Volkswagen Polo 1.2 TSI SEL
The Volkswagen Polo is the best premium super mini money can buy. It offers the exact same experience as a Golf but in a small package, which means it’s refined, comfortable, and does almost everything well. The version I recommend second hand in 2014 is the 1.2 TSI SEL, which is well equipped, looks great, goes well and returns respectable economy.
On a combined cycle the 1.2 TSI engine will return 53.3 miles per gallon with a CO2 output of just 124 g/km, which translates to a yearly road tax of £105. The 1.2 TSI engine is extremely gutsy, too, pulling well in all gears. It features a small turbocharger which works best between 2000 and 4000 rpm. The result is a car that pulls more like a 1.8-litre. It’s also exceptionally quiet, and it puts the 1.6 TDI to shame.
Standard kit includes Bluetooth, iPod and MP3 connectivity, an RCD 310 media interface, sharp 16-inch alloy wheels, and a unique front end with chrome highlights. A used 2010 plate with 30,000 miles on the clock costs around £8,000.
Mazda MX-5 Venture 2.0 2dr
The Mazda MX-5 is an exceptional roadster that offers excellent reliability and plenty of thrills. The version I recommend for driver appeal is the Mazda MX-5 Venture 2.0 2dr, which is sweeter than the underpowered 1.8-litre version. This has 160 bhp, and it’ll go from 0 – 62 mph in 7.9 seconds. It will also return 36.2 miles per gallon on a combined cycle. It costs a bit to tax though, at £335 a year.
Venture Edition is fairly new trim, and so you’ll be getting a 2013 plate second hand. This version of car comes extremely well equipped with 17-inch alloy wheels, satellite navigation, Bluetooth, cruise control, and climate control. Second hand, this car costs around £13,000 for a model with 5,000 miles on the clock.
If that’s a little too much, check out the 1.8-litre version. Bristol Street Motors used cars Bristol stocks the MX-5.
Peugeot 107 Allure
The Peugeot 107 is probably the best budget car money can buy. It doesn’t even cost £10,000 to buy new in its most basic form and even that model has the creature comforts you’ll need for a relaxing journey. The best version second hand is the top specification model though.
Allure trim is the top specification, which benefits from LED daytime running lights, that all important rev counter, and a few other bits and bats. A 2012 plate Peugeot 107 Allure costs just £6000 with 10,000 miles on the clock, which isn’t very much at all. If you’re after an affordable runabout cars don’t come much better than the 107.