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
Jacqueline Bisset has claimed that young women today are obsessed with being 'hot', rather than 'charming', 'romantic' or 'beautiful'
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Affleck stars as prime suspect Nick Dunne in the film adaptation of Gone Girl
filmBen Affleck and Rosamund Pike excel in David Fincher's film, says Geoffrey Macnab
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Dunham
booksLena Dunham's memoirs - written at the age of 28 - are honest to the point of making you squirm
Frank Lampard and his non-celebration
premier leagueManchester City vs Chelsea match report from the Etihad Stadium
Arts and Entertainment
A bit rich: Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey
tvSeries 5 opening episode attracts lowest ratings since drama began
Life and Style
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
techNew app offers 'PG alternative' to dating services like Tinder
Greg Dyke insists he will not resign as Football Association chairman after receiving a watch worth more than £16,000 but has called for an end to the culture of gifts being given to football officials
Arts and Entertainment
Jake Quickenden sings his heart out in his second audition
tvX Factor: How did the Jakes - and Charlie Martinez - fare?
premier league
Arts and Entertainment
Rachel, Chandler and Ross try to get Ross's sofa up the stairs in the famous 'Pivot!' scene
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvOnly remaining original cast-member to leave crime series
Mario Balotelli celebrates his first Liverpool goal
premier leagueLiverpool striker expressed his opinion about the 5-3 thriller with Leicester - then this happened
Arts and Entertainment
Female fans want more explicit male sex in Game of Thrones, George R R Martin says
tvSpoiler warning: Star of George RR Martin's hit series says viewers have 'not seen the last' of him/her
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Data/ MI Analyst

    £25000 - £30000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client are cur...

    Project Manager with some Agile experience

    £45000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Chelmsf...

    Biology Teacher

    £100 - £160 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Urgently required teacher of Bi...

    PPA Cover Teacher

    £110 - £130 per day + Competitive rates of pay: Randstad Education Reading: Pr...

    Day In a Page

    A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

    Not That Kind of Girl:

    A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
    London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

    London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

    In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
    Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

    Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

    Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
    Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

    Model mother

    Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
    Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

    Apple still the coolest brand

    Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
    Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

    Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

    Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
    Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

    Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

    The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
    The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

    Scrambled eggs and LSD

    Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
    'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

    'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

    Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
    Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

    New leading ladies of dance fight back

    How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments