The most popular type of car in Britain is the supermini. It’s hardly surprising: they’re the Swiss Army penknife of cars, fulfilling most drivers’ everyday needs. Each year, hundreds of thousands of these small cars are sold new, as drivers vote with their wallets and pick a car that’s going to be affordable to buy, economical to run and safe, stylish and sufficiently practical to adapt to their demanding lifestyles.
It means that used car buyers with a budget of around £8000 and a burning desire to bag themselves a tidy hatchback are spoilt for choice. Here are three of the most stylish, best value and reliable superminis that car buyers should put on their shortlist and test drive in 2016.
The most stylish £8000 small car: Mini One hatchback
Style is a subjective matter. But most drivers can reach a consensus that a Mini hatchback is the most distinctive supermini on the road. The version that falls within our £8000 budget is the second generation model, sold between 2006 and 2013.
Because it’s such a popular car, and came with such a wide range of options, buyers will find cars selling with all manner of colours and personalised add-ons. Inside, the feeling that a Mini’s a cut above its mass-market competitors continues with a well-built interior. But looking good comes at a price: there’s precious little space in the back seats or boot.
Mini One hatchback: Why it’s great to drive
With its driver’s seat set low to the ground, a shallow windscreen and huge speedometer, a Mini feels fun even before the engine has started. On the move, this car is like nothing else: Mini made the steering and suspension extremely responsive, so it darts about like an excitable puppy.
The Mini One model has a 1.4-litre, 95bhp four-cylinder petrol engine. It’s eager, capable in all driving conditions and comes with a six-speed manual gearbox as standard. Mini says it can zip from 0-62mph in 10.5 seconds and will return 52.3mpg.
Used Mini One hatchback: what £8000 buys you
Browse the official Mini used car website and there’s a huge choice of One hatchbacks for £8000. We found an Ice Blue version from October, 2011. It had covered just over 25,500 miles, came with optional alloy wheels, Bluetooth hands-free phone connection and a Pepper options pack.
The best value £8000 small car: Ford Fiesta
The Ford Fiesta is Britain’s best-selling car so lack of choice won’t be a problem. The tricky part will be deciding between similarly priced and specified Fiestas. Because it’s in such plentiful supply, an £8000 used Ford Fiesta is going to be relatively new and low mileage, with 2014 models well within budget.
Inside there’s a modern-looking interior and the latest gadgets including Ford’s SYNC infotainment system, which hooks up smartphones. The five-door is a good choice. Even if drivers don’t have young children it lends added practicality for those times when someone needs a lift.
Used Ford Fiesta: a good all-rounder
Making your money go further isn’t the only reason for buying a Fiesta. It’s a truly great car to drive. Somehow Ford’s engineers have managed to make the steering, accelerator, gear change and suspension feel as though they all work in harmony. It’s a rare trait in small, affordable cars where corners are frequently cut by manufacturers to maximise profits.
Of particular note is the 1.0-litre, 79bhp three-cylinder engine. Called EcoBoost, this can return a remarkable 65.7mpg, is exempt from road tax and comes with a five-speed manual gearbox. It’s not quick (0-62mph takes 14.9 seconds) but with fuel economy like that, who cares?
Used Ford Fiesta: what £8000 buys you
We’ve pointed out the Fiesta’s value for money qualities, but what does £8000 buy drivers? We found a 2014, five-door Fiesta Zetec 1.0 80PS Stop/Start, with less than 9000 miles under its wheels, for just £7999. That’s from Ford’s approved used car site, and there are plenty more in that price range.
The most reliable and practical £8000 small car: Honda Jazz
Many drivers value peace-of-mind above all else when choosing their next car. If that rings true, the Honda Jazz is the used supermini for you. It’s not exactly down with the kids, isn’t exciting to drive and holds its value incredibly well, which means it’s comparatively expensive. But the one thing it’s proven to do well is run as smoothly as a Swiss clock. The Auto Express Driver Power survey highlights this, as does the Warranty Direct index of the Top 100 most reliable cars.
Used Honda Jazz: The most spacious and practical of superminis
The Jazz has plenty of space for four adults, so if buyers intend to use one as a family car it’s more than capable of accommodating children and their car seats. Those back seats also live up to their ‘Magic Seat’ name. The bases flip up like a cinema chair, making room for pot-plants or a piece of furniture. And the 399-litre capacity boot is seriously big for a supermini. Admittedly, some of the plastics inside feel cheap rather than cheerful, but all in all this is the most practical used supermini drivers can buy.
Used Honda Jazz: What £8000 buys you
The Jazz holds it value well on the secondhand car market. We found an early 2012, Jazz 1.4 i-VTEC ES that had covered 23,000 miles for sale on Honda’s approved used car site. The 1.4-litre petrol engine isn’t the most fuel efficient in its class (51.4mpg and emissions of 126g/km of CO2) but its performance is respectable enough (0-62mph in 11.5 seconds).