7. Suzuki Swift
Value is the Suzuki Swift’s primary selling point – it’s cheap as chips to buy, which means our £2,000 budget buys you a pretty low-mileage example. But that’s not all: the Swift is great fun to drive, and its zingy engines mean you never feel short of power. OK, so the interior plastics aren’t the most high-quality, and it feels a little firm and noisy on the motorway. But everywhere else you’ll be having too much fun to care.
We found: 2007 1.3 GL, 42,000 miles, full service history, £1990
6. Ford Fiesta
Its squared-off shape is functional rather than funky, but as a result, the Ford Fiesta offers plenty of space to its occupants. And as you’d expect from a Fiesta, it’s lots of fun to drive, too, with responsive engines and a lively chassis. The ride’s a bit firm, and the interior can feel cheap in places, but then the Fiesta isn’t all that expensive to buy or to run, and with so many examples available, you’ll be spoiled for choice.
We found: 1.25 Zetec, 64,000 miles, full service history, £1,999
It’s hard to believe that you can get a car as desirable as the first-generation Mini for this budget, but in fact you can. Granted, the boot and back seats are cramped, and you have to accept a slightly higher mileage and an older car than with other models here, but the tradeoff – a fun, funky, fashionable small car that’ll make you smile every time you drive it – might just be worth it.
We found: 2004 1.6 Cooper, 90,000 miles, full service history, £2000
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