Fastest depreciating cars: top 10 worst motoring money pits
Almost every new car depreciates, but some shed value faster than others. These are the top 10 fastest depreciating cars on sale today
Forget fuel, road tax or insurance, the biggest cost of running a car is depreciation, otherwise known as the difference between the on-the-road price you pay to buy the car when new and the figure you can recoup when selling it to its next owner.
That second-hand price is also known as the car’s residual value, and if you’re not careful it can be a real sting in the tail of any new or used car deal. Here we’re looking at the fastest depreciating cars on the market, both in terms of percentage retained value and total value lost.
To help you avoid mobile money-pits, we’ve combed the latest new car depreciation data to create a list of possible new car purchases with the biggest sting in the tail - the UK's fastest depreciating cars.
Our list covers cars that you can buy new today and looks at what they will be worth after three years and 36,000 miles of use. These are the disastrous depreciators that experts say you shouldn’t touch with a bargepole, if you want to hang on to your cash. Of course, look at it another way and these cars could be opportunities for the canny used buyer to pick-up a three-year old bargain.
All kinds of market factors have a say in car residual values. Just as rare cars or those with long waiting lists can have very slow depreciation, heavy discounting or abundant supply will usually force values down. Electric cars make-up a large part of the current fastest depreciating top 10 with increasing supply and choice on the market, falling new prices and discounting by manufacturers needing to comply with the ZEV mandate all having an impact.
The 10 fastest depreciating cars in the UK
Now scroll down to read more about the models that make the top 10, according to our expert data.
10. Fiat 500
- Variant: 24kWh RED
- Retained value: 32.72%
- Average new price: £28,195.00
- Average retained value: £9,225.00
The latest Fiat 500 has all of the character of the original, but adds the environmental and financial benefits of a modern, fully-electric powertrain. However, while the running costs are low, those who purchase a brand-new 500 will feel the pinch when the time comes to sell it on.
Buy a 500 for £28,195 and you’ll be on course to lose almost £20,000 after three years. The Fiat’s hotter sister car, the Abarth 500e, is the better performer in the depreciation stakes, retaining around 47 per cent of its initial value.
9. Audi A6
- Variant: 40 2.0 TFSIBlack Edition Technology Pro Pack
- Retained value: 32.36%
- Average new price: £56,005.00
- Average retained value: £18.125.00
Audi’s full-sized executive car has long provided a stellar combination of build quality, sleek style and cutting-edge technology, and the current A6 is no exception. One area where it fails to lead, though, is when it comes to depreciation. It could cost you almost £40,000 in depreciation to own a brand new A6 for three years, so an alternative such as leasing might be a more cost-effective option. If you’re a performance fan, the sportier Audi S6 will cost you even more, retaining a mere 30.41 per cent of the £85,000 initial price.
8. Maserati Ghibli
- Variant: 2.0 MHEV GT Sport Pack
- Retained value: 32.23%
- Average new price: £83,925.00
- Average retained value: £27,050.00
The Maserati Ghibli originally looked and sounded like a car that could really make headway in the executive sports saloon class. Unfortunately, it is plagued with problems including high prices, questionable quality and the fact that it’s been on sale for a decade with only minor updates. If you want the full-fat V8-powered Ultima version, brace yourself because you’ll pay an average price of almost £160,000, with only a little over 30 per cent of that being recouped when you come to sell it three years later.
7. Peugeot e-208
- Variant: 50kWh 136 Active Premium+
- Retained value: 32.08%
- Average new price: £31,955.00
- Average retained value: £10,250.00
As with several members of Peugeot’s current line-up, the e-208 certainly has no problems in the looks department. However, its high initial purchase price is the opposite of attractive for many potential buyers. Things aren’t too promising for those who want to sell, either, as over 65 per cent of this value is apparently doomed to vanish into thin air. If you’re looking to buy a used e-208, though, you could find yourself a real bargain.
6. Nissan Leaf
- Variant: 39kWh 150 Acenta Auto
- Retained value: 31.58%
- Average new price: £29,290.00
- Average retained value: £9,250.00
The original Nissan Leaf was a pioneer for mainstream EVs and now, over a decade later, the second-generation model has been with us for over five years. The electric car market is moving fast, though, and numerous competitors have arrived which make the Leaf look a bit wilted. Dated technology and a relatively low battery range have pushed the Leaf towards the back of the pack which it once led, and this has contributed to a real nose-dive in second-hand values.
5. Mazda MX-30
- Variant: 17.8kWh R-EV Exclusive-Line
- Retained value: 30.76%
- Average new price: £36,650.00
- Average retained value: £11,275.00
Mazda’s MX-30 is certainly one of the quirkier EVs on the market, and it’s also one of the cheaper ones that you can buy brand new. However, this car is also fundamentally flawed with its small rear seats and maximum claimed battery range of under 130 miles. Mazda has attempted to address this issue by adding the rotary range-extender R-EV version to the line-up, but this hasn’t helped to mitigate the huge loss that the MX-30 incurs after three years.
4. Lexus LS
- Variant: 4WD 3.5h V6 E-CVT
- Retained value: 30.76%
- Average new price: £104,935.00
- Average retained value: £32,275.00
The Lexus LS is a luxury car costing well over £100,000, but it’ll only be worth just over 30 per cent of that figure when the time comes to sell. Lexus enjoys an excellent reputation for reliability and the customer service dished out by its dealers, but that isn’t enough to help the LS hold its money.
Demand for luxury saloons in general isn’t very strong with new cars often being bought as executive limousines, and the hefty running costs cause buyers to think twice on the used market. The LS is packed with technology and supremely comfortable to drive or travel in, but its image is a little staid compared to the alternatives. Many private used buyers are also being increasingly drawn to luxury SUVs, hence the rapid depreciation.
3. Renault Zoe
- Variant: R110 52kWh Rapid Charge
- Retained value: 30.72%
- Average new price: £30,194.00
- Average retained value: £9,275.00
Up until the arrival of the Megane E-Tech, the humble Zoe served as Renault’s sole electric car for several years. Since its debut in 2012, this supermini has been treated to a number of upgrades to keep it relatively fresh and competitive, but the starting price steadily climbed during this time, too.
Today, paying £30,000 for a brand-new Zoe will cost you nearly £21,000 in depreciation after three years. However, used buyers are likely to pay out a little more if your Zoe has an owned battery pack rather than a leased one.
2. Vauxhall Corsa Electric
- Variant: 50kWh 136 Ultimate Auto
- Retained value: 30.26%
- Average new price: £36,685.00
- Average retained value: £11,100.00
Not only does the Vauxhall Corsa Electric share the same underpinnings as the Peugeot e-208, it also suffers from similar depreciation woes. Vauxhall’s supermini is one of the more “normal-feeling” EVs out there, which should help make it more appealing to drivers who are looking to move over from combustion for the first time.
One big problem, though, is that the Corsa Electric costs over £10,000 more than the entry-level petrol version if you buy it brand-new and don’t negotiate a discount. As you can see from these figures, used buyers could save a packet on a three-year-old example.
1. BMW 8 Series Coupe
- Variant: M850i xDrive 4.4i V8 Ultimate Pack
- Retained value: 26.16%
- Average new price: £133,050.00
- Average retained value: £34,800.00
It has a brawny appearance with punchy performance to match, but where the BMW 8 Series could hit you hardest is in the wallet. Our expert data predicts that nearly three quarters of the 8 Series’ value could go up in smoke when you come to sell BMW's range-topping sports car. Add-in the day-to-day costs associated with running a thundering V8 performance machine, and this could explain why this car is quite a rare sight on UK roads.
The poor residual values are due in no small part to some very heavy discounting on new 8 Series models by BMW and it means there are bargains to be had for used buyers who can handle those running costs.
Top 10 fastest depreciating cars in the UK
- BMW 8 Series
- Vauxhall Corsa Electric
- Maserati Ghibli
- Audi A6
- Renault Zoe
- Lexus LS
- Mazda MX-30
- Nissan Leaf
- Peugeot e-208
- Fiat 500
What makes a car depreciate fast?
As you’d expect, the slowest depreciating cars are models in strong demand, with desirable badges and good reputations for reliability, quality and safety. They are discounted less than rivals when new, and hold their money at resale time.
Strangely, the worst depreciators often have highly desirable badges too, but their new prices are just too stratospheric to do anything but plummet when it’s time to find a second owner. Bread and butter models from mainstream brands whose badges offer little in the way of aspirational value, and whose reputations for quality or performance are not in the same league as models from the ‘in demand’ brands, can suffer too.
People like to joke about cars losing half their value the moment they’re driven off the forecourt but that’s rarely actually the case. Even the worst performers will take a couple of years or more to lose half their value, while some rare, exotic or limited production models may even rise in value – or appreciate – but, of course, that’s not the experience for most new car buyers.
Still, there’s a vast range of depreciation performance across the new car spectrum. Typically a strong performer will lose less than half of its value over a three-year/36,000-mile ownership cycle, with the slowest depreciating cars still worth 60-70 per cent of what you paid for them. Conversely, a poor depreciator can easily lose 50-60 per cent of its on-the-road price over the same timeframe.
Remember that all depreciation is calculated based on the car’s official list price and if dealers are offering heavy discounts on a car, the depreciation figures will look bad but very few people will actually be paying that much to buy new. Plus, depreciation is a cost that only crystallises when you sell the car. If you hold on to it for longer it isn’t a concern.
Why are some electric car residual values so low?
In the UK, the Zero-Emission Vehicle (ZEV) mandate means that manufacturers are now legally required to sell a rising proportion of fully-electric cars every year up until 2035, when this number will reach 100 per cent.
In order to meet these percentage targets, brands are increasingly resorting to discounting or long-term price cuts to help boost sales of EVs. Naturally, this has an effect on the value of electric cars on the used market further down the line.
In addition to this, the rapid development of EV technology and the expanding amount of choice for consumers means that some older models can start to feel dated quite quickly, thus reducing their appeal to car buyers compared to new alternatives. And it’s not all EVs that have a depreciation issue, some of the more popular and competitively priced options hold their value very well.
Car depreciation: the worst of the rest
Our list of the top 10 fastest depreciating cars includes a heady mix of the overpriced, the unfashionable and the unremarkable. If you look further down the charts there’s more of the same, as well as some surprises.
|Average new price
|Average part-ex value (3 years/36,000 miles)
|Average retained value (3 years/36,000 miles)
|BMW 8 Series Coupe M850i xDrive 4.4i V8 Ultimate Pack
|Vauxhall Corsa Electric 50kWh 136 Ultimate Auto
|Renault Zoe R110 52kWh Rapid Charge
|Lexus LS 4WD 3.5h V6 E-CVT
|Mazda MX-30 17.8kWh R-EV Exclusive-Line
|Nissan Leaf 39kWh 150 Acenta Auto
|Peugeot e-208 50kWh 136 Active Premium+
|Maserati Ghibli 3.8 V8 Ultima
|Audi A6 Quattro 3.0 TDI V6 Vorsprung
|Fiat 500 24kWh RED
|SEAT Leon Estate eHybrid PHEV FR DSG
|Audi A8 50 Quattro LWB 3.0 TDI V6 Sport Technology Pro Pack
|Maserati Levante 3.8 V8 Trofeo
|Audi A7 Sportback Quattro 2.0 TFSIe PHEV Sport Technology Pro Pack
|DS9 1.6 E-TENSE PHEV Opera
|Vauxhall Mokka Electric 50kWh 136 Ultimate Auto
|Maserati Quattroporte 4Dr Saloon 3.8 V8 580 GPF SS EU6 Trofeo ZF Auto8
|BMW 8 Series Convertible M850i xDrive4.4i V8 Ultimate Pack
|Vauxhall Grandland Hybrid 1.6 PHEV GS
|Mazda CX-60 4WD 3.3 e-SKYACTIV-D MHEV Takumi
We’re done with the depreciation disasters, now take a look at the cars that hold their value best..
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