4th - Audi A4
Years: 2008-2015 Budget from: £4000 Our favourite: 2.0 TDI SE
The A4 is a popular choice with company car drivers and fleets, and that means there are plenty of used examples to choose from. With well-balanced handling and plenty of grip, the A4 is good for keener drivers, and the low running costs of its diesel engines means trips to the pumps should be few and far between. SE specification gets you plenty of modern kit, too, including parking sensors and multi-zone climate control.
3rd - Ford Focus
Years: 2011-present Budget from: £3500 Our favourite: 1.0T Ecoboost 125 Zetec
The Ford Focus family hatchback is another of the UK's best-selling cars, so, as with its smaller Fiesta stablemate below, you won't be stuck for choice on the used market. Ford has sold a dazzling array of Focus variants over the years, but we'd go for the 1.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine with Zetec trim, which comes with a DAB radio and a heated windscreen as well as the air conditioning and Bluetooth connectivity that are standard on every model. There's not as much space inside as you'll find in the rival Volkswagen Golf, but the Focus makes up for that by being excellent to drive.
2nd - Volkswagen Golf
Years: 2013-present Budget from: £6000 Our favourite: 1.4 TSI 125 Match 5dr
The current Golf has just been updated, so there are plenty of pre-facelift models about to find their way on to the used market. This seventh-generation Golf has been well received, too, thanks to its upmarket interior, comfort and frugal engines. The 1.4-litre petrol engine is your best choice, especially if you won't be doing enough miles to justify a diesel. Our recommended Match special-edition model comes with adaptive cruise control, automatic lights and wipers, a DAB radio and Bluetooth.
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