They say fine wines get better with age and it appears that some cars feature the same quality, according to new research.

    Older versions of the Audi A4, Porsche Boxster and Ford Fiesta are among the cars that shame their newer counterparts when it comes to reliability, according to analysis of 50,000 live policies by automotive specialist, Warranty Direct.

    Used car buyers looking for a vehicle that breaks down less than the shinier, more recent versions should also consider Vauxhall’s family MPV, the Zafira and commuter favourite, the BMW 3 Series.

    On average among the 10 models featuring the greatest disparity in failure rates, newer variants are almost 10% more likely to break down than older cars.

    Top 10 age-defying cars

    Make Model Chance of failure* Difference
    Jaguar XJ Series (’97-’03) 35%
    Jaguar XJ Series (’03-) 56% 21%
    Renault Espace (’93-’03) 51%
    Renault Espace (’02-) 62% 11%
    Vauxhall Zafira (’99-’05) 27%
    Vauxhall Zafira  (’05-) 38% 11%
    Porsche Boxster (’96-’04) 28%
    Porsche Boxster (’04-) 38% 10%
    Audi A4 (’00-’05) 26%
    Audi A4 (’05-’09) 34% 8%
    Ford Fiesta (’95-’02) 11%
    Ford Fiesta (’02-’08) 17% 6%
    Volkswagen Golf (’97-’06) 30%
    Volkswagen Golf (’04-’09) 36% 6%
    Jeep Grand Cherokee (’99-’05) 49%
    Jeep Grand Cherokee (’05-) 54% 5%
    Mercedes CLK (’97-’03) 28%
    Mercedes CLK (’02-) 33% 5%
    BMW 3 Series (’98-’06) 27%
    BMW 3 Series (’05-’11) 30% 3%

    *During any given 12-month period

    Warranty Direct managing director, Duncan McClure Fisher, said: “Buying new may be the most desirable option when it comes to purchasing a car but it isn’t always the most cost-effective route.

    “Our analysis shows that new doesn’t necessarily mean more reliable. We also found that repair costs are often higher for new models so, as well as paying over the odds for a new car, you may also be opening yourself up to additional, unwanted costs.”

    The average repair cost for a Ford Fiesta built between 2002 and ’08 is almost double that paid by owners of a ’95-’02 model, while the largest claim seen by Warranty Direct for the newer car, an eye-watering £2,076.40, dwarfs the largest bill for its older counterpart.

    Newer Vauxhall Zafiras are around twice as likely as older models to suffer an electrical fault, with 45% breaking on average each year, while one in three ’05-’09 Audi A4s will have engine woes, as opposed to only one in 10 ’00-’05 cars.

    Meanwhile, more recent BMW 3 Series models are three times more prone to picking up brake system problems, with almost one in seven ’05-’11 models requiring workshop visits.