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Best used family cars for less than £10,000 (and the one to avoid)

Have you got £10,000 to spend on a used family car? You might be surprised to find out what you can afford...

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by
Oliver Young
Published15 February 2024

Top 10 used family cars for less than £10,000

The family car is the answer to outgrowing the small car. No longer are you content or able to make do with just enough space for a few people and some bags: now you want something that'll handle four or five people with ease, plus a family's worth of shopping, luggage or a pram in the boot. 

Making this jump can be exciting, with a whole new class and size of car to explore, but it can also be costly. That's why we've put together this list of your top 10 used options for less than £10,000. Our recommendations offer great value for money, as well as the comfort and luxury you'd desire from an enjoyable daily driver. 

And, in first place, the best used family car for less than £10,000 is the Skoda Octavia


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Our pick: 1.5 TSI 150 SE L 5dr

0-62mph: 8.5 sec
MPG/range: 53.3mpg
CO2 emissions: 121g/km
Seats: 5
Boot: 600 litres

Strengths

  • Smart, spacious and practical interior
  • Cheap to buy and run
  • Well equipped

Weaknesses

  • Not as comfortable as a Golf
  • Pricier models best avoided
  • Entry-level S trim is a bit basic

Better value than its VW Golf and Audi A3 rivals, plus more spacious than the Seat Leon, the previous-generation Skoda Octavia is the best family car we can recommend for less than £10,000. Sure, its interior lacks the level of class found in the VW and (more so) Audi, but the added interior and boot space makes up for that. 

Also helping make the Octavia’s case is the fact that it gets plenty of equipment (as standard from new) and that it’s delightfully smooth at high speeds, making it a splendid long-distance cruiser. It's a terrific all-round car, one that's comfortable and cost effective to buy and own. 

We found: 2019 Skoda Octavia 1.0 TSI SE Technology, 45,614 miles, £9495

Read our used Skoda Octavia review

Find used Skoda cars for sale

Strengths

  • Good to drive
  • Well equipped
  • Cheap to buy and run

Weaknesses

  • Firm ride
  • Not as refined as some rivals
  • Bland interior

Again, the previous-gen Seat Leon is a little way off the Golf for interior quality, but it's still ahead of most other rivals on this list. What's more, the Leon offers the same great choice of engines as the Golf and even the more premium A3, too. The Leon is also great fun to drive, more so than most alternatives (including those we just mentioned). You'll also find it's generally cheaper to buy. 

How come it fails to grab the number one spot? Well, that's mainly down to space and comfort, because, while the Leon fares well in both of those areas, it's still no match for the mighty Octavia. 

We found: 2019 Seat Leon 1.2 TSI SE Dynamic Tech, 54,511 miles, £9995

Read our used Seat Leon review

Find used Seat cars for sale

Our pick: 40 TFSI e Sport 5dr S Tronic

0-62mph: 7.6 sec
MPG/range: 256.8mpg
CO2 emissions: 26g/km
Seats: 5
Boot: 280 litres
Insurance group: 24E

Strengths

  • Strong engines
  • Beautifully finished interior
  • Great to drive

Weaknesses

  • Not as spacious as the VW Golf in the back
  • Firm low-speed ride
  • Lower trims sparsely equipped

The Audi A3 is one of the finest family cars around. For starters, it's the classiest car in the class with a beautifully designed and built interior, decent amounts of equipment and smart styling. But it's also comfortable, practical, great to drive, and every engine in the range is impressively efficient.

It compares well for interior room with immediate rivals, too, and in this top 10 it only just gives way to the top two by way of it being generally a bit more costly to buy – you can get the price down by opting for an older model or one with more miles on it, of course. 

We found: 2018 Audi A3 1.0 TSI 30 Sport 5dr, 59,389 miles, £9000

Read our used Audi A3 review

Find used Audi cars for sale

Strengths

  • Comfortable ride and tidy handling
  • Spacious rear seats and a big boot
  • Inexpensive to run

Weaknesses

  • Interior feels a little cheap in places
  • Noisier at speed than the quietest rivals
  • Sat-nav only available on higher trims

It may not handle like the Leon or have a flash interior like the A3; it's not quite as spacious as its Octavia sibling either, but the Skoda Scala is still plenty practical, plus it has a smooth ride, punchy engines and affordable prices. 

Despite it being one of the more recent generations on this list, having first arrived in 2019, you can fairly easily pick up one within our budget – mileages are surprisingly low, too. 

We found: 2020 Skoda Scala 1.0 TSI S, 19,948 miles, £9649

Read our used Skoda Scala review

Find used Skoda cars for sale

Strengths

  • Smooth ride
  • Enjoyable to drive
  • Upmarket interior

Weaknesses

  • Not as cheap as some of its rivals
  • Could be more spacious
  • Reliability only average

We’re huge fans of the seventh-gen VW Golf, but, like the A3, it is a bit expensive. As a result, for this price, you’ll probably have to put up with a slightly older and/or higher mileage example than some of its rivals here. Nevertheless, if you can live with that age, you do get some great benefits: a classy interior (that's only second to the A3's), a comfortable ride, sharp handling, a spacious interior and impressive safety standards.

Few cars are as well rounded as the Golf, hence it's been a popular model for decades now. 

We found: 2018 Volkswagen Golf 1.0 TSI SE 5dr, 60,073 miles, £8999

Read our used VW Golf review

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Our pick: 1.0 EcoBoost Hybrid mHEV Titanium 5dr

0-62mph: 10.2 sec
MPG/range: 54.3mpg
CO2 emissions: 118g/km
Seats: 5
Insurance group: 15E

Strengths

  • Fun to drive
  • Punchy yet economical petrol engines
  • Roomy interior

Weaknesses

  • Sub-par interior quality
  • Ride firmer than those of rivals (more so ST-Line)
  • The Skoda Octavia has an even bigger boot

The Ford Focus falls short of class leaders in a few areas: the Octavia is more spacious, the Golf is more comfortable and the A3 is much classier inside. However, the Focus stands above all of those cars in regards to handling, even besting the Leon. 

It's sharp, agile, engaging and fun to drive. If you're a keen driver, this is the family car for you – or better yet, check out the Ford Focus ST hot hatch. 

That said, the driving experience isn't the only thing going for the Focus, because buying and running costs are very reasonable – aided by great fuel economy. You can pick up a good 2020 model within our budget. 

We found: 2020 Ford Focus 1.0T Ecoboost Titanium, 51,386 miles, £9995

Read our used Ford Focus review

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Strengths

  • Strong performance
  • Economy in diesel versions
  • Class-leading infotainment system
  • Terrific reliability

Weaknesses

  • Rear room a little tight
  • Not as well equipped as some
  • Relatively high prices

Low, sleek and blessed with an upmarket interior, this generation of the BMW 1 Series was the hatchback of choice for aspiring family buyers for years. It's not quite as spacious and affordable to buy and run as its more functional rivals, but it's got punchy engines, entertaining handling and a fantastic infotainment system. Reliability has proven fantastic, too. 

Our money buys a slightly older car, hence it doesn't finish higher up this chart.

We found: 2017 BMW 1 Series 118i Sport, 49,423 miles, £9850

Read our used BMW 1 Series review

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Our pick: 2.0 eHEV Sport 5dr CVT

0-62mph: 7.9 sec
MPG/range: 56.5mpg
CO2 emissions: 113g/km
Seats: 5
Boot: 415 litres
Insurance group: 28E

Strengths

  • Good to drive
  • Lots of safety kit
  • Big boot

Weaknesses

  • Woeful infotainment system
  • Rear head room tight
  • Noisy on motorways

The Honda Civic's sharp driving experience, good fuel economy and big boot makes it an enjoyable, affordable and capable family car. 

Sure, it's not quite as polished as class leaders, as evident by its dated and unintuitive infotainment, as well as iffy overall refinement, but it still offers great value at its used price point. 

We found: 2018 Honda Civic 1.0 VTEC Turbo SR, 61,700 miles, £9500

Read our used Honda Civic review

Find used Honda cars for sale

 

Strengths

  • Long warranty
  • Low prices
  • Useful boot

Weaknesses

  • Sluggish performance
  • Bland to drive
  • Tight rear seat space

The Hyundai i30's five-year, unlimited-mileage warranty from new isn't quite as long as the one from Kia, but it's as reliable, slightly cheaper to buy used and you get the latest version of the car, making it terrific value.

The i30’s a good family car, too, with a spacious, robustly built interior, a comfortable ride and plenty of standard equipment from new. 

We found: 2019 Hyundai i30 1.0T GDi SE, 42,416 miles, £9795

Read our used Hyundai i30 review

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Our pick: 1.2 Turbo 130 GS 5dr

0-62mph: 9.7 sec
MPG/range: 52.3mpg
CO2 emissions: 123g/km
Seats: 5
Boot: 422 litres
Insurance group: 19E

Strengths

  • Spacious interior
  • Relatively cheap to buy
  • Well equipped

Weaknesses

  • Vague steering
  • Diesels can be noisy
  • Low-speed ride can be fidgety
  • Reliability mixed

This previous-generation Vauxhall Astra's best facet as a used buy is its value. The Astra isn't just cheap, though; it's a great car, with neat handling, a comfortable ride and some great engines in the range. 

True, it doesn't quite have the high-quality feel of some of its best rivals, but it still feels more solid than most – and when you consider how new it is and how cheap it is, its minor flaws are very forgivable. 

We found: 2020 Vauxhall Astra 1.2 Turbo SRi, 42,900 miles, £9948

Read our used Vauxhall Astra review

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Lexus CT

The CT's hybrid technology makes it cheap to run, but its terrible ride quality and bad refinement let it down. You can get a decent example for £10k, but we wouldn't bother.  Read our review