Best used cars for under £12,000

Options a plentiful for those looking for a used car under £12,000. Here are ten of the best

James Wilson
Feb 8, 2019

A budget of £12,000 for a used car opens a lot of doors, but knowing which one to go through is a challenge. Whether it’s a supermini, saloon or SUV you need, we have you covered.

Your £12,000 will pick you up nearly new city cars and superminis from many manufacturers. For most of the larger types of car, your options are limited to those which are at least 2-3 years old. There are positives to this though, as cars depreciate fastest during their first three years. Reliability generally isn’t an issue either with three-year old cars, and some of the cars on this list even come with a five-year warranty.

For the sake of this list, we’ve picked a variety of different cars to get your pulses racing. From superminis to estates, with a smattering of hot-hatchbacks and roadsters thrown in too.

If you are new to the used car buying experience, or would like more help, then take a read of one of the key explainer articles listed below. Otherwise, keep reading to find out which are 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 VW Golf deals from £7,899
Finance from £129 per month

Everyone and their mum has heard of the Volkswagen Golf, and for good reason. As an all-rounder, not much can touch it. They are reliable, practical, comfy, relatively refined and are incredibly adept at cruising up and down motorways.

For £12,000, entry-level S models pushing just two years old can be bought. In reality, you are better going for a slightly older (2015 and earlier) Match or SE model – at least then you will be treated to alloy wheels. Diesel and petrol models are both good (which one is best for you is dependent on your annual mileage) as are the manual and automatic gearboxes.
VW Golf buying guide

2) BMW 3 Series

Our pick BMW 320d EfficientDynamics Spor
Latest BMW 3 Series deals from £10,590
Finance from £167 per month

The BMW 3 Series has been up there with the best saloons since the first generation arrived in 1975. The newest car within budget will be just four years old, assuming we aren’t considering high mileage motors, but even at this age you are getting a cracking car.

Our pick of the range is the 320d EfficientDynamics. This comes with an economical 2.0-litre diesel, along with a good smattering of standard equipment. If you can live with a slightly older car, M Sport models offer a more sporty looking car, albeit at the expense of economy. Something to keep in mind is that the new Mk7 3 Series is officially on sale, so prices for used models will continue to fall.
BMW 3 Series buying guide

3) Ford Mondeo Estate

Our pick Ford Mondeo Estate 1.5 EcoBoost Titanium
Latest Ford Mondeo Estate deals from £10,100
Finance from £170 per month

The latest generation of Ford Mondeo hit showrooms back in 2014, meaning prices are 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 lower miles) or the 2.0-litre TDCi diesel (for higher miles) in Titanium trim will be your best option. Diesel models are more common as are manuals, but automatic petrols do pop up.
Ford Mondeo Estate buying guide

4) Mazda CX-5

Our pick Mazda CX-5 SE-L Nav
Latest Mazda CX-5 deals from £10,489
Finance from £176 per month

The Mazda CX-5 is one of the few SUVs that is genuinely fun to drive. For £12,000 you can pick up a four-year old version in SE-L Nav guise.

These come with a delightful bag of tricks, including cruise control, Bluetooth and sat nav. Diesel models are most common thanks to a good blend of performance and economy, but if you are patient the right petrol will crop up as well.
Mazda CX-5 buying guide

5) Ford Fiesta ST

Our pick Ford Fiesta ST-3
Latest Ford Fiesta ST-3 deals from £10,690
Finance from £170 per month

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 buying guide

6) Seat Ibiza

Our pick SEAT Ibiza SE Technology 95PS
Latest Seat Ibiza deals from £9,795
Finance from £137 per month

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 buying guide

7) Skoda Yeti

Our pick Skoda Yeti 1.2 TSI 110 SE
Latest Skoda Yeti deals from £9,250
Finance from £155 per month

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 buying guide

8) Mazda MX-5

Our pick Mazda MX-5 SE-L Nav
Latest Mazda MX-5 deals from £11,100
Finance from £183 per month

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.

9) Citroen Grand C4 Picasso

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

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 buying guide

10) Toyota Yaris Hybrid

Our pick Hyundai Toyota Yaris Icon Hybrid
Latest Toyota Yaris Hybrid deals from £8,490
Finance from £145 per month
Hybrids have come a long way in recent years, but you are quite limited in terms of manufacturers if you want one for under £12,000. Toyota has been market leader in hybridisation 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 was facelifted in 2017. Try and find one of these (pictured) as Toyota improved the car throughout. Specwise, Icon trim and above is your best bet, as entry-level Active models are just a bit sparse. The cherry on the cake is Toyota’s five-year or 100,000 mile warranty.
Toyota Yaris buying guide


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