Under the bonnet is a 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol engine developing either 59bhp or 74bhp. While the lower-powered version can find itself quickly out of its depth anywhere other than in the city, the 74bhp model is fine for adventures farther afield on the motorway. Expect to pay upwards of £4500 for a secondhand example.
3. Toyota Yaris 1.0 VVT-i (1999-2005)
Used examples of the 1.0-litre Toyota Yaris — which at the time of its launch in 1999 was said to offer performance equivalent to that of a 1.4 — can be found for as little as £450. For that, you’ll get a 68bhp 1.0-litre engine that can sprint you from rest to 60mph in a fairly sluggish 13.2sec. You’ll top out at 96mph, too, but enjoying more than 50mpg won’t be too much trouble.
Early models start at around £500. A reputation for solid reliability, low insurance quotes and cheap replacement parts means that the Yaris remains a good choice for first-time buyers and money-conscious motorists.
4. Vauxhall Corsa 1.0 (1993-2000)
Vauxhall’s Ford Fiesta rival has been using 1.0-litre engines since 1982, when the model was known as the Nova. A 1997 update brought with it the option of a 1.0-litre three-cylinder engine with 54bhp, which was enough to get you to 60mph in a hardly hair-raising 16.5sec and on to a top speed of 93mph.
Expect fuel consumption of around 50mpg without too much effort. Combine that with typically low insurance quotes and the Corsa is often seen as an ideal first car. Prices for high-mileage examples start at about £250, but expect to pay upwards of £450 for a good runner in fair condition.
5. Nissan Micra (1992-2003)
When the second-generation Micra was launched, it brought with it a new 54bhp 1.0-litre engine. While the small-capacity option failed to receive much in the way of praise from the media, the Micra was nevertheless crowned European Car of the Year in 1993.
Today, you’re best off buying a Micra built after 1997, when a mid-life facelift resulted in styling changes and the standard fitment of power steering across the range. A reputation for reliability and solid build quality ensures the Micra’s popularity on the used car market, and tidy 1.0-litre examples can still be found for as little as £300 today.
Get the latest car news, reviews and galleries from Autocar direct to your inbox every week. Enter your email address below: