The Best of Cheap Cars

Posted on 10 February 2011 by Tony Santos

Car insurance is out of control, with Money Supermarket research recently suggesting that the cost of car insurance for young drivers has risen by over 50% this year alone, with the average car insurance quote for male drivers between the age of 17 and 24 now being £2,457. Of course one of the main reasons for this is the insurance companies, but there are also things drivers can do to reduce their premiums. The thing which has the biggest impact is the type of car you choose, which should be one of the main considerations when you are looking for a new vehicle.

Each vehicle on the UK roads is assigned a number between one and fifty according to Parkers, with cars in group one being the cheapest to insure. These may not be the most exciting cars on the road, but it is frankly the only way that many young drivers will be able to afford to own a car. So which one is the best?

Volkswagen Fox 1.2 litre

Volkswagen Fox 1.2 litre
The Fox has a decent 1.2 litre engine and doesn’t look too bad on the outside. It is also relatively cheap, with the cheapest one found on Autotrader being a 2006 plate for an impressive £3,000. Being a Volkswagen it is also reliable and handles pretty well.

On the negative side, you can see why it is so cheap on the inside with its very basic interior and lack of additional extras. Safety also appears to have been designed simply to pass the mandatory tests and nothing more.

Fiat Panda 1.1 litre Active eco

Fiat Panda 1.1 litre Active eco
The Panda is also impressively cheap to buy and run, with a 2009 plate Panda with only 10,000 miles on the clock being available on Autotrader from as little as £4,000. The handling is good and the security is much better than that on the Fox.

Now for the bad points, as the car is hideous. So people think of it as quirky, but a newly qualified teenager driver is unlikely to take this optimistic view. The car is also not designed for tall people, with there being devastatingly little leg room at the back. To cap it all off, it is a Fiat so will be very unreliable.

Toyota Aygo

Toyota Aygo/Citroen C1/Peugeot 107 1.0 litre
These are basically the same car, as part of a joint venture between the manufacturers to design a car which was cheap to run and cheap to buy. In this sense they have succeeded, with the low insurance group and impressive fuel efficiency, and the fact that a 2008 plate Toyota Aygo with 40,000 on the clock is available on Autotrader from £2,500. On top of this, the car actually is the best looking of all those reviewed so far.

However, the cars handling is not as good as the other two and the engine is rather noisy and weak. You can also see why the car is so cheap on the inside with a very uncomfortable layout and an exhaust so badly fitted it looks like it will come off. Safety is also at a bare minimum, with uncomfortably thin doors.

Ford KA Studio 1.2 Litre

Ford KA Studio 1.2 Litre
This is the newer shape Ka which is much better looking than its ugly older sister. In fact it is the best looking of all these cars. Fuel efficiency is good but not quite as good as the Aygo, however the car looks much better put together both inside and out and benefits from a better engine. The handling is also good, and being a Ford it is the cheapest of all the cars to repair.

However, all of this does come at a price with the cheapest one on Autotrader being a 2009 plate with 10,000 miles on the clock costing £5,600 making it the most expensive of all the cars looked at so far.

Toyota Yaris T2 1.0 litre

Toyota Yaris T2 1.0 litre
At the moment there is an impressive deal on this version of the Yaris on Autotrader, with a 2007 plate model being available from £4,100. The Yaris is the dearest of all the cars here, but having been available for longer than the Ka you can get one cheaper. The car looks nice, is pleasant to drive, cheap to run and benefits from Toyota’s brilliant reliability.

This leads onto the first negative, because if the car does go wrong it will be more expensive to fix than the Ford. To add to this, the cars engine is no more powerful than the one used on the much lighter Aygo. It therefore doesn’t really have much punch to it, and on top of that the rear boot is almost non existent.

Suzuki Alto 1.0 litre

Suzuki Alto 1.0 litre
Surprisingly this is the most expensive of all the cars, with the cheapest one on Autotrader being a 2009 plate with 9,000 miles on the board costing £6,000. If the cars were being judged on looks alone, this would be acceptable. However, the engine is very noisy, the interior is cheap and flimsy, handling is heavy and rear boot is almost as small as the one on the Yaris. If you have a brain and think about things other than looks, might be best to avoid this.

Chevrolet Matiz 0.8 litre

Chevrolet Matiz 0.8 litre
The Matiz is almost as ugly as the Panda, which is quite an achievement. Its engine is as weak as a kitten and the steering is unresponsive. This is perhaps why a 2007 model on Autotrader is available from £2,400. On the plus side, there is more room in this than in the Alto or the Yaris but that is the only positive.

Which one is best?
As ever, which one is the best depends on your personal preference (i.e. what it is you are looking for in a car). If you have a bit of money to hand, there is no doubt that the new shape Ka is the car to have, as its performance and looks simply outclass those of its rivals. However, there is a bit of a stigma to Ka’s that even James Bond couldn’t overcome in the last instalment of the long running film franchise. If you have a slightly smaller budget the Fox or the Yaris is probably the best option. Both cars have pros and cons, with the Yaris looking nicer but being less powerful. The best thing to do is to read these reviews and come up with your own conclusion, but do avoid the Chevrolet.

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