The Toyota Yaris is one of the cheapest and most reliable small cars of the past few years


Ella Ramsbottom is looking for a car for her 20-year-old daughter to replace a 2004 Fiat Punto. The budget is £4,000 and cheap insurance is the priority.

A Car for the Head

I get the impression that Ella's daughter does not want another Fiat, so we will avoid that marque. The point here is to find a car that will be cheap to insure, which is vitally important for youngsters. One of the cheapest and most reliable small cars of the past few years has been the Toyota Yaris (below). It's a modern, spacious, very reliable small car, which may cost a little more than similar hatchbacks, but it is certainly worth it. You sit high and have great visibility, so parking is easier and it's good to drive, with low running costs and insurance. The teeny 1.0 litre petrol engine is very frugal and should return 50mpg if you are careful. Most importantly, it will be around group 2 insurance. The budget will buy a well-cared-for 2005 1.0VVT model with just over 40,000 miles.

A Car for the Heart

If Ella's daughter would prefer a more characterful car, the Citroën C1 would have to be it − it's an interesting throwback to a time when car companies made uncomplicated and practical small cars that were cheap to buy and run. The small C1 certainly is that, plus it has the sort of funky styling inside and out that should appeal to a young person. I know Ella's daughter wants a simple car with few extras and this would be it. In Vibe trim it has a CD player and MP3 socket but not much else − air conditioning is only an option on the five-door Rhythm models. The front is big enough for two but the rear is a squeeze and only fit for short journeys. The budget will buy a basic 2007 Vibe 3 door 1.0 Vibe with around 30,000 miles on the clock.

Looking to buy?

Email James Ruppert at, giving your age, address and phone number, details of the type of vehicle in which you are interested, and your budget.

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