Which Car? 'What's cheap and made for life in the fast lane?'

Lesley Thomson, a 27-year-old secretary from London, puts speed before much else but wonders what car to get if she wants plenty of power and performance but still a low insurance grouping and reasonable running costs.

Ms Thomson wants it all, performance and low running costs, but we have to clarify what is meant by performance.

These days, there seems little point in owing a furiously fast car. Speed cameras, congestion and a downer from the authorities and insurance industry means you need a thick skin, a thick wallet and plenty of room for endorsement points on your licence.

That is depressing, but, if you want to go bonkers, there are events called Track Days. For £100 you can go mad on a track, a good way of letting off steam and sharpening your driving skills.

And you do not need a Ferrari for it. Many people use an older sports car, or saloon, bought for a few thousand or less. Ms Thomson ought to consider this. She could buy a Ford Fiesta for commuting and something old and fun, say, a BMW 325i, or Toyota Supra for a few hundred.

She could have a small budget for running costs for both cars and enjoy the best of all motoring worlds.

A car for the head

Ms Thomson does not need a car with a big engine and sensational acceleration for it to be exciting. At the most basic level, an old Mini, cheap to insure and run, would be perfect. It can be driven on the limit almost continuously, delivering a huge amount of driving pleasure, with incredible grip on corners. It never feels less than quick, especially on minor roads.

But Ms Thomson might think the Mini is not special or sporty enough. In that case, she should have a Mazda MX5. No, really. It is not very flash and not very fast, but it is a consummate sports car. The handling is sweet, it is easy to drive and therefore very rewarding. Comfortable on the motorway it really excels itself on country roads.

Best of all, MX5s are inexpensive; you can buy them for £4,000 to £5,000 and the insurance grouping starts at just 11.

Being a Mazda, it will not break down, and servicing is straightforward and cost-effective. The MX5 may have a soft image, but that is great news for those who want a hardcore driving experience.

A car for the heart

There are not many cars which feel special and sporty, however short the journey. Few cars give you the impression you are about to start a race on a circuit even if you are only popping to the shops.

That car is the Caterham 7. Born in the 1950s as the Lotus 7, it was genius designer Colin Chapman's racing car for the road. The car being so light and simple, that meant even modestly sized engines could propel the Seven along in a very rapid fashion.

If Ms Thomson wants acceleration then the Caterham delivers, because even the smallest 1.6 litre engines easily sprint to 60mph in six seconds. Interestingly, Ms Thomson will not be tempted to go too fast because it will be so uncomfortable.

Buffeted by the wind and pummelled by the almost non-existent suspension, it means that even the legal limit will feel sensationally quick. Although difficult to value, about £8,000 would buy a very tidy 10- year-old example.

With limited mileage insurance it would also be cheap to run and service. But, if Ms Thomson really cannot live with it, unlike so many used cars, it will not have depreciated at all.

Suggested Topics
News
news
New Articles
tvDownton Abbey Christmas special
Arts and Entertainment
Wolf (Nathan McMullen), Ian (Dan Starky), The Doctor (Peter Capaldi), Clara (Jenna Coleman), Santa Claus (Nick Frost) in the Doctor Who Christmas Special (BBC/Photographer: David Venni)
tvOur review of the Doctor Who Christmas Special
News
peopleIt seems you can't silence Katie Hopkins, even on Christmas Day...
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Jenna Coleman as Clara Oswald in the Doctor Who Christmas special
tvForget the rumours that Clara Oswald would be quitting the Tardis
Arts and Entertainment
Japanese artist Megumi Igarashi showing a small mascot shaped like a vagina
art
Life and Style
fashion
Arts and Entertainment
Left to right: Stanley Tucci, Sophie Grabol and Christopher Eccleston in ‘Fortitude’
tvSo Sky Atlantic arrived in Iceland to film their new and supposedly snow-bound series 'Fortitude'...
Arts and Entertainment
tv
News
The Queen delivers her Christmas message
newsTwitter reacts to Her Majesty's Christmas Message
Sport
sport
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager/Marketing Controller (Financial Services)

    £70000 - £75000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager/Marketi...

    Recruitment Genius: Account Manager

    £20000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This full service social media ...

    Recruitment Genius: Data Analyst - Online Marketing

    £24000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We are 'Changemakers in retail'...

    Austen Lloyd: Senior Residential Conveyancer

    Very Competitive: Austen Lloyd: Senior Conveyancer - South West We are see...

    Day In a Page

    A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

    Christmas without hope

    Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
    After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

    The 'Black Museum'

    After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
    No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

    No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

    Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
    Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

    Chilly Christmas

    Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
    Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
    Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

    'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

    Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
    Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

    Ed Balls interview

    'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
    He's behind you, dude!

    US stars in UK panto

    From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

    What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

    Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
    Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

    Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

    Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
    Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

    Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
    Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

    Autism-friendly theatre

    Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all