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
Aug 20, 2020

Thinking about jumping into the used car market? A budget of £12,000 will be plenty for you to work with, there's a whole range of exciting cars available at that price point. 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 available options here on Buyacar to give you a helping hand.

There's not a lot of scope for buying a new car at this kind of price anymore, there's a range of city cars, but if you're after something bigger there's nothing really on offer. So if you are in need of some new wheels, the used car market is where you'll want to focus your attention. 

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 display?

If you're ready to get started on your search for your next car, read on for our pick of the best used cars you can buy for less than £12,000.

Best used cars for under £12,000

1. Volkswagen Golf

Our pick VW Golf 1.6 TDI Match Edition
Used deals from £9,599
Monthly finance from £145

Everyone and their mum has heard of the Volkswagen Golf, and for good reason. As an all-rounder, nothing else can touch it, at any price. 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 Edition 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.

VOLKSWAGEN GOLF BUYERS' GUIDE

2. BMW 3 Series

Our pick BMW 320d EfficientDynamics Sport
Used deals from £9,799
Monthly finance from £176

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.

A new 3 Series was released in 2019, meaning 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 BMW 3 Series.

BMW 3 SERIES BUYERS' GUIDE

3. Ford Mondeo Estate

Our pick Ford Mondeo Estate 1.5 EcoBoost Titanium
Used deals from £10,500
Monthly finance from £173

The latest generation of Ford Mondeo launched back in 2014, meaning prices are now dipping quite nicely under the £12,000 mark now – 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 you're only opportunity to get hold of one for the foreseeable future will be via the used car market.

FORD MONDEO ESTATE BUYERS' GUIDE

4. Volkswagen Tiguan

Our pick Volkswagen Tiguan 2.0 TDi Tech Match
Used deals from £10,495
Monthly finance from £188

The Tiguan is Volkswagen’s second SUV (behind the Touareg), and conforms to the usual standards by which most VWs 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 with a good choice of 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
Used deals from £11,199
Monthly finance from £194

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 for a similar price.

FORD FIESTA ST BUYERS' GUIDE

6. Seat Ibiza

Our pick Seat Ibiza SE Technology 95hp
Used deals from £8,965
Monthly finance from £145

To be successful in the small car market you have to be good - the latest Seat Ibiza is just that. The current 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
Used deals Limited stock

The Skoda Yeti was replaced by the Karoq in 2017, but that doesn’t stop the Czech crossover being an exceptionally good car. There's a wide range of models on offer, with two-wheel drive, four-wheel drive, manual, automatic, petrol and diesel variants – 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 version. 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
Used deals from £10,398
Monthly finance from £167

Light, nimble and simple, the Mazda MX-5 is designed to make you fall in love with driving again. It's best along a winding country road on a summer afternoon, 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.

Older versions of the newest MX-5 model (pictured above) are just beginning to creep below that £12,000 mark, but you can very easily pick up a low-mileage example of the older model - which is nearly as good to drive - for much less than that.

MAZDA MX-5 BUYERS' GUIDE

9. Citroen Grand C4 Picasso

Our pick Citroen Grand C4 Picasso BlueHDi 120 Flair
Used deals from £7,667
Monthly finance from £141

As the most practical car on this list, the Citroen Grand C4 Picasso will manage the strains of transporting up to seven people without a batting an eyelid. There is a mix of petrol and diesel engines (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, for all intents and purposes these two are practically the same car.

CITROEN GRAND C4 PICASSO BUYERS' GUIDE

10. Toyota Yaris Hybrid

Our pick Toyota Yaris Icon Hybrid
Used deals from £8,150
Monthly finance from £136

The hybrid car 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 became even more tempting since it recieved a 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, even if you buy a used model.

TOYOTA YARIS BUYERS' GUIDE

 

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