Here are the five used cars that Kiwis just can’t get enough of
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We talk a lot about new-vehicle sales being an indicator of the popularity of particular models among the New Zealand motoring public.
But you could argue that an even more accurate indication of the vehicular vox pop is the used car market – what secondhand models are being bought and sold among Kiwis the most.
We’ve taken a look at 41,000 listings on DRIVEN.co.nz and identified the most plentiful models. Some are obvious… some might prove a bit of a surprise.
But consider any for your next vehicle and you’re guaranteed maximum choice and used-car credibility.
Count the Mazda3 and Axela (the Japanese-market name for the model) together and this car is a real force to be reckoned with in the secondhand market.
It’s easy to see why. Right from launch in 2004, when it replaced the Mazda 323, the 3 was an aspirational model thanks to sharp styling and driver-pleasing dynamics.
There have been four generations to date, featuring both hatch and sedan. Technology to look out for in the second-generation model (2008-13): many of the Japanese-market Axela models have stop-start and the last of this generation (including NZ-new) introduced Mazda’s SkyActiv engine.
Opt for the third generation and you might even find an ex-Japan hybrid model, which uses a lot of Toyota Prius technology.
Had to be here, right? The Corolla name has been a synomyn for “family car” for decades and even in this age of the SUV, it remains enormously popular among Kiwis. It’s a trusted car.
It’s been around for so long, the used market can serve up a bewildering array of models. Basically, you can decide a budget and you’ll probably find some kind of Corolla hatch, sedan or wagon to suit.
Things to be aware of in the used-import market: Corolla is also known as RunX in some right-hand drive markets (including South Africa) and the hatch also was known as Auris in Europe between 2006-19 – although the enduring power of the Corolla name was recognised with the latest model and has returned.
Hybrids are becoming more sought after. There are a variety of used-import models available (including some smaller variations, which are closely related to the Yaris), but the Corolla hybrid was also sold new in NZ from 2017.
Prius is as iconic as the Corolla in Toyota-world, although it’s never made a big impact in the NZ-new market.
As a used import though? That’s another (success) story.
The first globally marketed petrol-electric hybrid, Prius was launched in Japan as a sedan in 1997, but it’s the second-generation five-door hatchback from 2003 onwards that’s really familiar to Kiwis. Most often as an ultra-thrifty, ultra-reliable taxi, but plenty of private buyers are also attracted to the image and low running cost of the Prius.
From 2014 Toyota also produced one of the world’s first plug-in hybrids, the Prius PHV (Plug-in Hybrid Vehicle). Toyota NZ imported a number of these under its Signature Class programme and others have followed in the wider used-car market. With a 90-minute charge, the PHV can do 26km on pure-electric power.
The PHV technology has been upgraded and continues in the latest Prius Prime.
The Swift has been a runaway success story for Suzuki and is just as sought after in the used market as it is new.
When we think “first generation” Swift we probably think of the 2004 model – the one that introduced the styling cues we still associate with the model today. But the first generation model actually dates from 2000: it’s a boxy pseudo-SUV that was also known as the Ignis and Subaru Justy in different markets. It was also sold as the Holden Cruze in NZ from 2001.
However, it’s the second generation onwards that has really connected with Kiwis. The Sport models are especially loved – with a close-ratio gearbox on the manual versions and a bespoke suspension setup, they really are quite different to the mainstream Swifts.
Swift is now in its fourth generation, which was launched in 2017. New technology introduced with the current model includes a turbo engine for the Sport, a three-cylinder for the RS and a mild-hybrid powertrain this year. Hybrid technology also features on some used-import models.
Globally speaking, Golf is every bit as significant as the Corolla. In Europe it has been considered the default family car for decades.
It dates back to the 1970s, but for Kiwis the model really hit its stride with the MK4 onwards, from 1997. It’s lived through the rise and fall of diesel for passenger cars, was instrumental in bringing small-capacity, high-output petrol engines into the mainstream – and of course the GTI and R (not to be confused with the dressed-up R-Line) hot hatches are legendary.
The ubiquitous Golf can even now be the pathway to pure-electric power, with the e-Golf BEV now appearing in DRIVEN listings.