For some people buying a new car is akin to buying a new fridge or TV…as long as it does the job and looks decent then all is hunky dory. This is how people end up buying Honda Civics or Toyota Camrys. People of my generation (aka Gen Y) might add brand preferences into the mix, and the all-important tech specs; this probably equates more to choosing a mobile phone as opposed to a humble appliance, but does this mean that everybody is driving around in the automotive equivalent of iPhones? Of course not, but there are a few choices which tend to be the default for guys and girls my age.
The reason I bring this up is because of an ongoing conversation I am having with somebody I work with; he’s 22 and has worked full-time in M&S for a couple of years. No rent and a decent amount of disposable income means that a change in car is something he can consider even after just 18 months, something I can only dream of. Is an X5 or any Volvo’s on his shortlist? Not at all, but there are lots of cars which males in their early 20’s normally go after…here is another top 5:
Audi A3: Audi’s are definately ‘in’ at the moment, and have been for a few years now. Stylish on the outside and with a quality cabin, there is not much about the A3 to dislike for the average customer, and in fact it currently sits in the UK’s Top 10 sellers list. For used buyers the previous generation is a good bet; launched in 2003, all models received the current Audi grille in 2006 (the 3dr originally made do without) and so these are probably the ones to go for…especially post-2008 when they all got daytime running lights. Tech-spec is decent too, especially in these later cars, and fuel economy is generally good with the smaller engines. The smaller A1 might appeal for buyers looking for a new car, but the A3 is a tad more butch, indeed my work mate currently has one!
BMW 1 Series: I am not the 1er’s greatest fan, but I do accept that it is a nicely handling little car…even if most buyers might not realise it’s RWD. The original car is what most buyers my age will be looking at, and in my opinion it’s not as ugly as the current generation, although neither’s interior matches the Audi. It isn’t practical but the sporty handling is matched by a range of powerful engines, and most won’t be used to cart around more than a few of mates anyway. If there was a 1 Series to tempt me it would definitely be the Coupe; similar in concept to the classic 2002 and available with everything from a 2L diesel to a 3L straight six turbo petrol the 1 Series is a great first rung on the BMW ladder.
Ford Fiesta ST: A Fiesta is a car that appeals to anyone; from elderly ladies to 17 year olds getting a new car, all are won over by the car’s stylish looks, modern interior and tidy driving characteristics. The recently launched ST model is what will appeal to the majority of boy racers-it looks quite sharp even in ubiquitous Essex white, with 17 inch alloy wheels and go-faster stripes helping it in the desirability stakes. The 1.6 turbo charged petrol is not that expensive to run either, so for anyone looking for a new car circa £17k the Fiesta ST is a neat little choice…for those with less money the Zetec S offers similar looks for less, and the previous generation ST is a good budget hot hatch.
Vauxhall Corsa VXR: Even though I respect both the Fiesta ST and the Corsa VXR, neither appeal to me on any level…especially the VXR with it’s questionable add-ons and even more questionable image. Manic power comes from a 1.6L turbo petrol engine and although there is decent performance on offer torque steer can be a problem. Styling wise the VXR has some neat details such as the centrally mounted exhaust pipe and alloys, but inside it is starting to lag behind class leaders. Still, the oldest models are now over 5 years old, so if you can find an unmolested car you could get a decent performance bargain.
VW Golf: Ah the Golf…classless and with even more appeal than the likes of the Fiesta (thanks to the VW badge on the bonnet). There isn’t much that the Golf does wrong; it’s reasonably attractive and classy looking, the interior is well laid out and made, and there are a wide range of engine and bodystyle options for buyers to choose from. I see alot of guys my age in Golfs…ranging from older MK IV’s to the recent MK VII, but to me the car doesn’t really hold much appeal. The 1.6/2.0 tdi engines are suitable for any young motorway munchers working their way up to a 320d, but for around town the 1.4Tsi engine is pretty decent, or the 2.0L in the GTI is more fun for anyone with slightly more budget. Personally I’d prefer an A3, but a MK 5 GTI holds a certain appeal to me and still looks great.
Obviously I think that all 20-something’s are after a premium/fast hatchback…clearly not the case when you take the likes of me into consideration. But for the relatively sensible gent with a bit of money to spend on a decent first car, these efficient yet fun machines offer a path into car ownership which is a lot more predictable than what I expect to encounter with a near-decade old SUV. Maybe I’ll have more fun? Maybe the douchebags who drive pimped out 318Ci’s have more fun too? But I’d happily recommend any of these vehicles to anyone whose interested. Tomorrow I’ll try and do a list for female buyers, although to be honest a lot of these cars would appeal to them too!