Fastest depreciating cars: top 10 worst motoring money pits

10 Feb, 2016 10:00am Chris Rosamond

We explore the UK’s biggest motorised money-pits, the cars that lose their value fastest depreciating like an ice cream in the Sahara

We’ve all heard the sob stories. A buyer walks into a showroom, pays mega-bucks for a new model with all the bells and whistles, then can’t believe how little the dealer wants to buy it back for at trade-in time… ouch!

Every new car loses money of course, and most do it faster than their owners would probably like. But some cars lose money faster than others, and some are absolute stinkers when it comes to holding their value on the used car market. We’ll refer to them as depreciation disasters.

To help you avoid these mobile money-pits we’ve combed the data from used car valuation experts at CAP to create a list of possible new car purchases with the biggest sting in the tail.

Car depreciation: the cars that hold their value best

So here they are - the disastrous depreciators you shouldn’t touch with a bargepole if you want to save your cash, as predicted by CAP.

What are the fastest depreciating cars?

Let’s be honest, if this list was about the ‘absolute worst’ four-wheeled depreciators, it would be stuffed to bursting with electric cars. However, because the pure-EVs are such a specialised and limited market – with the economics confused by factors like the government subsidies on the purchase price - we’ve decided to list the most shocking Electric car depreciators separately below.

So the first list is the ‘top 10’ worst depreciating cars in the mainstream market, which is where most car buyers put their money.

To keep things simple, we’ve only compared the worst performing specification for each of these depreciation duffers. We’ve ranked them according to the predicted percentage of their new price they retain after a typical 3-year/36,000-mile ownership period.

At the bottom of the page you’ll find the top 5 electric car depreciators plus a second list of the biggest depreciating cars by actual cash lost. Predictably, these tend to be luxury and performance models that cost a whole lot more to start with... 

Britain’s worst depreciating cars

Below, in reverse order are the top 10 cars by predicted percentage loss in value over a typical ownership period. 

10. Maserati Quatroporte V8 GTS

Cost new: £108,805
Value at 3yrs/ 36k miles: £30,325
Percentage value retained: 28%
You lose: £78,480

Ouch. Straight in at number 10, it’s the large, luxurious and very fast Maserati Quattroporte. Based on our road test experience, the head-turning Maser has ‘sharp handling, blistering performance and an excellent interior’. Sadly it’s also expensive to buy, expensive to run, and few people will even know where their nearest dealer is located.

9. Renault Scenic 1.2 TCE 130 Dynamique Nav 5dr

Cost new: £20,720
Value at 3yrs/ 36k miles: £5,875
Percentage value retained: 28%
You lose: £14,845

The Scenic was one of the founding movers in the small people-carrier sector, and still cuts the mustard today in its third generation. But Renault hasn’t managed to maintain its used values, and the Ford C-Max, Citroen C4 Picasso and Kia Carens all look after your money better. Highly-specced petrol variants are particularly prone to large predicted losses.

8. Fiat Punto 1.2 Easy+ 5dr

Cost new: £12,635
Value at 3yrs/ 36k miles: £3,600
Percentage value retained: 28%
You lose: £9,035

The once-popular Punto’s star has faded in recent years, which isn’t really surprising as it’s not changed much since 2005. Apart from a few tweaks and engine changes, what you see now is what you saw back then – and even a couple of name changes couldn’t pull the wool over buyers’ eyes. Remember the Grande Punto and Punto Evo? We’re back to just Punto now, and this more expensive Easy+ trim level is the one predicted to lose you most on the used market.

7. Volvo S80 D4 SE Lux Geartronic

Cost new: £34,515
Value at 3yrs/ 36k miles: £9,700
Percentage value retained: 27%
You lose: £25,715

The Volvo S80 was a cracking car that launched to great reviews – but that was all the way back in 2006.  Now Volvo’s old-stager still has space on its side, but it’s completely out of its depth against newer rivals from, well, everywhere. Fortunately the sparkling-fresh S90 model is waiting eagerly in the wings to set the record straight for Volvo’s big saloon lovers.

6. Hyundai Genesis saloon 3.8 GDi V6 DCT

Cost new: £49,520
Value at 3yrs/ 36k miles: £12,675
Percentage value retained: 26%
You lose: £36,845

There’s a reason you don’t see many Hyundai Genesis saloons about, and this is probably it…

Aimed at the likes of BMW’s 5-Series, the Mercedes-Benz E-Class and the Lexus GS, the most luxurious Hyundai certainly arrived in the UK with big aspirations – even if the sales predictions were sensibly low. Its asking price looks steep at £50k, and with no diesel engine even taxi drivers won’t touch a used one.

5. Vauxhall Meriva 1.6 CDTi 16V ecoFLEX Exclusiv

Cost new: £20,825
Value at 3yrs/ 36k miles: £5,300
Percentage value retained: 25%
You lose: £15,525

The Vauxhall Meriva makes a decent fist of the small family MPV, but its ‘suicide’ rear doors could put some people off. And while Vauxhall residuals are pretty uninspiring across the board, the £20k-plus new price of the 1.6-litre Exclusive version of the Meriva was never going to look sensible in the cold harsh light of a dealer’s used forecourt.

4. Fiat Qubo 1.3 Multijet 80 Active

Cost new: £14,145
Value at 3yrs/ 36k miles: £3,600
Percentage value retained: 25%
You lose: £10,545

The Fiat Qubo’s endearing blend of chunky style and family-friendly practicality is generally a hit with the sort of owners who don’t mind if their motoring has a hint of the utilitarian about it. But the Qubo’s commercial vehicle roots are off-putting for more image-conscious buyers, and that’s why it makes it into our list.

3. Citroen C5 2.0 BlueHDi 16V VTR (Techno Pack)

Cost new: £24,095
Value at 3yrs/ 36k miles: £5,850
Percentage value retained: 24%
You lose: £18,245

Citroen’s C5 is not exactly a pretty car, nor does it have the funky design feel of some of its stablemates. But it’s an excellent motorway cruiser, being refined, spacious and economical. It’s never caught buyers’ imaginations though, and like many Citroens the C5 suffers at resale time. Expensive versions like the 2.0 VTR suffer even more, as they’re priced nearer to classier rivals from Audi or BMW.

2. Renault Megane Sport Tourer 1.2 TCE GT Line Nav

Cost new: £21,015
Value at 3yrs/ 36k miles: £4,925
Percentage value retained: 23%
You lose: £16,090

The Renault Megane Sport Tourer is one of the best looking compact family estates, but the range doesn’t have a great reputation for holding its value. The worst of the bunch is the petrol-engined 1.2 TCE in expensive GT Line Nav trim – so if you want a Sport Tourer, pick a diesel.

1. MG6 Magnette saloon 1.8T

Cost new: £18,610
Value at 3yrs/ 36k miles: £3,825
Percentage value retained: 21%
You lose: £14,785

If the MG6 Magnette has one thing going for it, at least it’s not battery powered. Not that being battery-powered could do much to worsen the appeal of the 1.8T petrol-engined saloon on the used market. Given the lack of interest it’s no surprise the saloon version wasn’t included in MG Motors recent facelift of the MG6 – hopefully there won’t be too many left on dealer forecourts.

Electric car depreciation explained

Electric cars might make you feel smug when you’re charging them for pennies overnight, but it looks as though they could ruin you at resale time. That's not the whole truth, however, as part of the problem for EVs is the Government grants offered to buyers which lower the effective purchase price. This naturally has the knock-on effect of forcing used values down.

We should remember that other models on our ‘main’ top 10 worst depreciators list above have been heavily discounted by manufacturers, another factor that pushes used values down but because the plug-in car grant is applied to EVs and hybrids by default, we've decided to list them seperately. The list prices quoted below are before the grant is applied.  

So, here they are - the fastest depreciating models in the fastest depreciating sector of the UK car market...

5. Volkswagen e-up!

Cost new: £24,740
Value at 3yrs/ 36k miles: £6,375
Percentage value retained: 26%
You lose: £18,365

You wouldn’t normally expect to see a Volkswagen of any type gracing a ‘worst depreciators’ list, but the e-up!’s fatal flaw is that it runs on batteries and costs more than double the price of a 1.0-litre petrol model. That’s hardly a recipe for desirability when new. On the used market, it’s the kiss of death.

4. Renault Zoe i–Dynamique Nav Rapid Charge

Cost new: £25,490
Value at 3yrs/ 36k miles: £5,950
Percentage value retained: 23%
You lose: £19.540

Renault’s Zoe is actually a pretty good electric car, and with up to 100 miles of range it’s arguably one of the most useful eco-commuter models out there. That doesn’t wash with the great British public though, who are still avoiding second-hand examples like the plague.

3. Citroen C-Zero

Cost new: £16,940
Value at 3yrs/ 36k miles: £3,900
Percentage value retained: 23%
You lose: £13,040

The Citroen C-Zero is expensive, full of cheap-looking plastic, and out of its city environment is out of its depth. No surprise then that the model formerly known as the Mitsubishi i-MiEV city car doesn’t set pulses racing on the used market.

2. Peugeot iOn

Cost new: £16,940
Value at 3yrs/ 36k miles: £3,900
Percentage value retained: 23%
You lose: £13,040

The Peugeot iOn is the same car as the Citroen C-Zero with different badges. So all the same criticisms apply.

1. Nissan Leaf Visia 5dr 6.6kW

Cost new: £26,885
Value at 3yrs/ 36k miles: £5,075
Percentage value retained: 19%
You lose: £21,810

If the Leaf is one of the best electric cars on sale - and without a doubt it is one of the best - then the shockingly small amount that punters are prepared to cough up for a used one will come as a surprise. Amazingly, the 20% percent residual value quoted by CAP could get even worse as quantities of fleet-owned examples threaten to flood the market.

Britain’s worst depreciating cars by total cash lost

Of course, if you want to lose really significant amounts of money on a car, you need to start with a model that's much more expensive in the first place. The cars above are the worst offenders for losing big proportions of their original value but the worst depreciators in pure cash terms are a very different bunch.

Below are the 10 biggest depreciating cars by predicted cash loss over a typical 3-year 36,000-mile ownership period.

Make/model Cost New Value at 3yrs/ 36k miles Percentage value retained You lose…
1. Rolls-Royce Phantom £320,120 £150,300 47% £169,820
2. Bentley Mulsanne £229,360 £96,250 42% £133,110
3. Ferrari FF £226,023 £94,175 42% £131,848
4. Ferrari F12 £238,938 £110,325 46% £128,613
5. Lamborghini Aventador £262,860 £136,750 52% £126,110
6. Rolls-Royce Wraith £237,416 £114,850 48% £122,566
7. Aston Martin Vanquish £195,950 £89,725 46% £106,225
8. Rolls-Royce Ghost £224,888 £119,000 53% £105,888
9. Lamborghini Huracan Spyder £198,792 £99,200 50% £99,592
10. Bentley Continental GTC convertible £154,400 £56,875 37% £97,525

Now check out our round-up of the cars that hold their value best on the UK market...

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