Best budget cars

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

Aug 30, 2018

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. In fact, the process whereby a car loses money over time through use, discounting and ageing is the single biggest cost of running a car.

Lesser but no less important costs are fuel economy, insurance and servicing. Driving as economically as you can will help soften the impact of the first.

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.

As for servicing, shopping around will also help reduce your costs.

New or used? If you’re on a budget the chances are you’re thinking of buying used and to help, we quote some example prices below. But you could be thinking of new. That’s fine because with a discount, a few of the cars below aren't bad value as new cars, and, of course, come with at least a three-year warranty for peace of mind.

Dacia Sandero

Our pick Dacia Sandero Ambiance 1.2 5dr
Latest Dacia Sandero deals from £4,590
Finance from £77 per month

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.

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.

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 buying guide

Skoda Citigo

Our pick Skoda Citigo 1.0 MPI SE
Latest Skoda Citigo deals from £4,690
Finance from £81 per month

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 increasingly they look 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 buying guide

Hyundai i10

Our pick Hyundai i10 SE 5dr
Latest Hyundai i10 deals from £4,729
Finance from £81 per month

New, the 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 buying guide

Skoda Fabia

Our pick Skoda Fabia 1.0 MPI SE
Latest Skoda Fabia deals from £5,200
Finance from £94 per month

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, although no air conditioning.
Skoda Fabia buying guide

Nissan Pulsar

Our pick Nissan Pulsar 1.2 DIG-T Acenta
Latest Nissan Pulsar deals from £6,990
Finance from £111 per month

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 con, automatic wipers and four electric windows, all standard.
Nissan Pulsar buying guide

Vauxhall Astra

Our pick Vauxhall Astra 1.3 CDTi ecoFLEX Design
Latest Vauxhall Astra deals from £5,990
Finance from £105 per month

Heavy new car discounting makes bargains of used Astras, as our top pick example shows. 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 buying guide

         

Read more about:

Latest best cars & vans

  1. Cheapest Euro 6 diesel van deals

  2. Best SUVs to buy in 2018

  3. Most efficient petrol cars

What our customers say