The problem (well, one of many, many problems) with the Irish insurance system is that there essentially are no cars that are cheap to insure. There are cars that are obviously going to be shatteringly expensive to insure (anything with a big engine, anything with the word ‘Sport’ in its name, anything the insurer has never heard of…), but the bulk of the cost of Irish insurance isn’t down to the car, it’s down to the driver. Actuarially speaking, you’re the risky bit, not the car, so your age, your insurance history and your driving experience have a far greater effect on the cost of cover than what car you’ve chosen.
That said, picking the right car can make a big dent in your insurance costs, especially if you’re a younger driver. The secret, and as a general rule of thumb this works rather well, is to keep it small. Insurers in Ireland stick to some very archaic methods of judging a car’s risk and, basically, if you stick to in and around a 1.0-litre engine capacity, you’ll get a much cheaper premium. That’s despite many modern 1.0-litre engines having higher outputs than an older 1.4, but once again we should point out that very little about Irish insurance makes much sense.
Unlike in the UK, where the Association of British Insurers places each model of car into an insurance group, which gives you some indication of whether the price will be low or high, Irish insurers play their cards close to their chests, and don’t let us in on the secret of what insurance groups or bands they use.
One insurer though, KennCo Insurance, did give us a tiny peep behind the curtain. According to them, there are 50 insurance groups for cars in Ireland, and the lowest three groups are the cheapest to insure. So, the best cars from those groups are…
1. Toyota Yaris
Roomy and exceptionally well built. 1.0-litre engine has plenty of poke. It will never break.
2. Fiat Panda
Fiat has its reputation for unreliability, but the Panda is built in Poland, where the quality levels are higher. Basic 1.1 engine is pretty weedy, but the Panda’s actually quite good fun to drive.
3. SEAT Mii
The Mii has very low running costs (and repair costs too, crucial for insurance) and that 1.0-litre engine is very peppy.
4. Peugeot 107
Presumably cheap to insure because it’s so slow to drive (those doors weigh an almost literal tonne). Best kept in town.
5. Toyota Aygo
Smaller than the Yaris, and doesn’t feel as nice inside, but still hugely reliable and that 1.0 engine has sufficient poke for the weight.
6. Citroen C1
Basically the same as the Aygo, with the same engine, but you might pick one up cheaper than the Toyota.
7. Skoda Citigo
All but identical to the SEAT Mii except for the badges. Terrific small car.
8. Ford Ka
Older model Ka shares much with the Fiat 500, but isn’t as stylish. Not many around, but they are cheap to buy and run.
9. Kia Picanto
Could this be the most sensible car on the list? Decent space inside, decent performance, seven-year warranty and not bad to drive. Hard to beat, really.
10. Nissan Pixo
Twinned with the Suzuki Alto, its combo of tiny 1.0 engine and cheap construction keeps running and repair costs down.