Best and worst cheap small new cars

  •  Our picks of new cars for less than £10,000
  •  Cars from VW, Skoda, Hyundai and Dacia
  •  We name the best in class, and the ones to avoid
  • Hyundai i10

    Hyundai i10

  • Volkswagen Up

    Volkswagen Up

  • Skoda Citigo

    Skoda Citigo

  • Dacia Sandero

    Dacia Sandero

  • Mitsubishi Mirage

    Mitsubishi Mirage

  • Ford Ka

    Ford Ka

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If you're after a new small car, there's lots of good cars to choose from; what's even better is that you don't have to spend more than £10,000.

However, if you go cheap you won't necessarily end up feeling cheerful. There are some cars out there that we would recommend avoiding, so we've highlighted those too.

Remember to use What Car?'s Target Price to haggle down the bill as much as possible; even a few hundred pounds off will make a big difference in percentage terms when you're talking about cars at this price.

Here's our pick of the new cars on sale today if you're on a budget, including our current favourite.

The best

Hyundai i10 1.0 Premium

Price £10,310
Typical Target Price saving £500

The Hyundai i10 was What Car?'s City Car of the Year 2014 and is a great buy.

Our pick of the range is the 1.2 Premium but unfortunately that busts our £10,000 budget. The good news is that the less powerful 1.0 Premium is still a five-star car and, when Target Price savings are taken into account, that comes in at around £9800.

Clever packaging means that the i10 is the most practical car in its class and the 1.0 Premium gets five doors, five seats and a bigger boot than all its rivals. It's also very quiet and well equipped with air-conditioning, electric windows all round, heated mirrors, Bluetooth and remote central locking. It also comes with a five-year warranty.

The competition may have it beaten when it comes to driving thrills but for a brand new small car for less than £10,000 you can't go too far wrong with the Hyundai i10 1.0 Premium.
The best of the rest

Volkswagen Up 1.0 60 Move Up 3dr

Price £9810
Typical Target Price saving £200

In top-of-the-range High Up trim, the Volkswagen Up is a five-star car and was the winner of the Car of the Year award in 2012. However, High Up cars come in at around £11,000 after Target Price savings and that's too much for this round-up.

To get back within budget we'd recommend going for the 1.0 60 Move Up 3dr that has a Target Price of around £9600. It does without the more powerful 1.0-litre engine of the High Up but still offers enough pace, particularly if you spend most of your time driving around town, and a decent level of standard equipment including air-con, central locking and a split rear seat, though you do miss out on the excellent infotainment system that's standard on the top-of-the-range cars.

The Up can't quite compete with the i10 on the practicality stakes but it makes up for it by being more fun to drive.

Skoda Citigo 1.0 60 Greentech SE 5dr

Price £9770
Typical Target Price saving £350

The Skoda Citigo shares its chassis, gearboxes and engines with the Volkswagen Up and Seat Mii. However, Skoda's offering tends to be a little cheaper than the sister cars and that makes it a terrific cheap buy.

We'd recommend SE spec, which brings air-conditioning, electric front windows, stability control, front and side airbags and a CD player, all for around £9400 (if you go for the three-door version then you save another couple of hundred quid).

Dacia Sandero 1.2 Ambiance

Price £6795
Typical Target Price saving £0

The Dacia Sandero made headlines as Britain's cheapest new car when it was launched, with an entry-level price of just £5995. That figure alone is impressive enough, but even more surprising is that such a sum buys you a five-door, Ford Fiesta-rivalling supermini that can cope with four adults and plenty of luggage.

Dacia also tried to shake up the new car market by not offering any discounts. The price you see is the price you pay, so don't waste your breath trying to haggle.

The £5995 Access version isn't the model that we'd pick, though. It's cheap, true, but it comes with so little equipment (you don't even get a light bulb in the boot) that we'd opt for the mid-spec Ambiance. We'd stick with a 1.2-litre four-cylinder petrol engine, though. It's not particularly refined or exciting to drive, but at less than seven grand, it offers phenomenal space and practicality for the money.

What about the Ford Fiesta and the new Vauxhall Corsa?

Both are good small cars, the Fiesta in particular. The problem is that our favourite models aren't available within budget and the ones that are just aren't good enough to compete with the best the others have to offer.

The Ford Fiesta is a What Car? favourite and the range gets itself five stars. But the only model available with a Target Price of less than £10,000 is the 1.25 60 Studio 3dr which is slow - it takes 16.9 seconds to get to 60mph - and sparsely equipped and only manages three stars.

It's a similar story when you consider the new Vauxhall Corsa. As a range, the Corsa gets four stars but the cheaper models get three. As more discounts become available, this could well change but for now the models within budget are beaten by the competition.


Ones to avoid

Ford Ka

The Ford Ka is based on the same underpinnings as the charming Fiat 500, but its biggest problem is its pricing. It might start from £9000, but it has so little in the way of equipment that it makes no economic sense. You might be able to haggle a decent discount, but the Ka loses a fair amount of its value over the first few years of its life as well.


Mitsubishi Mirage

To get a Mitsubishi Mirage for less than £10,000 you have to go for the entry-level trim, but we wouldn't recommend buying one at any level.

It's noisy, feels cheap inside, is hard to get comfortable because of a lack of adjustment and is poor to drive compared with its rivals. It is relatively economical, with all models emitting less than 100g/km, but you can get much better cars that do the same.

Nissan Micra

The entry-level Nissan Micra has a starting price that's more than £10,000 but a Target Price of around £9000 which means it's eligible for this round-up. However, the ride, handling, refinement and quality of the interior are all below par, making it very hard to recommend.

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