The 20 best hot hatches to suit all budgets

The 20 best hot hatches to suit all budgets

The 20 best hot hatches to suit all budgetsThe all-new Honda Civic Type-R has reignited our interest in things of a hot hatch nature.

But while Honda’s £300 per month PCP deal is tempting, we’re instead turning to the classifieds to hunt down some bargains on the secondhand market.

We’ve got something to suit all budgets – from a £700 Ford to a 300hp monster costing upwards of £30,000. Which one will you choose?

Less than £2,500

Renaultsport Clio 172: prices from £1,000

RenaultSport Clio 172

The Renaultsport Clio 172 is proof – if proof were needed – that you don’t need to spend a fortune to get your hands on one of the greatest hot hatches of all-time. Arriving at the turn of the millennium, the lightweight and immensely chuckable Clio redefined the hot hatch for a new generation. Opt for the 172 Cup for a more hardcore experience.

Ford SportKa: prices from £700

Ford Sportka

When pub chat turns to the subject of affordable hot hatches, it’s often a while before the conversation turns to the Ford SportKa. There then follows a collective nodding of heads as folk remember just how good this pocket rocket actually was. Think of it as a modern-day MK1 Golf GTi, with a wheel at each corner and a 1.6-litre 8v engine. A bargain, with prices starting from just £700.

Citroen Saxo VTS: prices from £1,000

Citroen Saxo VTS

Don’t knock it, because the Citroen Saxo VTS – along with its Peugeot 106 GTI sibling – followed the old school hot hatch recipe. It weighed just 935kg, had a 1.6-litre engine and – thanks to its love of lift-off oversteer – could catch out the unwary. Thanks to an image problem, numbers are dwindling fast. Catch one while you can.

Ford Puma: prices from £500

Ford Puma

Yes, we know the Ford Puma is a coupe, so shouldn’t be included on a list of hot hatches, but by virtue of the fact it can shame many an illustrious hatchback, it deserves its place here. Quite simply, the Puma is one of the best driver-focused front-wheel drive cars you can buy and prices start from £500. Opt for the 1.7-litre version but look out for terminal rust.

£2,500-£5,000

Renault Clio Williams: prices from £3,500

Renault Clio Williams

Already well on the way to classic status, if it isn’t there already. The Clio Williams set the blueprint for all future Renaultsport cars and indeed, it was Renault’s sporting arm which handled the makeover. Power was sourced from a 2.0-litre 16v engine and the one to have is the original Clio Williams, of which 500 were made.

Peugeot 205 GTi: prices from £3,000

Peugeot 205 GTi

If the MK1 Volkswagen Golf GTI represented the birth of the hot hatch, the Peugeot 205 GTI saw it come of age. Whether in 1.6-litre or 1.9-litre form, the 205 GTI represents the pinnacle of the hot hatch. Peugeot has been trying to recapture the magic ever since.

Fiat Panda 100HP: prices from £2,500

Fiat Panda 100HP

Choosing between the next two cars on our list will be tough, but the Fiat Panda 100HP just edges it in terms of charm and style. It’s Italian, after all. Power is sourced from a 1.4-litre engine and develops – you guessed it – 100hp. As an extra bonus, the six-speed gearbox means you’ll easily achieve 40mpg, so matter how much fun you’re having.

Suzuki Swift Sport: prices from £3,500

Suzuki Swift Sport

You can buy a new Suzuki Swift Sport from as little as £13,999, which is undeniably a bargain. But for pure enjoyment we prefer the original first generation Swift Sport. It was less powerful than its replacement, but it required more work to get the best from it. And that’s a very good characteristic in a junior hot hatch.

£5,000-£10,000

Volkswagen Golf GTI Mk5: prices from £5,000

Volkswagen Golf GTI Mk5

The fifth generation Golf GTI saw a welcome return to form for the car that practically invented the hot hatch formula. It helped that the MK5 Golf provided a good platform, but the 2.0-litre engine and suspension provided the necessary ingredients for success. And the interior was well executed – a fitting tribute to the MK1 and MK2.

Volvo C30 T5: prices from £6,000

Volvo C30

Wait, what? A Volvo on a list of great hot hatches? Well they say variety is the spice of life and the C30 T5 offers something different. A more grown-up approach, if you like. Put it this way – you get the quirky looks and delightful interior of a C30 with the same 2.5-litre 5-cylinder engine you’ll find in a Ford Focus ST. Tempting, isn’t it?

Renaultsport Megane R26: prices from £7,000

Renaultsport Megane R26

Frankly, we could have loaded this entire feature with different Renaultsport Meganes, because they’re amongst the best hot hatches of all-time. There have been many special editions along the way, including the not at all clumsily-named Renault Megane Renaultsport 230 F1 Team R26. For the ultimate experience, opt for the R26.R – the most hardcore of the lot. But you will need to spend much, much more.

Alfa Romeo 147 GTA: prices from £7,000

Alfa Romeo 147 GTA

We admit there are better hot hatches available and the Alfa Romeo 147 GTA isn’t perfect. But the hot Alfa has one ace up its sleeve and that’s the creamy 3.2-litre V6 engine. It also looks a million dollars and has that all important Alfa Romeo badge on the bonnet.

£10,000-£15,000

Skoda Octavia vRS: prices from £10,000

Skoda Octavia vRS

You can spend significantly less and get your hands on the original Octavia vRS. You can also spend less to get an early and leggy MK2. But we’d suggest spending at least £10,000, which will get you a three-year-old petrol or diesel in either hatchback or estate form. Both are super-practical and are backed by one of the best dealer networks in the country.

MINI Cooper S Mk2: prices from £10,000

MINI Cooper S

You can pick up an early first generation MINI Cooper S for a few grand, but we’d suggest opting for the second generation R56 version. The 1.6-litre turbocharged engine is punchy and when combined with the raspy exhaust, emits a better soundtrack than the supercharged Cooper S of before. They hold their value tremendously well, too.

Ford Fiesta ST: prices from £13,000

Ford Fiesta ST

The new Ford Fiesta ST is, quite simply, the best hot hatch you can buy new. And with some tempting PCP offers, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t buy new. But Fiesta STs are now starting to appear on the used car market and prices start at just £13,000. Wow.

Ford Focus RS (MK1): prices from £10,000

Ford Focus RS

We’ve been saying for a while that the original Ford Focus RS is sure-fire future classic with proper investment potential. We may have missed the boat, because prices are heading north of £10,000 and showing no signs of retreating. Never fear, you can always buy the MK2 Focus RS or opt for the equally good ST. Or just wait for the all-new RS…

Over £15,000

Audi S3: prices from £30,980

Audi S3

The Audi S3 produces a delightful soundtrack and offers bags of grip. Sure, it’s not the most involving of hot hatches, but it has a rock-solid image and 300hp from its 2.0-litre turbocharged engine. And don’t forget there’s a new and even more potent RS3 Sportback to consider, too.

BMW M135i: prices from £31,725

BMW M135i

The BMW M135i offers something different to the other cars on the list – rear-wheel drive. Power is sourced from a silky smooth 3.0-litre 6-cylinder engine and it’ll rocket to 62mph in just 5.1 seconds. The chassis is so well balanced and the car is guaranteed to put a smile on your face.

Volkswagen Golf R: prices from £30,820

Volkswagen Golf R

A 300hp Volkswagen Golf, whatever next? Fortunately it makes use of the 4Motion all-wheel drive system, so you have every chance of keeping this thing on the straight and narrow. Available in three or five-door form, the Golf R isn’t exactly cheap. But it’s very, very good and can be ordered in super-practical wagon form, too. All the car you’ll ever need?

Honda Civic Type R: prices from £29,995

Honda Civic Type R

And finally, the newest kid on the block – the all-new Honda Civic Type-R. We absolutely adore the latest incarnation, awarding it a maximum five-star review. The engine produces a massive 310hp and yet it remains 100% useable. Drive one – you will want one.

The cheapest cars to insure for 17-18 year olds

Cheapest cars to insure for 17-18 year olds

The cheapest cars to insure for 17-18 year oldsCar insurance is getting cheaper, according to a new report, but finding the cheapest cars to insure for 17-18 year olds is far from easy.

Yes, the new “black box” technology can hep reduce premiums, but buying the right car in the first place makes all the difference.

The cheapest cars for teenage drivers aren’t necessarily the ones they want to drive, but not everyone can afford the best new small cars, so we’ve listed the 15 cheapest cars to insure for young male and female drivers. This is based on customers aged 17-18 who quoted on Confused.com.

We’ve only listed cars valued between £600 and £10,000 to prevent the average premium being skewed by extremely cheap or expensive cars.

The average used is the median and we’ve only included cars which at least 1,000 customers have quoted for, so your own quotes may be lower or higher than the figures here depending on your individual circumstances.

The older you are the less your insurance will be, and factors such as being married can help reduce your premium.

20: Citroen C3 – average premium: £2,275

The cheapest cars to insure for 17-18 year olds: Citroen C3

The 20th cheapest car to insure is the Citroen C3. Of more than 2,000 people aged 17 – 18 who applied for a quote on the Confused.com website, the average customer paid a premium of £2,275

19: Citroen C2 – average premium: £2,269

The cheapest cars to insure for 17-18 year olds: Citroen C2

The Citroen C3’s sportier three-door sibling, the Citroen C2, costs 50p a month less to insure than the C3. Go on, treat yourself.

18: Nissan Micra – average premium: £2,266

The cheapest cars to insure for 17-18 year olds: Nissan Micra

The Nissan Micra is more of a car teenagers’ mums would be proud to see in, but if they can spare their blushes, it will cost them £2266 a year to insure.

17: Suzuki Swift – average premium: £2,238

The cheapest cars to insure for 17-18 year olds: Suzuki Swift

The Suzuki Swift is the superbike of the supermini sector: revvy engines, lightweight build and loads of thrills. Let’s hope insurers don’t find out what a blast it is, and push up premium prices.

16: Fiat Seicento – average premium: £2,230

The cheapest cars to insure for 17-18 year olds: Fiat Seicento

The Fiat Seicento is now very old and, according to period crash safety tests, far from safe. It’s cheap to insure but is the risk worth it?

15: Daewoo Matiz – average premium: £2,233

The cheapest cars to insure for 17-18 year olds: Daewoo Matiz

The Daewoo Matiz isn’t as aged at the Fiat Seicento, but it’s still far from new. even at £2,233 a month, insurance will still cost thousands more than the car.

14: Volkswagen Beetle – average premium: £2,222

The cheapest cars to insure for 17-18 year olds: Volkswagen Beetle

The retro Volkswagen Beetle bring a funky interior and Volkswagen-grade integrity without costing a fortune to insure. And if retro isn’t quite cool enough…

13: Rover Mini – average premium: £2,163

The cheapest cars to insure for 17-18 year olds: Rover Mini

… The Rover Mini offers genuine old-school style as even models built in the late 1990s dated back to the 50s! Maybe not as cheap to insure as you’d think though, as we’ll see.

12: Hyundai i10 – average premium: £2,141

The cheapest cars to insure for 17-18 year olds: Hyundai i10

The boxy Hyundai i10 is no looker but it’s a cheap, reliable motor that doesn’t cost much to insure.

11: MINI One – average premium: £2,101

The cheapest cars to insure for 17-18 year olds: MINI One

How about this – the modern MINI One costs over £50 a year less to insure than the real thing! As it’s bigger, more comfortable, faster, greener, more reliable and easier to drive, maybe it’s the more tempting option for 17-18 year olds?

10: Vauxhall Adam – average premium: £2,089

The cheapest cars to insure for 17-18 year olds: Vauxhall Adam

The brand new Vauxhall Adam is cheaper than any other Vauxhall to insure for a year – yes, even baggy old Corsas.

9: SEAT Arosa – average premium: £2,070

The cheapest cars to insure for 17-18 year olds: SEAT Arosa

The SEAT Arosa is a bit of a forgotten citycar these days, but if you can find one, you can be confident it won’t cost a fortune to insure.

8: Suzuki Alto – average premium: £2,018

The cheapest cars to insure for 17-18 year olds: Suzuki Alto

Like the Hyundai i10, the Suzuki Alto isn’t very cool but is very reliable – and is pretty cheap to insure too.

7: Kia Picanto – average premium: £2,001

The cheapest cars to insure for 17-18 year olds: Kia Picanto

The last car costing more than £2,000 a year for 17-18 year olds to insure is the Kia Picanto. Teens may prefer the second generation one above though, rather than the boxy original.

6: Fiat 500 – average premium: £1,985

The cheapest cars to insure for 17-18 year olds: Fiat 500

Dropping in under £2,000 a year to insure for 17-18 year olds, the Fiat 500 is another retro recreation that couldn’t be cooler. See, teenagers, you can argue a case for it to mum and dad!

5: Toyota Aygo – average premium: £1,883

The cheapest cars to insure for 17-18 year olds: Toyota Aygo

Mum and dad may prefer to get you a reliable, trustworthy Toyota. No bad thing, even if the second generation car pictured above is far cooler than the slightly anonymous original.

4: Ford Ka – average premium: £1,858

The cheapest cars to insure for 17-18 year olds: Ford Ka

The first generation Ford Ka used to be everywhere, but rust is quickly withering them. The second generation car, pictured above, isn’t anywhere near as good, although it is cheap to insure.

3: Citroen C1 – average premium: £1,750

The cheapest cars to insure for 17-18 year olds: Citroen C1

Fancy a Citroen C1? It’s a safe bet for insurance, coming in at £1,750 for 17-18 year olds. Come on, Foxes, it’s not that bad a choice!

2: Peugeot 107 – average premium: £1,722

The cheapest cars to insure for 17-18 year olds: Peugeot 107

Peugeot obviously attracts safer and more sensible 17-18 year olds: it’s otherwise identical to the Citroen C1, but costs just a fraction less each year to insure.

1: Volkswagen Up – average premium: £1,654

The cheapest cars to insure for 17-18 year olds: Volkswagen Up

You need to go Up to put your insurance costs down: the cheapest car for 17-18 year olds to insure by far is Volkswagen’s smallest citycar. That the VW Up is so good to drive, so safe and so smartly engineered is all further icing on the cake.

Best first cars 2015

The 20 best first cars

Best first cars 2015If you’re looking for your first car and you’re in the enviable position of being able to buy something new, you’ve got some cracking models to choose from.

Young drivers looking for a cheap new car are spoilt for choice these days, because in recent years the biggest automotive strides have been made in the city car and supermini segments. As a result, the best small cars to buy are safer, quieter, more efficient and more highly equipped than ever before.

Haggle hard and new car discounts can be generous. Buy the right model with a decent warranty and you should find that running costs are significantly lower than for a high-mileage used car that’ll constantly need cash spent on it to nurse it from one MoT to the next. Throw in ultra-frugal engines and much higher levels of safety (one to set parents’ minds at rest) and there’s no doubt about it: if you can buy something new for your first car, your driving career is definitely starting on the right road.

Here, we run down the 20 best factory-fresh cars for new drivers, listed alphabetically in order of insurance group. Most come in with a 1, 2 or 3 rating, although there is a surprise at the end for three widely-regarded cars for new drivers…

The top 20 best first cars

1: Hyundai i10

Hyunudai i10 2015

Prices start at: £8,705 (1.0 S)

Lowest insurance group: 1

Euro NCAP crash test rating: 4 stars

A group 1 insurance rating car, the i10 is very well equipped even in base 1.0 S guise, the improbably roomy Hyundai i10 is an impressively sophisticated first car in its latest guise. Five doors are standard and although it doesn’t get a full five-star Euro NCAP crash test score, it is to the latest stricter standards so still fares well.

2: SEAT Mii

SEAT Mii 2015

Prices start at: £8,195 (1.0 S 3dr)

Lowest insurance group: 1

Euro NCAP crash test rating: 5 stars

The SEAT Mii is a steal: to all intents, it’s a Volkswagen Up, just with a £600 lower list price. OK, it’s very basic (it lacks air con, for example), but the five-star Euro NCAP crash test score is standard and you can’t get a lower insurance group than this.

3: Skoda Citigo

Skoda Citigo 2015

Prices start at: £8,210 (1.0 S 3dr)

Lowest insurance group: 1

Euro NCAP crash test rating: 5 stars

The Skoda costs just a few pounds more than the SEAT Mii and, for some, has a slightly cooler image. If this doesn’t steer you in its direction, maybe the locality of the dealer will – otherwise, it’s just like the Mii.

4: Volkswagen Up

Volkswagen Up 2015

Prices start at: £8,765 (1.0 Take Up 3dr)

Lowest insurance group: 1

Euro NCAP crash test rating: 5 stars

For some, only the real thing will do. You pay more to get a Volkswagen badge but, because the used car market likes it too, it’ll retain more money – which might make the monthly finance payments similar to the SEAT and Skoda.

5: Dacia Sandero

Dacia Sandero 2015

Prices start at: £5,995 (1.2 Access)

Lowest insurance group: 2

Euro NCAP crash test rating: 4 stars

You don’t need to be made of money to get a brand-new first car: the Dacia Sandero start from just £5,995. That’s less than some three-year old superminis! OK, it’s basic, but it’s still got a reassuring four-star Euro NCAP safety score, and has a three-year warranty. Stick a small deposit down and the finance monthly payments are minimal: clever stuff.

6: Fiat Qubo

Fiat Qubo 2015

Prices start at: £12,000 (1.4 Active)

Lowest insurance group: 2

Euro NCAP crash test rating: n/a

If your first car has to be big and distinctive, the boxy, blocky Fiat Qubo might be for you: it’s called Qubo for a reason, y’know. OK, it’s a bit pricey, but not much is bigger for such a low insurance group. Embrace the leftfield?

7: Kia Rio

Kia Rio 2015

Prices start at: £10,345 (1.25 1)

Lowest insurance group: 2

Euro NCAP crash test rating: 5 stars

Kias have seven-year warranties: get this just after you pass your test and it’ll be good until your mid-20s. It’s able enough for you perhaps to consider keeping it for that long too: it’s certainly better value (and potentially cheaper to insure) than the Ford Fiesta it competes with for similar money.

8: Peugeot Partner Multispace

Peugeot Partner Tepee 2015

Prices start at: £13,285 (1.6 VTI Urban)

Lowest insurance group: 2

Euro NCAP crash test rating: 3 stars

The Fiat Qubo is massive, but if even that’s not big enough, how about the enormous Peugeot Partner Multispace? We’re amazed this massive beast has such a low insurance group – if you’re a committed dedicate driver, this’ll be a brilliant first car. Just remember to charge them all enough for petrol money – that 1.6-litre VTi’s a thirsty thing.

9: Renault Twingo

Renault Twingo 2015

Prices start at: £9,495 (1.0 Expression)

Lowest insurance group: 2

Euro NCAP crash test rating: 4 stars

We love the rear-engined Renault Twingo here at MSN Cars. In its purest 1.0 Expression form, it’s at its best – you don’t need to spend more than this. Putting the engine in the back gives a parent-reassuring four-star Euro NCAP crash test score too.

10: Skoda Fabia

Skoda Fabia 2015

Prices start at: £10,600 (1.0 S)

Lowest insurance group: 2

Euro NCAP crash test rating: 5 stars

The Skoda Fabia virtually defines the perfect small car. Euro NCAP currently hasn’t tested a supermini that’s safer than this, which parents will love; it looks crisp, is great to drive and is swimming in space, which first-time drivers will welcome too. Highly recommended.

11: Vauxhall Adam Rocks

Vauxhall Adam Rocks 2015

Prices start at: £13,995 (1.2)

Lowest insurance group: 2

Euro NCAP crash test rating: 4 stars

The Vauxhall Adam Rocks is a bit of an anomaly. All 1.2-litre Adams have a lowest insurance rating of three – except this one; because it doesn’t have a big glass sunroof and, presumably, a tougher and more impact-friendly body style, it gets a unique group 2 rating. Ideal first-time car stuff – provided you can afford it…

12: Vauxhall Corsa

Vauxhall Corsa 2015

Prices start at: £9,175 (1.2 Sting 3dr)

Lowest insurance group: 2

Euro NCAP crash test rating: 4 stars

A smarter buy to the Adam Rocks is the excellent Corsa Sting. OK, the engine isn’t all that hot, but it’s loaded with kit, looks great and drives way better than you’d ever believe. It’s really surprised us, the 2015 Corsa – you won’t feel stung if a Sting becomes your first car.

13: Fiat Panda

Fiat Panda 2015

Prices start at: £8,945 (1.2 Pop)

Lowest insurance group: 3

Euro NCAP crash test rating: 4 stars

The pretty Fiat 500 has surprisingly high insurance ratings: the smart first car money is on its roomier, more practical five-door cousin, the Panda. For many, this is the cooler choice anyway – James May owns one too, if celebrity recommendation is important.

14: Ford Ka

Ford Ka 2015

Prices start at: £8,945 (1.2 Studio)

Lowest insurance group: 3

Euro NCAP crash test rating: 4 stars

The Ford Ka is certainly cheap. And sold by the nation’s biggest dealer network. If you want a four-star Euro NCAP car that won’t cause too many headaches, it’s one choice. But there’s a far better one sitting next to it in the dealership…

15: Ford Fiesta

Ford Fiesta 2015

Prices start at: £10,195 (1.25 Studio 3dr)

Lowest insurance group: 3

Euro NCAP crash test rating: 5 stars

The Ford Fiesta is Britain’s best-selling car for good reason: it’s brilliant. Even the base 1.25 Studio feels a million dollars to drive, and if this five-star Euro NCAP car is your first, prepare to be spoiled for life. It’s not the cheapest to insure, but it’s still one of the best out there.

16: Kia Picanto

Kia Picanto 2015

Prices start at: £8,345 (1.0 1 3dr)

Lowest insurance group: 3

Euro NCAP crash test rating: 4 stars

It’s odd that the little Kia Picanto drops into a lowest insurance group rating one higher than the bigger, better Rio. Still, the Picanto makes up for it with much lower list prices – and it still comes with a lengthy seven-year warranty if you plan for your first car to last.

17: Smart Forfour

Smart Forfour 2015

Prices start at: £11,620 (1.0 Passion)

Lowest insurance group: 3

Euro NCAP crash test rating: 4 stars

The Smart Forfour oddly has a lower base insurance group rating than its new two-seat Smart Fortwo sibling. Maybe car insurers believe peer pressure makes youngsters safer. It’s certainly cool, although not as cheap to insure, or buy, as the similarly cool Renault Twingo with which it shares so much beneath the surface.

18: Citroen C1

Citroen C1 2015

Prices start at: £8,345 (1.0 Touch 3dr)

Lowest insurance group: 6

Euro NCAP crash test rating: 4 stars

We include the next three cars as they’re some of Britain’s best-selling city cars so will be familiar to many as a first new car choice. Sadly, they’re not the cheapest to insure, due to a surprisingly poor group six entry insurance rating.

19: Peugeot 108

Peugeot 108 2015

Prices start at: £8,345 (1.0 Access 3dr)

Lowest insurance group: 6

Euro NCAP crash test rating: 4 stars

Why the Peugeot 108 is rated so much higher than other similar cars in this class is hard to fathom…

20: Toyota Aygo

Toyota Aygo 2015

Prices start at: £8,695 (1.0 x 3dr)

Lowest insurance group: 6

Euro NCAP crash test rating: 4 stars

… And not even the parent car to them all, the Toyota Aygo, can do any better. The Toyota suffers from higher list prices too – one to consider only if you’re able to get a good first insurance policy deal on your first car.