Sales of small cars boomed last year, increasing by as much as 16 per cent, as choice increased and British drivers warmed to cars that are affordable to run. However, finding out which are the cheapest cars to insure – one of the biggest costs of car ownership – is harder than you might think. That’s why we’ve done the homework for you and named the ten cheapest cars to insure.
Insurance groups are set by the Thatcham Motor Insurance Repair Research Centre, in Berkshire. They are ranked one to 50 with group one being the cheapest. Cars are given an insurance rating according to a raft of factors such as cost, performance, security and power output along with the price of components and how well they perform in crashes.
The most important factor, is the cost and ease of repair, according to Howard Barron, group rating manager at Thatcham. He said: “As 75 per cent of crash impacts occur at less than 20mph, Thatcham crashes cars at 9mph to assess the damage to both front and rear and more importantly how long it takes to do the repair and how expensive it is.”
Other factors do also play a part. That’s why the Vauxhall Corsa 1.0 is in group two while boy racer favourite the Vauxhall Corsa VXR roars into group 32. But broadly speaking, the smaller, slower, cheaper and less flashy the car, the less it costs to insure.
Hyundai i10 1.0 Insurance Group 1
Hyundai has done everything in its power to drive down the costs of its city car. With its tiny 1.0-litre engine and very affordable parts and labour, the i10 is one of only four cars in group one; the other three are essentially the same car.
SEAT Mii/Skoda Citigo/Volkswagen up! Insurance Group 1
The Volkswagen up!, SEAT Mii and Skoda Citigo are identical bar their badges, front ends and wheels and in a list of the cheapest cars to own in the UK they came out on top. All are cheap to repair and, with their 60bhp 1.0-litre engine, are viewed as safe, steady machines by the insurance industry.
Fiat Qubo 1.4 Insurance Group 2
The Fiat Panda is often viewed as the Italian firm’s most affordable car. But it falls into insurance Group Three with a 1.2-litre petrol engine. It’s actually the slightly larger Qubo – a mini MPV family car – that’s cheaper to cover. This comes under group two because although it’s got a slightly larger 1.4-litre engine, it’s slower than the Panda and doesn’t damage as easily.
Dacia Sandero 1.2 Insurance Group 2
Britain’s cheapest car might only cost £5995 to buy but it’s not the cheapest in the country to insure. Buy it with the 1.2-litre engine and it’ll be in group two; get it with the 1.5 turbo diesel in top of the range trim and that added poke will propel it into group 11.
Vauxhall Corsa 1.0 Insurance Group 2
Although the Corsa isn’t the smallest Vauxhall, it’s the cheapest to insure. That’s because Vauxhall’s supermini is still available with an old and relatively breathless 1.0-litre engine. A 0-60 time of 18.2 seconds won’t excite you but it’ll pay you back when you have to renew your insurance cover.
Toyota Aygo 1.0 Insurance group 2
With its tiddly 1.0-litre engine the Aygo was designed to be cheap to run and repair to make it the ideal transport for young drivers. Job done. According to Thatcham, the reason it’s cheaper to insure than its Peugeot 107 and Citroen C1 stablemates is because it costs less to repair.
Kia Picanto 1.0 Insurance Group 3
Although mechanically identical to the Hyundai i10, the Picanto doesn’t fall into group one like its sibling. “How a bumper is positioned or perhaps the way the headlights are set can all play a part in making a car cheaper or more expensive to repair and it explains why cars that are identical underneath can be in different insurance groups,” Thatcham’s Howard Barron explained.
Citroen C1/Peugeot 107 1.0 Insurance Group 3
The surprise here is that the French models are in an insurance group lower than the Toyota Aygo, a car which is to all intents and purposes identical. With similar performance, it comes down to the cost of repair after a crash.
Toyota iQ 1.0 Insurance Group 3
Although we haven’t mentioned the Yaris, it’s another Toyota in group three, courtesy of its 1.0-litre engine. As it’s smaller than the Aygo, the iQ’s compact design is slightly more complex and therefore likely to be more expensive to fix after a crash.
Vauxhall Adam 1.2 Insurance Group 3
The Adam is Vauxhall’s smallest car but it doesn’t come with the company’s smallest engine; that’s reserved for the Corsa. When fitted with 1.2 or 1.4-litre engines, the Adam actually falls into an insurance group below its sibling.