Fun affordable cars: group test

You can now own something fun for less than £100 a month - and we've tested three affordable cars to see how

Fun affordable cars pic

Can you really enjoy fun motoring in a new car for less than £100 a month? In a unique road test, we’ve brought together three small and affordable contenders that, with a Personal Contract Purchase (PCP), can be yours for a double figure monthly outlay. Bargain motoring is one thing, though. The question is, can this trio raise a smile and offer enjoyment beyond the satisfaction of being cheap to buy and run?

First up is the new Peugeot 108, which its maker claims “builds on the strength of the 107 to meet the needs of today’s small car buyer”. But if it’s fun you’re after, the sporty-looking MG3 is a tempting choice with its promise of enjoyable handling. And is either one a better all-rounder than our reigning City Car of the Year – the Skoda Citigo?

Peugeot 108 review

MG3 review

Skoda Citigo review

The best budget cars make you feel good with clever cabin design, big car refinement and fun handling, so which of this trio deserves the Auto Express fun for under £100 recommendation?

Click on the links above to read each review, then rea don for our verdict.

Head-to-head

 

MG handling

We spent time at the test track and out on the road exploring the handling characteristics of all our contenders. With its larger wheels and 195 section tyres, the MG simply has a bigger contact patch on the tarmac than its rivals, so there’s more grip. Combined with the good body control, it helps make the Brit feel tauter than its rivals. However, reach the limit and it scrubs its front tyres more than you’d expect, plus it isn’t that adjustable and steering weighting is inconsistent.

Citigo, 108 tyres

The Citigo comes with 14-inch 175-profile tyres as standard, but our car featured £190 15-inch rims with a wider 185 tread. The 108 had 195/15-inch rubber. On the track both cars provided plenty of grip, but the Skoda edges ahead on driving fun, due to its natural steering and better body control.

Interior finish

Build quality isn’t the first thing you think of if you’re looking for a fun car, but the feelgood factor of a top-quality cabin certainly adds to the enjoyment. The Skoda Citigo and its VW up! and SEAT Mii sister cars top the class in this regard, while the 108 has youth appeal. All are way ahead of the MG.

Verdict

1st place: Skoda Citigo

In this test we set out to find the best fun for £100 car, and the Skoda Citigo’s brilliant blend of refinement, near-perfect handling and quality certainly gives you enjoyment or pleasure every time you climb behind the wheel. It may not be as visually exciting as the MG, but the Citigo is a great value, superbly engineered, well rounded little car.

2nd place: Peugeot 108

The personalisation options, smartphone-friendly touchscreen and modern looks have breathed new life into Peugeot’s cheapest car. However, the driving experience is disappointing. The 108 is more refined, but no more engaging to drive than the old 107. On the plus side, clean emissions and low running costs give it the edge over the MG.

3rd place: MG3

A good looking and decent handling car, the MG3 nearly hits the fun on a budget sweet spot at £99 a month, plus it’s bigger and more spacious than its rivals. Sadly, high emissions result in expensive running costs, while the outdated engine’s poor refinement is also an issue. The MG’s low cabin quality, firm ride and three-star Euro NCAP rating are big concerns as well.

Figures

 Skoda Citigo Elegance GreenTech 3drPeugeot 108 e-VTi Active 3drMG3 Form Sport
On-the-road price/total as tested£10,000/£10,490£9,745/£10,310£9,549/9,944
PCM price/mileage limit/deposit£89/10k/£2,855£99/6k/£2,606£99/10k/£3,728
Residual value (after 3yrs/30,000)£4,200/42.0%£5,223/46.4%£3,552/37.2%
Depreciation£5,800£4,522£5,997
Annual tax liability std/higher rate£239/£477£213/£426£375/£749
Annual fuel cost (12k/20k miles)£1,524/£2,540£1,662/£2,770£2,065/£3,442
Ins. group/quote/road tax band/cost1/£242/A/£02/£245/A/£04/£258/E/£130
Servicing costsFree (3yrs)^£16.99pcm (3yrs/30k)£550 (3yrs/45k)
    
Length/wheelbase3,563/2,420mm3,475/2,340mm4,018/2,520mm
Height/width1,463/1,641mm1,450/1,615mm1,507/1,729mm
Engine3cyl in-line/999cc3cyl in-line/998cc4cyl in-line/1,4498cc
Peak power59/5,000 bhp/rpm67/6,000bhp/rpm105/6,000bhp/rpm
Peak torque95/3,000 Nm/rpm96/4,800Nm/rpm137/4,750Nm/rpm
Transmission5-spd man/fwd5-spd man/fwd5spd man/fwd
Fuel tank capacity/spare wheel35 litres/sealant35 litres/sp saver (£70)45 litres/sealant
Boot capacity (seats up/down)251/951 litres180/780 litres285/1,262 litres
Kerbweight/payload865/425kg855/385kg1,150/525kg
Turning circle/drag coefficient9.8 metres/0.33Cd9.8 metres/0.28Cd10.4 metres/N/A
Basic warranty (miles)/recovery3yrs (60,000)/3yrs3yrs (60,000)/3yrs3yrs (60,000)/3yrs
Service intervals/UK dealer10k miles/13510k miles/30015k (1yr)/51
Driver Power manufacturer/dealer pos.1st/7th*14th/26th*3rd/N/A*
Euro NCAP: Adult/child/ped./points89/80/46/5N/A69/71/59/3
    
0-60/30-70mph14.2/14.4 secs12.2/13.5 secs10.1/10.4 secs
30-50mph in 3rd/4th7.2/12.0 secs8.7/11.1 secs6.7/9.2 secs
50-70mph in 5th16.3 secs17.9 secs14.8 secs
Top speed/rpm at 70mph99mph/3,000rpm99mph/no rev counter108mph/3,100rpm
Braking 70-0/60-0/30-0mph50.4/37.2/9.2m52.6/38.9/9.4m48.2/35.1/9.0m
Auto Express econ (mpg/mpl)/range46.9/10.4/361 miles43.0/9.5/331 miles34.6/7.7/342 miles
Govt urban/extra-urban/combined56.5/78.5/68.9mpg62.8/83.1/74.3mpg37.7/57.6/48.7mpg
Govt urban/extra-urban/combined12.4/17.2/15.1mpl12.4/17.2/15.1mpl8.2/12.7/10.7 mpl
Actual/claimed CO2/tax bracket139/95g/km/12%152/88g/km/11%189/136g/km/20%
    
Airbags/Isofix/stability controlFour/yes/yesSix/yes/yesSix/yes/yes
Elec mirrors/height adj driver’s seatYes/yesNo/yesYes/yes
Metallic paint/park sensors/alloys£490/£310/yes£495/no/no£395/no/yes
Sat-nav/USB/DAB radio/BluetoothYes/no/no/yesNo/yes/yes/yesNo/yes/yes/yes
Split/fold rear seat/air-conYes/yesYes/yesYes/yes

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