Sales of second-hand cars are rocketing in the UK, according to the latest figures released by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).
The amount of used cars changing hands more than doubled in the last few months. Year on year, the market grew 108.6% in the second quarter – that’s a near-record 2,167,504 second-hand vehicles.
The boom is being driven by various factors including pent-up demand after successive lockdowns, a global chip shortage that has dented production of new vehicles and people remaining wary of public transport as they return to work.
Make sure you take steps to protect your vehicle – especially if you live in London and you drive one of Britain’s most popular cars.
Co-op Insurance has carried out a four-year study based on actual claims and nine out of the Top 10 car theft postcodes are located in London.
Top 20 UK vehicle theft hotspots (by frequency of claims)
2. Kensington and Chelsea
11. Hammersmith and Fulham
12. Three Rivers
17. Barking and Dagenham
*Co-op Insurance, 2016-2020
The research also revealed the makes and models of cars most targeted by criminals, with popular family cars (Ford Fiesta, Ford Focus and Vauxhall Corsa) heading the list.
“Having your car stolen is one of the most distressing experiences a person can endure and sadly, it is still something that blights everyday life, particularly in our cities,” said Paul Evans, head of motor insurance at Co-op Insurance.
“Our claims data shows that car crime rates in London have remained continuously high, but it’s interesting to see that places like Preston and Stockport are also emerging hotspots in the North.”
Top 10 cars with a theft claim reported (as a % of total theft claims)
1. Ford Fiesta
2. Ford Focus
3. Vauxhall Corsa
4. Vauxhall Astra
5. Volkswagen Golf
6. Land Rover Evoque
7. Land Rover Discovery
8. Audi A3
9. Mercedes C Class
10. Audi A4
*Co-op Insurance, 2016-2020
TV consumer champion and former car dealer, Dominic Littlewood, added: “Whether our cars are parked on the driveway or in an urban car park, they are vulnerable to car thieves who are becoming increasingly well organised in targeting the vehicles on their wish list.
“There are a number of really simple steps that car owners can take to make sure their vehicle doesn’t look so appealing – from simply turning your car wheels to face the kerb and investing in some simple deterrents like steering wheel locks.
“And don’t think it won’t happen to you, cheaper makes and models are becoming more attractive than ever to thieves. It’s also important to get the right car insurance in place so if the worst does happen, you’ll get the money to buy another car quickly and conveniently.”
A little over a year since its launch, and the Ford Puma compact crossover has become a firm fixture in the Top 10 UK best-selling cars list.
Up until now it’s only been available with the excellent 1.0-litre EcoBoost engine in various states of tune, but now there’s the sporty ST version.
Using the same 197bhp 1.5-litre turbo three-cylinder unit as the Fiesta ST (but with torque boosted from 214lb ft to 236lb ft), Ford hopes it can work the same magic with this distinctive, slightly bigger, more practical car.
At first glance, there’s not much to distinguish the ST from the smaller-engined ST-Line, apart from ST badging and a few subtle tweaks, including twin exhaust tips and new alloys.
This is probably the right decision because too many boy racer additions would limit its appeal. Plus, if you opt for Mean Green, you stand out quite enough, thank you very much.
Inside, the biggest difference is a pair of Recaro sports seats, a flat-bottomed ST steering wheel, plus ST-branded gear knob and door sill protectors.
Elsewhere, the ST gets the same 12.3-inch digital driver’s display and 8.0-inch central infotainment screen as a high-spec regular Puma, with built-in sat-nav, Apple and Android smartphone mirroring and a wireless phone-charging pad.
The 456-litre boot is also carried over, along with the waterproof and drainable ‘Megabox’ underfloor storage area.
Some scoff at the Megabox because it’s just utilising the space where traditionally a full-sized spare wheel would be kept. This is true, but the extra storage makes a huge difference and the Puma really can swallow a surprising amount of luggage.
Power is sent through the front wheels via a six-speed manual gearbox, resulting in a 0-60 time of 6.7 seconds, a 137mph top speed, fuel economy of 40.9mpg and CO2 emissions of 155g/km CO2.
Other changes out of sight include a suspension that’s firmer and lower, plus uprated anti-roll bars.
Sounds good on paper, but how does it go, and is it worthy of the ST badge? Well, the standard Puma drives pretty much how you’d expect a crossover based on the acclaimed Fiesta to drive, which is no bad thing.
The Puma ST takes it up a notch or two, blending impressive engine responsiveness with quick steering, powerful brakes and excellent body control.
Accelerate hard out of a bend and the traction is superb, thanks to an optional mechanical limited-slip differential (a rarity in this price range) and specially-developed Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tyres.
There’s no shortage of grunt from the engine, while the slick six-speed gearbox has a short shift action and the gear ratios are well chosen.
Even the driving position, complemented by supportive Recaros, is near perfect.
Ok, it’s not quite as nimble as the smaller Fiesta ST, but Ford’s engineers have done a fantastic job crafting a compact crossover this engaging to drive.
There are four selectable driving modes (Eco, Normal, Sport and Track), but with a ride that is on the firm side, Normal will do just fine for everyday driving and reserve Sport for fun on more challenging roads.
Claimed fuel economy is pretty much on the money, though we managed to squeeze as much as a 45mpg out of it on a steady motorway run.
Competitively priced from £28,510, a Performance Pack (with goodies including a Mechanical Limited Slip Differential and Launch Control) is an extra £950, while the £600 Drive Assistance Pack adds nice-to-haves such as Adaptive Cruise Control and a rear-view camera.
Verdict: With its winning blend of dynamic drive, practicality and cool looks, the well-equipped, surprisingly spacious Puma ST sports crossover is a welcome addition to the Fast Ford family.
Having a poor credit score could end up costing you as much as £8,000 extra when financing one of the UK’s most popular cars, according to new research by Uswitch.com.
For instance, the best-selling Ford Fiesta costs £16,645 to buy outright. However, when bought on finance with a four-year repayment period, the total for someone with an excellent credit rating is £20,014 – or a staggering £7,059 more (£27,073 total) for a driver with a bad credit score.
The data was obtained by the comparison and switching service using a car finance calculator to determine the cost of 10 cars bought on finance for motorists with different levels of credit score.
Cost to finance the UK’s 10 most popular cars
Finance cost with excellent credit rating
Finance cost with fair credit rating
Finance cost with bad credit rating
Difference between excellent and bad credit score
BMW 3 Series
Source: Uswitch.com – All prices correct as of April 2021
Plan ahead for a better credit score
James Andrews, personal finance expert at Uswitch.com, reveals how to improve your credit score to help you get the best deal when purchasing a car on finance: “Registering to vote, having bills in your name, keeping to 30% or less of your total available credit (per account) and not having a credit history can all impact your credit score.
“When financing a car, first check your credit report to see what your score is. Secondly, check what’s in there and that the information is accurate. Lastly, start taking steps to improve your score.
“Providing you make your payments on time, don’t apply for many new products in a short period (e.g six months), and keep a stable address, your credit rating should improve. In as little as four months you should see your scores start to improve and after a year you should be in a far stronger position.”
The Ford Fiesta has cemented its reputation as the UK’s favourite car, taking the No 1 spot for the 10th consecutive year. However, final year figures for 2018 released by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) reveal that total registrations were down 6.8% to 2.37 million cars, reflecting 12 months of turbulence. Sales of …