If practicality and reliability top your list of requirements in a car, a used Honda Jazz will offer plenty of both along with fantastic value for money. It was launched in 2001, but we think post-2003 examples make the best buys and there are plenty available on the used market with prices from less than 1500.
It's good to drive, too. The petrol engines have reasonable pace around town and have decent average economy. That said, they need to be worked hard to get the best out of them.
The Jazz's ride can feel too firm at times, but it gives excellent body control and tidy handling. Keen drivers will want more weight and feel from the steering, although it's usefully light for when you're driving around town where it'll spend most of its working life.
Inside, the Jazz offers huge amounts of space and a flexible set-up. The split rear seats fold down flat and the bases can tip forward to reveal another self-contained storage area. The front passenger seat folds flat, too.
You can choose between 1.2- and 1.4-litre petrol engines, but go for the 1.4 and you'll have a far wider choice on the used market. It's hardly any thirstier than the 1.2, with average economy approaching 50mpg and CO2 emissions at a reasonable 139g/km.
Avoid cars built before spring 2003, because that's when the suspension was revised to take the edge off the stiff ride. There was a mild facelift in 2004.
Entry-level S trim is modest including a CD player, electric front windows and central locking so we'd go for SE with its air-con and, on later cars, alloy wheels. Range-topping SE Sport (later just 'Sport') adds climate control and more aggressive styling.
Used Honda Jazz prices are extremely tempting. We found 1.4 SE cars on '04-plates with fewer than 30,000 miles on sale for less than 3500. Even 08 cars with the same trim and mileage are on offer for sub-5000 prices.
We found these on the forecourt:
Honda Jazz 1.4 i-DSi SE
'08/08, 39,000 miles, 4475
Honda Jazz 1.4 i-DSi SE Sport
'08/08, 27,000, 4450
Stratford City Car Sales