Underdog cars: The best unsung heroes

January 30, 2015 | By | In Buying Guides
Underdog cars: The best unsung heroes

When it comes to shopping for a car there are several big names that come straight to mind – Ford Fiesta, Ford Focus and Vauxhall Corsa are just three – which top the sales charts. But just because a car is popular doesn’t mean that it is the best car for your needs.

We’ve rounded up some of the best cars on the market that may not be on your radar when you’re deciding what to replace your current car with, but all are good value alternatives to better known names. The top 10 bestselling cars may have accounted for more than a quarter of UK car sales last year, but if you’re open to testing out some less obvious machinery, you could find an even more suitable vehicle.

Affordable and nippy supermini – Suzuki Swift

The Ford Fiesta may be the bestselling car in the UK – and for good reason – but if you’re looking for a nippy, reliable and most importantly of all, good value small car, the Suzuki Swift could fit your needs better. There’s even a four-wheel drive model with raised ground clearance for those who need a car with mild all-terrain ability.

Suzuki is famed for offering big discounts and keen finance schemes on its cars, and the Swift is no different, with prices starting at £8,999. Even if you go for the extremely fun to drive, but still frugal Swift Sport, you’ll still get £1 change from £14,000 – around £1,500 less than a less powerful Fiesta. As for the finance route you can currently get a zero deposit, zero per cent APR deal on the Swift, for a competitive £169 per month for 42 months.

Good value BMW 3 Series rival – Mazda 6

The BMW 3 Series may sit in eighth position on the UK bestseller list, but the Mazda 6 is a very convincing alternative. With low prices, punchy but economical diesel engines and a long list of standard equipment – in addition to its sharp styling, the 6 is definitely worth consideration for anyone who wants a large saloon or estate.

Opt for the less powerful diesel engine and you can benefit from claimed economy of 72.4mpg – and £20 annual car tax – though it can still sprint to 62mph in 9.1 seconds. Throw in purchase prices that start at £19,795 and choosing the 6 over a German rival could save you thousands. Another appealing non-German large car is the Volvo S60, especially when you take into account the large discounts available on brand new models. It’s available with even more economical diesel engines than the Mazda too.

Spacious family car – Skoda Octavia

The Skoda Octavia is practically identical to the more expensive but smaller Volkswagen Golf. Engines, in-car technology and even the car’s chassis is shared with the Golf, while the interior and boot are much larger and you can get more equipment for your money.

Ignore all the Skoda jokes that you may have heard in the past; the Octavia is a much more sensible buy for most drivers. With the option of hatchback, estate, four-wheel drive and Scout off-roader versions, you should have no trouble finding exactly the model that meets your needs and budget.

Practical people carrier – Ford Tourneo Connect

People carriers may have dropped in popularity following the surge in families choosing SUVs, but they can offer a more practical, more economical – and much more affordable – mode of transport than a big off-roader. And when it comes to people carriers the ones that offer the best value are those based on vans. These may not look the most stylish, but if you’re after practicality and value above all, they are a wise purchase.

The Tourneo Connect may shares its underpinnings with a van, but it drives very well, offering decent comfort levels and handling corners surprisingly well too. You can even get it with a 1.0-litre petrol engine that offers a good dose of power considering its small size. Prices start at under £14,500 – not much for something so spacious – and a seven-seater version is available too.

                Picture: Manufacturers

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