So you need a small runabout that’s large enough for the kids, the shopping and the occasional longer journey. And of course, you’ll want to spend as little as you can to get a quality car that will be worth something when trade-in time comes.
In the small hatchback ‘Supermini’ sector of course, the choice is nearly as vast as the number of traders prepared to offer you a ‘good deal’. They love nothing better than buyers who walk through the showroom doors with no idea of what kind of model they want. That way, the garage can sell you what they have rather than what might be right for you.
But surely the more specific you are, the more shopping around you’ll have to do and the more car dealers you’ll have to haggle with? Well, not necessarily. Most big dealership groups are now linked by computer so that if the exact variant, in the exact colour, you want isn’t on the forecourt, they can soon find it for you and get it delivered locally for a test drive.
In any case, better to be choosy now than buy something that will be a dog to drive, a service manager’s delight and a seller’s nightmare. Since a significant number of Superminis fall into that category, what follows is a guide that should help you to compile a shortlist of what is worth asking to see.
The cars we’re considering here are those that fall directly into the recognised Supermini sector: in other words, Ford Fiestas, Vauxhall Corsas and the like. We won’t be looking at the smaller sub-Supermini ‘Citycar’ alternatives – cars like the Ford Ka or the VW Lupo – though you may want to. If you do, bear in mind that models like these – though they may be great in the urban jungle – are severely compromised in terms of passenger and luggage space, not are they really designed for longer journeys. They don’t come with five doors either.
Of course, if you want five-door versatility, you could buy an older Family Hatchback-class model – something like a VW Golf or a Vauxhall Astra – for the price of some of the newer Superminis here. But then the running costs will be higher and the car less suited to the urban jungle. Plus you’ve all the potential problems of something older.