The Best Superminis

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6 of the best superminis for around £1,000
The best cars in the supermini class are compact, easy to drive and cheap to run. But they also score on fun, with nippy, agile handling. Stuart Morton, chief sub-editor of Auto Express and Carbuyer, rounds up six of the best.
 
This winning combination makes superminis really popular on the second-hand market – and means small cars like this hold their value better than bigger, pricier-to-run models. So if you have a budget of just £1,000 to play with, you’ll have to make do with an older, higher-mileage supermini than you would if you were buying something bigger.
 
Even so, there are some great superminis at this price. Buyers can choose from three or five doors in most cases, while most superminis in this price bracket come with petrol or diesel power. Diesels will usually be pricier, though, as they’re more efficient – think carefully about whether you do the mileage to justify diesel power, as £1,000 will probably buy a newer, lower-mileage petrol equivalent.
 
Whatever you go for, you can expect low fuel, insurance and road tax bills, although any outstanding Vehicle Excise Duty is a bonus on a £1,000 car. More important is the length of the MoT, as well as the amount of service history included – it’s good to be able to see that a potential buy has been well cared for.
 
So here’s our roundup of six of the best £1,000 superminis:

Ford Fiesta
Ford Fiesta
eBay loves: Fun handling, lots available
Watch out for: Ragged boy racer cars
 
The fifth-generation Ford Fiesta just comes within reach at £1,000, and it’s worth hunting round for one as it’s a big step forward from the Mk4. Launched in 2003, it offers a wide choice of engines – although you’ll struggle to find a diesel without starship mileage at this price. Go for a 1.25 or 1.4-litre petrol model for the best mix of performance and running costs.
Buyers could also pick from three or five doors, plus an array of specs. Zetec trim offers a decent amount of kit. Whatever you buy, a fun driving experience is guaranteed, as is reasonable practicality, with decent space in the front and rear, plus a 284-litre boot. Just check any service history for new cambelts and regular oil changes.

Honda Jazz
Honda Jazz
eBay loves: Brilliant practicality, strong reliability record
Watch out for: Firm ride, low spec at this price
 
Manufacturers love to talk about small cars offering big car features, but the Honda Jazz is one of the few models to deliver. It stands out with its amazingly practical interior – there’s loads of head and legroom front and rear, thanks to the clever flat floor design, and if you fold the rear seats you can expand the boot size from a decent 353 litres to an unbelievably large, estate car-like capacity.
The Jazz also has an enviable reliability record. The only trouble is, it’s not exactly fun to drive and the ride is a bit firm, while at this price, you’ll have to make do with one of the earliest examples with a high mileage and a low spec.

Skoda Fabia
Skoda Fabia
eBay loves: Better value than a Polo, solid and reliable
Watch out for: High-mile diesels, basic interior
 
£1,000 is a tidy deposit on a brilliant new Skoda Citigo, but if you can’t stretch to that, it’ll also buy a MkI Skoda Fabia. This comes as a five-door only, and is a more practical choice than the VW Polo it’s based on, plus you’ll get a newer Fabia for the money. You could even stretch to one of the dependable and economical 1.9-litre TDI diesels for a four-figure budget, although it’s likely to have a high mileage. The common 1.4-litre petrol engine is capable enough, however, and the Fabia is easy to drive and has a solid, functional and spacious interior. Boot capacity stands at 260 litres, and the proven VW Group mechanicals should be durable.

Renault Clio
Renault Clio
eBay loves: Easy to drive, plentiful supply
Watch out for: Electrical glitches, low-spec entry-level cars
 
Reliability has been the Achilles heel of the Renault Clio over the years, but if you can find a cared for example with a decent service history, it’s a great-value supermini with plenty of space and a fun driving experience. For a £1,000 budget, you’ll be looking at an early Mk3. One of the strong 1.5-litre dCi diesels is just about within reach, although again you’ll have to put up with a high mileage. Yet there’s nothing wrong with the 1.2, 1.4 or 1.6-litre petrol engines, while all but the entry-level Authentique models get a reasonable amount of kit. Comprehensive safety equipment adds to the appeal, and all versions provide adequate space, with the five-door obviously offering easier access than the three-door.

Toyota Yaris
Toyota Yaris
eBay loves: Very reliable, holds its value
Watch out for: Underpowered 1.0-litre, dowdy image
 
It’s not a very exciting choice, but the Toyota Yaris is one of the most reliable superminis money can buy. Low sales volumes and strong demand mean £1,000 only buys a MkI car from around 2001 or 2002, although you shouldn’t have to spend much to keep your Yaris on the road. And if you can find a five-door at this budget, all the better, as it’s tricky to get into the rear of the three-door. All models will be nippy and easy to drive around town, although the 1.0-litre petrol is sluggish at motorway speeds – the 1.3 is better for long-distance work. The efficient 1.4 D-4D diesel is beyond this budget, but no Yaris is especially thirsty.

Vauxhall Corsa
Vauxhall Corsa
eBay loves: Loads about, easy to drive
Watch out for: Ex-learner cars, rough diesels
 
The nation passed its L-test in the Vauxhall Corsa – this supermini is one of the most popular driving school cars. So not surprisingly, it’s an easy car to get on with. A £1,000 budget buys a Mk2 Corsa, which comes as a three or five-door and with a wide range of engines and trims. The few high-mileage diesels available at this price are probably best avoided, as the early 1.7-litre is quite unrefined. Petrol options include the 1.0-litre three-cylinder, which can feel underpowered at speed, and the 1.2 and 1.4-litre petrol engines, which are better all-rounders. Entry-level models are sparsely equipped, and while there’s a reasonable amount of space, all interiors feel a bit cheap compared to rivals.

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