Best used small hatchbacks 2013
Best used small family hatchback less than £6000
Ford Focus 1.6 Zetec Climate 5dr ('07/07)
Dealer price £4800
Private price £4200
Official fuel economy 42.8mpg
CO2 emissions 157g/km
Annual road tax £175
Insurance group 12
Euro NCAP rating Pre-2009 test gave five stars for adults, four for children
Buyers limited to a £6000 budget must look to the Mk2 Focus, but that doesn't mean they have to compromise on space, practicality or safety kit. They'll be getting a car that's great to drive, too, because the Focus handles superbly. It has plenty of room for four six-foot adults, and the boot size is excellent.
The 1.6-litre engine is powerful enough to cope with a family of four, and there are plenty of examples around at low prices. The Focus's reliability record is reassuring, too – What Car?'s latest survey showed that while 23% of Mk2 Focuses had issues at some point (electric failures being the most common), the average repair cost was a reasonable £280.
Best used small family hatchbacks more than £6000 – and category winner
Volksagen Golf 1.4 TSI SE 5dr ('10/10)
Dealer price £8700
Private price £8300
Official fuel economy 45.6mpg
CO2 emissions 144g/km
Annual road tax £140
Insurance group 17
Euro NCAP rating Five stars, with 97% for adults and 84% for children
Now that the seventh-generation Golf is on sale, the falling prices of the Mk6 mean you don't have to spend a fortune to enjoy the Golf's impressive cabin quality and refinement.
No other small family car manages to combine fun and comfort as the Golf can. It changes direction neatly and with tight body control, and even the bumpiest roads won't unsettle it – the suspension is always effortlessly compliant, no matter where you drive it.
Unless you do a lot of motorway miles on a daily basis, the best value lies with the 1.4 TSI petrol. It has enough power to move four people and their luggage, and it's smoother than the diesel models when you have to work it hard.
SE trim keeps the price right and comes with plenty of equipment as standard, including electric windows, air-con, CD player, cruise control and alloy wheels. After mid-2010, SE trim was replaced with Match which added a leather-covered steering wheel and automatic headlights and wipers – but SE is the best value.
about 3 years