Fastest depreciating cars: top 10 worst motoring money pits 2021

Almost every new car depreciates, but some shed value faster than others. These are the top 10 fastest depreciating cars on sale today

Forget miles per gallon or insurance, the biggest cost of running a car is depreciation, otherwise known as the difference between the new on-the-road price and the figure achievable when selling a car 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 car deal. Here we’re looking at the worst depreciating cars on the market, both in terms of percentage retained value and total value lost.

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 comfortably less than half of its value over a three-year/36,000-mile ownership cycle, while a poor depreciator can easily lose three-quarters of the on-the-road price over the same timeframe.

As you’d expect, the slowest depreciators are the cars in strong demand, with desirable badges and good reputations for reliability, quality and safety. They suffer little discounting 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 new 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.

To help you avoid these mobile money-pits we’ve combed the data from used car valuation experts at CAP HPI 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 by new today, excluding electric models which have their values distorted slightly by the government's plug-in car grant. So here they are - the disastrous depreciators the experts say you shouldn’t touch with a bargepole if you want to hang on to your cash.

Fastest depreciating cars

 ModelAverage New price (£)Average New Price Retained (%)Average Depreciation (£)
1Mercedes-Benz S-Class141,81834.2-93,385
2Audi A875,33834.5-49,363
3Subaru Impreza23,74037.6-14,815
4Aston Martin Rapide 150,69439.6-90,994
5BMW 2 Series30,27139.6-18,262
6Bentley Mulsanne259,86541-153,285
7Mercedes-Benz CLS63,75041.2-37,500
8Maserati Quattroporte91,67542.4-52,825
9BMW 4 Series37,35542.5-21,419
10Fiat 500L17,94043.8-10,090

Now scroll down to read more about the models that make the top 10, plus some that just missed out...

1. Mercedes-Benz S-Class

  • Retained Value 34.2%
  • Average New Price £141,818
  • Average depreciation £93,385

German luxury saloons may be trendsetters when it comes to rolling out the latest technology and piling on the toys, but you can usually also rely on them to lead the race to the bottom when it comes to used values. 

The fact is, while plutocrats and big corporations have plenty of cash to shell out on their VIPs' motoring habits, most of the rest of us aren’t so well-endowed financially. So while the desire to own a pre-loved AMG S Class or other luxo-barge may be strong in many of us, there’s a limit to how far we’ll push the boat out.

This time around we’ve a classic tussle for victory in the fastest depreciation stakes between the (just replaced model) S-Class Mercedes and the Audi A8. Our reviewers rate the S-Class more highly overall, but the availability of more highly priced variants doesn’t help it here.   

2. Audi A8

  • Retained Value 34.5%
  • Average New Price £73,338
  • Average depreciation £49,363

There’s only the slimmest of margins between the Audi A8 and the S-Class in percentage terms, so if you compare the two rivals at similar price points relative depreciation is unlikely to be a factor in your buying decision. At least when you average out prices across the range, the Audi’s lower number means customers appear to take less of a hiding at resale time. Still, we’d definitely wince at losing the best part of £50,000 on a car that cost £75,000 three years before, in spite of the undisputed delights of running a big Audi A8. Interestingly, you won’t find any of the more desirable flagship SUVs from the premium German brands in our worst depreciator list. In spite of their similarities in terms of engineering, tech, luxury and price, years of airport limo duty means these uber-saloons just don’t have the same fashionable cachet on the used market.

3. Subaru Impreza

  • Retained Value 37.6%
  • Average New Price £23,740
  • Average depreciation £14,815

Colin McRae fans look away now, as the Impreza’s star has faded a little since the days of its WRC triumphs. Nowadays, the model is a pleasant but ultimately flawed proposition that in spite of its 4x4 drivetrain can’t quite cut it on the school run against higher-riding and more fashionable SUV rivals. 

That means, unless you live in the Welsh mountains and have a long-term relationship with your local friendly Subaru dealer, you’re unlikely to put the Impreza at the top of your new car wish list. It follows therefore that used buyers may not burn with desire either, but that does provide an opportunity for eagle-eyed bargain hunters. After all, if you’re not bothered by stodgy performance or brand image, as a second owner you can enjoy the Impreza’s decent styling, good road manners and comfy, high-spec cabin at low, low prices.

4. Aston Martin Rapide

  • Retained Value 39.6%
  • Average New Price £150,964
  • Average depreciation £90,994

It’s possible to get the feeling Aston Martin made a four-door version of the DB9 ‘because it could’, and with an eye on the success of the Porsche Panamera it’s hard to blame the firm for trying. Unfortunately though, the Panamera was a lot cheaper and much more practical, two key factors that the added exoticism of the Aston badge could never really overcome.

Nowadays the Rapide has been supplanted by the Aston Martin DBX, which is an entirely more sensible and convincing proposition as family transport. As for the Rapide, it’s limping out with a bang thanks to the limited edition Rapide AMR unveiled in 2019, but CAP’s figures here - and the Rapide’s overall ranking - are based on the earlier Rapide S which wasn’t quite as pricey or as rare. 

5. BMW 2 Series

  • Retained Value 39.6%
  • Average New Price £30,271
  • Average depreciation £18,262

With thoughts of the exuberant and highly desirable BMW M2 in our minds, we had to double-take when the 2 Series cropped up here. Like many car buyers, it seems, we’d momentarily overlooked the Active Tourer.

When we reviewed BMW’s first MPV we questioned the logic, as although it’s a decent drive it’s neither as stylish or as spacious inside as the similarly-sized X1 SUV. It seems the market feels the same way, and the 2 Series Active Tourer and its larger seven-seat Gran Tourer sibling simply don’t command the same levels of desirability as other models in the BMW range.

6. Bentley Mulsanne

  • Retained Value 41%
  • Average New Price £259,865
  • Average depreciation £153,285

If you’re wondering why HM The Queen is still tootling around in a 2002 Bentley, it’s just possible she can’t afford to sell it… at least you might be forgiven for thinking that when looking at what happens to Mulsanne saloon prices.

While commanding a small but significantly higher percentage residual value than the worst offenders in this list, it’s still pretty gob-smacking to learn that Mulsanne owners are prepared to take a £153,285 hit in the Louis Vuitton wallet after three years of ownership. Even more so when you realise many owners won’t have driven them, preferring to sit in the back like HMQ in her Bentley State Limousine. A shame because, as our Mulsanne road test reveals, the big Bentley saloon is a mightily impressive performer.

7. Mercedes-Benz CLS

  • Retained Value 41.2%
  • Average New Price £63,750
  • Average depreciation £37,500

When you’re in the market for an E-Class Mercedes, but think you’d probably like something with a sportier feel, the CLS was the car designed to fill the gap. It’s an undoubtedly stylish machine, but perhaps used Mercedes buyers are a little less susceptible to fashion and frippery than those who might consider the BMW 6 Series Gran Coupe or Audi A7.

The truth is, while the CLS has plenty of showroom appeal, the compromised rear headroom and less than sporty driving character have a knock-on effect on residuals. After all, in spite of its swoopy styling the CLS is basically an E-Class under the skin, and its primary driving characteristics are relaxing and comfortable. And if that’s what you’re looking for, why not pick the roomier E-Class anyway?

8. Maserati Quattroporte

  • Retained Value 42.4%
  • Average New Price £91,675
  • Average depreciation £52,825

There was a time when you’d put money on a big Maserati saloon winning any worst depreciation challenge hands-down, so owners will be gratified to see the Quattroporte out-performed by the Merc S-Class and Audi A8, although this is hardly a winning result.

The truth is, there’s always been a lot to like about this slightly left-field choice, not least the added exoticism of the fabled Trident badge on the grille. Of course they’re mightily expensive to buy and run, but more recent Maseratis have at least shaken off their once woeful reputation for reliability. In fact they’re very well screwed together, and we suspect even their owners tend to be surprised at how low-maintenance the Quattroporte can be,  

9. BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe

  • Retained Value 42.5%
  • Average New Price £37,355
  • Average depreciation £21,419

There’s lots to like about BMW’s four-door coupe version of the 3 Series saloon, but as with the 2 Series Active MPV above, our reviewers have raised doubts about the model’s raison d’etre. After all, if you want a 3 Series coupe BMW already makes the rather desirable 3-door 4 Series Coupe, and vice versa.

It seems buyers may have twigged that fact too, as certainly when it comes to used models the Gran Coupe doesn’t fare as well as BMW’s more traditional offerings. Once again though, a new buyer’s loss could be the next owner’s gain, as if you’re not too bothered about which format your BMW arrives in, a used Gran Coupe offers all of the family’s driving appeal with more money off.

10. Fiat 500L 

  • Retained Value 43.8%
  • Average New Price £17,940
  • Average depreciation £10,090

The 500L is FIat’s attempt to mimic some of the bandwidth of the MINI, which has successfully stretched its brand - quite literally - into cars like the Countryman SUV.

The 500L doesn’t have quite such bold ambitions, as it’s more of a compact MPV. Unfortunately it’s also not very practical, which is why Fiat also offers the further-extended 500L MPW with a third row of seats for kids.

In standard five-seat guise, there’s really not a great deal to commend the 500L. Although it’s roomier than a standard 500 - what isn’t? - there are simply too many rivals that offer more flexibility and are nicer to drive. That’s why owners are unlikely to get even close to half their money back when they come to that conclusion too.

Worst of the rest

11. McLaren 570GT 

  • Retained Value 44%
  • Average New Price £157,000
  • Average depreciation £88,000

Whooshing straight in at number 11 is the fabulous McLaren 570GT, perhaps suggesting that much as we like their concept of a more road-focused supercar, buyers are more attracted to the hardcore sporting appeal of other models in the line-up. Either way, Porsche 911 enthusiasts with their rock solid residuals will be sniggering at the lot of any 570GT owners getting an £88,000 kick in the teeth at resale time. 

12. Fiat Panda

  • Retained Value 44.7%
  • Average New Price £11,048
  • Average depreciation £6,041

At number 12 we’ve got another Fiat in the shape of the cheap but cheerful Panda, whose poor result must be affected by the model’s age and ubiquity.

13. Peugeot Traveller

  • Retained Value 44.8%
  • Average New Price £37,792
  • Average depreciation £20,858

At 13 is the Peugeot Traveller which is a likeable-enough MPV van conversion that perhaps costs a little too much when new and doesn’t do enough to hide its commercial roots.

14. Jeep Compass

  • Retained Value 45.7
  • Average New Price £29,020
  • Average depreciation £15,770

Last, and the least worst depreciator on our latest list of motorised money pits is the Jeep Compass, suggesting not all enthusiasts of the legendary US brand are yet to be convinced by the merits of a Fiat-based crossover model.

Check out the cars that hold their value best here...

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