The soaring price of motoring has boosted demand for smaller cars with cheaper running costs, a new study of Britain's most popular secondhand cars reveals.
The top 10 most sought after secondhand vehicles is dominated by modestly sized family cars.
This follows several years of rising car insurance and fuel costs against a backdrop of a sluggish economy and higher-than-normal inflation levels.
The top 10 was put together by Motors.co.uk, one of the biggest car search sites in UK.
VW Golf most popular used motor
The Motors.co.uk study showed that the most searched for used car in 2012 was the Volkswagen Golf.
This was followed by the Ford Focus, the Ford Fiesta, and Vauxhall's Corsa and Astra models.
Top 10 popular used cars
1. Volkswagen Golf
2. Ford Focus
3. Ford Fiesta
4. Vauxhall Corsa
5. Vauxhall Astra
6. BMW 3 Series
7. Ford Mondeo
8. Audi A3
9. Volkswagen Polo
10. Audi A4
Small family cars 'perennially popular'
Dermot Kelleher at Motors.co.uk, says: "Small family cars are perennially popular, as many smaller cars offer greater fuel efficiency, lower tax and lower insurance premiums.
"So a secondhand version can make good financial sense for families that are keeping a tight control of the purse strings."
But some small cars are cheaper to run than others.
If you are about to buy a new motor, here are the most important aspects to consider when working out if you’ll be able to afford to keep the vehicle on the road.
If you have the registration of the car you are interested in, you can use it to get a car insurance quote.
This will give you a very good idea of the premiums you are likely to face if you buy the car.
This will be based on the model itself as well as your own circumstances such as where you live, how much you are likely to use it, and your claims history.
Insurers take a wide range of factors into account when pricing cover, and you may find a large difference in cost between different vehicles.
Even if you don't have the registration, you can use the make, model and age to get a quote – although this may not be quite as accurate.
Road tax, or more accurately vehicle excise duty (VED) as it is now known, is set according to each vehicle's carbon emissions.
So the more efficient your model's engine, the less you'll pay.
Again, it is straightforward to find out in advance how much VED your car will incur. Use this government website to check.
Choosing between petrol and diesel is not straightforward because it is impossible to say what will happen to the prices of the two types of fuel in the future.
In the past, diesel tended to be about the same price as petrol, but a rise in demand in recent years – partly due to the fact that diesel engines tend to be more efficient – has pushed prices up.
Diesel cars tend to be more expensive in the first place.
And it could take a while before fuel savings outweigh this initial premium, as a petrol versus diesel fuel-efficiency comparison from consumer organisation Which? found last year.
We've come up with a handy fuel price calculator so you can work out how much it will cost you to fill up your motor.
The future of motoring
The cost of running a car has increased sharply in recent years.
But a report from Auto Trader has found that many drivers believe motoring expenses could rise even further, potentially doubling to £4,580 a year in the next decade.
As part of the report, futurologist Ian Pearson predicts that we will see a rise in car-pooling.
Pearson says: "We will see the emergence of new social networks, matching journeys to passengers and leading to the creation of 'road tribes' of school-run mums and commuters."
What do you think?
Have you downsized to a smaller car to save money on your motoring costs?
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