We all love a bargain. Buy one get one free, 2 for 1, 50% off. All the tools that sellers use to grab our attention. When it comes to buying a car, we still all love a bargain. We will spend hours searching the classified ads in the paper or browsing online to find the perfect make, model and price. Searching for that special little one that’s almost too good to be true. But should we really be doing that? When it comes to cars, can we really afford to skimp on the cost?
The good news is that cars today are better than they have ever been. Build quality has never been so robust and the technology cars have these days make them safer, comfier and more efficient than ever. Even cars that are seven or eight years old are well worth buying. So you don’t need to sell a kidney or re-mortgage your house to get a decent vehicle.
With so many options on the market, we’ve put together this guide to help you find the best cars for under £10k. So read on and find the perfect affordable car, waiting for you.
We’ve looked online at the top consumer car websites to see which cars they recommend and combined that with our own expertise in car buying. Each car has been assessed on a few different criteria.
Price – All the cars on our list are readily available for under £10k, not just a few different makes and models.
Reliability – The cars score highly on the reliability index. They don’t breakdown that often and won’t spend more time in the mechanic’s garage than on the road.
Quality – Even after a few years of being used, the cars don’t wear and tear too much. The overall build quality is exceptional.
Economy – The cars aren’t too expensive to run. So a trip to the pump won’t set you back too much.
An icon of British motoring, even if it’s a German car, the Volkswagen Golf is beloved by first time drivers who want something a bit more exciting than a Vauxhall Corsa, Ford Fiesta or Fiat Punto as their first vehicle. With a bit more grunt in its engine and a lot more fun to drive, the VW Golf is the starter car for those who want something more than just a means to get from A to B.
But it’s not just for the boy racers. In the more recent models, the luxury level has been given a big boost. Comfort is improved by the enhanced legroom, smooth ride and the reduced cabin noise making it an ideal car for those who want speed, those who want comfort, and those who want a good balance between all three.
If you want a car with a sense of style and fun, then the Citroen C3 is a good option to go for. Just take a look at the unique bodywork with its black trim and strange bumps along the sides. The cool contrast between the trim and the brightly coloured bodywork makes it stand out in the same way a Fiat 500 or MINI does. Aside from the looks, the car has a light feel to it that makes it a breeze to drive. It feels like it has been designed to be simple, making it a great starter car or just a model for those with nothing to improve.
But it’s not all about the looks or driveability. The C3 also has one of the best price to age ratios on the market, with low mileage models from 2018 costing under the £10k mark. With affordable diesel and petrol engine options, you really do have a lot of choice when it comes to the C3.
It’s not just hatchbacks and superminis that you can get for under £10k. Many drivers, especially those with a young family, want something a bit bigger that feels a lot safer. It’s the reason the SUV and its smaller crossover cousin have replaced the estate and MPV as the family car of choice. Thankfully, there are a few different options under £10k, including the fantastic Hyundai Tucson.
It comes with all the qualities you expect from an SUV. An excellent high seating position giving you a powerful vantage point over the road. Lots of space in the back to keep your children from fighting (at least as much as is possible in a car). The Tucson has lots of different engine specs to choose from, and safety features such as automatic headlights and parking sensors. But if you want quantity to go with the quality and low price, the Tucson is a great choice.
You might think Ford Fiestas are a little boring or understated. What you need to do is keep an eye out for the Ford Fiesta ST. It has everything that makes the Fiesta one of the most popular cars in British history. A great all-round quality, especially its comfortable interior with plenty of space inside. But where you’ll notice the difference is as soon as you start the engine.
Able to go from 0-62mph in under seven seconds – in a hatchback! – this is the sporty alter ego of the Fiesta. Whether you’re cruising along the motorway or winding your way through country roads, the ST makes driving fun. So if you can’t afford a sports-car, go for the ST and get a small taste of the racer lifestyle.
Since the iconic TV advert with the robots painting Picasso drawings onto its bodywork, the Citroen C4 Grand Picasso has built its reputation as one of the best family cars on the market. While it’s not going to win any beauty contests – sadly the Picasso painting was just for the advert and not standard for the model – it more than makes up for style with substance.
The first thing you’ll notice inside the car is just how much space you have around you, whether you’re in the front or the middle seats. Even the back row has more space than you might imagine. You can adjust the seats to a variety of different set-ups, giving you versatility to adapt the car to how you want to use it. The large digital display gives the car an almost science fiction effect, with plenty of options onboard for you to control the temperature and entertainment from the comfort of the driving seat.
If you want a brand new car under £10k, the chances are you’ll end up with a Dacia. With many of their brand new models available at a premium, they are the master of no frills but ample quality new cars.
The Dacia Duster is their most popular model. This smart little SUV is available new at £10,995, so you’ll easily be able to get a decent quality used model for under £10k. The money you save could allow you to find the upgraded model – the Duster Laureate, that has all the features you want in a new car in 2020. Air-conditioning, alloy wheels, electric windows and cruise control are just some of the upgrades that make this affordable car much more attractive.
You might be surprised to see an Audi on this list, but the German manufacturer has a few models that meet our criteria. If you want something small, go for the Audi A1 as a prestige hatchback. But our choice is the Audi A3. Whether it’s the hatchback or saloon model, the A3 has a sense of style and class that belies its sub-£10k price.
The ideal car for the modern professional on a budget, you can choose between the 3 and 5-door models, and there are a whole host of petrol and diesel engine options to choose from. Most cars under £10k will be hatchbacks but look around and you might find a bargain or two waiting for you.
Where once they were the laughing stock of the motor industry, now most car companies are racing to catch up with Skoda and their leading mid-range family cars. The Skoda Octavia has won countless car of the year awards since it was first launched, it’s one of the best cars on the market.
There’s plenty of boot space in both the estate and saloon models, so room for golf clubs, buggies or shopping bags. Air con comes as standard in all models, as does Bluetooth compatibility and digital radio. There’s not much more that can be said about the Octavia other than it’s just a quality all-round motor.
For a good family hatchback, you can’t go wrong with the Vauxhall Astra. Another all-rounder, the Astra’s key selling point is its driveability, which makes it a car that can easily be shared between two drivers. If you have a family, the space in the car is enough for 1-2 children to sit comfortably. If you’re a professional, the car gets good miles to the gallon and has a smooth ride on motorways.
There are many options for under £10k, so a bit of research will help you tailor the car to your exact needs. It’s also good to see a UK manufacturer still creating high quality cars, so if you want to buy British, then buy an Astra.
More and more eco-friendly cars are starting to hit the used market, so if you want to go green, why not get a second-hand model? The best of the bunch in our eyes is the hybrid Toyota Prius MK3.
One of the first true hybrids to hit the market, the Prius proved that you can have a decent car with an electric engine that won’t leave you feeling short-changed. While more hybrids are on the market now, the Prius is still one of the best in the business, and its high quality technology means that you can get a slightly older model (5-6 years) without losing out.
And keep a look out for second-hand models that are ex-taxicabs. While the mileage might be a lot higher, these cars tend to have been looked after. So you could grab yourself a bargain, even if it’s just for a short term.
Two cars took the top spot in Whatcar magazine’s reliability test in 2020. The Skoda Citigo and Toyota Aygo. Both recent models scored 100% in the test, meaning the owners surveyed reported no problems at all with their vehicle. Small city cars, perfect for small families, you can also find these models for under £10k. Just keep an eye out for the Citigo as the most recent models are only available in full-electric, so you may need to install a charging point.
Also featured on the list was the Volkswagen up!, but beware of the Dacia Sandero, Suzuki Ignis and Kia Picanto which all scored poorly amongst those surveyed.
Top tip: Car warranties these days can be up to 5 or 6 years in length. So if you buy a used car that’s a few years old, chances are that warranty is still in place. Make sure the previous owner has been following the warranty guidelines and you could have extra protection for your vehicle.
Car build quality means that there are more and more old vehicles on the road, with people only changing because they can afford to, rather than because they have to. You’ll still see plenty of Y-reg vehicles on the road in 2020. But the car that’s been listed as lasting the most is the Honda Accord, which is unsurprising as cars from Japan and Korea often score well for reliability.
Also on the longest lasting list is the Lexus LS (surprising for a luxury car to score so highly), the Toyota Yaris, Mazda 6 and the BMW 5 Series. While many of these cars are probably closer to being classics than practical choices, they should give you an idea of the manufacturers to follow in 2020.