Good cheap cars

You may have heard the saying 'buy cheap buy twice' but that needn't be the case with the right car - such as any of these models

James Wilson
Jan 15, 2021

Good cheap cars are a breed of vehicle which is often undervalued. Sure, a bright red Ferrari on the drive would be nice but let’s face it, the majority of the time it would be a pain to use - plus there is the not-so-small matter of running costs. On the flipside, cars such as the Honda Civic and Nissan Micra aren't exciting but promise mile after mile of hassle-free motoring, reliable mechanicals, lots of standard equipment and low running costs. What’s not to love?

Such worthy, affordable and reliable cars may be overshadowed by the latest and greatest models, but let other people spend huge amounts on those and you can get a great value car that does very nearly as much for a much more palatable price. Many everyday cars, which are perfect for handling everything UK motorists can throw at them, get overlooked, so as a result their prices are low so you can get a good car for less than you might think. Below are eight cars which promise to be dependable and easy to live with despite being cheap as chips.

Happily, quality cheap cars come in all shapes and sizes; there are affordable yet desirable hatchbacks, estates, SUVs, people carriers and even sports cars. Don’t go thinking that our suggestions will leave you feeling short-changed either, as models such as the Seat Mii are closely related to the stylish and high-quality VW Up, yet the Seat models are more affordable.

On the subject of budget, all the models below are available second-hand for less than £15,000 on BuyaCar, though many can be found for less than £10,000. Meanwhile, if you're planning to use PCP finance to get low monthly payments, expect to pay around £130 to £160 per month for one of these. Keep reading to find the best good cheap car for your needs.

Good cheap cars

1. Seat Mii

Good cheap city car

Our pick Seat Mii SE
Used deals from £4,401
Monthly finance from £95*

As touched upon above, the Seat Mii is not a standalone car - it is closely related to the Volkswagen Up and Skoda Citigo (Seat and Skoda are part of the VW Group) - a triplet of cars that are fundamentally the same underneath but have different badges and subtly different styling inside and out. While the Up and Citigo receive most of the attention - and so typically cost more - those looking to grab a bargain could be better off choosing a Mii. Those that do will find themselves driving a small, frugal, fun and comfy car.

All Mii models are petrol-powered and the majority come with a manual gearbox. There are three- and five-door versions available, and while the Mii is first and foremost a small car, the rear two seats will happily transport adults in comfort. Yes, the Mii may be a tiny car, but the boot is pretty large for a car of this type, too, offering 251 litres of space.

If you're looking for maximum value with your Mii, there is little need to step up to one of the more expensive versions. Even SE models, for example, typically include air-conditioning, electric front windows, alloy wheels and a six-speaker sound system as standard, making them a good value choice.

SEAT MII BUYERS' GUIDE

2. Nissan Micra

Good cheap supermini

Our pick Nissan Micra Acenta
Used deals from £6,799
Monthly finance from £115*

Yes, the previous four versions of the Nissan Micra are regarded as bland to look at and uninspiring to drive but the latest version is positively desirable. Still, not everyone has realised how good a car the new Micra is, so prices are very competitive. What’s more, there is a healthy selection of engines (petrol and diesel) and gearboxes (most are manual but automatic versions can be found) - although all models have five doors.

When it comes to trims our pick would be Acenta - as this version promises good value for money when considering the amount of standard equipment. You can expect alloy wheels and air-conditioning along with other desirable bits of kit. Practicality is good too, with a 300-litre boot, which is only 11 litres behind the incredibly popular and decently practical Ford Fiesta.

NISSAN MICRA BUYERS' GUIDE

3. Honda Civic

Good cheap family hatchback


Our pick Honda Civic SE
Used deals from £9,999
Monthly finance from £166*

The latest Honda Civic is an improvement over the model it replaced in all the areas that matter most. This means fuel economy, refinement and driving pleasure are better than before. As a result, the Civic is undoubtedly a great all-round car. However, it fails to stand out against its rivals as it doesn’t have a unique selling point, while the Ford Focus shines as it drives brilliantly, Peugeot’s 308 stands out for its impressive economy and the Mercedes A-Class has a slick media system and multiple in-car digital displays.

Even so, there is one area that the Honda is distinctive and that is styling. Some love it, some hate it, but few can argue it isn’t at least very different from the competition. The Civic’s range of engines is modest - two petrol options, plus the very fast Type R model, which has a standalone engine - and one diesel.

It is a similar story with gearboxes with one manual and one automatic. The best choice for most drivers is the 1.0-litre manual petrol model, as it's affordable and pleasant to drive, but the 1.6-litre diesel is a good bet for those doing a lot of motorway miles.

HONDA CIVIC BUYERS' GUIDE

4. Ford Focus Estate

Good cheap estate car

Our pick Ford Focus Estate Zetec (or Titanium X if within budget)
Used deals from £6,995
Monthly finance from £128*

The previous-generation Ford Focus Estate offers everything that makes the regular hatchback Focus a great car but with the addition of a huge boot. What makes the regular model so good? Well, it is brilliant to drive, relatively well equipped (ignoring entry-level Style versions) and doesn't cost much to run. 1.5-litre diesel versions promise impressive fuel economy, though the 1.0-litre EcoBoost petrol versions are still quite economical but more fun to drive.

As petrol is typically cheaper than diesel and 1.0-litre petrol models usually cost less than 1.5-litre diesels, these are the best choice for most drivers, barring those who cover many tens of thousands of miles per year, who could cut their fuel bills enough with the more economical diesel to cover the higher initial cost.

We'd skip entry-level Style versions and go for a Zetec model if we were on a budget. These typically come with an eight-inch touchscreen media system that has sat-nav built in, plus air-conditioning, alloy wheels and Bluetooth. If you have more to spend, though, range-topping Titanium X models that may have been pricey new, represent excellent value used.

Manual and automatic gearboxes are available with the Focus, and while neither is a bad option, the manual is very nice to use so would be our choice. Be aware that Ford updated the Focus Estate in 2014 and if you can stretch to one of these 2014-on models you'll benefit from a number of subtle improvements.

FORD FOCUS ESTATE BUYERS' GUIDE

5. Fiat 500X

Good cheap small SUV/crossover

Our pick Fiat 500X Lounge
Used deals Limited stock

Following the huge success of its 500 city car, Fiat decided it was a good idea to make a bigger, more practical version and called it the 500X. Fundamentally the ‘X is a crossover - a car that sits halfway between a hatchback and a taller off-roader. Happily, the result is rather good - the 500X offers a plentiful level of standard equipment, the retro styling is slick and appealing and the 500X drives pretty well for a tall car. In fact, the 500X is one of the best cars of its type for comfort on motorway journeys.

To help keep up with the competition, Fiat updated its 500X in 2018. As part of the revisions diesel engines and four-wheel drive models were dropped. This is no bad thing, as it's manual petrol models that are typically cheapest. The revised models are available with either an automatic or manual gearbox and standard equipment across the range includes alloy wheels, cruise control and air-conditioning.

FIAT 500X BUYERS' GUIDE

6. Kia Sportage

Good cheap SUV

Our pick Kia Sportage 1
Used deals from £9,744
Monthly finance from £154*

The previous-generation Kia Sportage is something of a sales success story. Even so, some disregard it purely because of the badge. This is foolish as not only does the old-shape Sportage look good, but it is well equipped and available with a strong range of engines. And there is, of course, Kia’s seven-year/100,000-mile warranty included as standard - which is amongst the longest cover available on any car available in the UK - and means that even four-year old Sportages include as much warranty cover as most brand new models.

Like many alternatives, there are manual and automatic gearboxes and petrol and diesel engines to choose from. Drivers can also pick from two- and four-wheel drive Sportages, too. For those who only occasionally venture out of town and on longer journeys, a 1.6-litre petrol automatic is a good choice, but those who do more miles per year, carry a number of passengers or heavy luggage, or who might want to tow something would be better served by a 1.7-litre diesel manual, as this offers much more low-engine-speed muscle.

Entry-level ‘1’ specification includes cruise control, air-conditioning and Bluetooth, which should prove ample for most, so even if you go for the cheapest Sportage available, you should get plenty for your money. 

KIA SPORTAGE BUYERS' GUIDE

7. Citroen Grand C4 SpaceTourer

Good cheap seven-seat people carrier

Our pick Citroen Grand C4 SpaceTourer Touch
Used deals from £13,999
Monthly finance from £204*

Despite newer SUVs replacing people carriers as the go-to choice for many drivers wanting a big car, the Citroen Grand C4 SpaceTourer is still one of the most practical people movers on the planet. Plus, Citroen’s efficient engines translate to low running costs - diesel models offer claimed fuel economy of up to 70mpg, which is very impressive for such a large car. That's much more economical than most similarly sized SUVs and the Grand C4 SpaceTourer’s interior is also a much nicer place to be than most SUVs.

For the best good cheap option, we'd go for a post-2016 1.6-litre BlueHDi Touch model. Touch trim includes air-conditioning, cruise control, parking sensors (which are very useful when six passengers’ heads hamper your visibility when parking). When shopping for a SpaceTourer, be aware that the ‘Grand’ in ‘Grand C4 SpaceTourer’ signifies that it is a seven-seat model. There are five-seat C4 SpaceTourer models, too, and these tend to be a bit cheaper in the first place, but only make sense if you're happier with a smaller car.

CITROEN GRAND C4 SPACETOURER BUYERS' GUIDE

8. Peugeot 308 GTI

Good cheap hot hatchback

Our pick Peugeot 308 GTI
Used deals from £14,500
Monthly finance from £217*

High-performance hatchbacks have long been a favourite with British motorists - largely thanks to their combination of speed, practicality and affordability. Now, though, many car makers seem to have gone crazy with power, making hot hatches an appealing option even for those after high-end sports car performance.

The Peugeot 308 GTI isn't the fastest hatchback, but it's still pretty speedy and it is something of a forgotten gem when it comes to value for money. Perhaps the reserved styling helps it sneak under the radar, but saying that, Peugeot’s ‘Coupe Franche’ two-tone paint schemes - as seen in the image above - is anything but discrete.

All 308 GTI models come with a manual gearbox and power the front wheels. This is no bad thing as the car is engaging to drive and handles corners well - having less power than other super-hatchbacks helps to keep it controllable - and you get relatively good fuel economy if you drive sensibly. You also get a distinctive interior where you look at the driver’s dials over the steering wheel, while the wheel itself is very small. Standard equipment levels are good, although Apple CarPlay/Android Auto functionality is only available on post-2017 models.

PEUGEOT 308 BUYERS' GUIDE

*Representative PCP finance - Ford Fiesta:

48 monthly payments of £192
Deposit: £0
Mileage limit: 8,000 per year
Optional final payment to buy car: £2,923
Total amount payable to buy car: £11,926
Total cost of credit: £2,426
Amount borrowed: £9,500
APR: 9.9%

BuyaCar is a credit broker, not a lender. Our rates start from 6.9% APR. The rate you are offered will depend on your individual circumstances.

 

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