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Best used small cars for less than £10,000

Small doesn’t have to mean stingy, and cheap really can be cheerful, as these fantastic used small cars prove...

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Mark Pearson
Published22 May 2024

Used small cars

Small cars are the jacks of all trades. They can be a hoot to drive, they can be compact premium vehicles, ideal for congested city streets, and they can be reliable, good-value transport serving as a second family car.

Deciding which used version to buy can be daunting, though, because of the sheer diversity of what’s available today. For example, for our self-imposed £10,000 budget, you could go for an evergreen such as the Seat Ibiza or splash out on something more fashionable such as the Audi A1 or Mini.

Rest assured, there’s something for everyone and our list aims to reflect this - starting with our top choice, the Ford Fiesta. Take a look at our top 10 and see what takes your fancy.


  • Brilliant to drive
  • Lots of safety kit
  • Punchy Ecoboost engines


  • Small boot compared with rivals
  • Not as much rear leg room as a VW Polo or Seat Ibiza
  • Some cheap interior plastics
  • Reliability can be an issue

The Fiesta is a bestseller and our number one here for good reason. Ford knows how to do small cars well and the attractive Fiesta has a great ride and neat handling. It's comfortable and practical. Its infotainment system isn't quite on a par with the best in the class, admittedly, but the rest of the package is so good that it’s hardly a deal-breaker. Our budget buys a good 2019 car.

We found: 2019 Ford Fiesta 1.0 EcoBoost Titanium 5dr, 14,000 miles, £9000

Read our used Ford Fiesta review

Search for a used Ford Fiesta for sale

Our pick: 1.0 TSI SE Comfort 5dr

0-62mph: 10.7 sec
MPG/range: 55.8mpg
CO2 emissions: 115g/km
Seats: 5
Boot: 380 litres
Insurance group: 11E


  • Spacious interior
  • Good to drive
  • Standard infotainment system


  • Hard interior plastics
  • Low speed ride could be better
  • Shortage of advanced safety kit

The Fabia was replaced a year or two back by an all-new 2021-onwards Skoda Fabia but this older version is still a great car. If you think of it as a less expensive Volkswagen Polo you can understand why we made it our Car of the Year in 2015, and our Used Small Car of the Year in our 2020 awards. It's well equipped, has lots of interior space and a comfortable ride, which makes it an excellent choice. 

We found: 2020 Skoda Fabia 1.0 TSI SE, 21,000 miles, £9995

Read our used Skoda Fabia review

Search for a used Skoda Fabia for sale

Our pick: 1.0 TSI Life 5dr

0-62mph: 10.8 sec
MPG/range: 54.3mpg
CO2 emissions: 118g/km
Seats: 5
Boot: 351 litres
Insurance group: 9E


  • Supple ride
  • Generous interior space
  • Quiet on the move


  • Seat Ibiza is similar yet more fun
  • Noisy diesel engine
  • Seatbelt issue
  • Reliability a bit mixed

The Volkswagen Polo costs more to buy than many of its rivals, which is why it only finishes in third place, but you do feel as though you're getting more. It's comfortable, has a supple ride and a nicely finished interior that mimics the larger Volkswagen Golf. The small, turbocharged petrol engines are the best picks as they tend to be smoother and quieter than the diesels.

We found: 2018 Volkswagen Polo 1.0 TSI SE 5dr, 27,000 miles, £9995

Read our used VW Polo review

Search for a used VW Polo for sale


  • Lively performance of 1.0 engine
  • Tidy handling
  • Well equipped
  • Terrific reliability


  • Road and wind noise
  • Harsh ride
  • Cheap-feeling interior plastics

Fun to drive, very fuel efficient and generously equipped, the Suzuki Swift is a fine choice for those in the market for a well-priced small car. It offers the choice of a 1.2-litre petrol engine with 89bhp or a 109bhp, turbocharged, three-cylinder 1.0-litre – with or without hybrid assistance. Behind the wheel, you’ll instantly notice that the Swift feels light on its feet. It's decently practical, too, and wonderfully cheap to buy used. Top-notch reliability too. 

We found: 2020 Suzuki Swift 1.2 Dualjet SHVS SZ3, 17,000 miles, £9695

Read our used Suzuki Swift review

Search for a used Suzuki Swift for sale

Our pick: 1.0 Tce Bi-Fuel Expression 5dr

0-62mph: 11.6 sec
MPG/range: 52.3mpg
CO2 emissions: 109g/km
Seats: 5
Boot: 328 litres
Insurance group: 14E


  • Comfortable drive
  • Incredibly spacious
  • Lots of kit for very reasonable money


  • Poor safety rating
  • There are quieter, more refined small cars
  • Rivals are sharper in the corners

Despite its bargain new and used car prices, the Dacia Sandero impresses in many areas, including comfort, economy and practicality, meaning it often matches, if not beats, more expensive competitors. It’s based on the underpinnings of the latest Renault Clio so it’s thoroughly modern under the skin and good to drive. 

We found: 2021 Dacia Sandero 1.0 sCe Essential, 12,000 miles, £9995

Read our used Dacia Sandero review

Search for a used Dacia Sandero for sale



  • Very spacious
  • Well equipped
  • Sturdy cabin quality


  • Harsh ride
  • Unrefined engine
  • Not much fun to drive

Maximising useful interior space was Honda’s aim with this generation before Jazz, and it succeeded. Boot space is on a par with hatchbacks from the class above and its rear seats can fold completely flat. In addition, the base of the rear bench can also fold up against the seatback to allow tall or wide items to be loaded widthways. It's also top of the tree when it comes to reliability. 

We found: 2019 Honda Jazz 1.3 SE, 22,000 miles, £9495

Read our used Honda Jazz review

Search for a used Honda Jazz for sale


  • Fun to drive
  • Low running costs


  • Not as practical as some rivals
  • Some cheap materials inside

Small cars don’t come much more desirable than the Mini. It handles well, comes with a large range of engines and has a funky, high-quality interior. True, you lose out on boot space and the rear seats are cramped, but if practicality isn’t so much of an issue, there’s no doubt the Mini is a car that appeals to the heart.

We found: 2018 Mini Hatch 1.5 Cooper 5dr, 37,000 miles, £9995

Read our used Mini Hatch review

Search for a used Mini Hatch for sale

Our pick: 1.0 TSI 95 FR 5dr

0-62mph: 11 sec
MPG/range: 52.3mpg
CO2 emissions: 123g/km
Seats: 5
Boot: 355 litres
Insurance group: 12E


  • Great to drive
  • Remarkably spacious
  • Strong petrol engines


  • Interior could be classier
  • Road noise

Previous generations of the Seat Ibiza were popular, but they never competed right at the top of the small car class. All this changed when Seat launched this excellent fifth-generation car in 2017. It's distinctively styled and there's loads of interior room. It rides and handles really well, even edging out the Fiesta, and it's comfortable and practical. Our favourite 1.0-litre version in well-equipped SE trim looks like a bit of a bargain. Only its poor reliability lets it down. 

We found: 2019 Seat Ibiza 1.0 TSI SE, 34,000 miles, £9495

Read our used Seat Ibiza review

Search for a used Seat Ibiza for sale

Our pick: 1.0 TCe 90 Techno 5dr

0-62mph: 12.2 sec
MPG/range: 54.3mpg
CO2 emissions: 119g/km
Seats: 5
Boot: 284 litres
Insurance group: 11E


  • Flexible engines
  • Proving reliable
  • Low CO2 emissions


  • Cheapest cars are poorly equipped
  • Notchy gearchange
  • Tight rear head room

The previous-generation Renault Clio has always been a popular choice for all of those seeking a good-looking, refined and grown-up small car. It's well equipped, too, especially in Dynamique Nav trim. The 1.5 dCi 90 offers great fuel economy but, unless you’re planning to do lots of motorway miles, you’ll be better off with the lively 0.9 TCE petrol.

We found: 2019 Renault Clio 0.9 TCe Dynamique Nav 5dr, 37,000 miles, £8900

Read our used Renault Clio review

Search for a used Renault Clio for sale

Our pick: 1.5 Hybrid Design 5dr CVT

0-62mph: 9.7 sec
MPG/range: 68.9mpg
CO2 emissions: 91g/km
Seats: 5
Boot: 286 litres
Insurance group: 14E


  • Spacious
  • Hybrid option
  • Very reliable


  • Not an exciting drive
  • Dull interior
  • Several recalls to check off

The third-generation Toyota Yaris is smart, roomy and ultra-reliable and even has a hybrid option. Our money buys one of the last models from this earlier generation, and what you'd be getting is a handsome and solidly built small car that's also good to drive, if not quite as much fun as some of its rivals. The Yaris is one of the roomier cars in its class, too, with plenty of interior space for those in the back. All in, it's a neat package and a good used buy. 

We found: 2020 Toyota Yaris 1.5 Icon, 9000 miles, £9995

Read our used Toyota Yaris review

Search for a used Toyota Yaris for sale

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