Insurance groups range from to 50, with low-performance vehicles sitting towards the bottom end of the range and loftier performance ones soaring towards 50. Skoda, Nissan, Fiat, Volkswagen, Chevrolet and Ford have all manufactured handy little run-arounds that keep your insurance premiums and other running costs low but let you still get around and do what you need to. 

Why buy a group 1 insurance car and what should you look for? 

It’s not just about the price of the insurance. Often, the road tax on Group 1 insurance cars is low, if they have a first-registration date between 1 March 2001 and 31 March 2017, and the fuel economy is good 

What do insurance companies look at when categorising a vehicle into an insurance groupPerformance is a biggieThey’ll consider the likelihood of a crash in the vehicle, so the more powerful your vehicle, the higher it will climb up the insurance groupsThey’ll also look as aspects such as safety, security, vehicle price, the cost of parts and how long it takes to repair any damage to the vehicle. 

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Plump for a Fabia hatchback line Colour edition model with a 1.0 litre MPI engine that musters just 60 bhp or under and it’ll be a winning car for you. ThCO2 emissions of 125g/km places the car at the lower end of the tax band and you’ll pay just £20 each year in road tax. 

What a lovely little run-around the hatchback is, too, delivering 47.1 to 51.4 mpgWith 0 to 60 in around 16.9 seconds and a top speed of 98 mph, it’s not a powerhouse, but it’s tidy looking. You’ll feel comfortable when you’re on the move, with the suspension not being overly bouncy. Skoda have a high reputation for safety, so you and the insurers will both feel at ease with this one.  

Best features:

  • Roomy 
  • Easy on the high 
  • Comfortable on the move 

Prices start from £295 

2. HYUNDAI i10

The i10 is a money-saver, with most 1.0 L engined-models keeping CO2 emissions low and your road tax to just £20 to £30 each year. A 66 hp (67 PS) engine with 71 lbs of torque will keep your purse nice and plump and reward you with miles per gallon in the mid-40s to early 50s.  

It’s a cute little car for driving around the city, offering a comfortable ride, and performs well on the motorway, too. The acceleration isn’t going to blow your socks off — 0 to 62 mph in 14.6 seconds — but then it wouldn’t be in Group 1 if it did. Any qualms you or insurers have about safety Hyundai puts to bed with features such as the automatic braking systems that spring into action if they detect potential collision situations. 

Best features:

  • Feels as fast as cars with slightly more powerful engines 
  • Comfortable ride 
  • Versatile  

Prices start from £1,000 


If you keep the engine litres to 1.0 and the horsepower under 79 (80 PS), a Polo can reward you with Group 1 insurance and low annual road tax of £30. The car’s automatic emergency braking (AEB) system, with which the car takes it upon itself to brake if it senses a potential collision; remote locking; and engine immobilisation will all calm insurance company jitters.  

One of the things that makes VW Polos sendearing is that they’re always enjoyable to drive. There’s a consistent serenity inside them, no matter what the trimThe ride is smooth, although the steering is possibly a little light, and an entry level 1.0 litre engine delivers 0 to 60 mph in 15.5 seconds. Add a fuel economy of 59.8 mpg from the 54 bhp petrol engine (brake horsepower is useful power once friction between parts has been accounted for) — or even from the more powerful 79 bhp one — and you have a delightful, money-saving run-around. 

Best features:

  • Respectable mileage per gallon 
  • Fun to drive 
  • Automatic emergency braking 

Prices start from £195 


This stylish, practical vehicle cuts your road tax to as little as £30 per year, with a 1.2 litre engine that delivers 69 bhp and keeps the CO2 emissions in check at 113 g/km, all while serving up around 57 mpg. Insurers will smile kindly on the fact that Fiat offer at least six airbags as standard on some of its models.  

Although the Panda Active might not panic insurers with its acceleration, 0 to 62 mph in 13.4 seconds makes it no slouch for this city car which offers 101 mph pedal to the metal. The drive is pleasant, with light steering for easy handling but requiring a slightly firmer hand at higher speeds. Don’t let the need to show the steering who’s boss put you off, though. If you have more uses for your car than budget, the Panda Active is the car for you.  

Best features:

  • Easy handling 
  • Decent mileage per gallon 
  • Stylish and practical 

Prices start from £600 


Take a bow, Nissan. The Micra Visia sits in Group 1 and if you choose a 1.2 DiG S Visia, you’ll pay no road tax because the CO2 emissions sit within the lowest band. Move slightly further up the line and you’ll still only £30.00 to £125.00 annually. The engine’s pulling power of 96 bhp (97 PS) and torque of 105 lb ft (142 Nm) work to keep insurance premiums low, as do the standard safety and security features with which Nissan fits Micras, such airbags, an anti-lock braking system (which stops the wheels from locking when braking so you can maintain grip on the road), engine immobilisation and remote locking. 

Driving a Micra Visia is relaxing. The Visia calls up its light, accurate steering and provides you with good overall handling to make it such a breeze. Although it’s not a burn-rubber kind of vehicle, it’s still a zippy set of wheels and hits 112 mph when it’s got the bit between its teethThis handy little hatchback also gives you 68.9 mpg, making it cheap to run. 

Best features:

  • Lowest emissions mean no road tax 
  • High mpg 
  • Good handling 

Prices start from £650 


With emissions between 118 and 119 g/km, a Chevy Spark sits in a low band and you’ll add an insignificant £30.00 per year to governmental coffers in road tax. In its standard trim, this quaint five-door hatchback ambles from 0 to 62 mph in 15.5 seconds and hits 96 mph topsA Spark will give you around 55 mpg, so it’s reasonably cheap to run. It’s also fairly spartan, with little to tempt thieves, but Chevrolet haven’t cut corners on safety and offer lots of airbags and a crash-avoidance systemwhich insurers will love. 

This is a city car powerful enough to do the job. The steering feels natural, the simple suspension deals with potholes adequately at moderate speeds and the vehicle is stable out on the motorways. Overall, it handles relatively well, making the ride an engaging one for all the right reasons.  

Best features:

  • Natural feel to steering 
  • City car stable on motorways too 
  • Cuts no corners on safety 

Prices start from £1,200 


The Volkswagen Up is another Group 1 economic delight, thanks to a 1 litre engine with 59 horsepower (60 PS) and safety and security systems such as tyre pressure sensors, engine immobilisers, braking systems and up to nine airbags. You’ll pay as little as zero road tax. Go with 59 hp and CO2 emissions of around 96 g/km for the winUnless you buy a GTI, the average mpg is around 50 to 60 and filling up the tank isn’t too costly an affair. 

This likable city car, available in three door and five door versions, is easy to drive. The steering is light, the ride is comfortable, with the suspension taking bumps in its stride, and the car doesn’t give you grief on the motorways either. Model-dependent, you’re looking at top speeds of around 99 to 101 mph at the lower end. Acceleration? 0 to 62 mph in 14.30 seconds, give or take a second in line with the model. 

Best features:

  • Drives well in cities and on motorways 
  • High mileage per gallon 
  • No annual road tax 

Prices start from £1,900 


If you like the look of the Volkswagen Up!, you’ll want to consider the strong, spacious, low-cost Citigo from Skoda. The two vehicles are the same structurally. The Citigo comes with a 1.0 petrol engine which provides brake horsepower of 59 (60 PS)70 lb ft (95 Nm), 0 to 62 mph in 14.40 seconds and a top speed of 100 mph. Emissions-wise, you’re looking at 103 g/km at entry level and an annual road tax of £20. Shift up the levels slightly and you’ll move out of the Group 1 insurance but could still enjoy low taxation. 

A potential 64.5 mpg makes this an appetising little car if you’re on a budget, but it drives well, too. Whether you’re in the Citigo’s preferred domain of the city or out on the motorway, the car handles well. The steering is light and easy and the ride is relatively smooth. It’s another fine job from Skoda and eases insurers’ nerves with a City Driving braking system and head-thorax side airbags. 

Best features:

  • High mileage per gallon 
  • Smooth ride 
  • At home in the city and on the motorway 

Prices start from £2,000 


The Mii is the Spanish brand SEAT’s city-car take on the Volkswagen Up! and they’re not mucking around. The car comes in three or five-door versions, not to mention with a 1.0 litre engine and the choice of 60 or 75 hp (61 or 76 PS). Stick with the lower horsepower to stay within the Group 1 insurance bracket. Low emissions of 95 to 106 g/km ut annual road tax to £20 to £30 or more… zero even, in some cases. A set of four airbags and a City Safe Assist braking system, which brakes to avoid collisions automatically, helps to keep you safe and the insurers happy. 

The Mii delivers 99 mph tops and reaches for 0 to 62 mph in 14.40 seconds, so, acceleration-wise, it’s just like the Citigo but a fraction slower than the Up! Not to worry. It handles so well, feeling relatively stable on the road, with light, responsive steering making the vehicle easy to manoeuvre whether you’re on a bend or a straight. A basic S-model will give you around 62.4 mpg and is at home in the city or on the motorway. It’s all good.  

Best features:

  • Low road tax 
  • Responsive steering 
  • Comfortable in the city or on the motorways 

Prices start from £1,800 


Make your Ford a Ka Studio with a 1.2 litre engine that has 69 bhp and you’re onto a winner. You’re looking at just £30 upwards annual road tax, courtesy of 11g/km CO2 emissions, give or take a few grams depending on the version. Mileage per gallon is a reasonable 57.7 and the top speed hovers around 99 or 100 mph at the model’s whim and, likewise, with the acceleration, which lingers around the 13.4 second mark for 0 to 62 mph. The car comes fitted with driver and passenger airbags and a tyre pressure monitoring system, but would benefit from extra safety features such as emergency braking systems. 

A decent level of feedback in the wheel and generally stability on the roads, with little body lean going into corners, inspires confidence while you’re behind the wheel. Although not everyone will get on with the suspension, the ride quality is decent. The car performs respectably on motorways and thrives in its natural habitat of the city. Oh and it’s a Ford, of course. Translation: it’s reliable. 

Best features:

  • Handling inspires confidence on the roads 
  • Reliable 
  • Respectable acceleration for a city car 

Prices start from £695 

Looking for a car that’s affordable to run and to insure? These group 1 cars are easy on the wallet and great to drive. 

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Back to articles February 19, 2021

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