Cheap used cars 2024

Alarmed by the price of new cars? Buy second-hand. Here are the 10 best cheap used cars right now

By Gavin Braithwaite-Smith March 19, 2024

New cars are expensive. The price of Britain’s cheapest new car has crept up to the £15,000 mark, which is stretching the definition of ‘cheap’. This probably explains why you’re here looking for an affordable used car, because nobody likes spending more than they have to on a set of wheels.

Buying a used car is a good idea for several reasons, not least because somebody else has swallowed the lion’s share of the depreciation. New cars lose a significant chunk of their value in the first year, so somebody’s loss is your gain. Buy something relatively new and you’ll benefit from the remainder of the original manufacturer’s warranty, especially if the car comes with five or even seven years of cover.


It’s also worth remembering that buying a used car isn’t the game of chance it was when your parents were scouring the pages of a magazine looking for a bargain back in the Eighties or Nineties.

Cars these days are more reliable than they were even two decades ago. Most come with the latest safety and driver assistance technology, not to mention the opportunity to connect your favourite smartphone apps to the infotainment system. Here are the best cheap used cars you should be considering, all of which are available at attractive prices.

Audi A1

Best cheap used car for impressing your neighbours
Our pick: Audi A1 35 TFSI SE
Read our full Audi A1 review

We begin with the Audi A1, not just because A is the first letter of the alphabet, but also because you fancy an Audi. A lot of people do. Audi builds some of the most fashionable cars on the planet. 

So, it’s not hard to see the appeal of the Audi A1. You get the benefits of a larger Audi, such as the right badge, excellent build quality and the opportunity to impress your neighbours, but in a smaller and more affordable package.

The current Audi A1 arrived in 2018, which means the earliest versions are deep into ‘cheap’ territory. Some rival small cars are cheaper than the Audi A1, but all models feature a classy digital instrument cluster, LED lights and alloy wheels. 


Citroen C3 Aircross

Best cheap used car for something fun and funky
Our pick: Citroen C3 Aircross PureTech 110 Feel
Read our full Citroen C3 Aircross review

Back in the days when your parents were young, Citroen offered some of the biggest discounts on a new car. Those days are gone, but the French company still sells some of the most affordable models – and its cars have improved immeasurably.

The Citroen C3 Aircross is a prime example. As the name suggests, it’s based on the excellent Citroen C3 small car, but the Aircross bit means it gets trendy SUV styling. More ground clearance, some body armour, a spacious and practical interior and, if you choose the right version, something called Grip Control, which allows you to venture off-road.

There’s a wide choice of petrol and diesel engines available, all of which are configured to deliver excellent fuel economy. Avoid the entry-level Touch trim, because the Feel and Flair have more toys.


Dacia Sandero

Best cheap used car for bargain basement motoring
Our pick: Dacia Sandero 0.9 TCe Comfort
Read our full Dacia Sandeo review

For a long while, the Dacia Sandero was Britain’s cheapest new car, with a headline price of £5,995. Sure, the vast majority of buyers upgraded to a more expensive model, but you could, if you didn’t want air-conditioning or a radio, drive out of a Dacia showroom in a car that cost a fiver short of six grand. 

Prices have crept up, but it still represents tremendous value for money, especially if you’re after a cheap used car. It’s essentially a small hatchback for city car money.

The first-generation Dacia Sandero (2013-2021) was available with a 1.5-litre diesel engine for Scrooge-like running costs, but the 0.9-litre turbocharged petrol engine offers a terrific blend of performance and economy. Access trim is very basic, though, and worth avoiding.


Ford Fiesta

Best cheap used car for the greatest choice
Our pick: Ford Fiesta 1.0 EcoBoost 125 Titanium
Read our full Ford Fiesta review

It’s hard to believe that the Ford Fiesta is no longer in production. As the country’s most popular new car, the little Ford was part of the furniture, providing transport to everyone from students to pensioners. There were sporty versions for boy (and girl) racers, posh models for those who fancied a bit of luxury, basic variants for those on a budget and even a van.

Being the nation’s favourite new car means there are a lot to choose from on the used car market. This helps to keep prices low while ensuring you can afford to be picky; if you don’t like one Ford Fiesta, simply move on to the next one.

There’s a wide range of engines and trims available, but a mid-range Ford Fiesta Titanium should offer everything you need, including cruise control, climate control, automatic wipers and an eight-inch touchscreen display with sat-nav. All versions are great to drive, but keen drivers should consider the Ford Fiesta ST-Line trim or, even better, the Ford Fiesta ST hot hatch.


Honda Jazz

Best cheap used car for space and practicality
Our pick: Honda Jazz 1.3 i-VTEC SE
Read our full Honda Jazz review

The Honda Jazz has a reputation for attracting a more mature driver. It’s the automotive equivalent of watching Countdown with a cup of tea and a slice of lemon drizzle cake. 

Fair enough, but the Honda Jazz also has a reputation for dependability, which means it makes a lot of sense if you’re buying a car on a budget. In other words, you can buy a Honda Jazz and not worry too much about unexpected repair bills and the prospect of spending a night on the hard shoulder of a motorway.

The other thing the Honda Jazz does very well is practicality. It might be a Volkswagen Polo rival in terms of size, but the boot is large enough for it to compete with the Volkswagen Golf. You can even increase the load space by folding down the back seats, or by folding them like cinema chairs to leave a large area in the rear footwells. Perfect for carrying yucca plants, garden statues and upright vacuum cleaners. 


Hyundai Tucson

Best cheap used car for growing families
Our pick: Hyundai Tucson 1.6 CRDi SE Nav
Read our full Hyundai Tucson review

If you’ve made it this far into our list of cheap used cars, you’d be forgiven for thinking we’ve only got eyes for small hatchbacks. On the contrary, we know a good family SUV when we see one – and the Hyundai Tucson is exactly that. In fact, it’s arguably one of the best.

We’re focusing on the Hyundai Tucson available from 2015 until 2021, which offers the best value for money on the used car market. It’s also ideal if the styling of the latest Hyundai Tucson sees you waking up in the dead of night in a cold sweat, screaming for the normality of the Nissan Qashqai.

The 513-litre boot is big enough for a large weekly shop or luggage for a family of four, while the five-year unlimited mileage warranty means the latest cars will be covered until 2026. A facelift in 2018 revamped the styling, improved the level of standard kit and saw the introduction of a new 1.6-litre diesel capable of delivering an official 60mpg.


Kia Stonic

Best cheap used car for a long warranty
Our pick: Kia Stonic 1.0T GDi 3
Read our full Kia Stonic review

Most mainstream manufacturers offer a small SUV of some description, so why should you choose the Kia Stonic over its rivals? The seven-year warranty is a factor, because even the earliest Kia Stonics are still covered. That’s impressive for a car that arrived in 2017.

It’s not the cheapest small SUV you can buy, but it does come with a generous level of standard equipment, so even the entry-level 2 trim is worth a look. Highlights include 16-inch alloy wheels, air-conditioning, rear parking sensors and an eight-inch touchscreen infotainment system with smartphone connectivity.

As for engines, the pick of the bunch is the 1.0-litre turbo petrol, which offers punchy performance in town and the fuel economy of a diesel on a long run. The old 1.4-litre petrol engine is best avoided, but the 1.5-litre diesel is worth a look if you spend a lot of time on the motorway.


MG 3

Best cheap used car for value for money
Our pick: MG 3 1.5 VTi-Tech Exclusive
Read our full MG 3 review

With a price tag around £14,000, the MG 3 is one of Britain’s cheapest new cars. In fact, only the Kia Picanto is cheaper, and that’s significantly smaller than the MG 3. Granted, it arrived in 2013, so the MG 3 is showing its age, but it does come with a seven-year/80,000-mile warranty.

It’s let down by its 1.5-litre petrol engine, which feels like a dinosaur in a world of small turbocharged petrol engines and electrification, but that’s the only major drawback. In other respects, it’s a likeable and distinctive small car that’s surprisingly fun to drive.

We’d recommend an MG 3 registered after the 2018 facelift, when the styling was refreshed, the interior updated and the level of standard specification improved. Even the Excite model features an eight-inch touchscreen infotainment system, air-conditioning, rear parking sensors and 16-inch alloy wheels.


Skoda Octavia

Best cheap used car for all-round excellence
Our pick: Skoda Octavia 1.0 TSI SE Technology
Read our full Skoda Octavia review

If in doubt, buy a Skoda Octavia. Available as a practical hatchback and an even more practical estate, the Czech model shares its mechanical bits with the Volkswagen Golf, but is more spacious than its more expensive sibling.

The hatchback’s 590-litre boot is so big, you don’t necessarily need to buy the estate for its 610 litres of luggage capacity, although your dog might disagree. The estate will also come in handy when you visit a Swedish furniture store and buy more than just a plate of meatballs, though...

Running costs are kept in check by a range of fuel-efficient engines, from a 1.0-litre turbocharged petrol that makes surprisingly light work of powering the car, to a 2.0-litre diesel that’s perfect for long journeys. A five-star Euro NCAP safety rating is another mark in its favour.


Volkswagen Polo

Best cheap used car for a touch of quality
Our pick: Volkswagen Polo 1.0 TSI 95 Match
Read our full Volkswagen Polo review

Introduced in 2018, the current Volkswagen Polo feels more like a Volkswagen Golf. That’s to say that it has matured into a rather grown-up small car, with a level of quality that pushes it beyond its immediate rivals and into premium territory.

This means it can also feel a bit staid and steady, with even the Volkswagen Polo GTI lacking the raw edge of other small hot hatches. And that’s fine, because being safe, dependable and comfortable is just the ticket for a lot of buyers.

The 1.0-litre TSI is the sweet spot of the engine range, while the Match trim offers the best balance of equipment and price.