It’s that time of the year once again. The weather is mercifully cooler, business is picking up after the holidays and everyone’s returning to education. This is especially true if you’re a university student and you may be thinking of investing your student loan into a new set of wheels – especially if you got to a University where the campus is a long way from majority of the accommodation.
We have gone through the marketplace and asked what kind of car can you get for a rather reasonable £3,000 investment? Of course most students are pushed for money so we’ve taken a view that most will want a reliable motor that isn’t going to cost the world to run. So here is our shortlist of the top 7 motors you can buy in your student years.
It’s no surprise that the Fiesta is the first car on our list as it’s been the UK’s favourite small car since its launch way back in 1976. Many of your parents may have even had this as their first car. It’s a super mini that’s cheap to fix, but keep your ears open for creaking front suspension problems when you’re buying second hand and check that all the seats move forward with used 3 door models. As with all Fords this is a good value car that offers good handling. Avoid the studio models and seek out the Zetecs for the best deals.
£3,000 buys you: a 2010 Ford Fiesta Zetec 1.25L with around 40K miles on the clock
From the Toyota stable that’s built on a reputation for reliability the Yaris is one of the least likely cars on our list to break down. Put this together with its striking looks and you’re looking at a vehicle that tends to hold its value rather well compared to others in the same class. Low insurance, high safety, and cheap to run what’s not to like about this little motor? With good solid interior you can make those big shopping runs for everyone in your dorm and take a few friends home in the holidays. The only downside is the ride tends to be a little on the unexciting side, but you’re not buying this car to race.
£3,000 buys you: a 2009 Toyota Yaris 1.3L petrol engine with around 72K miles on the clock
The Corsa has become one of the UK’s best selling cars over the last few years and it’s easy to see why. Excellent value for money means you can find some terrific deals out there, which balances up the age of this vehicle and the handling. It is easy to drive and park and relatively inexpensive to run compared to most on this list, which is saying something although the engine isn’t that powerful. It’s got enough space for the big hauls and you won’t have any trouble fitting your friends in. Watch out for abused models when you’re buying second hand as many of these cars have been bought for young people and ragged half to death. Insurance should be low and our advice is to always stick to petrol models as the diesel versions tend to be a little on the slow and noisy side.
£3,000 buys you: A 2010 Vauxhall Corsa 1.3L 16 valve petrol with around 65K miles on the clock
The good old Volkswagen Polo has been around for many years offering you low cost motoring. However be aware that this little car is not quite up to the same reliability standards as others from this manufacturer and you may be dipping your hand in your pocket for more spares or repairs than you’d like. If you want to know the danger points before you buy, then keep one eye out for corrosion under the window seals, run away from a whining gearbox and look for signs of flooding such as watermarked carpets indicating problems with the door seals. Other than this you’re looking at quite a classy little motor with good fuel economy that does come off as rather spick and span on the road.
£3,000 buys you: A 2007 Volkswagen Polo 1.4L diesel with around 80K miles on the clock
The classic Honda Civic. If you’re the type of student who likes a car that could be pimped up into a real racer this is definitely not a bad shout. It’s safe as houses and less likely to break down than most other cars on the road, but that durability does come with one of the highest price tags of any of the vehicles on our list. For a smaller vehicle you’ll be surprised at exactly how much room is available in the back seats and boot and there’s even the option to fold down the seats when you’re doing the big shopping run for everyone in the flat. And it’s comfortable for those big trips back home.
£3,000 buys you: a 5 door 2006 Civic hatchback 1.8L petrol with around 50K miles on the clock
The Clio is a real hit with first time buyers and is very good value. Fun to drive, good value and great fuel economy, what’s not to like about this little run around? Whilst there are Campus editions of the car, these should be swerved as should the entry level Extreme models. Whilst these cars are cheap to insure and have a good safety rating you will want to check that all the electrics, especially the air-con, work before parting with your hard earned cash.
£3,000 buys you: A 2011 Renault Clio with a 1.2L 16 valve engine with around 60K miles on the clock
Whilst this may not be the best looking car on our list with a boxy exterior that looks something like Postman Pat’s van, it is a highly reliable piece of engineering that is mechanically sound. If you want something that’s going to run and keep on running, the Nissan Micra could well be the car for you. With simple electrics that rarely fault or fuse and low running costs then this is an investment that’s not going to hoover up the rest of your cash. Pro tip – keep one eye open for abused ex driving school cars, or you might find yourself coughing up for a new clutch.
£3000 buys you: A 2010 Nissan Micra 1.2L petrol engine with around 65K miles on the clock.
Always remember to take any second hand car you’re thinking of buying out onto the road for a test drive. Here’s our handy article that gives you our top tips on dangers signs and how to make sure you’re getting maximum value. And then remember if you run your car well and take care over those student years there’s no reason why you can’t cash in your vehicle when you graduate and get a job. Most of the cars on our list hold onto a little bit of value allowing you to finally cash in when you move on.