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Jamie Gibbs

Top 5 best value cars


We count down the five best cars to give you pow for your pound.

Mazda3 view from above

One of the most important factors when buying a car is making sure you get the best possible motor for your money. So that’s the best car with the most features for your needs and budget… And ideally a car that you’d like to be seen driving.

No motorist wants to buy a car that will let them down. But with so many contenders available on the market, it’s hard to find the one.

If you’re unsure which cars offer great value for money, check out our list.

5. Mazda3


Hands down, the Mazda3 is the most stylish car on our list, from the nice curved shape on the outside to the premium-looking interior. Space for the front passengers is more than satisfying. However, in the back, the headroom is quite limited, so it’s better suited to kids.

Road tests show that Mazda3’s diesel engines offer the best blend of grunt and fuel efficiency – returning 68 miles per gallon (mpg), which is ambitious for Mazda.

However, if you want one that runs on petrol, search for the “Skyactiv” labelled models. Bear in mind though that you may need to fork out a bit more in tax on these models.

The features are where you’ll get the most bang for your buck. The basic “SE” trim level packs Bluetooth, USB port, electric windows and air-con as standard. Although there’s a touchscreen on the dashboard, you’ll make most use of it if you opt for the “SE Nav” trim which comes with a satnav system.

4. Toyota Avensis

Toyota Avensis

The Japanese but British-built Avensis was also chosen as one of the best value cars. Although the model started off quite slow in 1997, it’s now become a highly-regarded motor. It combines comfort, quality and reliability. Inside, there’s room for the tallest and biggest of passengers.

It’s a versatile motor that makes both urban commuting and long motorway journeys effortless. The Avensis doesn’t come with many engine options.

There’s only one petrol option available – 1.8 litres which returns 43.5 mpg (manual gearbox) and 152g/km of CO2 emissions. The 2.2-litre diesel engine isn’t that different in terms of fuel efficiency.

Toyota’s promise with this one is just over 50mpg and 191g/km of CO2 emissions. It’s on par with its arch-enemy – the Skoda Octavia. What makes The Avensis such good value for money is the combination of all this, and how well equipped most of the models are.

The only trim that lacks features and refinement is the most basic one.

3. Dacia Sandero

Dacia Sandero

The Sandero has come a long way since it was first introduced in 2008. It’s the budget leader in its segment, even when bought new. This has become evident by the number of Sanderos driven around Britain.

It’s a good value for money vehicle, with no other car of this class beating Sandero’s cheap price. You can excuse the lack of basic features (in its cheapest trim) for that same reason.

It’s a robust car that’s made to be driven without the gimmicks. But if you need that extra luxury, you can choose from a satnav system through to leather seats. Even with all the add-ons, the most expensive trim, called “Lauréate”, is cheaper than most low-trim rivals.

Performance isn’t impressive: it’s not outstanding or bad, but acceptable. Dacia Sandero falls in the cheapest VED tax band, meaning you won’t have to fork out much for road tax. The 1.5-litre diesel engine returns the staggering, at least on paper, 81mpg. Real-life tests show that it’s more toward 63mpg.

2. Skoda Octavia

Skoda Octavia

Aside from being shortlisted as one of the “best value cars”, the Octavia actually won the “best family car” award. It doesn’t come as a surprise that Skoda’s motor is highly sought after. Although its looks are bland and won’t make bystanders’ heads turn, it delivers on pretty much every other aspect.

Its interior is spacious making it perfect for families, with loads of little bits and bobs that make transporting items around easy. It sports many cubby spaces, hooks and handy nets in the boot.

Everything is well screwed together, and drive is made easy by the amount of drive-assist tech available onboard.

The Octavia packs park assist (especially helpful if you’re coming from a smaller car), lane keeping assist, hill hold control, cornering, and adaptive front lights.

There’s even a small ice scraper hidden in the fuel filler cap. Performance wise, Skoda offers a variety of engines – from the cheapest 1.2-litre turbocharged petrol powered cars to the most expensive, but powerful 2.0 diesel engine.

For most, the 1.2 petrol engine will be enough, but if you have a big family and towing is important to you, go for something up the range. All engines are relatively efficient with a CO2 emissions range of 99g/km to 120g/km.

1. Ford Fiesta

Ford Fiesta

Here it is, British motorists’ favourite car – the charming Fiesta, winner of our “best value car” award. It’s consistently been a top choice among drivers looking for a motor that offers good value for money. It’s quite obvious why Ford’s supermini made it to top of our list – there’s little not to like about it.

It comes in a respectable range of trims, it’s great to drive, sports fuel-efficient engines and has comparably low running costs.

It is also one of the safest in its segment, with a 5-star EuroNCAP rating. That said, one downside is that if you want extra features up the trim range, it quickly becomes costly.

Also cheaper low-end models, such as the “Studio” and “Style”, can be quite limited. Fiestas are also generally reliable – and when things do wrong, repair costs are rarely expensive.


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