Car clinic: What's the safest used supermini I can buy?

Your used car buying problems solved

Your used car questions answered by expert Jason Dawe…


Q. What’s the safest supermini I could buy for my daughter? The car should also be practical, stylish enough that she won’t refuse to drive it — naturally — and affordable to buy, run and insure.

EA, Shaftesbury, Dorset

A. The safety of small cars has greatly improved over the past 10 years. My first candidate would be the latest Renault Clio, which in 2012 was a five-star performer in the Euro NCAP safety tests. Because it was launched only last year, prices of used models are still quite high, beginning at around £11,000, although they do still have the best part of their four-year warranty left. The Clio is stylish, so your daughter should enjoy showing it off, spacious, good to drive, refined and affordable to run.

Better still is the latest Ford Fiesta, which is also highly rated by Euro NCAP and has, since going on sale in 2008, been Driving’s favourite supermini. There is a wide choice of 2012 and 2013 cars from Ford Direct, the company’s approved-used programme, starting at about £9,000. Should you prefer not to spend that much, other Fiestas of the same generation are available for as little as £4,000.

A model of note is the 1-litre EcoBoost, a three-cylinder petrol-engine variant that is fuel-efficient and cheap to insure yet still affords a fun driving experience. Prices for 2012-plate versions start at £9,000.

Downsizing to the city-car class would reduce costs still further, and the Volkswagen Up! — a five-star car in the 2011 Euro NCAP tests — is a little gem. Its three-cylinder 59bhp petrol engine returns more than 60mpg, the vehicle feels robustly made and the VW badge should meet your daughter’s approval.

Higher-spec versions feature options such as sat nav and a more powerful 74bhp engine, but prices for a 2012-registered Up! in the most basic trim start at about £6,500 at VW dealerships.


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