Cheap cars that are affordable to run in the UK

Buying, owning and running a car can be one of the biggest expenses and outgoings, but for many, a car is essential to our day-to-day lives. At we know that owning and running a car can be expensive, which is why we want to help you to switch to a used car that is cheaper to run and insure.

Insurance costs have spiralled in recent months, and are now 21 per cent higher than in 2022, according to the Association of British Insurers (ABI), which only increases the pressure. If you’re wanting to reduce your car’s running costs, switching to something cheaper to run and insure is a great plan. We’ve picked out 10 of the best used cars available that will be cheaper to run and insure, with prices to buy starting from only a few thousand pounds.

There is no ‘one size fits all’ in the car world, so we’ve pulled out vehicles of all shapes and sizes that can help cut your motoring bills, from smaller city-aimed cars to larger, more family-friendly MPVs and SUVs.

Just remember that you could always obtain an insurance quote, ideally through a comparison site, to give you an idea of what a premium might cost, before signing on the dotted line.

So let’s dive in and look at 10 of the best used cars that are cheap to run and insure.

The 10 best cheap cars to run:

1. Volkswagen up! (2012-present)

Insurance group: From Group 1

Volkswagen’s Up! has become one of the most popular first cars, and that certainly bodes well if you’re looking for a vehicle that’s affordable to run and insure.

The up! uses small 1.0-litre petrol engines that are universally efficient, with some versions with sub-100g/km CO2 emissions even qualifying for free car tax. In normal driving, you should comfortably see around 55mpg, and more if driven steadily. Despite its small size, the Up! is surprisingly spacious, especially the five-door versions, which offer enough room for adults to sit relatively comfortably in the rear seats.

With used examples starting from just a few thousand pounds, the Up! is a very capable car that can certainly help reduce your motoring bills.

Best Features

  • Insurance groups start from just 1, meaning premiums should be affordable
  • Up! is roomier than you’d expect a car as small as this to be
  • Small petrol engines are very efficient and return great fuel economy

Things to consider

  • Avoid models with turbocharged ‘TSI’ engines as they are more expensive to insure
  • Three and five-door models are available, depending on your preference
  • Range of more stylish models available, including an Up! Beats with an upgraded sound system

2. Dacia Jogger (2022-present)

Insurance group: From Group 13

If you need a larger car, these typically tend to be far more expensive to run and insure, but an exception to the rule is the Dacia Jogger. It’s this budget brand’s newest seven-seat MPV, and brings impressive flexibility and practicality considering its relatively low price.

Though the Jogger has recently been available with a hybrid powertrain, most models you’ll see for sale will be the turbocharged 1.0-litre petrol engine, which sits in insurance group 13. Standard equipment is fairly generous too, considering the Dacia’s value-based origins. The Jogger hasn’t been on sale for all that long, so used prices are still fairly close to what you’d pay for a new example. That said, the depreciation is expected to be minimal.

Best Features

  • Seven seats as standard
  • Choice of an efficient 1.0-litre petrol engine or a 1.6-litre hybrid
  • Dacias have a good reputation for reliability

Things to consider

  • Awarded just one star in Euro NCAP safety tests due to a lack of active safety technology
  • Interior prioritises durability over premium feel
  • Hybrid versions are more expensive to buy and insure, and are only marginally better on fuel

3. Skoda Kamiq (2019-present)

Insurance group: From Group 9

SUVs are known for being bigger and more expensive to buy and run, but if you want a vehicle of this type, there are frugal and affordable options that can be bought. One of the best is the Skoda Kamiq, and while it might be this firm’s smallest SUV, it can do the job of a far larger car.

It’s a great alternative to larger vehicles, owing to its well-packaged interior, which brings plenty of boot space and room for adults to sit in the rear seats. The other great thing about the Kamiq is its low running costs, as with the small 1.0-litre petrol engine in particular, this Skoda is very frugal and sits in insurance groups as low as 9, which is impressive for a vehicle of this type.

Best Features

  • Efficient small petrol engines deliver great fuel economy and performance.
  • Kamiq is fairly compact, but delivers levels of space closer in-line to larger cars.
  • This Skoda is very comfortable and refined.

Things to consider

  • Diesel and more powerful 1.5-litre petrol Kamiqs may be more expensive to insure.
  • The Kamiq isn’t the most exciting car, with uninspiring styling inside and out.
  • Generous equipment levels as standard.

4. Citroen C1 (2005-2014)

Insurance group: From Group 1

If you’re looking for a car that’s cheap to buy, run and insure, the Citroen C1 is well worth considering. Twinned with the Peugeot 107 and Toyota Aygo, it’s the first-generation C1 we’re looking at here, and with used prices starting from as little as £1,000, used cars don’t get much more affordable.

The C1 is a compact car and that’s reflected in its tiny boot and limited rear-seat space, but if that’s not important, this baby Citroen is well worth considering. Though a diesel was offered, it’s the 1.0-litre petrol engine that’s the best to go for when it comes to insurance purposes, with these starting from just insurance group 1.

Best Features

  • Small 1.0-litre engines help put the C1 in some of the lowest insurance groups around
  • Fairly cheap maintenance, and plenty of secondhand parts available
  • Narrow dimensions are ideal for around town or tight driveways

Things to consider

  • Many used C1s of this age are free to tax, but it’s worth checking this beforehand
  • Facelift in 2009 helped to give the C1 a much fresher appearance
  • Tiny boot space means the C1 isn’t a very practical choice

5. Hyundai i30 (2017-present)

Insurance group: From Group 8

If you need something a bit bigger but don’t want to go down the MPV or SUV route, it’s worth looking at more traditional family hatchbacks. For low running costs, consider the Hyundai i30, and the third-generation model (introduced in 2017) in particular. That’s because this model was a big step forward in terms of quality, styling and technology.

It might not be the most exciting car around, but it’s comfortable, quiet and generously-equipped. With Hyundai’s 1.0-litre turbocharged T-GDI petrol engine under the bonnet, it’s impressively efficient as well, returning more than 50mpg in normal driving. With insurance groups starting from just 8, it’s very credible for a car of this type.

Best Features

  • 1.0-litre petrol engine makes the i30 efficient and affordable to insure
  • All models come with generous equipment as standard
  • Plenty of cabin space for family duties

Things to consider

  • Some newer models might still be covered by Hyundai’s five-year, unlimited-mileage warranty
  • You can also choose the i30 in an estate car ‘Tourer’ bodystyle
  • 2021 update for the i30 introduced more modern styling

6. Volkswagen Golf (2013-2020)

Insurance group: From Group 8

When it comes to family cars, there have been few more appealing models over the years than the Volkswagen Golf. It’s a car renowned for its ease of use, practicality and high-quality feel and that’s true even of the latest models. But we reckon the model that has the best balance when it comes to being cheap to run is the seventh-generation model, sold between 2013 and 2020.

There are a range of frugal engines available, including a 1.2-litre turbocharged petrol that sits in the lowest insurance group (8), but there are also various diesels that can comfortably return 60 mpg, but are best suited for those doing high mileage each year.

Best Features

  • The Golf has a very durable, high-quality interior that is well-suited to family life
  • Great range of petrol and diesel engines available, with plug-in hybrid and electric models offered too
  • The Golf is surprisingly spacious for a car of its size, though an estate model can also be picked up

Things to consider

  • Diesel Golfs need a timing belt replacement around 80,000 miles, which can cost around £500. Make sure this has been done before buying
  • Be aware of more powerful engines being more expensive to insure
  • Fairly small depreciation makes the Golf a safe used buy

7. Suzuki Ignis (2016-present)

Insurance group: From Group 15

The Ignis is a car which is larger than life. While its dimensions may be compact, its chunky styling lends it a ‘tiny monster truck’ aesthetic. It’s also got a reasonably raised-up seating position, giving you a more confidence-inspiring view of the road ahead than you’d get in a traditional hatchback. 

It’s actually quite roomy inside considering its overall dimensions while all of the engine choices available on the Ignis are great on fuel. This little Suzuki is better to drive than you might expect, too, with well-managed body control blending with pleasant steering to make a car that is quite good fun in the bends. 

Best Features

  • Chunky, eye-catching styling
  • Plenty of equipment inside
  • Efficient and good to drive

Things to consider

  • Ride is firm at slower speeds
  • Some interior materials don’t feel that pleasant 
  • Infotainment lags behind rival offerings in terms of usability 

8. Hyundai i10 (2014-2020)

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.

Best Features

  • Small petrol engines result in low insurance group and low-cost motoring bills.
  • The i10 is roomier than you’d expect a small city car to be.
  • Impressive road manners in terms of comfort and refinement.

Things to consider

  • Models with automatic gearbox are much less efficient.
  • Entry-level ‘S’ versions are quite sparse on the equipment front.
  • Though the 1.0-litre petrol delivers low motoring bills, it is quite short on power.

9. SEAT Ibiza (2017-present)

Insurance group: From Insurance group 2

The SEAT Ibiza has always had a youthful charm to it, with a sportier drive and design than its sibling cars, the Volkswagen Polo and Skoda Fabia. You might expect this to result in higher running costs, but thankfully that’s not the case with this hatchback.

Our vote goes to the latest generation of Ibiza, which arrived in 2017 and continues in production today. Available with a range of small petrol engines, from a running costs perspective, you want to choose the naturally-aspirated 1.0-litre ‘MPI’ petrol engine, which delivers great fuel economy and sits in insurance groups as low as 2. Combine that with the Ibiza’s roomy interior and generous equipment levels and it makes this SEAT a very attractive used buy.

Best Features

  • Stylish design inside and out
  • Small petrol engines makes the Ibiza affordable to run
  • All Ibiza models come with lots of equipment

Things to consider

  • Stick to SE and SE Technology grades as sportier-looking FR models will cost more to insure
  • The turbocharged ‘TSI’ petrol engines offer better performance, but will result in higher costs
  • Ibiza undercuts the equivalent Volkswagen Polo for price

10. Mazda 2 (2007-2015)

Insurance group: From Group 2

Mazda has a solid reputation when it comes to making cost-saving cars and the 2 is a fine example of this. With its curvaceous styling, the 2 still looks modern today yet it’s relatively inexpensive to buy – you can find high-mileage examples for under £5,000, though we’d be tempted to push the budget a little higher to get a tidier version. 

This generation of 2 is good to drive as well, with nimble handling that makes it a great fit for around-town drivers. You shouldn’t have too many issues when it comes to the 2’s mechanicals, either, as it’s got a car which is well-known for its reliability.

Best Features

  • Good to drive
  • Inexpensive to run and repair
  • Good equipment levels as standard

Things to consider

  • Is quite noisy at motorway speeds, so may not be the best choice for high-mileage drivers


  • Ride can feel quite firm at low speeds


  • Not the largest car in terms of spaciousness 

What makes a car cheap to run and insure?

When it comes to running a car, there are all sorts of costs associated with it.

For starters, there’s the cost of buying the vehicle itself and the associated depreciation linked to it, but after that you need to think about the day-to-day costs.

Fuel economy and road tax

Start with the fuel economy, looking at the claimed miles-per-gallon. Be aware that these figures can’t always be achieved in normal driving, so it’s worth taking a certain percentage off this. When test driving a vehicle, you could reset the trip to see the miles-per-gallon you get. After this, look at the cost of the annual tax as some older cars may even be free in this respect, based on their CO2 emissions.

Parts costs

Be aware of the cost of replacement parts. Generally speaking, cheaper cars (when new) and more popular models will have parts fitted to them with lower manufacturing costs, making them cheaper to replace when the time comes.

Insurance group rating

Insurance is based on various factors, including those linked to your driving history and vehicle usage, but the type of car plays a significant part. All cars have an insurance group, which ranges from 1 (the lowest) to 50 (the highest). It’s based on several factors, including security, safety features and the power of the vehicle.

Tips for finding and buying a car that’s cheap to run and insure makes it easy to help you find and buy a car that will cheap to buy and insure. Through our search function, you can filter the cars you’ll see based on insurance groups, along with fuel economy, CO2 emissions and car tax – including those that are free to tax.

You should always obtain a car insurance quote before agreeing to a deal, as well, ideally through a comparison site that lets you see the deals available from a range of providers. Similarly, if you drive into a low-emission zone or London’s ULEZ, for example, put the number plate in an online checker to make sure you won’t have to pay any charges.

When it comes to choosing the car itself, you’ll want to view and test drive it before buying. While the on-paper stats might make a car seem ideal, you want to know it fits your needs and that you can get comfortable behind the wheel.

Frequently Asked Questions