While many families may now be opting compact off-roaders when it comes time to change their car, you can often get more for your money by opting for a cheaper to buy – and more economical – medium hatchback. Many of these also offer the benefit of better roadholding and lower running costs than high-riding rivals.

Whether you’re after a spacious and practical model, a solidly-built well-equipped machine or simply want the most bang for your buck, there are plenty of appealing used options available for well under £10,000. We’ve rounded up some of the best value cars on the market, from the bestselling Ford Focus to the high quality VW Golf.

The smart choice for low running costs: Ford Focus

The Ford Focus has sat near the top of the UK bestselling cars list for a number of years and what this means for used car buyers, is that there are a huge amount of models to choose from. The result of this is that used values are very competitive, so you should be able to get plenty of car for your money.

£8,000 is more than enough to get you the keys to a three-year old diesel model, with around 50,000 miles on the clock. Ford’s 113bhp 1.6-litre diesel motor powers the Focus to 62mph in a reasonable 10.8 seconds, while claimed economy stands at 67.3mpg.

If you’re after a slightly newer car, £10,000 will get you the keys to a eight-month old petrol example that has covered just 10,000 miles and is capable of 47.9mpg, meaning that fuel bills should be relatively inexpensive.

The smart choice for quality: Volkswagen Golf

The VW Golf may not be the cheapest car to buy – new or used – however you can still get a relatively fresh, low mileage model with a choice of petrol and diesel engines, for under £10,000. Less than £9,000 could get you into a 30,000-mile automatic diesel model, which returns official fuel economy of 60.1mpg while being capable of hitting 62mph from a standstill in 11.2 seconds.

The Golf also comes with a number of economical turbocharged petrol engines that provide plenty of power. A mid-spec 2009 1.4-litre model that has covered around 40,000 miles would set you back under £9,000, while accelerating to 62mph in a nippy 9.5 seconds and returning 45.6mpg.

The smart choice for those on a budget: Vauxhall Astra

The Astra may often languish in the shadow of the two models above in the minds of car buyers, but as a used car, it offers very strong value for money, meaning that you can get a newer car for your budget than with the VW Golf, for instance.

For £10,000 you can find a one-year-old five-door 1.7-litre diesel model, which has covered less than 10,000 miles. The diesel motor returns more than 60mpg along with reasonable performance, as this Astra can hit 62mph in 11.6 seconds.

Due to the large number of Astras on sale, though, you can still get a relatively new model for well under £10,000. Less than £8,000 will get you the keys to three-year old 1.4-litre petrol model with 33,000 miles on the clock, which can chalk up economy of more than 50mpg.

                Pictures: Manufacturers