Best budget cars

On a budget? We all are. These budget cars are the best at helping you stick to yours

BuyaCar team
Nov 26, 2019

When it comes to money, there’s more to a car than just its price. True, it’s the one thing that grabs our attention, but there are other financial factors to consider.

Depreciation is one, if you intend to sell up in a couple of years you'll be losing money every single step of the way. Then there's the cost of fuel, road tax and insurance to contend with as well.

Now, while you can adjust your driving style to address the fuel economy issue, there isn't much else you can do about the other three, except to choose a car that represents good value for money and doesn't cost the Earth to tax or insure.

Regarding insurance, each car falls into one of 50 insurance groups, categories decided by the insurance industry based on a variety of factors including a model’s cost of repair. You can't influence the categories but you can choose to buy a car in a low insurance group and shop around for the lowest premium.

Then there's the question of whether to buy a new or used car? If you’re on a budget the chances are you’re thinking of taking the used option and there's nothing really wrong with that. In fact, we've got a handful of great deals here that will prove you've made the right decision.


Read on for our pick of some of the best budget cars around.

Best budget cars

1. Dacia Sandero

Our pick Dacia Sandero Ambiance 1.2 5dr
Used deals from £4,699
Monthly finance from £84

In basic Access trim the Dacia Sandero is Britain’s cheapest new car. So already it’s looking like a top budget buy. But unlike some cheap cars, the Sandero also depreciates quite slowly, which means it loses less of your hard-earned money over time should you ever come to sell it.

All that said, our pick, a three-year-old Sandero Ambiance 1.2 looks like good value against its new equivalent, a 0.9 Ambiance which today costs £8,388 after discount. What’s more, Ambiance trim is better than basic Access because it has essentials such as a radio, electric front windows and Bluetooth. But you don't even have to spend that much, because BuyaCar have 2018 Ambiance models with less than 20,000 miles available from just £5,850.

Body coloured bumpers and door handles make the car look less downmarket, too. Fuel economy isn't special but that low insurance group helps make up for it.

Dacia Sandero buyers' guide

2. Skoda Citigo

Our pick Skoda Citigo 1.0 MPI SE
Used deals from £4,299
Monthly finance from £88

Skoda has always been associated with budget cars but what’s changed in recent years is that its cars are now well built, reliable and good to drive. Not only that, but they are looking increasingly like the smarter choice, especially if you're considering a more expensive Volkswagen, the company that actually owns Skoda.

The Citigo is a great example. You could have sister cars a VW Up or a Seat Mii (another company that VW owns) but the Citigo is cheaper and better value.

That value advantage extends into the used car market where our pick, a three-year-old 1.0 SE 5dr (SE is one up from basic S and comes with electric front windows and air-conditioning) costs less than £5,500. Cheap insurance and good economy complete the picture.

Skoda Citigo buyers' guide

3. Hyundai i10

Our pick Hyundai i10 SE 5dr
Used deals from £4,999
Monthly finance from £91

New, the Hyundai i10 has a five-year warranty so even when it’s three years old, it has two years’ cover remaining. That’s a huge tick in its favour but another is its price.

Insurance group 6 may sound on the high side but in cash terms there’s very little difference between cars in groups 1 to 10. Although not class-leading, official economy of 57.6mpg is not to be sniffed at.

Hyundai i10 buyers' guide

4. Skoda Fabia

Our pick Skoda Fabia 1.0 MPI SE
Used deals from £4,490
Monthly finance from £91

No apologies for featuring a Skoda again. With a budget car it’s all about balancing cost and quality, and the Skoda Fabia hits the spot perfectly.

Under the skin it shares a lot of parts with sister car the VW Polo so is a well-rounded model that is good to drive and which will withstand the rough and tumble of everyday use.

Like our other examples, at three years old, it looks good value for money. SE trim is one up from basic S and has features such as electric mirrors, a digital radio and a height-adjustable driver’s seat, but you don't get air-conditioning.

Skoda Fabia buyers' guide

5. Nissan Pulsar

Our pick Nissan Pulsar 1.2 DIG-T Acenta
Used deals from £6,980
Monthly finance from £131

The Pulsar hasn't really set the family hatchback class alight which is a pity since it’s actually pretty good at most things. Its ace card is a seriously roomy rear interior where passengers can really stretch out. It’s good to drive and good value for money, too.

Because it’s such a dark horse, discounts are quite plentiful and come home to roost in keen used prices, as our top pick example shows.

Really, £7,495 for a genuinely roomy and practical hatchback such as the Pulsar is great value. What’s more, Acenta trim doesn't hold back on the luxuries with dual-zone air-conditioning, automatic wipers and four electric windows, all standard.

Nissan Pulsar buyers' guide

6. Vauxhall Astra

Our pick Vauxhall Astra 1.3 CDTi ecoFLEX Design
Used deals from £4,970
Monthly finance from £93

Heavy new car discounting makes bargains of used Astras. It really is a budget buyer’s delight, especially since it’s an economical diesel, which means even more savings.

Astras are tough cars and generally speaking better value than arch rival, the Ford Focus which, like for like, is around £1000 more.

Admittedly, our choice is the old model, superseded by the current and far better Astra of late 2015. Design trim has front electric windows, cruise control and body coloured handles, mirrors and bumpers to help distinguish it from the basic model.

Vauxhall Astra buyers' guide


Read more about:

Latest best cars & vans

  1. Cheapest car insurance for young drivers

  2. Best second-hand cars

  3. Best fast cars for young drivers

What our customers say