Last year, the ten bestselling used passenger vehicles were dominated by hatches, with eight of the top 10 being available in a hatch variant.

There were a total of 113,140 used passenger import registrations, which was a drop of 19.5 per cent compared to 2019. This was unsurprising given the year had its fair share of difficulties due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and its effect on international supply chains.

The Mazda Axela was the vehicle of choice, understandably due to the fact it’s versatile and comes available in either a large hatch or a sedan option. There’s also a variety of engine and transmissions to choose from too, and the models between 2013 and 2015 received a five-star safety rating.

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Mazda Axela

The third-gen Axela has a very sleek silhouette. Mazda had moved away from the Ford C1 platform in 2014 and adopted the ‘KODO Soul of Motion’ design language, which gives the car a very attractive appearance.

  • Hybrids

Two of the top 10 used passenger car models for 2020 were available exclusively as hybrids - the Toyota Aqua and Toyota Prius – which were second and fourth bestselling respectively.

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Toyota Aqua

The Toyota Aqua is a compact hatchback with a fuel economy rating of just 3.9L/100km (CO2 - 89g/km). Power-wise, it won’t blow you away with just 54kW and 111Nm of torque, but with a weight of just over one and a half tonnes it can still pull reasonably well with the capable gen-three (chainless) Hybrid Synergy Drive system. Models between 2009 and 2015 boast a low consumption rating of 2.5L/100km and a CO2 rating of just 49g/km.

  • SUVs
Mitsubishi Outlander 2013 1

Mitsubishi Outlander

Perhaps surprisingly, the only SUV in the top 10 was the Mitsubishi Outlander, which comes in both five and seven seater configurations. AA Members are often attracted to the Outlander due to its ability to tow, its affordability and the fact it has seven seats. 

  • Station wagons
subaru legacy 2009 04

Subaru Legacy

The only model in the top 10 available as a station wagon was the Subaru Legacy, which is popular with those who like to head off the beaten track for the weekend and perhaps hit the slopes over the winter months. It has AWD and doesn’t break the bank with options available from around $5,000 upwards.

So, have preferences changed?

If we go back a couple of years to 2018, there are many parallels between trends. A large number of the vehicles were available as hatches like the Honda Fit and Nissan Tiida, but there was also a greater demand for station wagons in the form of the Subaru Legacy.

The Toyota Wish - a compact seven-seater MPV - now no longer features in the top 10, and seems to have been more or less replaced by the aforementioned Mitsubishi Outlander SUV. We’ve seen this switch in trends across new car sales, too.

2021 so far

An impressive 11,008 used imports were registered in NZ in March 2021, - an increase of 28.5 per cent compared to March 2020. Registrations are also up 21 per cent when compared to February 2021.

Year-to-date, there have been a total of 29,508 used import registrations.

Despite encouraging numbers, supply of vehicles continues to be a stumbling block due to the ongoing global pandemic. Requirements for Electronic Stability Control (ESC) rules have also meant that less expensive imports are not as plentiful as they were 18 months ago. This, in turn, can make finding good quality compliant import cars that little bit harder to obtain.

In February, the Government also introduced the proposal of a new Clean Car Import Standards (CCIS) which, if passed, will require a 40 per cent reduction of average carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions entering NZ by 2025. It will be very interesting to watch what happens in this space and whether we see more Kiwis make the conscious choice to switch to lower emission options in the coming years.

Find out more about how the AA can help when buying a used car:

Vehicle experts you can trust

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