Best used cars for under £12,000

Options are plentiful if you're looking for a used car under £12,000. Here are ten of the best

Simon Ostler James Wilson
Aug 28, 2019

Thinking about jumping into the used car market? A budget of £12,000 will be plenty for you to work with, there are plenty of exciting cars available at that price range. Whether it’s a spritely supermini, a calm and elegant saloon or rough and rugged SUV, there are plenty of options for your consideration. We've listed 10 of the best here on Buyacar to give you a helping hand.

When perusing the used market, things like age and mileage can make all the difference between you being able to afford entry level model or a top-of-the range model. So it's good to be clear what you'll be willing to accept from your next car - are you willing to sacrifice a bit of extra mileage in order to gain that all imporpant touchscreen?

Read on for our pick of the best used cars for under £12,000.

Best used cars for under £12,000

1) Volkswagen Golf

Our pick VW Golf 2.0 TDI GT

Latest Volkswagen Golf deals from £7,600
Monthly finance from £123

Everyone and their mum has heard of the Volkswagen Golf, and for good reason. As an all-rounder, not much can touch it. As a family hatchback, it's perhaps the best across the board in terms of reliability, practicality, comfort and refinement - there really isn't much more you could ask for. 

A budget of £12,000 is anough for an entry-level S model that's less than two years old. However, we'd recommend you avert your interest to something a little older (2015 and earlier) and go for a Match or SE model - at which point you will be treated to an eight-inch touchscreen display and alloy wheels.

The choice of petrol and diesel engines are good, they both offer impressive levels of power and economy, although the diesel is a touch more cumbersome. You also get a choice of either a manual or automatic gearbox.

VW Golf buyers' guide

2) BMW 3 Series

Our pick BMW 320d EfficientDynamics Sport

Latest BMW 3 Series deals from £10,495
Monthly finance from £144

The BMW 3 Series has sat at the pinnacle of the family saloon market since the first generation arrived back in 1975. For £12,000 you could get yourself a four-year-old model with good mileage, and even at this age you'll be getting a seriously capable car worthy of the price.

Our pick of the range is the 320d EfficientDynamics trim. This comes with an economical 2.0-litre diesel engine, along with a smattering of standard equipment. If you can live with a slightly older car, M Sport models offer a more aggressive look, while sacrificing some of that fuel economy, but the improved performance will be more than a fair substitute. As the new 3 Series released in 2019, prices for used models have fallen and will continue to do so, there's never been a better time to bag yourself a great deal on a 3 Series.

BMW 3 Series buyers' guide

3) Ford Mondeo Estate

Our pick Ford Mondeo Estate 1.5 EcoBoost Titanium

Latest Ford Mondeo Estate deals from £9,599
Monthly finance from £163

The latest generation of Ford Mondeo hit showrooms back in 2014, meaning prices are now dipping quite nicely under the £12,000 mark – lower spec or higher mileage cars can be picked up for even less.

Depending on your annual mileage either the 1.5-litre EcoBoost petrol (for less miles) or the 2.0-litre TDCi diesel (for more miles) in Titanium trim will be your best option. Diesel models are more common as are manuals, but automatic petrols do pop up.

Ford has officially ceased production of the Mondeo (in this guise at least) in the UK, so this will be your last opportunity to get hold of one for the foreseeable future.

Ford Mondeo Estate buyers' guide

4) Volkswagen Tiguan

Our pick Volkswagen Tiguan 2.0 TDi Tech Match

Latest Volkswagen Tiguan deals from £9,999
Monthly finance from £159

The Tiguan is Volkswagen’s second SUV (behind the Touareg), and conforms to the usual standards by which most Volkswagens are judged.

It has a conservative design inside and out, and one that has aged well. It’s well built, easy to live with, plus, during its eight year lifecycle, it was available in six trim levels, and petrol and diesel engines.

Boot size is a commodious 505-litres, which makes it larger than a Skoda Yeti and Mazda CX-5. Go for a diesel if you tow regularly, or a petrol if you don’t cover many miles.

Volkswagen Tiguan buyers' guide

5) Ford Fiesta ST

Our pick Ford Fiesta ST-3

Latest Ford Fiesta ST deals from £9,699
Monthly finance from £166

Fast Fords have something of a cult following, with the previous generation Fiesta (pictured) on track to go down as one of the all-time greats. The styling and interior don’t quite match the level of fun and performance the 1.6-litre turbo petrol engine and chassis offer, but if you can look past that, you will have one brilliant car on your drive.

ST-3 models sit at the top of the range, and with a budget of £12,000 there is no reason to settle for anything less. They will be getting on for four years old now, but low mileage cars aren’t out of the question. If you are desperate for a younger model, lower spec ST-2 models are available.

Ford Fiesta ST buyers' guide

6) Seat Ibiza

Our pick SEAT Ibiza SE Technology 95PS

Latest Seat Ibiza deals from £9,492
Monthly finance from £148

To be successful in the small car market you have to be good. And Seat’s latest Ibiza is just that. The currently generation (pictured) is only available as a 5-door, and unlike many of its rivals, can be bought with a diesel engine.

The petrol SE Technology models offer a great all-round package, with a blend of performance, economy and comfort rather well suited to life in the UK. When introduced, the latest Ibiza, ushered in class-leading levels of equipment, with autonomous braking, adaptive cruise control and wireless phone charging all available. However, much of this was only standard on the top of the line Xcellence models, but, if you search hard enough, you may well find a lesser model with lots of optional extras.

Seat Ibiza buyers' guide

7) Skoda Yeti

Our pick Skoda Yeti 1.2 TSI 110 SE

Latest Skoda Yeti deals from £8,290
Monthly finance from £141

The Skoda Yeti was replaced by the Karoq  in 2017, but that doesn’t stop the Czech crossover being an exceptionally good car. There are wide range of models on offer: two-wheel drive, four-wheel drive, manual, automatic, petrol and diesel – and that is before we get the list of trim levels.

Our pick of the range is the 1.2 TSI 110 SE, which is a front wheel drive petrol. While having four-wheel-drive is nice, the fact is most people don’t need such capabilities or the extra running costs that come with it. The Yeti was given a facelift towards the end of 2013, and the good news is a budget of £12,000 will afford you an updated version.

Skoda Yeti buyers' guide

8) Mazda MX-5

Our pick Mazda MX-5 SE-L Nav

Latest Mazda MX-5 deals from £11,500
Monthly finance from £186

Light, nimble and simple, the Mazda MX-5 is designed to make you fall in love with driving again. It's best on summer afternoons on a country road, where you can rev the engine and scythe through corners well within the speed limit, unlike more powerful sports cars, which are barely into their stride by 60mph.

With a budget of £12,000 you are just about priced out of the the latest generation car. Which is no problem, as the older car (pictured) is nearly as good to drive.

Mazda MX-5 buyers' guide

9) Citroen Grand C4 Picasso

Our pick Citroen Grand C4 Picasso BlueHDi 120 Flair

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

As the most practical car on this list, the Citroen Grand C4 Picasso will take the strains of transporting up to seven people on its chin. There is a mix of petrol and diesels (in manual and automatic guise) available for under £12,000, with the newest being just three years old.

For the most part, a BlueHDi 120 (diesel) Flair model is great option, but Exclusive and Selection trims come very well equipped and are within budget, too. The Grand C4 Picasso was replaced in 2018 by the Grand C4 SpaceTourer, but you’re not missing out on much by opting for the cheaper Picasso.

Citroen Grand C4 Picasso buyers' guide

10) Toyota Yaris Hybrid

Our pick Hyundai Toyota Yaris Icon Hybrid

Latest Toyota Yaris deals from £9,490
Monthly finance from £161

The hybrid sector has come a long way in recent years, but choices are limited if you want one for under £12,000. Toyota has been the pace setter in delivering hybrid cars for quite some time and that shows with the Yaris.

The Yaris is the only compelling hybrid supermini for sale here in the UK, and it's even more tempting since it's facelift in 2017. Try and find one of these as Toyota made improvements not only to the exterior styling but the interior as well. In terms of specification, we'd say Icon trim and above is your best bet, as equipment in entry-level Active models is just a bit sparse. The cherry on the cake is Toyota’s five-year or 100,000 mile warranty, which should still be in play if you buy a used model.

Toyota Yaris buyers' guide


Latest best cars & vans

  1. Best pre-registered car deals 2019

  2. Best used eight-seater cars

  3. Best medium size cars for towing

What our customers say