The biggest car discounts ahead of the March plate change - how to save up to £12,000

Car dealers are offering as much as £12,000 off some new models as they look to shift stock ahead of the registration plate change.

With new ‘20’ plate registrations due to be issued from March 1, research into the biggest savings has revealed a significant increase in discounts being offered and the brands and models where buyers can land the biggest bargains.

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The average saving uncovered by What Car?’s research is 8.99 per cent but several models are being sold with discounts of more than 20 per cent.

The Fiat Tipo offers the biggest discount overall, with 28.66 per cent off - equivalent to £4,350.

While the family hatchback offers the biggest saving as a proportion of its value, the largest cash saving is on the BMW 4 Series Convertible. What Car? found savings of £11,974 (22.13 per cent) on the drop-top in 435d xDrive M Sport guise. The Nissan Qashqai - regularly on among the UK’s best sellers - is also being offered with up to £5,563 (21 per cent) off.

Top brands for discounts

BrandCash saving as % Cash savingCitroën16.44%£4431Seat15.56%£4071Nissan14.11%£3667Skoda11.68%£3222Suzuki11.61%£2375Volkswagen11.09%£3613Mercedes-Benz11.02%£5076Smart10.99%£1834BMW10.41%£4758Vauxhall9.09%£2168

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Across all brands, Citroen is offering the biggest reductions, discounting new models by 16.44 - or £4,430 on average. Other mainstream brands offering significant savings are Seat (15.56 per cent), Nissan (14.11 per cent), Skoda (11.68 per cent) and Suzuki (11.61 per cent).

At the opposite end of the scale, budget brand Dacia is offering virtually nothing off its models, which already include the UK’s cheapest new car - the Sandero. Its 0.93 per cent discount equates to an average saving of just £117 per car.

Buyers can save more than 28 per cent on a Fiat Tipo (Photo: Fiat)

The plate change months of March and September see the highest sales as buyers wait to get the latest registration mark. Last March, more than 458,000 new cars were registered in the UK, compared with just 81,959 in February 2019. That means dealers offering some significant savings in the preceding months to keep sales up and move on old stock. This year’s discounts are a fifth larger than in February 2019, possibly reflecting a struggling market where new registrations are down more than seven per cent.

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Steve Huntingford, editor of What Car?, said: “The months leading up to March often see buyers doing their homework before signing on the dotted line. Our latest Target Price research shows new car buyers can save on average 8.99% when they buy through What Car? New Car Buying. What’s encouraging is that some of the most popular models on the road are being offered with very high discounts, exceeding 20% in some cases.

“Our research also suggests manufacturers are responding to the general dip in sales, with discounts this year nearly 22 per cent higher than last year. That makes it a great time to shop for a new car.”

Top discounted cars

Make and ModelOTR priceCash saving as % Cash savingPrice after discountFiat Tipo 1.4 Easy£15,18028.66%£4350£10,830Citroën C4 Cactus 1.5 Blue HDi 120 EAT6 Flair£24,10526.84%£6472£17,633Volkswagen Passat 1.5 TSI SE£25,58022.16%£5669£19,911BMW 4 Series Convertible 435d xDrive M Sport£54,12022.13%£11,974£42,146Citroën Grand C4 Spacetourer 2.0 Blue HDi 160 Flair Plus EAT8£34,98022.12%£7738£27,242Seat Leon 1.0 TSI SE£18,85021.69%£4089£14,761Vauxhall Grandland X 1.5 Turbo D SE£25,50521.65%£5521£19,984Nissan Qashqai 1.5 dCi N-Connecta£26,40021.07%£5563£20,837Nissan X-Trail 1.7 dCi Acenta 7-seat£28,79520.40%£5875£22,920Volkswagen Touran 1.5 TSI EVO SE Family£29,39519.28%£5666£23,729

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