James Ruppert: Why you should swap your subscription for a banger

Im not at all sure whether I fancy a ‘subscription model’. I mean, what colour is it? Does it come with low-profile tyres?

According to recent research by Close Brothers Motor Finance, old dinosaurs like me will continue to favour buying outright while the kids (17- to 24-year-olds) don’t care and would rather sign up to a finance deal. Take the mobile phone contract route and flop into anything with four wheels. Is that fiscally responsible? Well, they don’t care, but maybe they should. Here are our not-very-smartphone recommendations: some bricks that youngsters can buy and own cheaply.

The ultimate cheap early car has always been the Fiat Punto, so upgrading to a Grande version would be a smart thing to do. I rather like the look of a 2009 1.4 Active for £700 from a private seller. It has 84,000 miles on the clock but looks like a clean and easy-to-look-after runabout. It’s also in insurance group 6E, incurs just £150 annual road tax and gets official economy of 37.9mpg. Oh, and it can sneak into a ULEZ for free. The added benefits are four doors and that it looks prettier than most current hatchbacks.

Then there’s the French Punto, otherwise known as the Peugeot 207. I would prefer one of the diesels. A two-owner 1.4 HDi S will do one hell of a job of saving a young buyer some serious cash, provided it doesn’t go wrong. Looking to buy from a dealer for some warranty protection, I saw a 2006 car with 120k miles. It will return a staggeringly wallet-friendly 62.8mpg overall, its annual road tax is just £30 and its insurance group is a lowly 5E. It is a bit of a risk but, at £899, it could well be worth taking.

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The question is, what about a real Billy-basic, Citroën 2CV-like, wheel-at-each-corner four-door? That answers so many budget banger questions, and it would have to be the Skoda Fabia. With £999 to spend, a 1.2 petrol beckons. A 2004 Classic with plastic wheel trims and 83,000 miles is absolutely perfect on running costs alone. The insurance group, which is the real bottom line for early years car ownership, in this case is just 2E. So the £165 annual road tax has to be dealt with, but that little four-pot engine will return a steady 45mpg overall. This is a two-owner example and ULEZ-friendly, plus it comes with a full year’s MOT.

The Renault Clio is another go-to early car, because it has always been cheap, safe and frugal. A 2008 1.2 Extreme with just 60,000 miles for £1000 is all that any youngster would need. Insurance group 6E and 45mpg. Again, simple petrol power and minimal running costs will be better than any long-term, not-so-smart subscription commitment.


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