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
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
|Skoda Citigo Elegance GreenTech 3dr||Peugeot 108 e-VTi Active 3dr||MG3 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%|
|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/cost||1/£242/A/£0||2/£245/A/£0||4/£258/E/£130|
|Servicing costs||Free (3yrs)^||£16.99pcm (3yrs/30k)||£550 (3yrs/45k)|
|Engine||3cyl in-line/999cc||3cyl in-line/998cc||4cyl in-line/1,4498cc|
|Peak power||59/5,000 bhp/rpm||67/6,000bhp/rpm||105/6,000bhp/rpm|
|Peak torque||95/3,000 Nm/rpm||96/4,800Nm/rpm||137/4,750Nm/rpm|
|Transmission||5-spd man/fwd||5-spd man/fwd||5spd man/fwd|
|Fuel tank capacity/spare wheel||35 litres/sealant||35 litres/sp saver (£70)||45 litres/sealant|
|Boot capacity (seats up/down)||251/951 litres||180/780 litres||285/1,262 litres|
|Turning circle/drag coefficient||9.8 metres/0.33Cd||9.8 metres/0.28Cd||10.4 metres/N/A|
|Basic warranty (miles)/recovery||3yrs (60,000)/3yrs||3yrs (60,000)/3yrs||3yrs (60,000)/3yrs|
|Service intervals/UK dealer||10k miles/135||10k miles/300||15k (1yr)/51|
|Driver Power manufacturer/dealer pos.||1st/7th*||14th/26th*||3rd/N/A*|
|Euro NCAP: Adult/child/ped./points||89/80/46/5||N/A||69/71/59/3|
|0-60/30-70mph||14.2/14.4 secs||12.2/13.5 secs||10.1/10.4 secs|
|30-50mph in 3rd/4th||7.2/12.0 secs||8.7/11.1 secs||6.7/9.2 secs|
|50-70mph in 5th||16.3 secs||17.9 secs||14.8 secs|
|Top speed/rpm at 70mph||99mph/3,000rpm||99mph/no rev counter||108mph/3,100rpm|
|Auto Express econ (mpg/mpl)/range||46.9/10.4/361 miles||43.0/9.5/331 miles||34.6/7.7/342 miles|
|Govt urban/extra-urban/combined||12.4/17.2/15.1mpl||12.4/17.2/15.1mpl||8.2/12.7/10.7 mpl|
|Actual/claimed CO2/tax bracket||139/95g/km/12%||152/88g/km/11%||189/136g/km/20%|
|Elec mirrors/height adj driver’s seat||Yes/yes||No/yes||Yes/yes|
|Metallic paint/park sensors/alloys||£490/£310/yes||£495/no/no||£395/no/yes|
|Split/fold rear seat/air-con||Yes/yes||Yes/yes||Yes/yes|