Depreciation is a hidden cost for motorists. It affects all cars to some degree, constantly chipping away at their value until one day they’re just an MOT failure from that big scrapyard in the sky. Some classics and rarities will eventually hit the bottom of their depreciation curve and start to go up in value, but they’re the exceptions to the rule.
It’s a sad fact of life that as soon as you buy a new car it starts to depreciate. The first year is always the worst, with years two and three not being much better. After that the decline in value starts to slow down as the car gets older and the mileage increases. The trouble is you don’t notice depreciation until it’s time to trade in your car and you finally find out just how little it’s now worth.
How can you protect yourself from the ravages of depreciation? You could do lots of research into depreciation rates and second-hand values to work out the lowest depreciator. Alternatively, you could leave it to someone such as CAP, the valuation specialists.
Their most recent survey revealed that the top three lowest depreciators were the Audi Q5, Skoda Yeti and … (drum roll, please) … the Abarth 500.
Yes, that’s a hot hatch coming in at number three. Seeing as Driving Spirit is quite keen on hot hatchbacks, it’s refreshing to see one doing so well on the second-hand market.
The Abarth 500 may not be the fastest of the breed but that doesn’t stop it from being good fun. Powered by a 1.4-litre 16-valve turbocharged engine, the Abarth 500 delivers 135 bhp and can manage 0-62mph in 7.9 seconds and yet sips fuel at just 43.4mpg.
The fact that the Abarth is not a heavy drinker is one of the reasons it fares so well, with second-hand car buyers shunning thirsty big-engined performance cars. Its scarcity on the second-hand market also contributes, boosting used values as well-kept examples are snapped up by eager buyers.
The result is that the Abarth 500 retains 60% of its value after three years. Now 40% depreciation might sound like a lot, but for many cars those figures are considerably worse.
Personal experience tells me how hard it is to find a good Abarth 500 at a reasonable price. A few months ago I started looking for one but it quickly became clear that a) there were hardly any to choose and b) they all had values that were uncomfortably close to new prices. Good for the person selling, less so for me.
I then phoned up for an insurance quote and was in for a shock. Even on our family’s multi car insurance policy the little Italian came back with a surprisingly high quote. That was a little off-putting, but then the money I’d be saving in depreciation would more than cover the extra insurance cost. Decisions, decisions…