What are the cheapest cars to run?

James Mills
Written by: James Mills
Posted on: 23 June 2016

It’s little wonder so many drivers want to know what the cheapest car to run is.

Servicing and maintenance can be the most money-sapping elements of car ownership. Fuel bills, car insurance premiums and depreciation in value may eclipse them but following the manufacturer’s recommended service schedule is a sensible way of ensuring economical, reliable motoring.

The good news is that servicing costs vary greatly depending on the car.

According to the CAP Automotive Total Cost of Ownership database, these are the top 10 cheapest cars to maintain. The costs are for 10,000 miles a year over a two-year period, and the two figures given represent the smallest and highest bill for the different variants in the model range. And if your car isn’t on the list, to make you feel better, we’ve also included the country’s most expensive car to look after.

1. Seat Leon

£143-£166

Seat Leon

Seat Leon

According to CAP Automotive’s figures, the lowest cost car in the UK to service is the Seat Leon. The cheapest service and maintenance charges are for the 1.2 TSI petrol model. The sporty 2.0-litre Cupra with the complex DSG auto gearbox is the most expensive, although it’s still a reasonable £166.

2. Skoda Rapid

£160-£212

Skoda Rapid

Skoda Rapid

The Rapid promises a lot of car for a relatively low price. The 1.4 TSI petrol model is the cheapest to live with. Choose the 1.4-litre diesel model and, as well as costing more to buy, it’ll prove significantly pricier to look after.

3. Renault Zoe

£161

Renault Zoe

Renault Zoe

Despite being quite expensive to buy, the all-electric Zoe pays you back when it comes to servicing. With no oily bits under the bonnet, battery-powered motors are relatively cheap to care for. Perhaps this will help make more drivers consider owning an electric car…

It doesn’t always follow that the smaller a car’s engine is, the cheaper it is to look after

4. Skoda Octavia

£165-£201

Skoda Octavia

Skoda Octavia

Although there’s a huge difference in performance between the 1.2TSI and 2.0TSI vRS Octavia models, there’s actually not a vast disparity in the cost of servicing and maintenance, CAP Automotive says.

5. Volkswagen Golf

£168-£344

Volkswagen Golf

Volkswagen Golf

It doesn’t always follow that the smaller a car’s engine is, the cheaper it is to look after. Sometimes downsizing means an engine is significantly more complicated and therefore more expensive to work on. This seems to be the case with the VW Golf. Although you’ll get better economy from the 1.0 TSI, the 1.4TSI is cheaper to maintain.

6. Volkswagen Polo

£168-£216

Volkswagen Polo

Volkswagen Polo

The popular Polo is another car that is more expensive in diesel than petrol form. The cheapest to look after is the 1.2TSI. While the 1.4TDI diesel may be more economical, it’s the most expensive Polo to care for.

7. Hyundai Tucson

£187-£230

Hyundai Tucson

Hyundai Tucson

The Korean company’s small SUV offers all-round good value for money. The 1.7 CRDi diesel model is the cheapest, the 2.0 CRDi the costliest to keep in tip-top condition.

8. Renault Clio

£206-£301

Renault Clio

Renault Clio

There’s nearly £100 cost differential between the cheapest and most expensive Renault superminis to maintain. The cheapest is the 1.6 turbo. As with other Renaults, models fitted with the old 1.5 dCi turbo-diesel engine are the costliest to care for.

9. Renault Kadjar

£226-£351

Renault Kadjar

Renault Kadjar

The third Renault in this list is the company’s new SUV. Interestingly the cheapest Kadjar is the new 1.6 dCi diesel engine, the most expensive – by £125 – is the model fitted with the older 1.5 dCi engine.

10. Alfa Romeo Mito

£235-£424

Alfa Romeo Mito

Alfa Romeo Mito

Alfa’s smallest model is also its cheapest to look after, in 1.3 JTDM diesel guise. The most expensive model, the 1.4 turbo MultiAir, costs £189 more.

And the most expensive car to service is… the Aston Martin Vanquish V12 £3,953

The Aston Martin is the most expensive car in the country to keep running in peak condition according to CAP Automotive. Its V12 engine and automatic gearbox mean it will cost £164 a month to maintain – more than the cost of the country’s cheapest cars over two years.

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