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9 of the cheapest cars to insure in 2017/2018

By Paul Connolly

After the purchase price of a car, often the next most expensive thing is the insurance.

That’s particularly true if you’re young, live in the ‘wrong’ postcode, have the ‘wrong’ occupation or drive certain types of cars.

So how can you reduce premiums? Well, one way is to buy a car that is cheaper to insure.

This article will help demystify car insurance groups so you can make an informed judgement before you find yourself in pricey waters.

Common sense tells you a Lamborghini is more costly to insure than a Lada (ok, you got me - I did that for the alliteration, it’s quite hard to find a decent used Lada for sale these days).

But actually, within car insurance groups there is quite a bewildering array of data, conditions, and boundaries that shift from year to year.

But how exactly do car insurance groups work, and how can you tell what group a new or used car is before you buy?

Insurers use something called the Group Rating Panel, to judge which group a car should belong to. 

Made up of boffins and data provided by the Association of British Insurers, Thatcham Research and Lloyd’s Market Association, the panel sifts information on thousands of different vehicle variations on the road to come up with its rating system that can be understood by the man or woman in the street.

Cars are allocated a group from 1–50, with 1 typically being the least expensive to insure and 50 the priciest.

The group ratings are based on a range of factors, many of them highly complex, but including the car's running costs, resale value, safety, performance, security and spare part costs.

Effectively, all insurance costs are factored in. So, the cost of repairs will be a big factor, but did you know the time it takes to repair each model can be measured and this data also forms part of the consideration. How bumpers perform in an accident is also taken into account.

The car’s performance abilities are also key. Data shows that sporty and high performance cars make more, and more costly, insurance claims.

Car security is a factor, too, so consider things like alarms and immobilisers. There is, by the way, a whole ‘science’ of car safety risk assessment, with classifications from E to U, with E being the best and U being ‘unacceptable’.

So, what are the cheapest cars to buy? Well, it’s impossible to give an individual person the right answer to that question, due to personal factors like age, driving history, postcode, etc.

However, cars in Groups One, Two and Three will be the cheapest – and, incidentally, usually the most economic to drive also, with many getting more than 60mpg.

For more detailed information, there are many online calculators available from the likes of USwitch and Parkers which a quick Google search will reveal.

As mentioned, it’s impossible to give the exact cheapest car due to the individual variations described above.

Nevertheless, here are our nine best general buys, new and used, for 2017 and 2018.

New entry-level or lower trim models of each car should feature in Groups 1 – 3; however be aware higher-specced (i.e. often more desirable) models will be in higher Groups.

1. Toyota Yaris

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Inexpensive, safe, and roomy, the Yaris is a great citycar that is very cheap to insure in the right trim. Indeed, it could well be the cheapest to insure if your stars (in the form of driving history, age, location, etc.) align perfectly. It’s also very economical, especially now there’s an electrically-assisted hybrid version.

2. Vauxhall Corsa

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The Corsa is popular all these years for a reason: it’s safe, reliable, cheap to run and well-specced. If buying new, go for the Sting and Life models for the lowest insurance group,

3. Hyundai i10

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Pictured: Hyundai i10

The new second generation i10 can be found as low as Group 1, which is a significant improvement over previous iterations. It has a 1.0-litre engine and is a great first car for teenagers especially.

4. Dacia Sandero

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If you want something a bit more spacious, but that still inhabits the likes of Group 2, consider the Dacia Sandero. This is a 5-door car so you get more space than city cars. The entry-level Access trim is the cheapest, but be aware it is very much a no-frills option.

5. Fiat Panda

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Thirty year + and still going strong, the latest Pandas are very cheap to insure at entry-level trim. The spec isn’t bad even at lower trim levels.

6. Peugeot 108

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The funky little 108 looks great and comes in some fantastic colours – purple trim is our favourite! It looks great, has attitude and is cheap to insure as long as you avoid the higher specs.

7. Kia Rio

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Another car to consider if you want low insurance costs and five-door motoring is the Kia Rio. The Rio will comfortably transport small families: and several models are in Groups 1 and 2.

8. Ford Ka+

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The Ka+ is an update on the original Ka model that’s been around since the 90s. The Ka+ is bang up to date, being introduced to the UK last year – there are models in both Groups 1 and 2.

9. Smart ForTwo

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Little Smart cars look great, have a funky personality and will fit into all but the most impossible driving spaces. Being part of the Mercedes/Daimler group they aren’t the cheapest, but they’ll do wonders for your street cred. Entry-level models have low insurance groups.

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