Kia's Picanto and Volvo's XC60 have emerged as two of the big winners in the annual depreciation survey carried out by Parkers, the car buying website and publisher of residual values data.

The study, which tracks the loss in value suffered by twelve month old cars with 10,000 miles on the clock, showed that the Picanto suffered the smallest absolute drop in value during 2010 - £1,247. Volvo's XC60 mid-sized SUV suffered an exceptionally low percentage loss of just 8 per cent, or £2,065; in relative terms, that was a better performance than the Kia, which lost a still creditable 20 per cent of its much lower original price. One notable aspect of the Picanto's performance was that it resisted depreciation comparatively well despite being a long-established model that will shortly be replaced; often it is newer models enjoying strong demand and suffering from tight supply that perform best.

The good performance of the XC60 was echoed by that of the Audi Q5 (down 9 per cent), Daihatsu Terios (down 14 per cent) and Skoda Yeti (down 13 per cent), all of which made it into the Parkers “Top Ten” for the cars for the cars that suffered the lowest absolute drop in value as well.

Kieren Puffett, Editor of Parkers, attributed the strong showing of these 4x4 models to “the increased level of interest in that sector” which was “probably due to a change in perception due to improvements in off-roaders' efficiency and the threat of persistent cold winters.” Certainly the market position of SUVs, especially at the “softer” end of the scale has improved vastly since the knock in popularity they suffered in 2008 as fuel prices began to rise and environmental concerns were at their height.

A full list of the hundred cars which, according to the Parkers analysis, suffered the smallest absolute loss in value can be found here.

Among the cars that didn't make it into the Parkers Top Hundred were expensive products from prestige brands such as Maybach, Bentley, Rolls Royce and Mercedes. What may be more of a surprise is that models from these manufacturers also suffered some of the biggest percentage falls in value as well; Maybach's 62 model lost £149,552 last year, or a whopping 43 per cent.

Depreciation represents one of the few big remaining areas of risk for car buyers; legislation and technical progress mean that the chances of buying something dangerous, hopelessly unreliable or which just rusts away have been drastically reduced. But it's still possible to lose an awful lot of money by choosing the wrong model.

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