The most popular used imports under $15k (and the obligatory Nissan Leaf)
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Last year 113,142 used import cars/SUVs were sold in New Zealand, which is approximately 40 per cent more than the amount of equivalent new cars sold. We’ve taken a look at the three most popular models: what they are and what to look for.
The Axela (known as a Mazda3 when NZ-new) tops the chart with 5984 registrations, making up a 5.3 per cent market share. The name “Axela” is a combination of “accelerate and excellent”.
The first generation was released way back in 2003 as a replacement for the long-running 323 and Familia range. It was originally produced in three engine varieties – 1.5, 2.0 and 2.3-litre.
As an example, we found a 2013 Sport S for $13,990. This model features the SkyActiv powerplant and develops reasonable pull with a 2.0-litre 113kW engine.
With just over 30,000km on the clock it’s a great deal, with plenty of bells and whistles including a pushbutton start, ESC, fog lights, immobiliser, ISOFIX and even paddle shifts for a sportier drive.
The second best-selling used import of 2020 was the Toyota Aqua, with 5104 registrations making up 4.5 per cent market share.
Known as a Prius C when NZ-new, this Japanese domestic-spec vehicle is highly regarded as an economical hybrid option.
In Japan, the Aqua competes with the Honda Fit hybrid; both have very similar dimensions.
The Aqua is powered by a 1.5-litre engine mated to a CVT gearbox. It utilises Toyota’s third-generation hybrid system using a small 0.9kWh nickel-metal hydride battery. This frugal model sips just 3.9l/100Km.
We found a 2014 model with a mere 25,000km on the clock for $13,790. Interestingly, it was an international listing and still located in Japan. It included 12 months of registration and mechanical breakdown insurance, as well as up to $100 of fuel to get you on your way.
The third most popular used model in 2020 was the Honda Fit (aka Jazz), with 4229 sales and 3.7 per cent market share.
This little Honda was the successor to the Logo, first released back in 2001. It became very popular due to its fuel efficiency and clever use of space. The Fit even won the Japanese Car of the Year Award for 2001-02.
Today’s market seems to be more or less filled with the third-generation Fit GK model. Power outputs range from the 67kW 1.2-litre variant up to the most powerful 1.5-litre 135kW hybrid model.
A big draw is the efficient design, with the fuel tank and rear suspension layout allowing a multiple-mode seating system, marketed by Honda as “Magic Seat”.
We found a 2013 model with Honda’s safety package, including City Brake Assist and eight airbags. Even this non-hybrid 1.3-litre 73kW variant sips just 5.5-6.0l/100km. The asking price was $12,670.
The Nissan Leaf isn't on the overall top-sellers list, but it's definitely the most popular used-import Battery Electric Vehicle (BEV) and still the most plentiful EV of any kind in NZ, new or used.
To many, "Leaf" is a synonym for BEV: it's been around for a decade now, which means there are plenty of affordably priced examples. And of course it's well-proven technology by now.
All these popular models are great on fuel and are excellent choices if you’re in the market for a used car.
Used imports resonate with Kiwis and make up a large percentage of the cars on our road. This year, it was particularly interesting to see the Toyota Aqua take second spot in used-car sales, demonstrating the increased appeal of hybrid vehicles.