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Jamie Gibbs

The 5 best cars for students

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More cool or more miles per gallon? Our round-up covers all.

Students in a car

Your car doesn’t have to be the flashiest or the fastest when it comes to choosing one for uni. Sometimes you just want something that won’t cost the Earth to run, and won’t spend more time with the mechanic than on the road.

That’s why we’ve picked cars that are cheap to buy, fuel efficient, reliable, and with low – or no – road tax.

5. Suzuki Swift

Suzuki Swift

If you’re looking for a good value for money, then consider the Japanese-made Swift. It’s a great speedy small car which whizzes through traffic with ease. It’s also one of the most reliable cars on the market.

Suzuki Swift are generally inexpensive to buy new, but they’re even cheaper if you opt for a used one.

And the cost of motoring is lean. Most models have an average of 55 miles per gallon (mpg), and you can even pick a Vehicle Excise Tax (VED) band A model that should save you hundreds of pounds. Newer iterations of the model fall into a higher insurance group, and hence cost more.

However, 2005 – 2012 models probably make a better buy as they tend to be classed in a lower insurance group.

4. Ford Fiesta

Ford Fiesta 

No list featuring affordable cars goes without mentioning the widely-loved Fiesta. And that shouldn’t be a surprise. It’s a good all-round motor that won’t leave you disappointed. If you plan to use your car a lot, or you live far away from university, more recent models promise up to 85mpg.

There are also plenty of eco-friendly options you can choose from, meaning you won’t need to fork out for road tax. The insurance group the Fiesta falls into will also be pleasing to the wallet. The average classification for all models after 2008 is 10.

The car is also remarkably reliable and cheap to repair should any gremlins arise. In fact, the Fiesta is the 18th most reliable car out of all 100 examined by Warranty Direct.

All this makes it a very sought-after on the used-car market, so you can easily find one that suits your budget.

3. Honda Jazz

Honda Jazz

The Jazz is a compact, but spacious, fun-to-drive supermini. It’s one of the more spacious cars from this list, meaning your friends won’t be cramped in the back. It’s not the most eco-friendly car as even the hybrid iterations emit more than 100g/km of CO2.

However, most versions fall into VED band B and C, which means you’ll have to fork out £20 and £30 in tax respectively. Honda promises over 55mpg for its Jazz, which is lower than what the Fiesta offers.

Despite all that, Honda Jazz is the second most reliable car of all tested vehicles by Warranty Direct. You’ll enjoy driving it for thousands of miles without a hitch.

2. Volkswagen Polo

Volkswagen Polo

The German car maker is reputable for its solid reliable cars, and the Polo is yet another example of that. It makes an exceptional first car and excels against many of its arch enemies, such as the Ford Fiesta and Vauxhall Corsa.

If fuel economy is a priority, the diesel versions of the Polo are the ones to go for. They aren’t as powerful, but Volkswagen claims that certain diesel engines can return over 83mpg. In September 2015 Volkswagen was caught rigging emissions test results.

Almost all of their diesel engines sold between 2008 and 2015 have been affected. If you’re looking to buy a Polo, you can check online if it was one of the recalled vehicles. Apart from that, the only real caveat with the Polo is the engine. Compared to the rest in our list, it feels underpowered.

1. Vauxhall Corsa

Vauxhall Corsa

UK’s favourite supermini is still one of the best cars for uni-goers. It’s a cracking small car which isn’t very powerful, but offers enough sprightly performance and reliability. If the cost of fuel is a concern, worry not, because Corsas are very economical. Certain models average on over 55mpg.

What’s more, there are inexpensive pre-2012 low emission models which fall into VED tax band A, which means you won’t have to pay any road tax at all. The cost of insurance is another factor that worries most young drivers.

However, almost all Corsa models have a low insurance group rating. It’s a good secondhand buy which ticks all the right boxes. And with so many options available, there’ll always be one that fits into your budget.

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