Top 5 superminis for £8k
The best small cars - new or nearly new - on a sensible, real-world budget. Check out the ones we rate highly You want a small car. We’ve got good news for you: spend time with the best of the new breed of superminis and you’re left with that ‘why would I ever need more’ feeling, writes Ray Castle of motors.co.uk.
First, let’s get a handle of what exactly a ‘supermini’ is. It’s a small car, packing three, perhaps even five doors, and it’ll be one size up from the town tinies like the Fiat 500 or Ford Ka. Think Volkswagen Polo or Vauxhall Corsa.
Our £8000 budget will, in one case, get a new car, using the Government’s scrappage scheme discounts. But more usually, it will buy a motor that’s a year or two old. And that’s where the real value lies, because one of these lightly used cars is a great long-term buy, still protected by its manufacturer’s warranty from new and at a price that adds up to a weighty saving.
Here’s our shopping list:
Hyundai i20 1.2 Classic 3dr – new: £7340
(after £2000 scrappage scheme discount)
A showroom-fresh car and decent change from our £8000 has to be a bargain by anyone’s reckoning. Especially when it comes with a five-year maker’s warranty at no extra cost. And, even though this is the cheapest-but-one i20, it’s generously equipped: air conditioning, remote locking, electric front windows and six airbags come as standard. The i20 isn’t the best car to drive of this line-up and some of its cabin fittings look a bit cheap by comparison with the best. But it dsn’t miss the mark by much and it is roomy, too. If you’re picking one to replace a much older car, it’ll feel terrific, while it’s a capable enough all-rounder to make it a fine friend on a 200-mile motorway haul.
The price we quote is good if you’ve a V-reg or older car to part-exchange using the government scrappage scheme, but that runs out at the end of March or whenever the £300m set aside for it is used up – whichever comes sooner. If you get to the showroom too late, don’t worry, because Hyundai is running a follow-on scheme that offers discounts every bit as good.
Honda Jazz 1.4 SE
2007, 07-reg, 23,000 miles £7995
If you’re looking for a small car you can count on, this is it. The Jazz regularly tops independent customer satisfaction polls as one of the least troublesome cars to own of any size and price. It’s also exceptionally roomy: it’ll take four grown-ups (five at a pinch) and has more boot space than most. What’s more, the rear seats tip-up cinema-seat style to free up extra load space. You can even squeeze a bicycle in back there, if you need. A new Jazz launched in 2008 but ours here is the previous model. Still, the update was all about evolution, not revolution, meaning that this 2007 car still looks fresh and modern.
It’s easy and light to drive, while that peppy 1.4 petrol has enough ‘go’ to do as well on the motorway as it will shuttling around town. And the SE model is well equipped – four airbags, anti-lock brakes, air conditioning and alloy wheels all come as part of the deal.
Volkswagen Polo 1.2 Match 3dr
2008, 58-reg 7000 miles £7995
If you want ‘big-car’ feel in a pint-sized package, look no further. Even if you go for a car such as ours here, from the cheaper end of the model line-up, it’ll still feel grown-up to drive, while its cabin will have as much class as rivals that are a size bigger. The little three-cylinder motor in this car pushes out just 60bhp but it revs gamely enough for this Polo to keep pace on the motorway, while it’ll be in its element around town.
The Match is a special edition and worth looking for. Although based on the entry Polo it adds alloy wheels and air conditioning to the standard car, which already features remote locking, anti-lock brakes and four airbags. Buy a year-old car such as this and you’ve let the previous owner take the biggest value loss from new – and when you need to sell it you can bet that, being a Volkswagen, it will command a good price.
Mini Cooper 1.6
2005, 05-reg 50,000 miles £7995
This Mini’s a wild card in this company. Though it’s less practical than the others here (it has just four seats to their five, and a teeny boot), it is as classy a prospect as many an executive-class saloon and it is also great for long journeys thanks to its perky engine and supple ride.
Though no bigger, Minis are expensive to buy and lose value more slowly than most other cars because there’s such demand for good second-hand ones. So where our £8k buys a new or lightly used vehicle elsewhere, the best we’ll get for our cash here is a mid-life car with 50,000 miles on the clock. But Minis age well, helped by the make’s TLC servicing package which covers the first five years of routine servicing for a bargain pre-paid amount.
Minis aren’t that well equipped as standard but most first owners add on optional equipment packs that bring them up to a generous spec.
Vauxhall Corsa 1.4 Club 5dr
2009, 09-reg, 9000 miles £8000
Here we’ve saved the best until last. The Corsa’s big for a supermini and feels assured and ‘planted’ when you drive it. The 1.4 petrol unit in this car has enough in it for long journeys, while Club level trim brings a comfy cabin that includes air conditioning, remote locking, electric windows and mirrors, four airbags and anti-lock brakes. It’s good to drive, rides smoothly and leaves you wondering why you’d ever want or need a bigger, more costly car for day-to-day use.
Our car here is a whole third cheaper than the list price for a similar one when new – a huge saving. And Corsas are cheap to insure and easy to get serviced and repaired – any decent local garage should be easily up to the job.
For more great car buying advice and to view and buy new and second-hand superminis, click on to motors.co.uk. Surf the web using your mobile phone? Click here or text ‘ motors’ to 65056 and we’ll send you a link