Most wanted used cars: superminis
Friday 13 August 2010
Trying to decide which supermini is right for you? With so much choice, why not see what other people are searching for on Auto Trader?
With more than 82 million used car searches on Auto Trader in July – and 15 million searches for superminis alone – here are our top 10 most searched for used superminis.
1. Vauxhall Corsa
With more than 1.7 million searches on Auto Trader last month, the Vauxhall Corsa is the most searched for used supermini.
There are three main age and price ranges to choose from:
• Pre 2000
There’s a wide range of engines – from an underpowered 1-litre three-cylinder up to a brisk 1.8-litre unit in the sporty SRI – and there’s plenty of choice available from as little as £200.
A new better-looking Corsa was introduced in 2000. This version benefits from a good sized boot, plenty of room for four adults and a range of economical engines. There have been reports of steering rack problems so make sure you check for smooth steering, with no unusual noises, before handing over your money.
• 2006 onwards
The current design Corsa is one of the best in its class. It’s roomier, well-built and better-equipped than before. Prices are still fairly high but its popularity means there should be plenty of nearly-new bargains to be had.
There are currently more than 10,000 used Vauxhall Corsas for sale on Auto Trader.
2. Ford Fiesta
The Ford Fiesta came a close second, with more than 1.6 million used car searches in July alone. Whatever your budget, there’s a Fiesta to suit your needs:
• 1995 – 2002
A 10 to 15-year-old Fiesta is one of the cheapest cars to run but it’s still fun to drive, has a generous boot and plenty of choice. They may not be the plushest of cars but there are bargains to be had, from as little as £200. Check any potential buy thoroughly – its popularity as a first car means neglect is common.
• 2002 – 2008
In 2002 the Fiesta gained a sleeker look, extra room and new frugal engines. It benefits from a strong reliability record, good handling and a comfortable ride. Most petrol engines are capable of at least 40mpg, while diesels stretch to 60mpg. In 2005, the Fiesta was given new engines and added equipment.
• 2008 onwards
The latest Fiesta is one of the largest superminis on the market. It’s enjoyable to drive, comfortable, good-looking and cheap to run. With more than 4,000 one-year-old Fiestas for sale, there’s plenty to choose from so you’re sure to find your perfect car.
There are currently more than 11,000 used Ford Fiestas for sale on Auto Trader.
3. Ford Ka
The Ford Ka claimed third place, with just over 1.2 million used car searches on Auto Trader in July.
Ford’s quirky-looking baby has become somewhat of an icon since its launch in 1996. Its combination of characterful design, fun handling and low running costs have proved particularly popular with new drivers.
The 1.3-litre engine offers decent power but is rough and not particularly economical. Overall the whole package feels very old compared to newer rivals. But if it’s fun, affordable mobility you’re after, the Ka is an excellent choice.
Mechanically the Ka is very reliable and strong, but look out for possible suspension issues, so bounce each corner and listen for any clunking noises. With more than 4,500 used Ford Kas for sale on Auto Trader you can afford to shop around for your perfect car.
4. Volkswagen Polo
With more than a million searches last month and 5,000 used ones for sale on Auto Trader, the Volkswagen Polo is an obvious choice for anybody in the market for a reliable and good-looking supermini.
There are three main age and price ranges to choose from:
• 1994 – 2002
This version of the Polo may not be the most fun to drive and the smaller petrol engines are underpowered. But running costs are reasonable, it’s comfortable to drive and it’s reliable. We’d choose either the eager 1.4 16v petrol or the super frugal, if slightly noisy 1.4 TDI diesel.
• 2002 – 2005
This version of the Polo is a safe bet, with a cushy ride, sleek if dull interior, VW build-quality and a range of petrol and diesel engines. Gearboxes are a known weakness so ensure gears engage smoothly and easily.
• 2005 – 2009
The Polo was given a thorough facelift in 2005 with a new-look and an upgraded interior.
With eight petrol and four diesel engines to choose from, you’re spoilt for choice.
Used values are strong thanks to the little VW’s image and its legendary build quality. Running costs are very low, as are repair bills. And while it’s true there are few tougher superminis out there, make sure you check that yours has been well looked after.
5. Renault Clio
With almost a million used car searches last month, the Renault Clio is the fifth most popular supermini.
The evergreen Clio – introduced in 1998, refreshed in 2001 and replaced in 2005 – is stylish, well-equipped and cheap to run. Taller occupants will find the interior slightly cramped and the driving position is uncomfortable no matter what your size.
There are plenty to choose from and with four petrol and three diesel engine options – as well as more than 7,000 used Renault Clios for sale on Auto Trader – you should be able to find your ideal car.
Make sure common electrical and suspension issues have been fixed under the manufacturer’s warranty, which should be recorded in the service history.
6. Fiat Punto
Full of Italian charm and personality, the sharply styled Fiat Punto has great looks, strong engines and bags of interior space. There’s plenty of head and legroom and you can even fit three people comfortably in the back – that’s rare for a supermini.
Unfortunately the1998-2007 Punto also suffers from a few reliability issues. White gunk around joins at the top of the engine could mean a blown head gasket, which is expensive. Check the steering wheel turns smoothly and there are no unusual noises. Bounce each corner, listening for noises and checking the car returns after each bounce.
However, find a well maintained example and the Punto is good to drive and very practical. Our pick is the punchy yet frugal 80bhp 1.2 – it’s widely available and it’s great value for money.
7. Peugeot 206
The Peugeot 206 is one of the best-looking superminis around. Its popularity as a new car means there is plenty of choice on the used car market, with prices starting from as little as £400.
Though the 206 has one of the worst driving positions in its class, it does have a good range of engines to choose from, reasonable cabin- and boot-space and a design that’s aged well, despite a life-span of more than 10 years without significant change.
Fuel economy is generally good, with most petrols capable of at least 40mpg while diesel versions should top 50mpg. Avoid entry-level models as they are very poorly equipped.
Things to look out for include the electrics, as central locking failure is common, and its popularity as a first car means neglect is common. But there are more than 5,700 used Peugeot 206s for sale on Auto Trader so shop around to find the right one for you.
8. Fiat 500
The new Fiat 500 introduced in 2008 is bigger in every way, but still manages to retain some of the original car’s cheeky charm. Its iconic styling and nimble handling make it a great option on the used car market.
There’s a good choice of engines, from the low powered 69bhp 1.2-litre petrol to the 75bhp and 94bhp 1.3 Multijet diesel engines. The most popular engine is the 99bhp 1.4-litre petrol model, which offers a good mix of power and fuel economy.
The retro interior offers plenty of neat little touches but don’t expect much equipment. There’s ample space up front but the rear seats are cramped and the boot space isn’t great either.
Despite its solid feel, rattles and squeaks are a known issue, and there have been reports of problems with trim quality. But with more than 650 used Fiat 500s for sale you can afford to shop around to find the best deal for you.
9. Toyota Yaris
The Toyota Yaris’ pert styling, low running costs and bulletproof reliability have kept its used prices higher than some of its rivals, but it’s still possible to find a decent one for the money. It was introduced in 1999, redesigned in 2003 and replaced in 2005, so there’s a Yaris to fit any budget.
The interior is even more unusual than the exterior, with a large digital read-out dominating the centre of the dash, with plenty of useful cubby holes dotted around. Rear seat and boot space is tight, and it’s not as practical as some of its competitors.
The engines run like clockwork and overall running costs are very low. The only major reliability gripes are with the transmission – gearboxes can become whiney, while clutches wear quickly if the car spends most of its time in stop-start traffic.
10. Mini Cooper
The Mini Cooper has proved incredibly popular since it was re-introduced in 2001. It drives incredibly well, it has a range of powerful yet efficient engines and it looks great.
Mini was recently named one of the top 10 most reliable manufacturers, according to the Reliability Index, and its BMW-built parts have a very good reputation. However, there have been complaints of dashboard rattles, interior trim problems and some gearbox issues, so check gears engage quietly and smoothly.
It has one of the best used car values in its class which means prices are high, but with more than 3,600 used Mini Coopers for sale on Auto Trader there’s plenty to choose from.
By Rhian Angharad Jones