Best used cars for under £20,000

You can buy a new car for £20,000 - but it won't be nearly as luxurious as these used ones

James Wilson
Feb 11, 2019

The used car market is huge and having a budget of £20,000 brings a list of possibilities almost as long as Peter Crouch’s legs. From high-end SUVs and comfy executive saloons, to thrill-seeking hot hatches and eco-conscious electric vehicles - a £20k price point does cover most wants.

Diesel sales continue to fall in the UK, but there are plenty on the used market. And if you cover (roughly) more than 15,000 miles a year, then they still make a lot of sense.

Used electric cars are becoming cheaper and cheaper too, and there are some used bargains to be had as long as you don’t mind filling it with electricity regularly.

Best used cars for under £20,000

1) Ford Focus

Our pick Ford Focus Titanium 1.0 125 EcoBoost
Latest Ford Focus deals from £12,437
Finance from £184 per month

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 be a great car as it suits anyone looking for a practical hatchback.

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

Search for Titanium spec cars, which are rammed with tech like cruise control, a heated windscreen, touchscreen entertainment (which will run Apple CarPlay and Android Auto), air con and automatic headlights.
Ford Focus buying guide

2) Kia Sportage

Our pick Kia Sportage 1.6 CRDi ISG 2
Latest Kia Sportage deals from £12,950
Finance from £168 per month

The Kia Sportage is perfect for those wanting a practical SUV, and for those seeking class leading warranties.

£20,000 will get you a well specced diesel 2 model (sat nav, cruise control and a reversing camera are all included) under a year old with barely any miles on the clock. 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 buying guide

3) BMW 5 Series

Our pick BMW 520d SE
Latest BMW 5 Series deals from £11,995
Finance from £180 per month

In a similar situation to the Jaguar XF Sportbrake found at the bottom of this list, £20,000 won’t stretch to the latest generation of 5 Series.

That's no huge loss though. Being an executive saloon, all 5 Series’ 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 much much harder suspension.
BMW 5 Series buying guide

4) Skoda Karoq

Our pick Skoda Karoq 1.5 TSI
Latest Skoda Karoq deals from £16,790
Finance from £222 per month

Skoda has proved itself quite the SUV manufacturer. First starting with the popular Yeti, before moving onto the larger Kodiaq and then this, the Karoq. Included in the Karoq range is a cracking 1.5-litre petrol engine that can shut down cylinders when there is less demand for power, which improves fuel economy. 

All models are available with an automatic gearbox (known as DSG) which are common 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 buying guide

5) BMW 135i

Our pick BMW M135i
Latest BMW M135i deals from £16,000
Finance from £225 per month

While some performance hatchbacks wear their sporty credentials on their sleeve – see Honda Civic Type R – the BMW M135i is much more subtle. Many people will simply assume it is a regular 1 Series, but thanks to a fruity 3.0-litre 6-cylinder engine producing 316bhp, that will change when you accelerate off into the distance.

M135is are available with an excellent automatic gearbox that makes incredible performance effortless. Inside you can expect the normal level of quality and refinement commonplace with the BMW range too.

Something to bear in mind is that the M135i was replaced in 2016 by the M140i. This is more powerful (335bhp v 316bhp) but they're generally worth more too. Expect these cars to dip into the £20k bracket soon though.
BMW 1 Series buying guide

6) BMW i3 REx

Our pick BMW i3 REx
Latest BMW i3 deals from £15,280
Finance from £250 per month

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.

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 buying guide

7) Mini Convertible

Our pick MINI Cooper Convertible
Latest Mini Convertible deals from £12,470
Finance from £168 per month

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 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 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 buying guide

8) Renault Zoe

Our pick Renault ZOE 80kW Dynamique Nav R110 40kWh
Latest Renault Zoe deals from £8,990
Finance from £170 per month

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 it 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.

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 buying guide

9) Citroen Grand C4 SpaceTourer

Our pick Citroen Grand C4 Picasso BlueHDi 120 Flair
Latest Citroen Grand C4 Picasso deals from £8,887
Finance from £134 per month

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: it seats seven, has boot space for all your luggage, and features boredom saving 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 buying guide

10) Jaguar XF Sportbrake

Our pick Jaguar XF Sportbrake R-Sport 2.0D 180 auto
Latest Jaguar Sportbrake deals from £12,995
Finance from £203 per month

Even though beauty is in the eye of the beholder, few can argue 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 buying guide


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