Best new cars for under £15,000

The best new cars for under £15,000 all have one thing in common - they're great value for money

James Mills
Feb 6, 2019

To most of us, £15,000 seems like an awful lot of money. But did you know that the average cost of the new car sold in the UK is actually considerably more?

Britain’s drivers typically pay £22,000 to be the first owner of a factory-fresh car. So narrowing down the choice when the budget is £15,000 takes dedicated detective work, especially for those who don’t keep up with developments in the car market.

That’s where BuyaCar can help. Our team of reviewers has driven and rated nearly every new car on sale, so they can give consumers impartial advice on which cars are worthy of consumers’ hard-earned money.

Within this price range, there is a reasonable variety of types of car. Small hatchbacks, or superminis, are in abundance. But motorists that need something still more practical, such as a sport utility vehicle (SUV) or estate car, will be pleased to learn there are some good models available.

It goes without saying, drivers should be prepared to shop around and push dealers for a bargain, checking offers against the discounts available through BuyaCar.

Also remember to check the CO2 emissions which impact on the cost of road tax, compare the fuel economy of models and get insurance quotes. And finally, put your mind at rest by checking the safety of different models, using the resource at Euro NCAP.

Best new cars for under £15,000

1) Volkswagen Polo

Our pick Volkswagen Polo 1.0 SE

List price £15,595 (around £13,471 after discount)

Widely considered the yardstick by which other small cars are measured, the latest Polo has a mature, big-car feel and has actually grown physically to free up more space for family or friends.

In SE trim, with the 1.0-litre, 75hp engine, the Polo is close to £15,000. If you can stretch to the more expensive 1.0-litre TSI engine, and haggle the price down, you might find that the more powerful and flexible 95hp engine is the better bet.

We like the way the Polo feels stable on the road, with low levels of noise, a smooth ride and safe handling. A Fiesta is more fun, but the Polo is the car you’d probably want to take on a longer journey. It also has enough interior space for four tall adults, and the 351-litre boot is on the larger side for this type of car.
Volkswagen Polo buying guide

2) Ford Fiesta

Our pick Ford Fiesta 3dr Zetec 1.0T EcoBoost

List price £16,065 (around £15,000 after discount)

If you didn’t know, the Ford Fiesta has long been Britain’s best-selling car. Drive one and you’ll appreciate why. It’s an accomplished all-rounder, with the space, comfort, equipment and safety features that most drivers with around £15,000 to spend want to tick off their list.

Those who want to stick beneath that budget can pick between three and five-door models with a 1.1-litre petrol engine and the most basic Style trim level. However, if it were our money, we’d be aiming for the 1.0T EcoBoost engine, which is a real gem, offering excellent performance and economy, as well as the more popular Zetec trim level, which comes with more equipment. The problem is, you’ll have to haggle the price down to £15,000, but in today’s competitive market, that should be straightforward.
Ford Fiesta buying guide

3) Citroen C3 Aircross

Our pick Citroen C3 Aircross 1.2 PureTech 110 Feel

List price £17,390 (around £15,000 after discount)

The car that the C3 Aircross replaced, the C3 Picasso, had all the allure of a pair of wet, pongy running shoes. It was practical but dreary. Whereas the C3 Aircross brings personality, clever engineering and a general can-do attitude to anyone wanting a compact and affordable SUV.

It can be customised all manner of ways, making it fun to spec according to taste. And inside, there are generous levels of space and luggage room. Citroen also throws in a generous level of equipment. Plus, if you want to, you can order Grip Control, which makes it surprising capable on rough or slippery surfaces.

The entry-level PureTech 82 petrol, in ‘Touch’ trim sneaks in at under £15,000, but we’d hunt out for discounts (something Citroen dealers have a reputation for offering) on a new PureTech 110 in Feel trim, which comes with more goodies.
Citroen C3 Aircross review

4) Dacia Duster

Our pick Dacia Duster Comfort SCe 115 4x4 

List price £15,395 (around £14,921 after discount)

If you want to spend as little money as possible on a new SUV for the family, Dacia sells a version of the Duster for just £9995, which, on the face of it, appears to be remarkably good value for money. But is it?

It does without things such as navigation, air conditioning, Apple Carplay or Android Auto and electric windows. Whereas by stepping up to the Comfort trim level, you can spend around a £15,000 budget and enjoy all those features and more. In fact, for £15,395, you can have a turbocharged petrol engine and four-wheel drive, which transforms the Duster into one of the toughest budget 4x4s off the beaten track.
Dacia Duster buying guide

5) Mini One

Our pick Mini One Classic 3dr  

List price £16,190 (around £15,000 after discount)

If you don’t need a practical car, then why not go ahead and spoil yourself with something that’s cool, feels special to sit in, and will have you grinning all the way down the road like the Cheshire Cat that’s got the keys to the creamery?

The Mini ticks all those boxes and more. However, there’s a snag. It costs from just over £16,000 in One Classic, three-door guise. But we reckon that by playing a few Mini dealers off against one another, you could haggle down toward £15,000.

It’s worth persevering. The Mini doesn’t just look cool, it feels a cut above other cars when you sit in it. The sporty driving position, wide windscreen, upright dashboard and excellent-quality fittings all help it feel different. The 1.5-litre engine is perky, the handling is a joy and the car generally feels satisfying to drive.
Mini Hatchback buying guide

6) Fiat 500C

Our pick Fiat 500C Pop 1.2

List price £15,535 (around £12,952 after discount)

It might be getting on but someone has been doing a pretty good job of applying anti-wrinkle cream because the 500C convertible is still one of the most charming little cars on the road – and with its roof open on a sunny day, it will make your Instagram feed the envy of friends and family.

To keep within budget, drivers will need to pick the entry-level 1.2-litre, four-cylinder petrol engine, which isn’t exactly ripped with muscle. (Alternatively, try and secure a tempting discount on the peppy 0.9-litre TwinAir version.) But you probably won’t care, because the 500C is fun on so many other levels.

Unfortunately, the driving position isn’t to everyone’s tastes, so conduct a meaningful test drive rather than a trip round the block to check you remain comfortable. And you’ll have to forgive its handbag-size boot.
Fiat 500 buying guide

7) Kia Rio

Our pick Kia Rio 2 1.4 

List price £15,000 (around £12,191 after discount)

Gone are the days when buying a Kia might have saved some money but also meant sacrificing a good deal of style and quality. The latest Rio is a supermini that’s more than capable of standing its ground against cars like the Ford Fiesta and Volkswagen Polo, and for private buyers, the seven-year warranty holds plenty of sway.

One area where there has been a noticeable improvement is the look and feel of the Rio. The five-door hatchback body is more eye-catching than in the past, and the interior has a more upmarket feel than Kias of years gone by. It also delivers a generous level of interior space, with better accommodation than, say, a Fiesta.

With the mid-range ‘2’ trim level and a willing 1.4-litre petrol engine all within the £15,000 price range, the Rio makes a strong case for itself as a sensible buy.
Kia Rio buying guide

8) Hyundai i20

Our pick Hyundai i20 SE 1.0T GDi

List price £14,680 (around £14,051 after discount)

If it’s a sensible £15,000 new car you’re after, look no further than the Hyundai i20. The Korean hatchback does without the cheeky personality of a Mini, and can’t match a Ford Fiesta for driving pleasure. But it counters with plenty of space for a young family, a good level of standard equipment and the latest safety features. And perhaps the most sensible bit of all is the five-year warranty. Only Kia can better its duration.

As for the model, we’d recommend the 1.0-litre, turbocharged petrol engine, with a manual gearbox and the SE trim level. The latter provides a comprehensive level of equipment for this type and price of car. And at the time of writing, incentives in place from Hyundai mean it dips below £15,000.
Hyundai i20 buying guide

9) Skoda Rapid Spaceback

Our pick Skoda Rapid Spaceback SE Tech 1.0 TSI 95PS

List price £15,865 (around £13,845 after discount)

The Rapid name is a blast from Skoda’s past but the latest version feels every inch a modern product that’s the result of some canny thinking.

Skoda reasoned that it could build a car about the size of a Volkswagen Golf or Ford Focus that’s priced more in line with a Polo or Fiesta. It’s an approach that’s served the Czech car maker well before, and it continues to do so here. The Rapid Spaceback is a compact estate car, with a 415-litre boot and a generous amount of space inside.

Okay, we’ll admit that the quality of the interior fixtures and fittings isn’t exactly top notch, but look beyond that and there’s a practical car that drives well, with a smooth ride, quiet and efficient petrol engine and safe, steady handling.
Skoda Rapid buying guide

10) Smart ForTwo

Our pick Smart Fotwo Prime 71hp coupe

List price £12,110 (around £11,500 after discount)

Not everyone needs a car with more than two seats but unless you want a sports car, the choice is pretty much limited to the Smart Fortwo. Happily, it is quite an endearing thing, as much at home as an only car for those who just want a modest runaround as it is as a second or third car that can be pressed into action when the family needs to be in two places at once.

Older generation cars were colourful but crude in places, whereas this one feels better engineered, both to sit in and drive. It can turn on a sixpence and is a doddle to park, while the high seating position gives drivers the same commanding view and reassuring feel that’s made SUVs so popular.

Needless to say, it’s not terribly spacious. Also, it’s not terribly fast. Oh, and while we’re at it, it’s not terribly refined, either. But it is quirky, different and – sometimes – fun.
Smart ForTwo buying guide


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