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Sunday 25 February 2007

Which Car? [Brit]

It's recommendation time!
I'm learning to drive, and as such am investigating the purchase of a second hand runaround.
I know nothing about cars, which is an important point to note from the off and have 'learnt' everything I know from Top Gear re-runs and recent searches on AutoTrader.
Here's some considerations:
1. I'm tall as fellow clannies will attest, so the car has to be roomy.
2. I live in central London, but have off street parking.
3. I'm not interested in purchasing a new car at this stage.
4. Nothing lower than a 1.6 (which is something I've been told mind).

Of course, there are some models that have already been floated, specifically:
1. Fiat Bravo.
2. Volkswagen Polo.

So, since I intend to purchase in the next couple of weeks, any thoughts and/or recommendations would be grand.


  1. Been in the same boat recently. Although since we moved out of London we realised we didn't need a little car and going up a class-size to the Mazda3 was eventually what we settled on.
    To be honest most small cars have loads of space in the front now, with some exceptions. I found the Ford Fiesta and Nissan Micra both were a shade too cramped for me and I'm only five eleven. I'd probably recommend you take a look at the Toyota Yaris. You'd get a great second hand deal, they tend just not to go wrong and have loads of space. They're smaller than a 1.6 but really any little car will be and they've got pretty high tech variable valve engines which deliver good fuel economy. The Jazz is worth a look but might be expensive.
    To be honest, when you're buying second hand, the best thing to do is just head down a decent car yard and have the salesman walk you through some stuff and tell you about the cars. Get in, see if they're comfortable and when you see something you like, take it for a drive.
    I personally would avoid the two cars you've mentioned. Fiat's have apalling reliability records and Polos, I think, are basically overpriced for what they are.

  2. I'm also looking to buy a small-ish second hand car, reasonably new, about six or seven grand.
    One thing I've noticed is that everyone you speak to has their own pet favourite car make/model and they can back it up with quotes and references, but it usually boils down to the current one they own. I've had all sorts recommended to me: Toyotas, Volkswagens, Fords, Vauxhalls. Usually, as well as a recommendation, someone will also give you some "steer clear of" advice, which more often than not corresponds to a bad experience they once had. Confusingly, the "steer clear of" list usually ends up looking a lot like the "why not consider" list. It all ends up very confusing.
    So I figured that I should adopt this stance as well. I've previously owned a fiesta (which I had nothing but problems with) and polo (which I had no problems at all with, and found to be a pleasant drive). So I'm going to buy another polo.

  3. I'm going to agree with Lurks here. Fiat are and have been atrocious for years. The polo is ok but I agree that it's overpriced. As are Golfs.
    Lurks Maz is a nice car if you could find an appropriate one second hand. I would go that (323) or yes indeed the Honda Jazz. The Jazz has come top of the JD Power survey for the last couple of years rated best car overall. You want to get the 1.4 SE Sport version. Its got a special engine (I shall save you the details) which means this has plenty of poke. We had one and it was a good car and I think will suit your lanky frame cos its got plenty of headroom. Only downsize is that its boot in non-folded-down-backseat-version is very small but that's actually the point and its therefore easy to park in The Smoke. Unless you want to drive four people somewhere where they are taking luggage it's not an issue. The only reason we dropped ours was the arrival of Emily.
    Should set you back about 7 or 8 grand for a 2002 with 50k on the clock.

  4. Mazda or toyota, perhaps a honda but the two first ones is what you want. Get a yaris, a two door, gives you extra space in front, its not like you need the backseat for kids :)
    I would say the smaller size and london outweights the need for a bigger engine. But if your gonna use it to commute often on fast roads/longer drives i would say no less than a 1.8/120hp
    Ford, vauxhall, fiat, vw etc etc are all junk. Want anything with quality you go jap.

  5. We just bought a jazz recently and love it. Smashing wee car, but I'd think too compact for someone of Brits height.
    Ours was about 6k but had 32k on the clock, I've never been a fan of driving. Always considered it a task but I am actually enjoying driving this thing about.
    Best advice is test drive loads of the ones you like really, no-one else can judge what you want best. But stick with the japanese makes, reliability is meant to be top notch. Or so I'm hoping

  6. I think, Dave's cynicism aside, that what you've heard here is basically what most folks will tell you. There's nice little shopping list so you know what to check out at the dealers. I think a bloke of your size really needs to get in these cars to check out. The two-door Yaris thing sounds like a good tip too.

  7. Shed the Jazz is compact front to back but it's noted for its amount of headroom. I may have over-remembered this based on the Spirit we now have but a quick google on Honda Jazz headroom turns up lots of special mentions for it in this capacity. I reck the tall styled Honda's are as good as it is going to get for someone like Brit in the small car range.

  8. Heh, forgot one kinda important question: What are your plans for tha car, what are you use it for? If you are getting one to lug stuff around you really should check foldable seats, trunkspace and shit like that. And if you intend to drive, even occationally, with four people in the car you really should sit in front and get someone to sit behind you. if you dont do that you might discover you got yourself a 10 minute car like mine, where people in the backseat get permanent neckinjuries if they sit there for longer :)

  9. Well, huge thanks to everyone who parted with their pennyworth; the fella & I have spent a good many hours combing AutoTrader and the 'net in general looking at reports and such.
    I'm looking at a Fiat Brava, as it's got the interior roominess so catering for our collective height, 5 doors rather than 3 as I almost guarantee we'll be heaving stuff around, and it's a sensible 1.6 as I don't think I'd trust myself in anything more powerful to kick off with (and neither I suspect, would the insurers).
    Going to sleep on it, and if things still look rosy tomorrow, start the process. Need to sort insurance though, but thankfully the chap has 9 years no claim discount so we can lower costs there by whacking him on as the primary.
    Had a good look at the Jazz (both cars returned on AutoTrader were write offs and on for scrap... an omen!? :) ) and just about anything else, and have to say I'm very much taken by the new Toyota Auris.
    Just not prepared to whack more than a grand or so on my first car given where I live right now (in Central London pretty much).

  10. The only thing less reliable than a Fiat is an old Fiat. If you\'re in banger money like you are, don\'t get a Fiat. Get an old Micra or something bulletproof like that.

  11. So the bottom line is you've asked for some help on cars and the only thing everyone agrees on is not to buy a Fiat. So you're going to buy a Fiat. That basically it? :-)
    You mention the Auris... that's a 2007 model which is going to cost a tinsy bit more than a grand. You're also looking at two entirely different size classes by looking at the polo (supermini) and the bravo (small family). I reckon you need to decide exactly what size and type of car you need before looking for models.
    Oh and if you're after banger money, I've got a running Vauxall Nova in good MOT you can have for a ton. Great learners car, it's what we used for same purpose. Reckon it'd go longer'n any Fiat you could buy :-)

  12. Top Gear's Survey 2006 is up now. One interesting list is the ranked list of car manufacturers. Oh and this proves beyond shadow of a doubt that my Mazda is better than anything Volkswagon makes, so we like this data. Yes sir.

  13. Any fiat is like an amd k6-2 with a early ati card and a ibm deathstar drive. Its a total fucking moneypit, its so bad i would even recommend an alfa instead, atleast then you would get some fun for a few hours every month when its not in the shop. See, its raining alot in the uk and italians cant make electronics. The amount of fiats that look like they puked wires from every orifice outside the italian mechanic i use is just rediculous. And finding a electrical fault in a car is like locating a specific lost chicken mcnugget on slims arse, massivly timeconsuming and expensive as fuck, its not a job, its an adventure. And finally i would like to point out that i actually know the italian mechanic, kinda inevitable when you got an italian car :)
    Micra??? Hit a rabbit at 5mph and you lose your legs, only car worse than a micra is a renault twingo. Both a fucking cars are literally foldable.
    And since some brought up VW, well, thats on the border of stupid aswell, the exact same mechanics is in SEAT and Skoda. Lots cheaper, same shit.

  14. Brit, I'm amazed you've found anyone with anything good to say about the Fiat Brava. Have you got a special internet that we can't access or something?
    I'd give a big woot for a Yaris. Incredibly reliable, and like a Tardis inside. I tend to find Toyota's a bit tinny but my journeys in a friends Yaris have been a pleasure.
    I also have a soft spot for the Ford Ka, which headroom-wise are pretty generous. I sold mine to my bro-in-law and he's 6ft 2in and had no problems.

  15. I don't fit in a Fiesta, let alone a Ka and Brit is about six inches taller than me...

  16. Nope, no "special internet" - but when I started this voyage of automotive discovery, for every Fiat hater I found a Fiat lover.
    The question regarding what we'd use the car for is a good one. To be perfectly honest, getting a license and a vehicle is the first step in a 'grand plan' - specifically, moving out of London. I therefore don't mind 3 or 5 doors, but lean towards 5 because that'll give me more cargo space should we need it.
    The overriding principle however is this car is disposable; it is specifically intended to let me drive around London and become a competent driver, without the risk of an accident that could cost me a comparative fortune if say, I was to go and buy new.
    However, following lots of thought and a lot of research into principally the areas of reliability, interior roominess and replacement parts/maintenance, I've decided to prioritise Honda, Hyundai and Toyota.