Cheap small cars: our top five

  • Five picks for less than £10,000
  • Cars from Ford, VW, Skoda, Hyundai and Dacia
  • We name our stars of each range
Read the full Skoda Citigo review
Read the full Skoda Citigo review
The advice for someone wanting a cheap car used to be extremely simple: 'Just buy used.' However, the car industry has found countless ways to build models more cheaply than ever, so plenty of new metal is now available for less than the magic £10k.

In fact, there's never been a better selection of new cars for four figures. Here are our top five recommendations for under £10,000. Remember, too, to use What Car?'s Target Price feature 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.

Skoda Citigo
The Skoda Citigo is part of a three-strong line-up of vehicles that share lots of components, including chassis, gearboxes and engines. However, Skoda's offering tends to be a little cheaper than the sister cars from Volkswagen and Seat - and that makes it a terrific cheap buy.

The spec we'd recommend is SE, which brings air-conditioning, electric front windows, stability control, front and side airbags, and a CD player - and all for less than £9000 (or a little over it, should you want five doors). Some of the best deals can be had on PCP and using Skoda's finance, though. Stump up a decent deposit here and an entry-level Citigo can often be yours for less than £80 per month. That's astonishing value for a brand new, perfectly acceptable piece of transport.
What Car? Best Buy under £10k: 1.0 60 SE

Read the full Skoda Citigo review >>

Read the full Dacia Sandero review
Dacia Sandero
The Dacia Sandero made headlines as Britain's cheapest new car when it was launched, thanks to an entry-level price of just £5995. That figure alone is impressive enough; more surprising still is that it buys you not a city car-sized runabout but a five-door, Fiesta-rivalling supermini that can cope with four adults and plenty of luggage.

In truth, the £5995 Sandero isn't the model that we'd pick; it's cheap, true, but the standard equipment list is the shortest you'll find in any showroom (you don't even get a light bulb in the boot). Instead we'd opt for the mid-spec Ambiance, with a 1.2-litre four-cylinder petrol engine. It's not particularly refined or exciting to drive, but at well under seven grand, it offers phenomenal space and practicality for the money.
What Car? Best Buy under £10k: 1.2 Ambiance

Read the full Dacia Sandero review >>

Read the full Hyundai i10 review
Hyundai i10
The Hyundai i10 is the model which brought a real sales breakthrough for the Korean brand in the UK - and we can see why. For starters, the little five-door city car is terrific to drive, with responsive, direct steering, a pleasant gearshift and fine manoeuvrability around town.

Even with a replacement on the horizon (due at the start of 2014), the i10 can make excellent sense as a sub-£10k purchase. Go for the 1.2-litre four-cylinder petrol engine in Classic trim and you'll get air-con, electric front windows and a CD player with a USB port - and all for not much more than £8000. Haggle hard with our Target Price and you should be able to cut as much as £1000 off that figure - making the i10 exceptional value for money.
What Car? Best Buy under £10k: 1.2 Classic

Read the full Hyundai i10 review >>

Read the full Volkswagen Up review
Volkswagen Up
The VW Up uses many of the same parts that you'll find in the Skoda Citigo, but it costs a bit more. Still, its combination of a slightly classier interior and nice touches like the all-glass rear hatch did enough to earn it our overall Car of the Year title as recently as 2012.

Our favourite Ups tend to be more expensive versions such as the High Up - but you can still get a Move Up, which brings air-con, central locking and a split rear seat, for just over £9000 - or just under it, if you haggle hard. It's perhaps not a great all-rounder, because the lower-powered engine in this version will struggle on motorways, but if the bulk of your miles are in town, this is still a very tempting proposition at this money.
What Car? Best Buy under £10k: 1.0 Move Up 3dr

Read the full Volkswagen Up review >>

Read the full Ford Fiesta review
Ford Fiesta
Our 2013 Supermini of the Year generally costs more than £10,000, but a couple of three-door models do sneak under that figure if you're prepared to haggle hard (a tip - use our Target Prices to get an idea of what's currently available).

You won't be able to expect much standard equipment from the basic Studio spec, but if you can work the salesman down to under £10k for the 1.25 60 Style then you'll get air-con, radio/CD with AUX and USB connectivity, remote central locking and a slightly plusher cabin. The 1.25-litre petrol motor won't tear up asphalt, but the rest of the Fiesta package will compensate through sweet steering and one of the best-judged suspension set-ups that you'll find on any car.
What Car? Best Buy under £10k: 1.25 Style 3dr

Read the full Ford Fiesta review >>

By John McIlroy

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