the “Kodo Soul of Motion” design language, which gives the car a very attractive appearance.
Two of the top 10 used passenger car models for 2020 were available exclusively as hybrids: the Toyota Aqua and Toyota Prius, which were second and fourth bestselling respectively.
The Aqua is a compact hatchback with a fuel economy rating of just 3.9l/100km (89g/km). Power-wise it won’t blow you away with just 54kW/ 111Nm, but with a weight of just over one-and-a-half tonnes it can still pull well with the capable gen-three (chainless) Hybrid Synergy Drive system.
Models between 2009-15 boast a low consumption rating of 2.5l/100km and CO2 of just 49g/km.
Perhaps surprisingly, the only SUV in the top 10 was the Mitsubishi Outlander, which comes in both five and seven-seater configurations. AA members are often attracted to the Outlander due to its ability to tow, affordability and that seven-seat option.
The only model in the top 10 available as a station wagon was the Subaru Legacy, which is popular with those who like to head off the beaten track for the weekend and perhaps hit the slopes over the winter months. It
has AWD and doesn’t break the bank, with options available from around $5000.
So, have preferences changed?
If we go back a couple of years to 2018, there are many parallels. A large number of the vehicles were available as hatches like the Honda Fit and Nissan Tiida, but there was also a greater demand for station wagons. The ToyotaWish — a compact seven-seater MPV— now no longer features in the top 10 and seems to have been more or less replaced by the Outlander SUV.
We’ve seen this switch in trends across new car sales, too. 2021 so far
An impressive 11,008 used imports were registered in NZ in March 2021, an increase of 28.5 per cent compared with March 2020.
Registrations are also up 21 per cent compared with February 2021. Year-to date, there have been a total of 29,508 used import registrations. Despite encouraging numbers, supply of vehicles continues to be a stumbling block due to the global pandemic.
The requirement for Electronic Stability Control (ESC) has also meant that less expensive imports are not as plentiful as they were 18 months ago. This can make finding good-quality compliant import cars that little bit harder.
In February, the Government also introduced the proposal of new Clean Car Import Standards (CCIS) which, if passed, will require a 40 per cent reduction of average carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions entering NZ by 2025. It will be interesting to see what happens here.