Dec 292015






Superminis can be stylish and fun and great value. So which is best? The Italian or the Spaniard?

Why Buy?

The Punto has it all really, looks stylish, is spacious inside, is very sporty to drive and there is lots of standard equipment and safety kit. Built by VW but cheaper is the main appeal, SEAT’s though have a sporty style too, but the handling is not as sharp and ride bumpy.

Which models?

This is the pretty restyled Punto launched in 2006 and made until 2010. All had electric windows, CD player and great brakes, Dynamic model has air con. The revised Seat Ibiza from 2008 has very sharp and distinctive styling and decently equipped. The S model has air conditioning.

Are they reliable?

Both cars are easy to live with and cheap to service, however, the stand out Warranty Direct statistic is the repair costs as the Fiat is significantly cheaper to fix. Electrical issues are always annoying, but the engine problems with SEAT are always going to cost more to sort out.

How much do they cost?

Prices start at around £1800 and that will get a very tidy 2006 1.2 Active model. If you want to spend £4000 and get a very recent 2012 1.2 POP. £2700 buys a 2009 1.4 TDI Ecomotive from a dealer with a warranty. £4000 will get a 1.2 S 5 door with a petrol engine.

Sum Up

Although there is a lot to like about the more modern SEAT, the Warranty Direct figures indicate that the Punto is the better used buy.

Fiat Grande Punto

Average Repair Cost: £212.87

Axle and Suspension: 28.57%*

Electrical: 38.10%*

Steering: 19.05%*

Warranty Direct Rating: Above Average

* – failure rate

SEAT Ibiza 

Average Repair Cost: £367.69

Steering: 21.05*

Electrical: 10.53%*

Engine: 47.37*

Warranty Direct Rating: Below Average

* Failure rate

Nov 302015







Need a small family car? It has to be either a posh VW Golf or a hardworking Ford Focus.

Why Buy?

No one ever made a mistake by choosing a VW Golf. Even now, after the diesel scandal, these are still regarded as well built, practical and reliable. The Ford Focus has a bit more of a twist, it is still practical and cost effective to run, but it is also fun to drive. Many buyers like that.

Which models?

 The 2004-2009 Golf is regarded as the period when the model returned to form. They have decent safety equipment and the SE is the best spec. The all-new Focus had a tough act to follow, but it is stylish, spacious and reliable. LX specification has air conditioning.

Are they reliable?

The Golf has proved to be very trustworthy, the trouble is that fixing the Golf is always more costly than the Ford, by some margin. Also, Warranty Direct makes it clear that overall the Focus has proved to be the more reliable buy. So for cost and overall reliability the Focus wins.

How much do they cost?

It is now possible to buy high mileage examples from 2004 to 2005 at below £2000. Late examples are now around £8000, usually the high spec sporty ones. The focus is often discounted and around in large numbers so prices start at just over £1000 rising to £7800 or so.

Sum Up: Golf means style and quality, but it will cost more to run. The Focus means low running costs and reliability, the sensible choice.

Volkswagen Golf

 Average Repair Cost: £306.97

Axle and Suspension: 19.41%*

Electrical: 16.47%*

Engine: 21.76%*

Warranty Direct Rating: Average

* Failure rate

Ford Focus

Average Repair Cost: £280.83

Electrical: 30.39*

Axle/Suspension: 15.31%*

Engine: 16.47*

Warranty Direct Rating: Above Average

* Failure rate

Sep 252015

Skoda RoomsterVauxhall Meriva







Skoda Roomster vs Vauxhall Meriva

Small, practical and slightly funky cars are all the rage and perfect for equally funky families.

Why Buy?

We buy cars on looks and when we do that we end up with a Roomster. Cheaper to buy and run than the Yeti, with a less odd name but bags of space. The Meriva is good to drive and has groovy doors as the rear ones hinge the other way. Lots of space inside of course.

Which models?

The Skoda Roomster dates from 2005. There is a Scout model which made it look a lot more like an off roader, so its all for show and no 4 x 4 go. 2010 is when the Meriva became really interesting with those hand clap style doors. Also more refined and better to drive too.

Are they reliable?

On the whole both vehicles are pretty reliable and the Skoda seems to have faults spread around the fewest components. Both the Vauxhall and the Skoda suffer from the modern malady which is electrical issues. Both though rate above average according to Warranty Direct.

How much do they cost?

The Roomster can now be bought below £2000 and at the other end of the scale a two year old example is just over £12,000. You might get a 2010 Meriva with high mileage for £3300 rising to £13,500.

Sum Up: Both are great small family cars. The Roomster does not look it, but is the more conventional. Most of all both are interesting.

Skoda Roomster

Average Repair Cost: £333.75

Electrical: 45.45*

Axle/Suspension: 18.18%*

Gearbox: 13.64*

Warranty Direct Rating: Above Average to Good

* failure rate

Vauxhall Meriva

Average Repair Cost: £287.23

Electrical: 32.95%*

Steering System: 16.76%*

Transmission: 13.29*

Warranty Direct Rating: Above Average