Ford Fiesta (2008-)
The Ford Fiesta mk7 was launched in 2008, with a range of petrol and diesel engines available. In 2010, the more sporty Fiesta S1600 was launched, which delivers 118bhp. The Fiesta was revamped in 2012, with the most noticeable change being the new Aston Martin-esque grille and the introduction of the 1.0-litre EcoBoost engine.
The Fiesta’s been an incredibly popular vehicle in the UK, thanks in part to the fact that despite its size and practicality, it’s still immensely fun to drive and has a great ride quality. There’s lots of engine sizes available and servicing and maintenance are cheap.
The only downside is that more recent models of the Fiesta can cost more than some of its rivals.
Safety equipment is fairly extensive, making the Fiesta a great choice for a used small car.
Honda Jazz (2008-15)
The Honda Jazz regularly tops driver satisfaction surveys, and it’s not just because of the brand’s famous reliability.
The Jazz was launched in 2001 as a replacement for the Honda Logo. Unlike many in the small car market, the focus wasn’t on sporty looks or style. In fact, it’s styled more like a 7-seater than a hatchback. The models from 2008 onward offer great space, versatility and practicality.
What this means, however, is that you get a small car that’s incredibly practical and spacious.
It’s got a boot larger than many in its class, and the rear seats can be laid completely flat. In fact, at 399 litres, the boot is larger than in many cars from the class above. There’s room for adults to sit comfortably in the back, too.
Additionally, both the 1.2 and the 1.4-litre engines will return over 50mpg, despite only being available in petrol.
In terms of downsides, the Jazz doesn’t depreciate particularly strongly as it remains enduringly popular thanks to its reliability and practicality. It’s also not particularly refined – driving on motorways can be a noisy experience.
Overall, though, the Jazz is a sensible and practical vehicle that offers fantastic reliability and space.
Renault Clio (2005-2013)
The Clio was launched in 1990, and the release of its fourth generation in 2013 means that there’s plenty of great value older models available. Look for a model at the later end of the 2005-2013 generation for one with reasonable mileage – a 2012 that’s been well looked after should set you back around £5000.
It’s one of the more stylish small cars on this list, succeeding in bringing a sense of French chic to the hatchback class.
It’s a comfortable car, and all models have five doors and a 300 litre boot, meaning it’s practical too. The interior, with an attractive trim, is also a bit classier than many rivals. It’s a nicely refined vehicle, with a quiet cabin even at higher speeds.
Looking at 2012 models, the entry-level Clio comes with a 74bhp 1.2-litre petrol engine which returns 48mpg. The Renault Sport models offer more power if you’re after improved performance. There’s one diesel, which is a 1.5-litre turbocharged engine with 87bhp, capable of 88.3mpg.
The Clio has been consistently popular in the UK, meaning that there’s a large amount of them available on the used market.
Vauxhall Corsa (2011-2014)
The launch in 2015 of a new Corsa considerably lowered the prices of older models, meaning the used car market is full of excellent deals on this fantastic little hatchback. Add to that the heavy depreciation values on new models thanks to the car’s popularity, and the Corsa is a very appealing choice!
The Mk3 Corsa was first introduced in 2007, and was redesigned in 2011. Keep an eye out for one of these later models of the Mk3.
The large amount of Corsas available means that you can afford to be picky, too. There’s a great variety on offer. At one end of the spectrum is the 1.3-litre CDTi, which returns 78mpg. In 2012, economy was improved even further with the introduction of the 1.3CDTi ecoFLEX Start/Stop model, which delivers an impressive 85.6mpg.
If performance is your main concern, at the other end of the spectrum is the Corsa VXR, which is capable of 140mph!
The range of interior specifications and trims too is vast, so whether you’re after a spartan interior or something a bit more plush, you’ll be able to find it in a Corsa.
There’s a decent range of engine sizes available, with the smaller entry-level 1.0-litre versions a good choice for city driving. The 1.3-litre diesel will return over 60mpg, but Corsas generally are very cheap to run.
Offering reliability, affordability and practicality, the Corsa, Jazz, Clio and Fiesta are all great choices for a used small car.
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