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Used cars for less than the price of the train

Millions of UK workers commute by train, but could it be cheaper to buy a car instead?

Words ByWhat Car? team

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Used cars can net you a bargain, especially if you're prepared to spend some time researching your ideal model. Bear in mind that you'll need to spend time looking carefully at any car you're thinking of buying, though, taking note of its condition, age, mileage and service history.

Used cars have already suffered the worst of their depreciation, so buying one can get you a more luxurious or expensive car that would have been out of your budget when it was new. Remember, our budget here is the £4308 you would otherwise have spent on a train season ticket.

Here are three of our used favourites.

Mk2 Ford Focus 2.0 TDCi Titanium(2004-2011)

The Focus is consistently one of the most popular new cars in the country, and the 2.0-litre diesel engine we recommend is one of the more reliable powerplants from this era. The Focus is better value than its Volkswagen Golf or Audi A3 counterparts, too, and if you look at the high-end Titanium models you'll have plenty of kit to play with. That said, even the relatively basic Zetec models come with air conditioning, alloy wheels and a CD player.

Budget from: £1500

Read our full Ford Focus used car review


Hyundai Santa Fe 2.2 CRTD (2006-2012)

If you've got a growing family then you'll likely need seven seats, and the good news is that the Santa Fe has plenty of space inside for both your passengers and their luggage. Its 2.2-litre diesel engine isn't the last word in refinement, but it's comfortable inside and there's little wind or road noise on the motorway. It's ideal for towing, too.

Budget from: £3500

Read our full used Hyundai Santa Fe review


Jaguar S-Type 2.7D (1998-2008)

If you want something luxurious and charming to commute in, few cars will suit you better than Jaguar's S-Type saloon. The V6 diesel engine is silky smooth and most have been very well cared for. They're great for chewing up motorway miles, but if you buy one of the post-facelift cars from 2006 onwards, the S-Type can even be rewarding to drive.

Budget from: £2500

Read our full used Jaguar S-Type review

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