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Best used small cars for less than £10,000

Small cars can be fun and frugal alternatives to larger vehicles. Here are 10 of the best for less than £10,000...


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What Car? team

Small cars are the jack 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 one to buy used can be daunting due to the diversity of what’s available today. You could go for an evergreen such as the Ford Fiesta or splash out on something more fashionable such as the Audi A1 or Mini. Rest assured, there’s something for everyone and our list reflects this. Take a look at our top ten to see what takes your fancy.

10

Audi A1

Used Audi A1 2010-present

This first-generation Audi A1 proved very popular thanks to its ability to pack the build quality and upmarket feel of Audi’s more expensive models into a smaller and neater package. It's good to drive and comfortable, too, even if it isn’t quite as spacious as some of its rivals. There's a smart interior and also the same strong range of engines as the Volkswagen Polo. The downside, of course, is that it’s expensive to buy, although with the second-generation car now firmly established you might find some cheaper ones on the forecourts. 

We found: 2016 Audi A1 1.0 TFSI Sport 5dr, 30,000 miles, £9990

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Pros

  • Refined petrol engines
  • Agile handling
  • Superb interior quality

Cons

  • Diesel is noisy
  • Sports suspension hurts ride comfort
  • More expensive than rivals
9

Vauxhall Corsa

Vauxhall Corsa

You can’t have a top ten list of small cars without mentioning the Vauxhall Corsa; rarely out of the bestsellers list, there are examples of them everywhere. It doesn’t seem to matter that there are many rivals that beat it in key areas; the Corsa’s appeal is that it manages to provide a practical, well-built car at an affordable price. Indeed, for this budget, you’ll be able to find numerous nearly new Corsas with plenty of kit, which makes it a tempting proposition.

We found: 2019 Vauxhall Corsa 1.4T 100 Griffin 5dr, 8000 miles, £9995

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Pros

  • Spacious interior
  • Comfortable low-speed ride
  • Keen pricing

Cons

  • Vague steering
  • Fiddly infotainment
  • Handling could be better
8

Honda Jazz

Used Honda Jazz 15-present

Maximising useful interior space was Honda’s aim with the Jazz, and it succeeded. Boot space is on a par with hatchbacks from the class above and, what’s more, the rear seats can fold completely flat, which is rare in a small car. 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. If you need a small car that is also practical, the Jazz is hard to beat.

We found: 2018 Honda Jazz 1.3 SE, 20,000 miles, £9699

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Pros

  • Very spacious
  • Well equipped
  • Sturdy cabin quality

Cons

  • Harsh ride
  • Unrefined engine
  • Not much fun to drive
7

Renault Clio

Used Renault Clio Hatchback (13 - present)

The Renault Clio has been a popular choice for all of those seeking a good-looking, refined and grown-up small car. Picking Dynamique Nav means you get sat-nav, automatic lights and wipers, a 7.0in infotainment touchscreen and keyless entry. The 1.5 dCi 90 offers the best fuel economy but, unless you’re planning to do lots of motorway miles, you’ll probably be better off with the 0.9 TCE petrol.

We found: 2019 Renault Clio 0.9 TCe GT line 5dr, 17,000 miles, £9900

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Pros

  • Flexible engines
  • Proving reliable
  • Low CO2 emissions

Cons

  • Cheapest cars are poorly equipped
  • Notchy gearchange
  • Tight rear head room
6

Hyundai i20

Used Hyundai i20 15-present

Handsome looks, generous standard equipment levels and plenty of interior space mean there’s a lot to like about the i20. The ride is a little unsettled around town and it doesn’t handle quite as well as the best on offer. However, Hyundai performs strongly in reliability surveys, and this is backed up to some degree by the five-year warranty from new, which should make ownership relatively stress-free.

We found: 2019 Hyundai i20 1.0 GT Turbo Edition 5dr, 12,000 miles, £9995

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Pros

  • Spacious interior
  • Refined petrol engines
  • Well-equipped

Cons

  • Ride can be choppy
  • Uninspiring handling
5

Mini

New Mini 5dr vs Audi A1 Sportback vs Ford Fiesta

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. And with so many different paint colours, you’ll rarely find two Minis that are the same. True, you lose out on boot space and the rear seats are pretty 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: 2017 Mini Hatch 1.5 Cooper 5dr, 27,000 miles, £9995

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Pros

  • Fun to drive
  • Low running costs

Cons

  • Not as practical as some rivals
  • Some cheap materials inside
4

Volkswagen Polo

Volkswagen Polo front - 19 plate

The Volkswagen Polo costs more to buy than many of its rivals, which is why it finishes in position number four, but you do feel as though you are getting more. Avoid the low-power petrol cars and you’ll have a small car that allows you to tackle long-distance drives in comfort, thanks to low levels of wind noise, a supple ride and a nicely finished interior that mimics the larger 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, 17,000 miles, £9995

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Pros

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

Cons

  • Seat Ibiza more fun
  • Noisy diesel engine
  • Seatbelt issue
3

Seat Ibiza

Seat Ibiza

Previous generations of the Seat Ibiza were good and popular cars, but they never competed right at the top of the small car class. All this changed when Seat launched this fifth generation car in 2017 . The attractive body is distinctively styled and there's more interior room. It rides and handles well and it's comfortable and practical. Find our favourite 1.0-litre version in well-equipped SE Tech trim and for this price it looks like a bit of a bargain. 

We found: 2018 Seat Ibiza 1.0 TSI SE, 12,000 miles, £9995

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Pros

  • Great to drive
  • Remarkably spacious
  • Strong petrol engines

Cons

  • Interior could be classier
  • Road noise
2

Ford Fiesta

Used Ford Fiesta (17-present) long term test review

The Fiesta is a bestseller for good reason. Ford knows how to do small cars well and the attractive Fiesta was another feather in its cap, with class-leading ride and handling qualities, plus a vast amount of engine choices to suit enthusiasts and misers in equal measure. Its infotainment system isn't quite on a par with the best in the class, but the rest of the package is so good that it’s hardly a deal-breaker.

We found: 2018 1.0 EcoBoost ST Line 5dr, 14,000 miles, £10,000

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Pros

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

Cons

  • Small boot compared with rivals
  • Not as much rear leg room as a VW Polo or Seat Ibiza
  • Some cheap interior plastics
1

Skoda Fabia

Used Skoda Fabia 15 - present

This is a great used car. If you ignore some of the cheaper-feeling interior plastics and concentrate on what the Skoda Fabia really is – a less expensive Volkswagen Polo – then you can understand why we made the Fabia our Car of the Year in 2015, and our Used Small Car of the Year in our 2020 awards.

If you stick with SE specification cars, you get an impressive level of equipment for a very attractive price. What’s more, the Fabia has lots of interior space for a car of its size and a comfortable ride, which makes it an excellent choice. it's great to drive, too.

Now, there's a Fabia for most budgets, with the very first examples being excellent used buys from as little as £5000. Above that sit many 2016 or 2017 models for around £7000, or 2018 cars for £8000, and if you've got a notional £10,000 burning a hole in your pocket you can pick up a barely used 2019 model. 

We found: 2019 1.0 TSI SE, 11,000 miles, £9995

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Pros

  • Spacious interior
  • Good to drive
  • Standard infotainment system

Cons

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