What Car? Personal Shopper: small automatic car for less than £14,000

Want a new car but don't know where to start? Just send us your criteria and we'll give you our top new and used car choices, and even tell you how much we can save you...

Volkswagen Polo

Buying used

  • Our recommended choice: 2018 Volkswagen Polo 1.0 Beats DSG
  • Price: £13,406
  • Mileage: 1200
VW Polo

We’ve deliberately gone up a class here, because our £14,000 budget allows us to choose some very worthy used small car rivals to the new city cars. However, don’t fret that the cars we’ve chosen here will be too large to handle comfortably in city streets and car parks or unnecessarily costly to run.

For example, this immaculate, one-owner Volkswagen Polo may have a mere 1.0-litre three-cylinder engine under its bonnet, attached to a dual-clutch automatic gearbox, but it’s still capable of polishing off the 0-62mph sprint in just 10.8sec and returning an official average fuel consumption of 60.1mpg. This engine is currently our favourite in the Polo range, being eager, frugal and smooth.

In fact, this car is lovely to drive, with all the qualities inherent in its classy big brother, the Golf. Its automatic gearbox changes gear well, refinement is good and the ride is supple. The Polo also has a smart interior, with plenty of room for a family, while still being small enough to be easy to drive and park in town. 

View this car in the What Car? classifieds or read our used Volkswagen Polo review

  • Also consider: 2016 Audi A1 1.4 TFSI Sport S tronic 
  • Price: £13,495
  • Mileage: 33,000
Audi A1

The A1 has just been replaced, but this original model is still very accomplished, being great fun to drive and having a very classy interior. Indeed, it’s that interior that sets it apart from other small cars, with a wonderfully minimalist design to the dashboard and its surroundings, many high-quality materials and a perfect driving position. The A1 is also practical and good to drive, while the automatic gearbox in this two-year-old 1.4-litre petrol car we found is smooth and refined.   

View this car in the What Car? classifieds or read our used Audi A1 review

  • Also consider: 2018 Honda Jazz 1.3 EX CVT
  • Price: £13,999
  • Mileage: 5200
Honda Jazz

Among its rivals, the Jazz is noted for the roominess and practicality of its interior and boot, its fine build quality and its outstanding reliability. This 2018 1.3-litre EX model is barely used, so it should offer years of largely trouble-free motoring. And despite its modest external dimensions, this third-generation Jazz can house even the largest of flat-pack items.

It’s easy to drive and a smooth and comfortable to be in, too, if not quite as involving for the keener driver as the A1 and Polo. Its automatic gearbox can be noisy when pushed hard, emitting an unusually constant bellow, but the Jazz is, for the most part, quiet enough to make urban use a pleasure.

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