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Cheapest cars to insure

Russell Campbell

Written by

Russell Campbell

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You've passed your theory test, flown through the practical exam and bought your first car... only to find that it will cost more to insure than it's worth.

Welcome to the joys of modern motoring. Thankfully, not all cars cost a fortune to insure, even if you are a new driver. So keep reading for this expansive guide to the cheapest cars to insure, covering everything from tiny city cars to larger family cars. None of the 25 models here are quick, but that doesn't mean they can't be fun. 

Volkswagen Polo

Insurance group 1E

Volkswagen Polo Beats parked
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The Volkswagen Polo is a small car that does everything well – it's even wallet-pleasingly cheap to insure if you choose one of the lower-powered models. 

The 65PS car sits in insurance group 1E, but we'd give it a miss in favour of 80PS version which costs the same to insure but isn't excruciatingly underpowered. It'll keep pace with other cars in town and on the motorway, which is good because the Polo performs excellently in both scenarios. It's easy to drive, quiet, comfortable and has a pliable ride quality that puts some executive cars to shame. There really is very little to fault.

Alright, so the interior could do with a splash of charisma but, because it has been designed by sensible Germans, it is super easy to get the hang of and none of it feels like it'll come off in your hand. There's a distinct big-car feel to the Polo which its interior space – it has room for four adults and a boot that'll swallow two large suitcases – does nothing to diminish. 

Citroen C1

Insurance group 1E

Citroen C1 front
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Think cheap car to insure and you'll likely think of a city car like the Citroen C1 – a lanky, thin-bodied, tiny-wheeled and a colourful-interiored small car that's designed to have the yoof swarming to Citroen's showrooms like moths to a light bulb. Cheap group 1E insurance premiums do nothing to diminish its appeal to youngsters. 

The payoff is that it comes with a wheezy 68PS petrol engine that, outside of town, doesn't really know the meaning of the word 'acceleration'. Factor in a body that catches the wind like a mainsail, refinement akin to clambering inside a spinning drill and diminutive dimensions that mean you feel quite exposed and, it's true to say, there are better motorway cars.

In town, though, the C1's great. Its three-cylinder engine is nippy and there's fun to be had from squeezing every last drop of horsepower from it. Charitable types say it sounds like half a 911's flat-six, we'd suggest it's more like a big Flymo. Still, it has cheeky looks and inside four adults will just about fit with room in the boot for a few soft bags. 

Volkswagen Up

Insurance group 1E

Volkswagen Up Front Side View
00/10

The Citroen C1's life would have been so much easier if Volkswagen hadn't gone and built the Up city car, which is significantly more up-to-date than its French counterpart – which is saying something because the VW itself is an older design. 

While the C1 has the lanky looks of a Labrador puppy, the Up is more of a grown up terrier – broad and chunky, you can drive it down the motorway without feeling like a lorry could wipe you out without even knowing it. It cruises relatively quietly and doesn't get blown about in gusts, while on country roads it corners flat and true – it's a small car you can enjoy throwing about.

It's still best sampled in town where it's a breeze to park, its 60PS engine doesn't feel overawed and it has a thimble-like thirst for petrol. Inside, it has solid build quality and feels very spacious given how tiny it is on the outside. Even the boot is big enough for four people's soft bags. 

Nissan Micra

Insurance group 1E

Nissan Micra frontleft exterior
00/10

The Nissan Micra is another big car trapped in a small car body. It's also much better looking than the fugly version it replaced thanks to Nissan's trademark Vmotion grille and the kinked crease that runs all the way from its nose to its tail.

Inside, the design is neat rather than striking, but the infotainment screen is framed in chrome and you get big, intuitive knobs to control the vents and stereo. It's not as well built as the VW Polo, though, and it doesn't have as much space in the back.

To get the cheapest insurance you'll need to get the 71PS model, which is no longer built. Needless to say, performance is feeble but in reality the Nissan is a car that prefers to be driven at a steady pace and its quiet cabin makes it surprisingly comfortable. Its clever suspension can imperceptibly dab the brakes as the wheels rebound over bumps, making for a nicely cosseting ride.

Smart Forfour

Insurance group 1E

Smart Forfour Front Side View
00/10

Like its smaller sibling, the Fortwo, the Forfour is a car that belongs in the city with tiny dimensions and a thin body that make it easy to get parked and a turning circle that'll make light work of tight manoeuvres. 

The Forfour has a novel rear-engined, rear-wheel drive setup – like a Porsche 911, but without the fun – that is designed to free up passenger space. Disappointingly, the more conventional Skoda Citigo has more interior space and a bigger boot. Hm. 

The Skoda's also a much better all-rounder when it comes to driving. The Smart Forfour might be great in town, but on the motorway you'll feel exposed and high winds tend to push it about in lane. Try to corner quickly and it feels like the door handles are going to scrape the road. This all being said, if you go for the 1.0-litre model it is cheap to insure and run. 

Kia Rio

Insurance group 2E

Kia Rio Review 2021 front-three quarter
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You could argue that Kia Rio is the small car for thinkers. It has a class-leading warranty that guarantees its reliability for seven years – not bad when the majority of rivals are covered for less than half that time. 

While it'll appeal to your head, the Rio's unlikely to do much for your beating heart. Okay, so it's inoffensive looking outside and in, and it is one of the roomier small cars on the market with a back seat that adults won't hate sitting on. On the other hand, the interior is quite bland and doesn't scream quality. 

There's not much notable about how it drives, either. Its ride is firm in town and as you make your way out onto country roads the steering is too light to inspire confidence. It's at its best on the motorway where its very stable and the suspension absorbs bumps better. Unfortunately, for group 2E insurance, you'll need the least powerful 85PS engine. 

SEAT Mii

Insurance group 2E

SEAT Mii Front Side View
00/10

The SEAT Mii is a city car that does everything well, rather than putting all its efforts into being a town centre specialist. It's based on the Volkswagen Up, which explains why the two cars are so similar to look at, sit in and drive. That said, the Mii is cheaper because, well, the SEAT badge isn't as desirable as VW's. 

If you can get over that, though, the Mii is a cracking little car. It's relatively basic, but there is an underlying solidity to its construction that screams VW Group and its square exterior footprint means you get a wide interior that doesn't leave you feeling crushed like a sardine. Rear legroom is good for a car this size and so is the boot capacity.

For the cheapest insurance, you'll need the 60PS model which sounds like it will be weedier than a derelict house's garden but is actually pretty spritely in town and, while it's slow on the motorway, it is relatively well muted. Factor in nimble manners on country roads and there's not much not to like about the Mii. 

Dacia Logan MCV

Insurance group 2E

Dacia Logan MCV  Front
00/10

The Dacia Logan takes the Romanian brand's ethos – for giving you a lot of car for not a lot of money – and turns it up, Spinal Tap style to 11. So while it costs less than £10,000, about what you'll pay for a Volkswagen Up, it is closer to a Volkswagen Golf – a car from two sizes above – in terms of interior space.

While this is to be applauded, it's no mystery how Dacia has managed to keep the price so low – the Logan looks and feels cheap almost everywhere and basic models don't even come with a radio. But if you're only going to be loading your Logan with labradors and kids, maybe a fancy interior is the last thing you need.

What you might want however is a powerful engine but to qualify for group 2E insurance, you'll need the 75PS petrol which will struggle when the car is fully loaded. That said, it won't shatter your finances to fuel it and, as the Dacia doesn't exactly drive like a sports car, perhaps a lack of straight line oomph isn't such an issue.

Skoda Citigo

Insurance group 2E

Skoda Citigo
00/10

No need to lay off the shandies, you are not seeing treble because, like the SEAT Mii, the Skoda Citigo is another car that looks (and is) almost identical to the Volkswagen Up – the Skoda is the cheapest of the lot. Some might also say it has the least desirable badge. They wouldn't be us. 

So, to recap what we said about the Mii and Up. The Skoda Citigo has a light airiness inside that belies its diminutive exterior dimensions – it's a small car four adults can fit into and the boot isn't too bad either. It also feels much nicer inside than most with a simple, ageless design and a handy built in phone holder that's a much neater solution than buying one on Amazon.

Yes, you'll need to go for the 60PS engine to get the 2E insurance group, but it's not mind-numbingly slow and squeezing every last ounce of performance out of it will evoke memories of your L-plated former self getting behind the wheel for the first time. Good times!

Ford Fiesta

Insurance group 2E

Ford Fiesta Driving
00/10

If you love the sensation of driving but are still at the mercy of high insurance premiums, then you may as well stop reading this list right now – the Ford Fiesta is the car for you. More of that in a minute, first we'd like to compliment the baby Ford's handsome looks and decent interior quality. 

You'll find all the kit you need in there – including things like air-conditioning and a large infotainment screen that can mirror the display of your smartphone so you can use its navigation apps. It's not the most spacious of small cars, but four adults will fit and the boot can swallow a couple of suitcases.

Where the Fiesta leads the field is in its fun driving dynamics. You can play with the car in corners learning how different approaches affect its balance or just chill out and enjoy the fact that its sharp steering and well-balanced pedals make it a nice car to drive. That's true even with the 75PS petrol engine, which is the one you'll need to go for to get the cheapest insurance. 

SEAT Ibiza

Insurance group 2E

SEAT Ibiza Front View
00/10

The SEAT Ibiza is another car that benefits from the VW Group's propensity for making great platforms, which it then uses to underpin several different models, in this case, it's the Volkswagen Polo that the SEAT shares its parts with.

In a long running theme, the Ibiza is slightly cheaper, but lacks the Polo's extra layer of polish, something it makes up for by injecting some Latin charm into the mix by being a hint sharper to drive. Just as well because the 72PS petrol engine – the one you need for 2E insurance – is no master of the straights. 

It's not quite as quiet or as comfy as its Volkswagen sibling, but it's marginal stuff as is the slight drop down in interior quality. The SEAT still has one of the nicest interiors you'll find in a small car, with up-to-date infotainment and surprising amount of space for four adults. It only comes with five doors so access is excellent and the boot is large for a car this size. 

Vauxhall Corsa

Insurance group 2E

Vauxhall Corsa Front View
00/10

If you learned to drive in the past 30 years or so, chances are you did it in a Vauxhall Corsa – it's a car beloved by driving instructors, as well as hire car companies and fleets. Cheap running costs and repairs are a guarantee as a result.

Desirability isn't, unfortunately. So while the previous generation Corsa looks reasonably sharp, it's stodgier than a thick crust Domino's pizza to drive and possess the unholy grail of being both uncomfortable over bumps and not in the least tied down in corners. On the upside, you'll never be going that quickly because for group 2E insurance you'll need the ironically titled 'Sting' model, which has a gutless 75PS petrol engine.

At least it looks sporty thanks to standard body stripes and 16-inch alloy wheels. Well aware that in the past, the Corsa was far from a class-leader, Vauxhall made sure even this basic model gets air-conditioning and there's about enough space for your lanky teenage friends to fold into the back. 

Renault Twingo

Insurance group 2E

Renault Twingo Front Side View
00/10

Lightweight, rear-engined and rear-wheel drive, on paper the Renault Twingo has the kind of specs that gets motoring journalists whipped into a frenzy. Sadly, no one else paid much interest, which would explain why it has been pulled from sale.

Forget any journalistic nonsense about it being 'like a rear-engine Porsche 911' and you will find things to like about the Twingo. Having its mechanicals in the back frees up passenger space and also means there's no engine to get in the way of the front wheels. The result? A super tight turning circle. Factor in tiny dimensions and cheap running costs and it makes loads of sense as a city car.

Unsurprisingly, its 70PS engine means it's anemic out of town – although it does qualify for group 2E insurance – but a bigger problem is how unassured it feels at speed, meaning it's not as well rounded as the Volkswagen Up, Skoda Citigo and SEAT Mii. However, it is cheaper to buy than the largely identical Smart Forfour

Toyota Aygo

Insurance group 2E

Toyota Aygo 2012 plate
00/10

We could have just put the current Toyota Aygo here. It is mechanically identical to the Citroen C1 on this list (insurance groups range from 1-7), but we picked the older model as an example of a cheap-to-insure car that you can pick up for less than £1000.

It might not look like it now, but the original Aygo was something of a revolution when it landed back in 2005 – the same year as the woeful Fiat Seicento hit showrooms. The Toyota had many things the Fiat didn't, but highlights included structural integrity and fuel-sipping three-cylinder engine back when such things were novel. 

It also had an interior that made the Fiat's cabin look like it was constructed from the offcuts of a packaging factory. The Toyota had more space inside, too, and modern touches like a 12V socket so you'll have somewhere to plug a USB adapter for your phone. Even the boot was high-tech, with a one-piece glass lid that apparently saved a fortune in production costs (although it did have a propensity to fall out later in life). 

Skoda Fabia

Insurance group 2E

Skoda Fabia Front Side View
00/10

Buying a Skoda Fabia is like choosing a ham sandwich in a motorway service station – it's not the most exciting choice, but you'll not regret your purchase like you might if you go for one of the jazzier sandwiches on offer.

It might even be more appealing than a ham sandwich. It has chiseled good looks and chunky body proportions that make it clear that it's a product of the VW Group. There's a similarly substantial feel to the plasticky interior, it's very logical to use and you'll note it's one of the most spacious cars of its size. 

To get group 2E insurance you'll need to go for the 75PS model which is more weak-spark than fire-breather but it costs little to run and, once it gets to a cruising speed, it has no issues maintaining it. A bigger problem is that the basic S model doesn't even get air-conditioning. 

Kia Picanto

Insurance group 2E

Kia Picanto Review 2021 front right exterior
00/10

If the Kia Picanto was a hifi it would be a midi system to the Volkswagen Up's separates – the Kia lacks the underlying quality feel and drive of the VW, but makes up for it by giving you a shedload of features at a lower price.

And so it stands that the now defunct SR7 model we would recommend – which qualifies for Group 2E insurance - comes with kit like 14-inch alloy wheels, Bluetooth and USB connectivity, air-con, tinted windows, heated door mirrors, electric windows, stereo controls on the steering wheel and rear parking sensors. Even by current standards, that's a lot of kit in a small car.

The downside is that it has a jigglier ride than the Up and isn't as quiet at a cruise, while inside it's not so well built or as spacious. That all being said, some cars will still be under Kia's famously long seven-year warranty, which could just swing it if you're in the market for a bargain runabout. 

Smart Fortwo

Insurance group 3E

Smart ForTwo front
00/10

Car size hierarchy goes something like this: small car, city car, Smart Fortwo. In fact, the Smart Fortwo is as long as most cars are wide, meaning you can park it perpendicular to the kerb (convention dictates you do this with a smug face). 

It's a neat trick but it does come with its disadvantages – for starters the Fortwo quite literally is for two people (and not a lot of their baggage). The space it does have comes from the fact that it is quite upright, so you dangle your legs over the seat base rather then having loads of room to stretch them out in front of you. The resulting tall body, meanwhile, is susceptible to crosswinds at speed.

Not many people would look at a Fortwo and think great motorway car  it is designed for the city and it does that very well – its tiny engines cost nothing to run and it can slice and dice congestion as easily as a veteran surgeon whips out tonsils. Go for the 61PS or 71PS Pure models and it also qualifies for cheap-as-chips group 3E insurance. 

Dacia Sandero

Insurance group 3E

Dacia Sandero Review 2021 front three quarter dynamic
00/10

The Dacia Sandero offers the kind of frivolous luxury that makes a prison cell look like a five star hotel room – it's the very definition of basic motoring. But then, with a starting price of £7995, it's also the cheapest car on sale in the UK by quite some margin.

And you know what? It's really not half bad. It's a five-door with space for four adults and a boot that's quite a lot more than a soft-bag holdall. The Dacia feels every inch a modern car with a smart interior design that looks up-to-date. Avoid basic models and you can wow your friends with high tech kit like a stereo and air conditioning

Do that and perhaps they won't notice you've had to go for the 65PS model to qualify for that bargain 3E insurance group. Slow at the best of times, fully loaded we doubt there's a time piece in the world that could measure the Dacia's acceleration, but at least it has a comfortable ride. 

Fiat Panda

Insurance group 3E

Fiat Panda Exterior
00/10

Some cars are noted for their clever design, smart tech and sophisticated engines. The Fiat Panda? Well, it's famed for being the only car on sale with a zero star safety rating from Euro NCAP. But hey, what's life without a little bit of danger?

Fiat's known for building small cars that are overflowing with charm and the Panda – with its pert looks and squircle-packed interior – is no exception. It's not exactly spacious, but its five doors make it easy to make the best of the room it does have and all models come with roof bars.

The perky looks are backed up with a perky driving experience, with a rorty 69PS petrol engine that loves to have every last horsepower squeezed out of it. The rolly polly handling means it's not a car you'll want to throw around corners but then, given the NCAP rating, that's probably for the best. 

Renault Clio

Insurance group 3E

Renault Clio Front Side View
00/10

It might be some years since we saw Nicole sneak off for a tryst while pappa napped in the sunshine (while actually having his own secret love interest), but the warmth that advert generated for the original Renault Clio lives on in the fourth generation model we're looking at here.

Charm goes a long way in a small car because tight pricing means you don't get much else. That said, in basic Expression trim – which you need to for the cheapest insurance – the Clio has keyless entry, handy when you have no free hands to search for keys. The lack of air-con isn't so good, although the Clio is spacious for its size.

The 75PS engine fitted to basic cars is one of the better engines on this list and the Clio's light body helps it be pretty frugal, although it isn't much fun to chuck about. Instead, the Clio focuses its efforts on being a decent motorway cruiser.

Vauxhall Viva

Insurance group 3E

Vauxhall Viva Front Side View
00/10

The Vauxhall Viva has the ability to suck the life out of a room quicker than the warm-up act at a paint drying convention - it really is dull with a capital D. Still, we struggle on and, through gritted teeth, we can admit it looks inoffensive and note that those standard rear doors are handy if you have kids.

Unfortunately, opening one of those doors is not tantamount to sneaking a peak inside the pleasure dome, it's all very Vauxhall in there with black plastics as far as the eye can see and not the merest hint of inspiration. Still, it's reasonably spacious – though not as roomy as the VW Up you should buy – and has a boot that'll swallow a few soft bags. 

If the Vauxhall had a USP you could say it is its generous equipment list that includes lecy front windows and remote central locking but, in what seems like a massive OG, there's no air-con on the SE models that are the cheapest to insure. Performance, in fairness, is better than most here with the 73PS 1.0-litre thrusting the Viva from 0-62mph in 13.1 seconds. 

Toyota Yaris

Insurance group 3E

Toyota Yaris Front Side View
00/10

The old Toyota Yaris (on sale from 2013-2020) was the first car to offer hybrid power in a small body – giving it excellent in-town fuel economy (because it often ran on electricity) and enough power to feel comfortable at motorway speeds.

Unfortunately, the hybrid model's pricy tech means it sits in insurance group 7 – instantly banishing it from this list, but you can have the simpler 1.0-litre petrol that sits no higher than groupe 3E. Okay, so it doesn't have the fancy tech, but you can expect it to be 100% reliable and there's a lot to be said for that when you're buying second hand.

There's a lot less to be said about how it drives (blandly), but at least the robustly built interior has plenty of room for a young family. Look out for Icon models which get lots of kit including air-con, cruise control, alloy wheels and a punchy six-speaker stereo with Bluetooth.

Vauxhall Adam

Insurance group 3E

Vauxhall Adam Left Side View
00/10

The Vauxhall Adam is the British firm's answer to trendy superminis like the cutesy Fiat 500 and really rather good MINI Hatch, although it stumbled somewhat thanks to being neither as desirable as the Fiat or anywhere near as accomplished as the MINI.

Okay, so we're being a trifle harsh because judged against the small car hoi polloi – contemporary versions of the Volkswagen Polo, Ford Fiesta and the rest – the Adam was pretty decent. It felt quite well built for a Vauxhall and there was plenty of personalisation available for you to stamp your own character on it. Rear seat space was tight, but that's par for the course with a trendy hatchback.

It also drove well with direct steering and neat handling, which is a good thing because fitted with the 1.2-litre 70PS – which gets you the cheap insurance – the Adam is a momentum car in the truest sense of the word. 

Fiat Qubo

Insurance group 3E

Fiat Qubo Exterior
00/10

Qubo by name, cube-y by nature – the Fiat Qubo is one of the cheapest ways to get your hands on a car that has lots of interior space and – conveniently for this list – cheap group 3 insurance.

The Fiat Qubo is a van-based MPV (you guessed?) so predictably it has lots of room inside – up to 2500 litres – and a price tag that won't decimate your piggy bank. It also has practical features like sliding rear doors that give great acces even in tight spaces and seats that can be folded away or entirely removed.

The downside of it being a van-based car is that, well, it doesn't feel like a car. It's ride is brittle and it keels over in corners, although it's light weight makes it nippy for its size. Key equipment – like air-con – isn't fitted as standard, which is even more annoying because the Fiat does without wind-down rear windows. 

Hyundai i20

Insurance group 4E

Hyundai i20 2015 frontleft exterior
00/10

The Hyundai is a car that makes huge sense on paper. It's one of the biggest 'small' cars you can buy so it has room for four adults and their luggage and it's five-door only so you get great access to the rear seats. You also get more equipment than a Volkswagen Polo or Ford Fiesta of the same price.

It lacks the cheeky charm of those cars thanks to its looks (dreary) and driving experience (dull), but if you just want a car that'll get you from A to B with minimal hassle, neither of these issues will necessarily put you off. And, while Hyundai's five-year warranty will have expired, it does at least show the company had some faith in its product.

To qualify for group 4E insurance, you'll need to go for the 75PS model – refined but lethargic, it suits the i20 which has soft suspension and light controls that make it a comfortable car not a sporty one.

MG3

Insurance rating 4E

MG3 frontright exterior
00/10

The MG3 is like a bar of Cadbury's chocolate – it's made by what sounds like a famous UK brand with  a quintessentially British name, but is in fact owned overseas.

Unfortunately, the MG is nowhere near as sweet as the nation's favourite chocolate. It's Chinese owned – by a budget manufacturer – and its poorly finished interior makes that abundantly clear. Rivals like the Ford Fiesta and Volkswagen Polo are streets ahead in terms of quality and they also have more space. 

When it comes to driving, the MG3 reveals itself to be quite fun, although ultimately it's still convincingly licked by the nimble Fiesta. With a 106PS 1.5-litre engine, the MG is the pokiest car on this list – 0-62mph takes 10.6 seconds – but the old design means it doesn't feel as quick as those numbers suggest and it isn't that good on fuel, either. 

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1.0 TSI 95 R-Line 5dr

  • 2019
  • 28,266 miles

Manufacturer Approved

  • Marshall Volkswagen Taunton
  • Somerset, TA13DL
Price:£15,980
PCP: £278.07/mo

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Volkswagen Polo
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1.0 TSI 95 Match 5dr

  • 2021
  • 8 miles

Manufacturer Approved

  • Marriott Kings Lynn Volkswagen
  • Norfolk, PE302JG
Price:£18,480
PCP: £323.49/mo

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