When your first chance to debut a white linen blazer is at an all-you-can-eat rib joint, it pays to be pragmatic. Equally, when you’ve just earned your driving licence, swapping the rest of your wallet’s contents for something with more grunt than the Wimbledon women’s final is unwise if you ever want it full again; young men, plus fast cars, equals bumper profits for insurance companies. Fortunately, there’s now a swathe of cars out there that couple spine-tingling drives with single-digit insurance categories. Invest right and you can get an exceptional motor that won’t cost more to run than your rent.
The Fiesta has been king of the superminis for years. It’s got more handsome with every birthday, is solidly built, and comes with bags of street cred. It’s also universally regarded as an absolutely cracking drive, and this is as true for the base models as it is for the lairy ST.
Another supermini staple that’s improved with time. It’s not quite the looker the Fiesta is but, from the front particularly, it’s certainly pleasing on the eye. Even the smaller engines provide joy on the roads, and it comes with a decent amount of toys to play with. We’d like the VXR on 17-inch rims though, please.
We’re not sure how we feel about using exclamation marks in car names. If, however, you can ignore this, the dinky up! is an attractive piece of car. Being a VW, it looks and feels far more premium than anything else in the mini-supermini sector, and the three-door in particular is stylish in a conservative, German way.
The Swift is piece of good, cheap fun. It’s easy on the eye, costs very little to run, and won’t fail to bring a smile to your face when you’re driving it. Build quality might not be up there with the VW, but very little is. The Sport is big on fun and you can even spec a Swift as a four-wheel drive (though we wouldn’t try to mount much more than the kerb in it).
Can’t afford an MX-5 yet? Well, the Mazda 2 will allow you to pretend you do (by showing your mates the key, not the car itself). It’s no two-seater sports car, but opt for one in a dark colour, and add a decent set of rims, and it’s a good-looking chap. It’s also a joy to drive, and has good fuel economy – so you can keep saving for the MX-5.
Although it means a pricey original outlay, the new MINI is kind to your pocket thereafter, with great fuel economy and insurance premiums that belie its nippy performance. Though the poky back seats will add some spice to your passengers’ shotgun battles, its iconic styling makes the MINI something they’ll definitely want to be seen in.
Spanish flair meets German engineering. The Ibiza is well specced inside and out, with enough agility for the city but the oomph to hold its own once you’ve left the high-rises behind. Newer versions also play nice with your smartphone, thanks to an entertainment system you’ll appreciate on long road trips.