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Home > used car buying guide > The smart persons strategy for buying a small car

The smart persons strategy for buying a small car

Whether you're a first-time buyer or are just looking to downsize from your current vehicle, there's a lot to consider when purchasing a small car.

You may think you'll be compromising on a lot of features in order to go small and save money, but that needn't be the case. Here's our smart person's strategy for buying a small car.

Think about why you want a small car

Is it fuel economy you're after or are you more interested in lowering your insurance costs? Perhaps you just want the ability to squeeze into small parking spaces! Whatever you want from your small car, you need to focus on those features in order to find the right vehicle for you.

Don't compromise on things that are important to you either - there's little point in buying the UK's most economical car if you can't fit the little one's booster seat in it, which brings us nicely onto our next point.

Check it has enough space

Buying a small car no longer means you have to put up with having next to no boot space, but it's still worth checking that there's enough room for your needs. If you holiday in the UK a lot you should check your weekend bags and suitcases fit - either in the boot or on the back seat. If you have children, can you get them into their booster seat easily?

Then there's the choice between a three-door and a five-door. If you don't have passengers in the back of your car very often, a three-door may be the most cost-effective option. However, it's much easier to strap a child into a booster seat if the back doors open.

Ask about fuel economy

It's easy to assume that small means fuel efficient, but some guzzle a lot less gas than others. The Peugeot 208, for example, is incredibly economic, with the 1.6 BlueDHi model managing 94.2 miles per gallon (mpg). The Ford Fiesta and Hyundai i20 are two other great options if you're looking for fuel economy, but remember that the model and engine you opt for will dramatically impact how many miles per gallon the car can achieve.

Research its reliability

Almost all cars are reliable these day, however not all cars are born equal and the Honda Jazz is at the time of writing the number small car when it comes to reliability. Do not let this put you off any of the other though as all the major manufacturers produce very reliable cars.

Choose your engine size

As we mentioned previously, the size and type of engine can have a big impact on fuel economy, but it can also affect the car's power. Smaller engines, while more economical, can struggle on faster roads and therefore aren't always suitable for drivers who do a lot of commuting. If you're only using your car to potter about town, then a smaller engine will save you a few pennies.

Then there's the debate of petrol and diesel. If you do a lot of driving, diesel is often the most economical option, but it really does depend on the model of car you're buying. Some drivers just prefer the feel of one type of engine over another. It's up to you to weigh up the positives and negatives.

Go for a test drive

No driver would purchase a small car without getting behind the wheel of it first, but what should you look out for while you're on your test drive? First and foremost, you should pay attention to how the car feels. Does it struggle to get up hills? Can it cope with driving at fast speeds on the motorway? Does it feel bumpy or shake about at all?

Listen out for any odd sounds too. If something doesn't sound quite right ask the Sales Executive about the noise when you get back. It may indicate that something is not quite right with the car and a something may require a small adjustment by a technician.

Another thing to check is whether it feels spacious enough. Was your test drive comfortable? Can your friends or children fit in the back seat with ease? Will your family's holiday luggage squeeze into the boot or will you need a top box? It's important that you feel happy with the vehicle before finalising your choice.

Hopefully the above advice will come in handy during your search for your next (or first) small car purchase. We have hundreds of fantastic used small cars for sale right now, so feel free to have a browse. If you have any questions you'd like to ask, please don't hesitate to give us a call or start a live chat on our site.