Category Archives: Reviews

4 cheap to run, practical and completely affordable first cars

You would have thought that this would have been my very first post but I’m only getting around to doing this now. Young drivers find it hard to get insured on any car these days but insurance companies do do the best they can to help. Here’s a list of cars that I thought are appropriate as first cars or just something cheap and cheerful to run:

Volkswagen Polo
This was a pretty obvious choice. The Polo combines German reliability, good looks and high practicality.  Since its launch in 1975, the Polo has had 5 face lifts.  We can see that the Polo is a very popular car as Done Deal currently has 982 of them for sale. The model I would go for is the fourth generation face lift. It has almost as good looks as the fifth gen but at a fraction of the price. One can be snapped up for under €5000. This particular one is for sale by a Co.Dublin dealer:  http://cars.donedeal.ie/cars-for-sale/volkswagen-polo-1-2-litre-petrol/6666988
http://www.carsonline.ie/used-cars/Volkswagen/Polo/1.2-E/43713957641308370/
The cost? €4950.
Volkswagen Polo 1.2 Litre Petrol
Unfortunately this car is nine years old so mileage is going to be quite high. This particular one has 81,000 miles but is for sale by a dealer so there is some re-assurance there. This car has the 1.2 litre petrol so has decent economy. It is also the desired 4 door hatchback so all your mates can fit in the back on those late night cruises up to Howth Summit. Tax is only €330 a year and it has a fuel tank size of around 45 litres so it should only cost you about €60 to fill the tank. It will average about 8.1litres/100km (35mpg).

The interior is of good quality in the VW. It looks like pretty much all the VW interiors of that era so its not very exciting.  It comes with a pretty standard radio but the sound quality is not half bad for what you get.
Volkswagen Polo 1.2 E 55BHP CALL 0867738792 (2006)
To drive it is quite under powered. This one has a 55bhp engine but for your first car you cannot expect much. Overall, this Polo seems to be pretty ideal for ones first car. It looks good, won’t break the bank to run and can even fit the rents when you have to collect them from the local on a Friday night. Believe me, it happens!

Next up, I have the Ford Fiesta
Introduced in 1976, the Fiesta has always been popular amongst, well, everybody. It’s a pretty lovable car. It is also considered quite nippy too. Most models feature a 1.25 petrol engine and weigh in or around a 1000kg. The one I’ve picked is this metallic silver 2005 Five door hatchback: http://cars.donedeal.ie/cars-for-sale/ford-fiesta-1-2-litre-petrol/6820778
http://www.prospectmotors.ie/viewanad.php?ad_id=1057581&r=
Ford Fiesta 1.2 Litre Petrol
It has a 60bhp 1.25 petrol engine. The best part about this car is that it has just over 47,000 miles! For a 9 year old car, that’s not that bad. This car features alloy wheels and electric windows, both of which the Polo hadn’t got, and a CD player.
Photo for ad ref: 1057581
The Fiesta is said to be not as economical as its competitors. It costs about €65 to fill the tank. It averages about 9litres/100km (31.4mpg).
Again, the Ford can fit up to four adults.  The cabin is quite a comfortable place to be. It has a basic cabin with not many things to play around with. This particular car with cost you €4450. Worth every penny in my opinion.

Fiat Punto:
Ah there had to be an Italian in here somewhere. The Punto is one of the best looking when it comes to small hatchs. It offers Italian styling along with decent practicality. It, from what I hear, is quite reliable. Just keep maintaining it and you can get away with any hassle. This one I have chosen for you is for sale for €3,950 and with only 63,803 miles. http://cars.donedeal.ie/cars-for-sale/fiat-punto-grande-1-2l-active-5dr/7071517
http://www.webbmotors.ie/viewanad.php?ad_id=1077050
Photo for ad ref: 1077050
It offers a CD player, electric windows and central locking. It’s one of the roomiest and best looking of the cars I’m going to show you. It has a sporty multi-functional steering wheel.
Photo for ad ref: 1077050
The 1.2 litre petrol gets about 7litres/100km (40mpg). Its not that slow either with a 64bhp engine and weighing in at just over 1000kg. So the Punto Grande is one of the cheapest, the best looking, the most practical and the most economical. It ticks all the boxes pretty much. But wait, the Clio…

Lastly, we have the Renault Clio:
The Clio has always been a favorite of mine. If I had the money to throw at one, I would definitely have the Renaultsport Clio 172. But seeing as we’re doing first cars here, that wouldn’t be a viable option. Although, this one would: http://cars.donedeal.ie/cars-for-sale/renault-clio-renault-clio-1-1-2006-/7365085
http://www.oharacars.com/notice.do?BC=428&PN=1&NI=19915020&searchCriteria.RefDataSearchIds%28F37%29=-1&searchCriteria.sortFieldId=42&searchCriteria.sortAsc=false&CA=428&searchCriteria.RefDataSearchIds%28F38%29=-1#backlink
The same price as the Punto Grande, this Clio is available for €3,950. It is also a little bit better equipped than the Punto too. It comes with a CD player, leather steering wheel and front fog lights. It is the Mark 3, 5 door hatchback and is finished in a metallic silver.
Renault Clio Renault Clio 1.1 - 2006 -
The 1.1 litre petrol engine averages about 8.3litres/100km (34mpg) and costs about €60 to fill it. The boot space is about 288 litres and can also fit up to five adults. The rear seats fold down to increase this to 1028 litres.
Light steering in the Clio makes it easy to drive at low speeds so urban driving is said to be a joy. A little body roll makes for a interesting drive but overall the Clio is a good city car. It handles the motorway as well as any modern city car does nowadays.

So what car would I have out of all of these? Well, It would probably be the Renault Clio. Its such a light and well designed car and that particular one is pretty much a bargain at €3,950.
I hoped this helped anyone who is in the market for a small and cheap to run car.  If you have any questions don’t hesitate to contact me!

Abarth 500 – Review

When the Fiat 500 Abarth was introduced in 1958 it had a 479cc engine producing a mind-boggling 26bhp! It was, as it is now, based on the Fiat 500 but with slight adjustments to the appearance and a huge adjustment to the engine.

DSC_0367

The “new” Abarth 500 began production in 2008 with its turbo charged 1.4 litre engine. It produces 135bhp in the standard model but there is an esseesse (SS) version which produces 160bhp. There are also 595 and 695 versions of the Abarth 500 and they are even more powerful and handsome looking again.

The 135bhp model I drove is definitely more than enough. It mightn’t sound like a lot but 135 horsies in a car that weighs only 1035kg is pretty impressive. It’s certainly quick also, Abarth claims that it does 0-100kmh in 7.9 seconds with the manual box but 8.1 seconds with the Competizione (automatic) transmission. I see the Abarth 500 as a small, ‘nippy’ city car. It has enough boot space for your daily essentials and that’s about it really. So boot space is limited but unlike some city cars its rear seats can fold out flat for that dreaded trip to Ikea.

DSC_0374DSC_0373

That then brings me to the ‘living’ area. As you sit into the 500 you are greeted by a large scorpion emblem on the sports steering wheel and the same quirky dash you find in the Fiat 500. The Abarth has the addition of a turbo gauge on the dash. The interior isn’t of best quality. The plastics feel quite cheap and the turbo gauge looks like it was just thrown up onto the dash as a last minute job. However its not all bad, My car had red and black leather which suited the cabin nicely. On a new Abarth this is a €1000 option! These leather seats are for the driver and front passenger and for the small adults in the rear it is cloth. The leg room in the rear is quite tight. I’m six foot and just about fit in.

DSC_0370DSC_0377

From the outside, the Abarth is certainly a head turner. The colour of my test car was Bianco, which is a form of pearlescent white so it looks well when polished up. The added body kit sets it apart from the standard Fiat 500. The body kit consists of wider arches, a sportier front bumper and a rear spoiler. The look is completed with large red brake calipers. There are Scorpian emblems on each rear wing which you immediately identify with the Abarth brand.

Now, I only got to drive the Abarth for a short amount of time but in that time I had so much fun. As soon as I sat in and turned the key I had a huge smile on my face. The engine noise is just something else! On the 135bhp version of the Abarth you get twin exhausts but on the 595 you get the Record Monza quad exhaust. It may look a bit much with a quad exhaust on this tiny car but it sounds amazing.

Driving the Abarth is like driving a go kart. Its small, quick and nimble. The steering is very responsive and smooth with the help of electronic steering. I took it down a dual carriage way and before I knew it I was doing 80kmh. It mightn’t have a top speed to rival its Italian cousin, Ferrari, but it will get up to the speed limit in the quickest and most fun way possible. The ride really compensates the cheap interior so don’t let that turn you off it. The lack of an all leather interior doesn’t detract from the sensation of power in this small hot hatch.

All in all the Abarth 500 is a drivers car and for the purists the engine note is the only music you’ll need to hear in this car.

I am grateful to Noel and the staff in Tractamotors Blanchardstown for the opportunity to drive this car. However, my student status doesn’t allow me to own such a car at this moment in time. But for those who are in the market for a car that adds fun to performance this is a serious contender so check it out at: http://www.tractamotorsblanchardstown.com/_usedCars/usedCars.shtml . If anyone does decide to purchase this car, do get in touch with me. It is some machine!