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When it comes to cheap cars that are affordable to run, buyers actually have a wide selection to choose from, especially on the used market. Unsurprisingly, the best cars in this class are small hatchbacks, superminis, and compact city cars. Typically, these have lower starting prices (whether buying new or pre-owned) and offer better fuel economy thanks to their smaller dimensions and frugal engines.
Typically, the cheapest vehicles are often those bought second-hand, with some excellent deals across the country on the used car market. Whilst the top 10 autos on this list have low-cost starting prices, they also enjoy lots of pre-owned deals too, suiting a variety of budgets. If you opt to buy a used car, here are some quick tips to help you out. Be sure to:
Whether you are a young driver looking to buy your first car with your saved wages, a professional commuter looking for a low-cost run-around vehicle or a family with a set budget, there’s always a model out there to suit your needs. And to provide a little help and inspiration, we’ve rounded up our top 10 best cheap cars that are affordable to run. Read on to discover our picks.
A very popular supermini on British roads, the Vauxhall Corsa is often a favourite of new drivers thanks to its affordable starting price and the wealth of used deals available on the market, with plenty of second-hand cars for less than £2k. Whilst older models can be a bit more functional in their styling and approach to driving, they are still easy to drive, great all-rounders with low running costs. The new Corsa builds on top of those strong foundations, improving almost every aspect with stylish good looks thrown into the mix and a more involving driver’s experience. Simply put, the Vauxhall Corsa (regardless of whether new or old) remains one of the best cheap cars to buy. It’s also rather frugal with good miles per gallon (MPG).
USED PRICES FROM £300
Hot on the heels of the Vauxhall Corsa, the Nissan Micra is a very similar supermini which is equally as popular. It’s easy to drive, with nimble handling, and it has good fuel economy. New models can be bought from roughly £14.5k, but you can also take your pick from hundreds of used models for less than £5k. It is a fantastic car for young drivers, helping to build confidence with its ease of use, and it also makes a great run-around vehicle or second motor for getting about town, thanks to its low running costs and the cheap deals available. The latest models, on the other hand, offer all of the above, plus bold new styling with a sporty edge, as well as a wealth of excellent safety features.
USED PRICES FROM £250
Another supermini takes the third podium spot, with the Renault Clio providing an alternative to the Vauxhall Corsa and Nissan Micra. In truth, if we could have a joint first on this list these three cars would sit together, proving just as good as one another – which is great news for buyers, particularly in the used car market, because now you can widen your scope to find the best deal available. Like its rivals, the Clio is easy to drive, it has low running costs, and it’s a good all-rounder. In the Clio’s favour, it has a class-leading boot, a high-quality cabin, comfortable seating, and a good level of refinement too. New cars start from £15.8k, but as with the superminis above, the Clio’s popularity allows you to choose from hundreds of second-hand models, with an average used price of just £7.7k.
USED PRICES FROM £350
Known for being very reliable, cheap to run, and easy to drive, the Toyota Yaris enjoys an average used price of just £9,156, but with lots of models available for even cheaper. And the good news is, thanks to the cars reliability which extends to older variants as well, the Yaris is a second-hand vehicle buyers can purchase with confidence. As long as they’ve been well looked after and cared for, the Yaris should provide excellent long term mileage. New models start from £19.9K, coming well-equipped as standard, with useful tech like a reversing camera and adaptive cruise control, as well as a good amount of safety kit and driver’s assists.
USED PRICES FROM £450
Available new from £12.9k, the Skoda Fabia is a comfortable car that proves great value for money. It is also cheap to run and insure. Furthermore, the Fabia is known to be very safe, as well as very practical, offering plenty of head and legroom in the cabin and a generous boot, particularly for the segment. You can find some excellent used deals, with average prices lingering around £8k. Nearly new models less than six months old can also be enjoyed with up to £3,000 off the starting price – and such deals are definitely worth considering, providing a lot of car for the money.
USED PRICES FROM £500
With new prices from roughly £11k, the Kia Picanto is a nippy little city car that sits in a low insurance bracket, offering great fuel economy and a fantastic 7 year warranty. It’s a stylish looking vehicle too, with a high-quality cabin lined with durable plastics. When it comes to driving, the Picanto offers a fun experience, with go-kart like handling and a light and agile feel. It’s also surprisingly practical, especially for the segment. For those looking for even cheaper deals, hundreds of older models are available on the used car market with average prices around £6.9k. You can also find a good variety of models for under £2k as well, which is perfect for anyone wanting a cheap run-around or a second car for city driving.
USED PRICES FROM £500
If you’re looking to buy a cheap car that is affordable to run and you want a brand new model to boot, then motoring doesn’t get much cheaper than the Dacia Sandero. New vehicles start from the astonishingly low price of just £8k, providing a selection of frugal engines with good fuel economy. It sits in a low insurance bracket too, offering very low running costs all round. At such a cheap price, the Dacia Sandero is naturally something of a no-frills affair, but it is still a much greater car than it needs to be at such prices. It has a spacious interior, a very practical 320-litre boot, and rather nice styling too. Additionally, you can opt for a higher trim level and get useful equipment like rear parking sensors, an optional parking camera, and cruise control all for under £10k.
USED PRICES FROM £1,900
The latest Hyundai i10 generation continues to improve on a strong formula, with longer and wider dimensions bridging the gap between a compact city car and a supermini. It has a stylish design on the outside and in, and improved cabin space. Plus, it comes with a lot of new equipment and impressive technology, justifying its new starting price (which is from approximately £13k). Standard kit includes autonomous emergency braking (AEB), lane-keep assist, and a driver attention alert. On the road, the i10 is much like previous iterations: it is easy to drive and manoeuvre, it is agile and nippy, and it offers cheap running costs, with a choice of two low capacity petrol engines. For those with a smaller budget, you can find a wealth of used deals for under £10k as well, including recent models from 2017 to 2019.
USED PRICES FROM £900
As one of Volkswagen’s longest running and best-selling vehicles, the Polo is a supremely popular car on British roads and on the used market, which is great news for buyers as it means you can choose from an excellent selection of models to find a fantastic deal that suits you and your budget. When it comes to superminis, the Polo is largely regarded as being one of the best, offering a premium level of quality above rivals, from the stylish exterior design, to the spacious interior. Most importantly, and undoubtedly a key to its success, the VW Polo is fun to drive. It also boasts solid build quality, as you’d expect from a renowned German marque, and strong levels of reliability.
USED PRICES FROM £400
Similarly, the Ford Focus is also a best-selling car in its segment and one of Britain’s best loved vehicles. Again, this means there are a lot of used models available at great prices. Additionally, it is also widely considered as a class-leader in the compact car sector, providing excellent practicality and cabin space. It has stylish looks, which add to its appeal, and it’s offered with a huge selection of trims and engines, allowing you to set the car to your needs. Most of all, however, the Focus draws drivers into the ride experience, offering what is, quite simply, one of the best compact cars on the market. It’s a lot of fun to drive and in that alone, the Ford Focus proves great value for money.
USED PRICES FROM £400
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