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...

Small cars are the jack of all trades.

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

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. And right now, with many trying to avoid public transport due to the pandemic, a great affordable small car is a wonderful thing to have.

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:

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10. Audi A1

Audi A1

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. 

Audi A1 (cont.)

Audi A1 - interior

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

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.

Vauxhall Corsa (cont.)

Vauxhall Corsa - interior

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

Pros
Spacious interior
Comfortable low-speed ride
Keen pricing

Cons
Vague steering
Fiddly infotainment
Handling could be better

8. Honda Jazz

Honda Jazz

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.

Honda Jazz (cont.)

Honda Jazz - interior

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

Pros
Very spacious
Well equipped
Sturdy interior quality

Cons
Harsh ride
Unrefined engine
Not much fun to drive

7. Renault Clio

Renault Clio

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.

Renault Clio (cont.)

Renault Clio - interior

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

Pros
Flexible engines
Low CO2 emissions
Good safety record

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

6. Hyundai i20

Hyundai i20

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.

Hyundai i20 (cont.)

Hyundai i20 - interior

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

Pros
Spacious interior
Refined petrol engines
Well equipped

Cons
Interior doesn’t feel plush
Ride can be choppy
Uninspiring handling

5. Mini Hatchback

Mini Hatchback

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.

Mini Hatchback (cont.)

Mini Hatchback - interior

We found: 2017 Mini Hatch 1.5 Cooper 5dr, 27,000 miles, £9995

Pros
Strong engines
Low running costs
Class-leading infotainment system

Cons
Not as much fun to drive as it should be
Notchy manual gearbox
Some rivals are more practical

4. Volkswagen Polo

Volkswagen Polo

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.

Volkswagen Polo (cont.)

Volkswagen Polo - interior

We found: 2018 Volkswagen Polo 1.0 TSI SE 5dr, 17,000 miles, £9995

Pros
Supple ride
Generous interior space
Quiet on the move

Cons
Seat Ibiza more fun
Noisy diesel engine
Seatbelt issue recall

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. 

Seat Ibiza (cont.)

Seat Ibiza - interior

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

Pros
Great to drive
Remarkably spacious
Strong petrol engines

Cons
Interior could be classier
Road noise
Seatbelt issue recall

2. Ford Fiesta

Used Ford Fiesta 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.

Ford Fiesta (cont.)

Ford Fiesta 3dr dashboard

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

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

Skoda Fabia

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. 

Skoda Fabia (cont.)

Skoda Fabia - interior

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

Pros
Spacious interior
Good to drive
Standard infotainment system

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

Related cars

Audi A1

2018 - present

A fine car, but rather pricey and could be posher inside.

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