Chevrolet Aveo 1.2 LS
List price when new £9995
Price today £3800
Available from 2011-2015
The Chevrolet Aveo looks the part, plus it has price and equipment on its side, but is it cheap enough to win?
Skoda Fabia 1.4 MPI SE
List price when new £11,995
Price today £4500
Available from 2007-2014
Can you have your cake and eat it too? You can with the spare change left over from buying this Skoda Fabia.
Suzuki Swift 1.2 SZ2
List price when new £11,130
Price today £4000
Available from 2010-2017
The Suzuki Swift proves you can have fun on a shoestring, and splits its rivals on price.
Price today is based on a 2012 model with average mileage and full service history, correct at time of writing
Value is the name of the game with these used small cars. All of them offer a practical boot and seating for five, but more importantly, all are cheap both to buy and to run. That was the case when they were new, and it still is now, so we’ve brought them together once more to find out which one still cuts it as the best bargain basement hatchback.
The Chevrolet Aveo has made an effort to stand out from the pack through some interesting design features. The disguised rear door handles and motorbike-inspired instrument cluster in front of the driver are nice touches: the black plastic around the front and rear lights, however, might not be to everyone's taste.
The Skoda Fabia has always traded on being the great value as a new purchase, and it seems to be an idea which has stuck with the buying public. So much so, that when people go out to look for a bargain, many might automatically think Skoda. But this extra demand has perhaps affected used prices, as the Fabia is now the most expensive car here. Is the overall package good enough to justify this extra cost?
If you fancy a swift one, then this Suzuki Swift might appeal. True, in terms of outright performance, it doesn’t quite have the legs on the best. But it is temptingly good fun to drive, and on price it falls neatly between its rivals here.
All three have now lost a considerable chunk of their originally low purchase price, so for those seeking to get the most for their money, which one offers the best deal?
What are they like to drive?
The Swift is the most powerful car here, but you do still need to rev its engine hard to get the best from it. That makes it great fun when you’re in the mood, but tiresome when you’re not. To make matters worse, the Swift is noisy; engine and road noise disturb the peace whatever your speed.
The Fabia pulls strongly from lower down in the rev range, and that makes it easier and more relaxing to drive. It’s as nippy as the Swift when you need it to be, but is quiet by comparison.
Around town the Aveo is nippy enough, but it struggles on faster roads. Keeping pace with traffic on the motorway, for example, often means changing down a gear and putting down your foot. It’s also quite noisy.
The Fabia’s suspension strikes the best balance between comfort and control. It mops up potholes and speed humps with ease, and there isn’t too much body roll through the corners. The steering is light and precise, too.
The Aveo is geared towards comfort, so although its suspension irons out bumpy surfaces well, it allows the Aveo to roll around too much on bendy roads. The steering also disappoints; it’s heavy at low speeds and inconsistently weighted at higher speeds.
If it’s thrills you’re after the Swift will appeal. It’s the most agile of the three, with sharp steering and tight body control. The ride isn’t as supple as the other two cars’ because of this, though.
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