Last year, 113,140 used passenger imports were sold in New Zealand, which is about 40 per cent more than all new passenger cars and SUVs sold.

Used imports make up a significant part of our fleet, and some models have really captivated the hearts of Kiwi motorists.

Here are the top five bestsellers for the first nine months of 2021.

Toyota Aqua – 6,262 sales (7 per cent market share)

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The bestselling used import of 2021 so far is the compact Toyota Aqua. This model was better known as a 'Prius C' when launched in New Zealand new, and this Japanese domestic-spec vehicle is highly regarded as an economical hybrid option.

Just recently, Toyota launched an all-new Aqua model in Japan, and the manufacturer boasted about the model’s success - approximately 1.87 million Aqua units have been sold worldwide, accounting for reductions in CO2 emissions of approximately 12.4 million tons.

The Aqua is powered by a 1.5-litre engine which is mated to a CVT gearbox. It utilises Toyota’s rock solid third-generation hybrid synergy drive system using a small 0.9 kWh nickel-metal hydride technology battery. This frugal model sips only 3.9L/100Km.

Mazda Axela – 4,270 sales (4.8 per cent market share)

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The first generation Mazda Axela was released in Japan back in 2003 as a replacement for the long-running 323 and Familia range. As for engine size, the Axela was originally produced for the JDM market with engines from just 1.5-litre all the way up to 2.3-litre.

The second generation, or the Mazda BL series, was in production between 2008 and 2013, and was based upon the C1 platform - a collaboration between Ford, Mazda and Volvo. These models can be found in used car yards across New Zealand in abundance. The Axela is often mistaken for the NZ-new Mazda 3.

The popular Mazda BL series offers great engine choices, also including 1.5-litre and 2.3-litre, but also a variant boasting Mazda’s MZR L5 turbocharged 2.5-litre engine, if you need something with a bit more ‘oomph’.

The overall dimensions of the popular Axela hatchback variant are a good fit for Kiwi motorists who want a hatch with extra space. The preferred choice of engine tends to be the 2.0-litre variant for most buyers as it provides a good balance of both power and economy – it achieves a fuel efficiency rating between 5.3-6.17L/100km.

Toyota Prius – 3,550 sales (4 per cent market share)

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Toyota has been manufacturing the Prius since 1997 and it is essentially the model that started the hybrid movement. The Prius is invariably at the top of the shopping list for a lot of buyers looking to save on fuel or, in more recent times, operate as a ride share service like Uber or Ola.

The third-generation Prius is the most discussed with AA Members seeking advice. This model was produced between 2009 and 2015, and it sports a frugal but large 1.8-litre Atkinson cycle engine.  One of the reasons this model is so appealing is because it has large boot space, which offers a generous area for luggage – perfect for those trips to the airport.

The Toyota Prius is able to comfortably get you and your passengers from A to B, and has a fuel economy rating of just 3.9L/100km.

Nissan X-Trail – 3,063 sales (3.4 per cent market share)

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The Nissan X-Trail is the most popular used SUV so far in 2021. It was first introduced globally in the year 2000 so has had quite a long legacy on the road.

Today, the X-Trail is in its fourth generation, but in terms of the current used market, the second generation (released in 2007) gets a lot of attention. This model is based on the Nissan ‘C platform’ and has a good off-road stance. It’s commonly sourced with a 2.0-litre MR20DE engine, which develops 101kW and 200Nm of torque - this helps the X-Trail accelerate from 0 to 100km/h in just over 11 seconds.

Another appealing feature of the X-Trail is the availability of its all Mode 4x4-i system for enhanced ability off the beaten track. Overall, it’s a well sized vehicle for families or even tradies, as some are fitted with long pull-out draws ideal for concealing tools.

Honda Fit – 2,975 sales (3.3 per cent market share)

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This compact Honda model has become very popular due to its fuel efficiency and clever use of space. The Fit even won the Japanese Car of the Year Award back in 2001 and 2002.

Today’s used market seems to be more or less filled with the third-generation model. These are available in the 13G, 15X, RS and hybrid models , engines range from the 1.3-litre variant, up to the most powerful 1.5-litre Earth Dreams Atkinson cycle engine in the hybrid model.

The majority of imports feature a CVT gearbox, except in the hybrids, which instead use an advanced seven-speed DSG transmission - a bit of an unusual choice for Honda.

The design is smart with the fuel tank and rear suspension layout allowing a multiple-mode seating system, this unique point of difference is referred to by Honda as ‘Magic Seats’. This allows you to contort the seats into an array of arrangements and tailor the use of space to specific needs.

Top 10

Toyota Aqua


Mazda Axela


Toyota Prius


Nissa X-Trail


Honda Fit


Volkswagen Golf


Mitsubishi Outlander


Mazda Demio


Mazda CX-5


Subaru Impreza



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