Best used cars for under £20,000

£20,000 to spend on a car? You can get some seriously desirably used cars for that kind of price, these are 10 of the best

Simon Ostler James Wilson
Aug 28, 2019

Have you got the urge for a new car? Well you could go for something brand new, but for £20,000 on the used market, you could get a whole lot more car for your money.

If you do decide to go for a used option, it's not inconcievable that you could be climbing into the driving seat of some truly desirable cars built by the most esteemed brands in the business - the likes of Audi, BMW and Jaguar.

They don't even have to be that old, with cars on this list as little as two years old with some very reasonable mileage figures. If you're after a used car and you've got a bit of money spare, we're pretty sure you'll be able to find the car of your choice.

Read on for our pick of the best car you can get for under £20,000.

Best used cars for under £20,000

1. Ford Focus

Our pick Ford Focus 1.0 125 EcoBoost Titanium

Latest Ford Focus deals from £11,200
Monthly finance from £163

Ford launched a new and much improved Focus in 2018 and by all accounts, it's a great family hatchback. In fact, you could be a family of one and it would still make a great car, as it suits anyone simply looking for a practical hatchback.

Ford’s range of turbocharged EcoBoost petrol engines have received much praise in the automotive world, and for good reason. These small engines offer the power of a larger engine with the economy of a smaller one.

Seek out Titanium spec cars, which are rammed with tech like cruise control, a heated windscreen, touchscreen media system (which will run Apple CarPlay and Android Auto), air-conditioning and automatic headlights.

Ford Focus buyers' guide

2. Kia Sportage

Our pick Kia Sportage 1.6 CRDi ISG 2

Latest Kia Sportage deals from £10,990
Monthly finance from £151

The Kia Sportage is perfect for those wanting a practical SUV with a class-leading warranty.

Better still, £20,000 will get you a well specified diesel 2 model (sat-nav, cruise control and a reversing camera are all included) that is under a year old with barely any miles on the clock - which should make it feel practically new. This means that it will still have six years' warranty too. There are petrol models and automatics as well, but the 1.6-litre diesel manual is the best of the bunch.

Kia Sportage buyers' guide

3. BMW 5 Series

Our pick BMW 520d SE

Latest BMW 5 Series deals from £13,199
Monthly finance from £178

While £20,000 won’t stretch to the latest generation of 5 Series, the previous model sits very much within this price range.

And the fact it's now a few years old doesn't matter an awful lot. Being an executive saloon, all 5 Series models come well equipped, with Bluetooth, cruise control and climate control standard throughout the range. At launch, only SE models were available so they are a good option to go for. Those wanting a sportier 5 Series can go for an M Sport version, although these do come with a premium over the SE models, and slightly firmer suspension, so it's worth deciding whether you want a more relaxed, comfier drive or sportier looks and feel behind the wheel.

BMW 5 Series buyers' guide

4. Skoda Karoq

Our pick Skoda Karoq 1.5 TSI

Latest Skoda Karoq deals from £15,495
Monthly finance from £207

Skoda has proven itself to be quite the expert when it comes to building high-quality SUVs. The Czech manufacturer has given us the compact yet capable Yeti, before moving onto the larger Kodiaq and then this, the mid-sized, best-of-both-worlds Karoq. Included in the Karoq range is a cracking 1.5-litre petrol engine that can shut down cylinders when you're driving slowly, which improves fuel economy. 

All models are available with an automatic gearbox (known as DSG) which is commonly available throughout the Skoda and Volkswagen ranges and very competent indeed. Spec wise, £20,000 will get you a nearly new entry-level SE model. You will be able to find better spec, slightly older SE Technology models, but the regular SE still comes with alloys, Bluetooth and DAB radio.

Skoda Karoq buyers' guide

5. BMW M140i

Our pick BMW M140i

Latest BMW 140i deals from £19,600
Monthly finance from £277

While some performance hatchbacks wear their sporty credentials on their sleeve – see Honda Civic Type R – the BMW M140i is much more subtle. Many people will simply assume it is a regular 1 Series, but thanks to a mighty 3.0-litre six-cylinder engine producing an enormous 340hp, that perception will change when you accelerate off into the distance.

M140is are available with an excellent automatic gearbox that makes incredible performance effortless. Inside you can expect the decent level of quality and refinement commonplace with the BMW range too.

Something to bear in mind is that the M140i replaced the M135i in 2016. The initial M135i cars are less powerful (320hp v 340hp) but they're generally worth less too, so don't be put off by a M135i if it suits your budget and tastes. Low mileage examples regularly dip below £18,000.

BMW 1 Series buyers' guide

6. BMW i3 REx (range extender)

Our pick BMW i3 REx

Latest BMW i3 deals from £15,490
Monthly finance from £268

Unlike many hybrids, the BMW i3 REx does not use a traditional engine to make it go. Instead, it has an electric motor to power the wheels, and a small petrol powered generator to charge the battery if you run out of charge. This petrol engine comes with the range extender model, boosting how far you can travel between charges compared with the ordinary electric-only i3. Run the batteries dry regularly, however, and you will need to remember to top up the small petrol tank, too.

The i3 is getting on for six years old now, but its design still looks fresh. Inside is much of the same story, where you get the profound sense that this is very much an eco-focused vehicle. The claimed range of the REx is 276 miles, but real-world miles will be slightly lower. All i3 REx models come well equipped (although there aren’t any trim levels) with automatic headlights, cruise control and automatic air-conditioning included as standard.

BMW i3 buyers' guide

7. Mini Convertible

Our pick MINI Cooper Convertible

Latest Mini Cooper Convertible deals from £12,216
Monthly finance from £169

You hear Mini and you think fun – it can’t be helped. The Mini Convertible is no exception and was recently facelifted (along with its hatchback brethren) bringing with it standard fit Union Jack rear lights. The good news for you is that your £20,000 budget will more than stretch to a facelifted model with not many miles on the clock. Cooper models are a great option unless you want more power, in which case the speedy Cooper S or the even hotter John Cooper Works versions will be the way to go.

Mini is known for its personalisation options, so it can be hard to recommend a specific trim level as you could well find a better value bargain where the owner went crazy with the options list. ‘Chilli’ or ‘Pepper’ packs are good to look out for, as they come with important features such as air-conditioning and Bluetooth.

Mini Convertible buyers' guide

8. Renault Zoe

Our pick Renault ZOE 80kW Dynamique Nav R110 40kWh

Latest Renault Zoe deals from £7,795
Monthly finance from £132

Unlike some rivals, such as the Volkswagen e-Up, the Renault ZOE is a purpose-built electric car. This means its packaging is better, as the car was designed around its battery pack, rather than having to squeeze electronics into the space left by a missing engine.

As with most electric cars, it's smooth, quiet and nippy when you put your foot down. Short motorway journeys are no problem, but you will notice your range drops faster compared to driving on an A-road or in urban areas. One thing to consider is battery rental, which is a monthly fee you have to pay on top of the purchase price of your car.

Depending on how you look at this it could be a positive, as Renault will replace the batteries if they become defunct. The cost of the battery was included with some models, so it's worth checking whether models you're looking at include ownership of the battery or if you have to pay a monthly rental for it.

Spec wise, Dynamique Nav models offer all you could possibly want. For £20,000 you will be able to get the latest Zoe with the more powerful motor and useable range (claimed to be 186 miles) and possibly have enough change for a summer holiday.

Renault Zoe buyers' guide

9. Citroen Grand C4 SpaceTourer

Our pick Citroen Grand C4 Picasso BlueHDi 120 Flair

Latest Citroen Grand C4 Picasso deals from £8,325
Monthly finance from £135

The Citroen Grand C4 SpaceTourer recently replaced the Citroen Grand C4 Picasso – although not much actually changed other than the badges.

Both cars are more than up to the challenges a family can throw at them: they seat seven, have boot space for all your luggage, and feature child boredom-minimising tech such as Bluetooth.

For £20,000 you will be able to choose from petrol and diesels, with automatic and manual gearboxes also on the cards. The BlueHDi 120 Flair model is a great option for most, but automatics are less common, so you may have to act fast when you find a good one.

Citroen Grand C4 SpaceTourer buyers' guide

10. Jaguar XF Sportbrake

Our pick Jaguar XF Sportbrake R-Sport 2.0D 180 auto

Latest Jaguar XF Sportbrake deals from £14,199
Monthly finance from £225

Even though beauty is in the eye of the beholder, few can argue that the XF Sportbrake isn’t easy on the eyes. The interior may be behind that of its rivals from Audi or BMW, but in terms of practicality and performance, it is right up there with the best.

£20,000 won’t get you the newest second-generation model, but you can get well-specced previous-generation R-Sport models that are around five years old. The diesel engines offer the best all-round economy, while petrols are scarce and expensive.

Jaguar XF buyers' guide


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