When was the last time you laughed out aloud when driving? And no, listening to comedy on the radio doesn’t count. As cars get larger and safer, and their engines become whisper quiet and cabins are lavished with creature comforts, the simple pleasure of driving for driving’s sake is slowly but surely disappearing like a tyre losing its air pressure.
It doesn’t have to be this way, though. There are still some cars that can put a smile on your face like the best punchlines. And you don’t have to shell out a small fortune on the likes of a Ferrari or Porsche to have a good time behind the wheel.
The Suzuki Swift Sport, Citroen DS 3 and Ford Fiesta ST are cheap small cars that are a hoot to drive. You can snap them up for under £7,000 and there’s plenty of choice. So what are you waiting for? Let’s have some fun…
The coolest small fun car: used Citroën DS 3
Tom Daley chose the Mini One after passing his driving test, aged 17, in 2011 (Picture © Mini)
No matter whether you’re a newly qualified 17-year old driver or a little older and only just taking to the road, choosing the best car as a first-time driver is a big step.
Spending a few hundred pounds on an old runaround can be tempting. But remember, reliability may not be guaranteed and they may not be as good to drive or as safe in an accident as more modern cars. That’s why we’ve set the bar at £5000; it affords first time drivers a relatively new and safe car with all mod cons.
Car dealers visit auctions all over the country to get the best price. Now private buyers are travelling too (Picture © BCA)
Used car tourism is on the rise with car buyers being urged to travel to take advantage of the regional variation in car prices. Popular used cars can be more than £1000 cheaper depending on where you buy them across Britain.
Used car valuation service CAP HPI has revealed that it found a three-year old Audi A1 selling for £1600 less in Nottingham compared to a similar model in the south east of the country. The result has seen an increase in drivers travelling from one part of the country to another to take advantage of cheaper used car prices elsewhere, according to one expert.
Superminis are the Swiss Army penknives of cars (Picture © Ford)
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.
It doesn’t have to be like this! Follow our guide to student cars
Buying the best student car and running it on a really tight budget can be a nightmare for many young people. But there is hope. With more choice than ever in the used car market, there are lots of cars out there starting from as little as £1000.
Double your budget to £2000 and you’ve got your pick of great small cars that should cost a minimal amount to run. That said, insurance on any first car will be steep. That’s why you need to stick with models in a low insurance group and with a small engine so you’re not hit by huge fuel bills. It also means no modifications: insurance companies don’t like them.
You might think that such small sums of money will buy you a mega-mileage motor on its last legs. But £1500 gets a good-condition supermini with under 70,000 miles on the clock.
Below we’ve picked some of the best models for first-time buyers. They’re all small hatchbacks which means they’re practical, with plenty of space to lug all your equipment between home and uni. We’ve generally aimed low in terms of budget, but if your pockets are a bit deeper we’ve included a couple of more costly options.