Are Cheap-To-Run Cars Ever Any Good?

Posted on Apr 1 2016 - 11:14am by admin

We all want a car that’s cheap to run. The running costs on a car are a significant expense for most families. But the problem is that cheap doesn’t always mean good.

When it comes to other goods and services, cheap often isn’t good enough. We get something that just isn’t fit for purpose.

Kia Picanto

The question here is, does the same logic apply to cars? Is it the case that a cheap car is a nasty car, or do cars operate under different rules?

Today we’ll be reviewing some of the cheapest cars you can buy, both by list price and running costs. We’re going to find out whether they’re any good.

Kia Picanto 1.0

The brand Kia is often associated with low running costs. After all, they have that legendary seven-year warranty. Plus, the Korean car maker has built a reputation for quality and looks set to supercede VW as the world’s sixth-largest car maker.

Kia’s lowest end Picanto is a city car that’s gunning for success in the ultra cost conscious market. The car’s looks aren’t bad, but the real beauty of this car is in the running costs. The total cost of owning a Picanto, over the course of three years, is estimated to be £8,116.85. And the cost per mile is down at 27 p. Low rate finance is also available on new Picantos from sites like

But what is the car like to drive. Well, as you might expect the engine is pretty weak. The 1.0 litre three cylinder let’s out more of a splutter than a roar. And, as you might expect, the handling is poor too. Cost cutting all round leads to a sloppy ride quality. The interior is cheap and plastic. And the security features are minimal.

And all of that you would expect from a Kia. But if you can put up with that, there are still benefits to be found. The equipment that the car comes with is good. And the reliability of the vehicle is excellent.

Citroen C1 1.0 VTi Touch

The Citroen C1 comes in a little cheaper even than the Kia. The total cost over three years is estimated to be £7,524.82 by And the cost per mile a mere 25 p.

And in the looks department, the car probably has an edge over the Kia. At least according to most people’s taste. That’s thanks to the unique, two-style front lights. And also the touch of colour on the wing mirrors and rear spoiler. (Yes, it’s a 1.0-litre car with a spoiler.)

Compared to the Kia, the C1 has better handling and better all round performance. The car has exceptionally good steering for getting around tight city streets.

However, the car is let down on the reliability front. Although in theory the car should be cheap to run, it isn’t in reality. Again, the French manufacturer has let down the budget-conscious market. It’s a car that looks cheap on paper but isn’t.

The car’s ride is also let down by its unrefined ride. It hardly feels like a luxurious experience. It’s more like sitting atop a tractor while ploughing a muddy field.

As for boot space, you can forget it. The C1 comes with very little space, meaning that the car is hardly the most practical small hatch we’ve seen.

Dacia Sandero 1.5 dCi

The Dacia is something of an exception in our list. That’s because it comes with a relatively small engine. And that’s something that you wouldn’t often associate with a bargain basement car. In fact, the 1.5-litre version of the car is actually cheaper to run, if only by a small amount.

The running costs per miles come in at around 24p. Or, a penny cheaper than the C1. And the car costs a mere £7,139.70 over three years if you get the diesel version. The petrol is about £100 more costly over the same period.

The big benefit of the Dacia is the practicality. The car a lot more room that it’s rivals. It’s the sort of car you can imagine taking on a weekend camping. There’s just a heck of a lot of space for kit.

But, alas, the ride and the handling are atrocious. The performance is non-existent. And added to that, the car evokes a sense of cheapness that’s hard to ignore.

So in conclusion, cars that have low running costs have a lot in common. Yes they’re cheap, yes they’re reliable, but that’s just about all you can hope for.