Car depreciation: the cars that hold their value best 2021

Car depreciation is a fact of life with car ownership. But these are the cars that lose the least over time

When you buy a new car, you don't need a calculator to know that depreciation will set in as soon as you drive it off a dealer's forecourt. In fact, if you're buying a car on finance, then depreciation is an important factor, because the amount of money the car is worth at the end of the finance agreement determines how much you pay per month.

In simple terms, depreciation is the amount of money that a car loses over its lifetime. Place new car depreciation in a graph, and the line will start at a high point and slowly fall over time. What you want is for the line to stay as high as possible for as long as possible, so that the amount of money you lose once you do come to sell is low.

Unless you're buying a desirable classic or a limited-run performance car from an established manufacturer, then the car you buy will suffer from depreciation at some level. It's just a fact of life, as a car that has been used by a previous owner isn't as attractive as a brand-new one. However, there are cars out there that limit your losses, and we've listed the best performers below using the latest data from CAP HPI.

CAP work out a car's depreciation using a number of factors, and they will usually base this around a car's value after three years and 36,000 miles. This irons out any initial spikes in desirability as a new car comes to market, and gives a good indication of how much a car will be worth over the lifetime of a finance deal. 

Compare an SUV with a hatchback or a saloon from the same manufacturer on a like-for-like basis, and you'll see that the SUV usually has retained a higher percentage of its original value. That's because buyers are currently attracted by the rugged looks and tall driving position that an SUV or crossover offers.

Car depreciation: what to look for

It's not just SUVs that are the best cars for avoiding depreciation, you can also cut your losses by choosing a desirable sports car, although the market can be a little more fickle with these machines. If you're flush with cash, then a high-end sports car or supercar can also be considered, although if you're looking to buy one of these, then depreciation is unlikely to be a deciding factor when parting with your cash.

The UK’s top 10 slowest depreciating new cars

 ModelAverage New price (£)Average New Price Retained (%)Average Depreciation (£)
1Lamborghini Urus157,80079-33,200
2Toyota Land Cruiser46,24072.5-12,740
3Porsche Cayman48,37568.1-15,475
4Porsche Cayenne74,52967.9-23,995
5Lotus Elise43,77066.7-14,595
6Volkswagen T-Roc24,76965.5-8,590
7Porsche Boxster50,23664.2-18,061
8Range Rover Sport76,26364.1-27,430
9Nissan GT-R82,20362.1-31,203
10Lotus Evora87,32061.4-33,670

For our list of the best cars for depreciation for sale in the UK, we've given an average of the entire model range after three years and 36,000 miles. So while these scores are already good, they could be even better if you pick the slowest depreciating model in the line-up.

Scroll down to find out more about the top performers, and some of the models that just missed out...

1. Lamborghini Urus

  • Retained Value 79%
  • Average New Price £157,800
  • Average depreciation £33,200

It would have been fun if the slowest depreciating car in our list had also been the fastest accelerating, but although the Urus is the best at holding onto your money, it’s not even the fastest Lamborghini in our list this year.

With an average new price of £157,000 it’s not the most expensive Lambo either, but even with an impressive 79 per cent of the new price retained after three years, owners will be hit with a £33,200 loss after three years and 36,000 miles. Still, Lamborghini can be proud of its chart-topping result, and an SUV that so effectively combines wild styling, practicality and performance to cement its desirability on the used market.

2. Toyota Land Cruiser

  • Retained Value 72.5%
  • Average New Price £46,240
  • Average depreciation £12,740

It may also be an SUV, but you’d struggle to find much else that the Toyota Land Cruiser shares with the Lamborghini Urus in first spot. Apart from an impressive reluctance to shed value after it’s been driven out of the showroom, that is.

The Toyota’s legendary reliability, immense capability and all-round practicality mean used examples are in demand, and with retained values standing at 72.5 per cent of the average £46,240 new price, owners are losing only £12,740 over three years. Interestingly, the strong depreciation performance comes in spite of the slew of more fashionable and less gritty off-roaders available today. The Land Cruiser feels a bit agricultural in comparison, but that clearly doesn’t dent its appeal.

3. Porsche Cayman

  • Retained Value 68.1%
  • Average New Price £48,375
  • Average depreciation £15,475

Porsche models typically do well when it comes to holding onto value, which is just as well given the list prices when new. That said, the Cayman is one of their least expensive models, with the average new price falling comfortably under £50,000. Because the average Cayman will hold onto 68.1 per cent of its value, that means owners can expect to lose only £15,475 after three years and 36,000 miles. That said, although the Cayman is the entry-level Porsche coupe, as we point out in our review it’s certainly no poor- man’s choice. In fact, it’s arguably one of the best and most engaging sports cars money can buy at any price, thanks to its genuinely exploitable performance.

4. Porsche Cayenne

  • Retained Value 67.9%
  • Average New Price £74,529
  • Average depreciation £23,995

Underneath the skin Porsche’s highly successful Cayenne SUV shares its MLB platform with the Lamborghini Urus that tops this list. However, apart from the range-topping Cayenne Turbo, the Cayenne doesn’t even get close to its VW Group-owned stablemate for ostentation, with Porsche preferring a more coolly reserved Germanic approach to style.

With a more prosaic model range, the average price of a Porsche Cayenne isn’t quite so stratospheric either, although most drivers would wince at £74,000. Still, with 67.9 per cent of that investment value retained after three years/36,000-miles, the £24,000 you’ll lose is pretty competitive. It’s a compelling argument in favour of owning a Cayenne, in fact, in spite of the potentially high running and maintenance costs.

5. Lotus Elise

  • Retained Value 66.7%
  • Average New Price £43,770
  • Average depreciation £14,595

Who would have thought the Lotus Elise would make it into a top 10 slowest depreciation list? The surprise mgh have been greater if the Elise and its sister car the Exige didn’t already have form, with both making the top 10 when we last surveyed the market in 2020.

The current Lotus Elise has been for sale for almost a decade, and while the basic formula has remained unchanged, its low sales volumes and high demand for used cars mean it has excellent residuals of 66.7 per cent. An average price of £43,770 will see £14,595 lost over three years, which isn't much when compared to some of the supercars in the top 20 list. What's more, the Elise will deliver a fun drive every time you get behind the wheel, giving you less reason to worry about how much this little Lotus is costing you in the long run.

6. Volkswagen T-Roc

  • Retained Value 65.5%
  • Average New Price £24,769
  • Average depreciation £8,590

VW models typically boast pretty good residual values, and with the SUV sector booming, its no surprise the T-Roc is in demand. Originally mooted as the ‘fun’ face of VW and a model aimed at younger than average VW buyers, in fact the T-Roc offers all the grown-up, quality feel of longer established products like the Golf, even though some of the cabin plastics have a slightly lower-budget feel.

Niggles aside, the T-Roc clearly hits the mark with the school run brigade, and VW’s smallest SUV is proving as solid a performer in the used sector as it is when new. Residual values are 65.5 per cent of the average £24,769 new price, which means depreciation is costing owners comfortably less than £3,000 per year. 

7. Porsche Boxster

  • Retained Value 64.2%
  • Average New Price £50,236
  • Average depreciation £18,061

Convertibles always sell well in the UK, but they’re still relatively ‘niche’ even when we’re talking about sports models, which may be why the Boxster falls a few points behind the Cayman in the depreciation stakes. 

Like its Cayman sister model, the Boxster gained four-cylinder power to boost efficiency but maintain performance. And while the purists decried the loss of the flat-six soundtrack, it seems that buyers are still keen.

A loss of 55.3 per cent on an average range price of £50,236 means buyers will lose £22,511 over three years, which is around £2,400 more than you'll lose on a Cayman. But for some buyers that's a sacrifice worth making for the thrill of wind-in-the-hair motoring that the Boxster offers to go with its fantastic handling.

8. Range Rover Sport

  • Retained Value 64.1%
  • Average New Price £76,263
  • Average depreciation £27,430

Superb design, luxurious accommodation and superior performance on and off the road are all characteristics which help to make the Range Rover Sport so desirable.

The premium off-roader doesn’t come cheap, and some may be surprised to find the Sport model holds on to its value so well. We’re talking about the facelifted model introduced in 2018 with an upgraded - long overdue - infotainment system and a svelte new headlamp treatment in the style of the smaller Velar introduced the year previously.

The average Range Rover Sport list price is £76,263, and with a 64.1 per cent residual value an owner could expect to lose £27,430 over the course of three years.

9. Nissan GT-R

  • Retained Value 62.1%
  • Average New Price ��82,203
  • Average depreciation £31,203

The Nissan GT-R super-coupe has been in demand here since it first burst onto UK streets in 2009, at which point it was already a couple of years old. You could say Nissan has done little more than facelift it a couple of times in the intervening years, but that’s doing the car a disservice as there’s been a steady stream of updates, special editions and performance upgrades over the years that have kept fans of the car nicknamed ‘Godzilla’ enthused. Prices have soared over the years too, from a starting point of £55,000 to today’s average list price of £82,203. Luckily residual values have kept up, and in fact the GT-R has slightly improved its depreciation numbers from last year, when it was slightly outside the top 10. The new 62.1 per cent residual value will see customers losing £31,203 after three years.

10. Lotus Evora

  • Retained Value 61.4%
  • Average New Price £87,320
  • Average depreciation £33,670

If you can’t remember the last time you saw a Lotus Evora on the road, that doesn’t mean the British rival to Porsche’s Cayman and 911 has disappeared from the radar of Lotus enthusiasts. Quite the opposite it seems, as although production of the car that’s as long-in-the tooth as the Nissan GT-R is limited to a relative handful of cars, they cling onto their value with impressive tenacity.

The average Evora list price is a stiff £87,320 these days, but dedicated owners can expect their cars to retain a healthy 61.4 per cent of their new price after three years. As well as the kudos of helping to keep one of our most storied - and historically troubled - brands afloat!

Best of the rest

Look beyond the top 10 slowest depreciating cars, and there's an eclectic mix of machinery that is both desirable and wallet-friendly. At 11 there’s the VW up! which proves its worth as an entry to the VW brand for the relatively impecunious, by doing a splendid job of looking after your cash. The Lamborghini Aventador rushes us straight to the opposite extreme, but even if its 60.3 per cent residuals are impressive, its average £274,146 list price means the £108, 746 loss of value over three years must feel like a bit of a sting in the tail.

Next up it’s the SSangyong Rexton, which although no longer with us, clearly has a lot of appeal for drivers looking for a cut-price Discovery alternative. The Skoda Kodiaq SUV appeals for similarly pragmatic reasons, because it’s just such a fine all-rounder in its segment. In at number 15 we have the Aston Martin Vantage, which shouldn’t require too much explanation on an car enthusiast website, while the Range Rover Velar follows close behind. From there on it’s fashionable SUVs all the way with the BMW X3, Range Rover and Jaguar F-Pace all recording strong performances, before the Honda Civic rounds of the top twenty with its long-established winning mix of practicality, affordability and reliability.

11. Volkswagen up!

  • Retained Value 60.3%
  • Average New Price £13,755
  • Average depreciation £5,455

12. Lamborghini Aventador

  • Retained Value 60.3%
  • Average New Price £274,146
  • Average depreciation £108,746

13. SsangYong Rexton

  • Retained Value 60.2%
  • Average New Price £34,930
  • Average depreciation £12,930

14. Skoda Kodiaq

  • Retained Value 58.6%
  • Average New Price £30,954
  • Average depreciation £12,804

15. Aston Martin Vantage

  • Retained Value 58.5%
  • Average New Price £120,900
  • Average depreciation £50,200

16. Range Rover Velar

  • Retained Value 58.0%
  • Average New Price £57,268
  • Average depreciation £24,043

17. BMW X3

  • Retained Value 57.4%
  • Average New Price £39,683
  • Average depreciation £16,900

18. Range Rover

  • Retained Value 57.0%
  • Average New Price £113,405
  • Average depreciation £50,005

19. Jaguar F-Pace

  • Retained Value 56.8%
  • Average New Price £45,330
  • Average depreciation £19,601

20. Honda Civic

  • Retained Value 56.7%
  • Average New Price £27,830
  • Average depreciation £11,830

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