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Best-selling cars fall into ‘depreciation trap’

A ‘depreciation trap’ affecting some of Britain’s most popular cars has been revealed by EurotaxGlass’s.

Five-door variants of some family hatchback models, such as the Vauxhall Astra, Citroën C4 and Renault Megane, suffer from significantly higher rates of depreciation than their three-door equivalents.

In the case of a Vauxhall Astra 1.6 Design, a five-door model bought last March (’06-plate) would have had an identical list price to the three-door version, yet just one year and 12,000 miles later the trade value of the five-door model is £1,250 less than the three-door.

However, some of the affected five-door cars have a list price up to £500 greater than their less practical three-door siblings. EurotaxGlass’s reports that a five-door Citroën C4 1.6 VTR Plus bought a year ago would have cost £400 more than the three-door model, but would now be worth £175 less.

Similarly, a five-door Renault Megane 1.6 VVT Dynamique bought in March 2006 would have cost £500 more than the three-door model with the same engine and specification, but after one year and 12,000 miles the five-door has a trade value just £25 greater than the three-door car.

‘These three cars have very clear visual differences between the three and five-door variants,’ said Jeff Paterson, senior car editor at EurotaxGlass’s.

‘The sportier appearance of the three-door models helps to give them broader appeal compared to their five-door siblings, in particular attracting style-conscious younger buyers who are less concerned about rear-seat accessibility. In the used car market the higher level of demand for three-door hatchbacks translates into stronger residual values.

‘With other cars in the C-segment, such as the Peugeot 307 and Volkswagen Golf, the visual differences between the three- and five-door models are more subtle and consequently the differential in residual values is less marked.’

Another factor influencing price differences between some three and five- door models is supply. ‘Five-door models are preferred by rental companies, responding to demand from their customers. This means that, when these cars are offered to the motor trade after six months, there is a significant imbalance of supply, depressing prices for five-door models.’

  • Comparison of retained values of three- and five-door family hatchbacks vehicle/cost new in April 2006: ‘06-plate / Glass’s trade value after 12 months and 12,000 miles / Retained value (% as proportion of cost new)

    Vauxhall Astra
    1.6 Design three-door / £14,862 / £9,550 / 64%
    1.6 Design five-door / £14,862 / £8,300 / 56%

    Citroën C4
    1.6 VTR Plus three-door / £13,907 / £8,425 / 61%
    1.6 VTR Plus five-door / £14,307 / £8,250 / 58%

    Renault Megane
    1.6 VVT Dynamique three-door / £13,087 / £7,375 / 56%
    1.6 VVT Dynamique five-door / £13,587 / £7,400 / 54%

    Peugeot 307
    1.6 S three-door / £12,512 / £7,450 / 60%
    1.6 S five-door / £13,112 / £7,875 / 60%

    Volkswagen Golf
    1.6 FSI S three-door / £13,707 / £10,425 / 76%
    1.6 FSI S five-door / £14,207 / £10,808 / 76%

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