Glen Disbury is a second-year university student who needs a car that can cope with a regular 400-mile round-trip to see his family. His budget is £3,500.

A Car for the Head

As always when it comes to students and anyone under 25, insurance is the biggest issue, so it is best to aim for a car which has a small engine and a low insurance group. For that reason the most obvious choice is the Ford Fiesta. The very old 1.25 engine returns around 50mpg, which is good for a petrol engine. Space has only ever been adequate, but the limited room in the back and boot will just about do. Mostly, though, you will be buying a Fiesta because it is easy to live with and cost-effective to run, especially as it will usually be a Group 3 for insurance purposes. All garages can cope with servicing and parts prices have generally been reasonable and easy to find for older models at salvage yards. The budget will buy a 2004 1.25 with 70,000 miles.

A Car for the Heart

If Glen is not going to have a Fiesta, then the next choice will be a Vauxhall Corsa. It has always been reliable and cheap to run. On top of that it has one of the most distinctive designs in its class, with a surprising amount of room inside. Buyers might like the looks, but they will also appreciate the fact that parts are cheap, along with servicing, insurance and fuel economy. The added bonus is low used prices, because there are so many around. Cheap to run, a 1.0 or 1.2 is the perfect first-time car. Glen will be fine with a three-door 1.0i Expression, which will be Group 1 insurance. A 2003/4 Corsa with 50,000 miles should easily be within budget.

Looking to buy?

Email James Ruppert at carchoice@, 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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