Some would argue that if you live or work in the city centre, you don’t want a shiny, scratchprone new car anyway. Far better to spend relative pennies on something that’s easy to park, fun to drive and cheap to run, surely. How much was that rail season ticket, again?
Ford Ka, 1996-2008
£650-£3000: Here’s a town centre tiddler that’s something of a legend, yet it remains incredibly affordable. It’s a classic in the making, which is the best reason to buy right now, while rust has yet to get stuck in. The economy is decent, at 42mpg, but it’s the huge amount of fun you can have that will sell it to you. For as little as £650, you can have precise steering, balanced handling and excellent grip. It rides well, too, and feels pretty sporty with it. So the Ka never feels out of its depth on the open road, when most small cars are just plain silly. There’s not much room in the back, but it’s great to drive and so slow that it is completely safe as a first car.
One we found: 2000 Ford KA Now Limited Edition, 62k miles, £950
Smart ForTwo, 1998-2007
£1000-£4000: Delivers as a city centre assault vehicle with a 600cc turbocharged Mercedes-Benz engine mustering 60mpg potential. It is safe, too, with electronic traction and stability control to stop it from falling over and the much lauded Tridion safety-cell-reinforced steel frame and integrated side impact struts keeping it in one piece in the event of a crash. Engine’s life expectancy is put at 80,000 to 100,000 miles, with high oil consumption and overheating plugs the most common causes of death. The clutch actuator can be sticky, too. Otherwise Smart.