Our guide to the perfect car commuting
Unless you’re particularly lucky, commuting is the bookend of the working day nobody wants. After all, it’s your time and hard-earned money spent stuck in traffic jams or behind something slow moving.
Thankfully we’ve put together a list of fine second-hand buys with something to suit all manner of roads and journeys. Of course, you’re probably thinking, how much is my car worth? Well, you should head to an online car valuation site to check it out (like the one linked above), where you can also find out what your prospective purchase is really worth, too.
- Mercedes-Benz C-Class
The C-Class combines a luxury feel with low running costs. Opt for a C220d automatic with the nine-speed auto for the best blend of performance and economy, while cars with the optional Airmatic suspension are best for long-distance comfort.
- Audi A5 Sportback
Coupe looks don’t necessarily mean impracticality. Take the A5 Sportback, its sleek roofline hides a practical hatchback and rear headroom almost as good as the A4 saloon’s. A 2.0 TDI S Line won’t break the bank when it comes to fuel costs and is available with Quattro four-wheel drive, too.
- Vauxhall Insignia Grand Sport
It may not wear a premium badge, but the Insignia offers an awful lot for the money. It’s much larger than the C-Class and A5 while the upper trim levels are packed full of gadgets. Avoid the petrols if you want something frugal and stick to the 2.0-litre diesel. The smaller unit is rather coarse.
- Honda Civic Hatchback
With official economy at 56.5mpg, the real charm of the petrol Civic 1.0-litre Turbo EX is in the split personality it offers for city and country driving. Flick into sport mode and you can enjoy the well-balanced chassis so bends become something to look forward to.
On the motorway Honda’s multiple driver assistants ease progress with subtle active steering assistance, adaptive cruise control and easy stop-start traffic progress. It’s a practical choice thanks to a big boot, too.
- Ford Focus
The Focus remains one of the best handling hatchbacks out there and is available with a wide range of frugal petrol and diesel engines. We’d avoid the automatic gearbox, no hardship when the manual’s shift is so good.
You’ll find the ride is a bit firm in ST Line models, so stick to well-equipped Titanium trim for softer springs and smaller wheels to improve comfort. Boot space isn’t particularly great, although rear leg room is good for the class.
- Toyota C-HR
Combining dramatic looks with low running costs, decent handling and a dose of practicality, the CH-R is a tidy handling and reliable choice. We’d pick one of the hybrid models, the 1.8-litre if you do most of your driving in town and on slower roads, or the 2.0-litre if it’s mainly A-roads and motorways.
Just bear in mind that while it is more practical than a traditional coupe, it’s not as useful as a more conventional SUV. Claustrophobic rear seats and a relatively small boot both count against it.
- Citroen C3
What’s great about the C3 is that it’s been designed by someone that clearly knows city life. It’s compact but spacious enough inside for most and comes with plastic Airbumps to shrug off minor contact.
It’s even available with a built in dashcam and automatic emergency braking, features that could potentially save your no claims bonus.
- Nissan Leaf
A combination of smooth electric power and advanced driver assists make the Leaf a pain free urban commuter. ProPilot equipped cars get the best tech, although it’s the single pedal driving setting that really takes the stress out of urban driving.
Lift off the accelerator and the regenerative braking can slow the car to a stop while topping up the batteries with a bit of charge. You soon learn to touch the brake pedal barely ever, helping you to drive in the most efficient way possible.
- Ford Fiesta
Zesty Ecoboost engines, sharp handling and its diminutive size make carving through city streets a pleasure in the Fiesta. There are loads out there to choose from, too, from basic Trend through sporty ST-Line all the way up to luxurious Vignale. There’s even a more rugged looking Active model.
We’d recommend the Ecoboost 125 petrol while Zetec trim has all the kit you actually need. Keep an eye out for the driver assistance pack for adaptive cruise control and automatic emergency braking.