Best used cars for under £30,000

Got a budget of £30,000 ready to burn on a new car? Get a whole lot more for you money with some of these excellent used car deals

Simon Ostler John Evans
Aug 28, 2019

With £30,000 burning a hole in your pocket, your choice of car is limited only by your imagination. From luxury saloons to sporty convertibles, they’re all here in this price band - that is the beauty of buying a used car.

Here, we've identified ten of the best cars you can get for less than £30,000, and you'll be amazed at exactly what you can get. Similar cars, if bought brand new, will cost considerably more than their slightly aged couterparts, so there really is logic behind the idea of going used.

But crucially, none of the cars listed here will be much more than two or three years old, so they aren't really that old at all, and certainly will not have covered obscene levels of mileage. You'll be getting a much better equipped model without sacrificing a whole lot at hugely reduced prices - whats not to get excited about?

Read on for our pick of the best 10 cars you can get for under £30,000.

Best used cars for under £30,000

1) Audi A5

Our pick Audi A5 S Line

Latest Audi A5 deals from £19,299
Monthly finance from £225

With rivals such as the BMW 4 series and Mercedes C-Class coupes to contend with, the Audi A5 must be good – and it is. Rather than focussing on one aspect in particular, the A5 is a great all-rounder. It's stylish, surprisingly practical, fun to drive, classy and comfortable, as well as being brilliantly well made and powered by a range of excellent engines.

The only fly in the ointment is how firm the ride can be with the sports suspension, find a car with the softer Comfort Dynamic suspension and you’ll be much happier. You can choose from powerful petrol or diesel engines - the latter is the best option if you do tend to cover longer distances. As standard, the A5 is front-wheel drive but there are four-wheel-drive quattro versions available within the £30,000 budget that offer better grip in more challenging conditions.

With its low sloping roof you wouldn't expect the A5 to offer acres of headroom in the back, and it doesn't, but there is ample leg and shoulder room for four adults. The boot isn't quite as big as the one in the BMW 4 Series but it is well shaped and easy to load and un-load. Add the convenience of split folding rear seats and you’ve the makings of a very practical sports coupe.

Audi A5 buyers' guide

2) Volvo XC90

Our pick Volvo XC90 2.0 D5 Momentum

Latest Volvo XC90 deals from £28,400
Monthly finance from £384

The combination of Volvo’s impeccable safety credentials and cool, Scandinavian design in a large, seven-seat SUV has proved irresistible to many car buyers and now, four years since the model was launched, used XC90s are now much more affordable, too.

The model was among the first of the current generation of large SUVs to be launched so at this budget, if you’re comparing it with models such as the Audi Q7 and Land Rover Discovery they’ll be the previous versions rather than today’s much more expensive ones. Both of these newer and more expensive cars are excellent vehicles but that’s not to say the older Volvo is outclassed. For undemanding drivers it’s a relaxed and relaxing car to drive, more so on smaller wheels rather than the larger 19in affairs some versions come with.

For a high-mileage driver with their eye on the fuel gauge, the D5 diesel version of the XC90 makes the most sense. The T5 and T6 petrols are thirsty. The expensive T8 petrol-electric hybrid does at least offer the possibility of limited electric-only running.

Volvo XC90 buyers' guide

3) BMW 5 Series

Our pick BMW 520d M Sport

Latest BMW 5 Series deals from £22,899
Monthly finance from £276

The 5 Series has ruled the executive class for decades. It’s the benchmark thanks to its rear-wheel-drive chassis that makes it fun to steer around corners, refined and powerful engines, excellent interior layout and top-notch build quality.

In terms of engines, the 2.0-litre 520d diesel is our pick. It’s powerful but frugal with it, although it is a little gruff and vocal. All come with a smooth-shifting eight-speed automatic gearbox. It’s your first hint that even in entry-level SE specification the 5 Series is well equipped with leather seats, climate control, a sat nav and rear parking sensors all standard. Go a step further and M Sport models will also add sports suspension, sports brakes and sports seats along with 18-inch alloy wheels - all for less than £30,000.

The interior is roomy even in the rear where there’s plenty of leg and headroom. It’s just a pity there’s a bulky transmission tunnel that forces anyone in the centre seat to place their feet either side.

BMW 5 Series buyers' guide

4) Mercedes S-Class

Our pick Mercedes S350L SE Line

Latest Mercedes-Benz S-Class deals from £22,599
Monthly finance from £353

Whether you intend to dash across the continent or simply cruise to the shops, there’s nothing quite like a luxury car for absolute comfort.

One of the absolute best in this sector is the Mercedes S-Class. We’ve chosen the least powerful diesel version but even this offers brisk and effortless performance. Your budget will also buy the S400 petrol-hybrid offering strong performance and decent economy.

The ride gets impressively smoother the faster you go, so around town the S-Class is a little lumpy, but show it a good A-road or motorway and it glides along. For a big car it’s surprisingly fun to drive, although a BMW 7 Series has the edge in terms of dynamics.

Mercedes S-Class buyers' guide

5) Honda Civic Type R

Our pick Honda Civic Type R GT

Not for the faint-hearted, the Civic Type R is all wings and sharp angles, with a rear spoiler a family could eat their dinner off. Where something like the Volkswagen Golf R is a touch more sober and mature, the Civic Type R is rather aggressive and if you’re buying a hot hatch, performance and exhuberance are probably pretty high priorities.

So the Type R ticks both of those boxes, but why settle for the standard version when you could have luxuries such as dual-zone climate control, a sat nav, parking sensors and power-folding door mirrors? For these you need to upgrade to GT spec. Together they make the largely performance-focused Type R more enjoyable and practical on a day-to-day basis.

Talking of practicality, the Type R has a surprisingly spacious boot compared to its rivals and, if you need more space, the rear seats split and fold flat to the floor too. Front seat passengers have plenty of room to get comfortable but even in the rear, a couple of six footers will find no shortage of legroom; not so much headroom, though, thanks to the sloping roof.

Honda Civic buyers' guide

6) Ford Mustang

Our pick Ford Mustang 5.0 V8 GT Convertible

Latest Ford Mustang deals from £27,400
Monthly finance from £369

The majority of the cars on this list are classy and understated affairs from European car makers. The Mustang isn’t.

It’s as American as a cheeseburger on Route 66, but this generation of Mustang was the first to be officially sold in Britain with a steering wheel on the correct side. Both coupe and convertible versions are on offer, and there are two different engines to choose from too - you ought to have the choice of the lot with a budget of £30,000 budget.

The 2.3-litre engine is fast enough and should manage just over 30mpg. But if you want an American muscle car with a soundtrack to match, go for the 5.0-litre V8. Better still, opt for the convertible, turn up the active exhaust, and annoy the neighbours.

Ford Mustang buyers' guide

7) Jaguar XE

Our pick Jaguar XE 2.0 (197) Prestige

Latest Jaguar XE deals from £11,800
Monthly finance from £160

The compact executive saloon sector is dominated by the BMW 3 Series and Mercedes C-Class but the Jaguar XE is well worth a look if you prize a sweet driving experience, a supple ride, good equipment levels and, of course, that leaping Jaguar badge.

Naturally, you can have it with petrol or diesel power. We'd plump for petrol if you're a lower mileage driver. The 197bhp engine under the bonnet of our example provides a good balance between performance, economy and price. If diesel is more your thing, avoid the entry-level 161bhp and go for the more sprightly, mid-power 187bhp engine.

The front half of the interior is roomy but the rear suffers a lack of headroom. It all looks stylish, though, and, for the most part, premium. All versions have a large entertainment screen, phone connectivity, plus climate and cruise control, a sat nav and parking sensors. Prestige, our favourite trim, adds luxuries including heated leather seats and fancy chrome details for not much more money than the basic SE.

Jaguar XE buyers' guide

8) Land Rover Discovery

Our pick Land Rover Discovery 3.0 SDV6 HSE

Latest Land Rover Discovery deals from £23,390
Monthly finance from £392

There’s an all-new Discovery on sale, but the one we’re talking about here is the previous version. That’s no bad thing, though, since Land Rover threw pretty much everything at these older cars to help clear the decks for their replacement.

For this price go for a model as new as possible, preferably impressive-looking 20-inch alloy wheels. But these things aren't why people buy a Disco, as it’s known. Instead, it’s for its unburstable cruising ability, huge appetite for towing and, when the going gets rough, its impeccable off-road credentials. In fact, many people may have no need of the latter but enjoy the fact that if push came to shove, their Disco could take it.

Don't expect the last word in driving dynamics though. The steering is heavy and slow in town, while on the open road, the car leans noticeably in corners. Drive too hard and the auto gearbox can become confused. On the plus side, the interior is genuinely spacious and it’s a true seven-seater. Fold down the back seats and you have a huge boot, too.

Land Rover Discovery buyers' guide

9) Hyundai Ioniq 

Our pick Hyundai Ioniq Plug-In

Latest Hyundai Ioniq deals from £13,699
Monthly finance from £198

Slowly but surely hybrid cars are getting onto car buyers' shopping lists and it’s thanks to models such as the Hyundai Ioniq.

Of course, the first thing on anyone’s mind when considering a hybrid car is the mpg. Plug-in versions should regularly see close to 60mpg around town, but don’t expect it to be nearly as economical on the motorway.

Despite its slippery, aerodynamic styling, the Ioniq looks reassuringly ‘normal’; and it’s roomy too, with easily enough space for a family, and the dashboard and trim looks upmarket if a little too grey. The Ioniq doesn't provide the last word in driver involvement (the steering isn't the most communicative) but it handles tidily and being electric, it can power out of bends with ease.

Hyundai Ioniq buyers' guide

10) Seat Alhambra

Our pick Seat Alhambra 2.0 TDi Excellence

Latest Seat Alhambra deals from £12,699
Monthly finance from £194

MPVs, or people carriers, have rather fallen off car buyers’ radar in recent years but if you want a spacious and versatile vehicle for the family, few cars can beat them. Some SUVs may have seven seats, but if you want everyone from the front seats to the rearmost to be truly comfortable, you need a large MPV like the Seat Alhambra.

Meanwhile, there may be occasions when you just need lots of carrying space; for example, when one of the kids goes to university. No worries; the Alhambra can swallow enough stuff to fill a bedsit.

It’s a large vehicle but thanks to its sliding rear doors (they’re electrically operated on some versions) you can slot it into an average-sized parking bay and get everyone out without fear of clonking the doors on neighbouring vehicles. Those sliding doors make access into the vehicle and a strapping a child into a safety seat, a piece of cake, too.

The 2.0-litre diesel engine is your best bet for pulling power but even the quieter and smoother 1.4 petrol makes a good fist of hauling a fully-loaded Alhambra.

Seat Alhambra buyers' guide

                      

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