Best cars for under £15,000

With this budget, you're sure to find a car that suits you: the best cars for under £15,000

John Evans
Apr 23, 2018

With a budget of up to £15,000, there's a used car to suit virtually every need and circumstance.

From nimble two-seat sports cars to seven-seat people carriers, there are more than 12,000 cars to choose from on this site.

You can click below to search them all, and filter them according to your requirements, or scroll down to find ten top-value picks.

None of the selected cars are older than three years old, so they still feel fairly new; finance payments start at around £200.

Small city cars are excluded from the list because they are so much cheaper than the budget: in some cases, you could get two for £15,000.

Best cars for under £15,000

Volkswagen Golf

Best family hatchback for under £15,000

Our pick VW Golf 1.4 TSI Match 5dr (2015, 15,000 miles)
Typical price £14,000  Representative finance £228 per month

It might not have the tweaks applied to newer VW Golfs from 2017, but the 2015 model is almost indistinguishable and, when it comes to the bits that matter, just as good. There's solid build quality, neat styling inside and out, a comfortable ride on British roads and stable, accurate cornering.

Since VW's dieselgate scandal, the Golf's diesel engines have fallen out of favour, but that's not a problem when the alternative is the car's smooth and powerful 1.4-litre petrol engine. It's economical, returning around 40mpg in real-world driving and road tax is just £30 a year.

Match trim is well-equipped with adaptive cruise control that maintains a safe distance from the car in front; parking sensors front and rear; air conditioning; and a dashboard touchscreen with digital radio. An automatic emergency braking system, that can avoid frontal crashes, is standard.
VW Golf buying guide


Nissan Qashqai

Best family crossover for under £15,000

Our pick Nissan Qashqai 1.2 DiG-T Acenta Premium (2016, 18,000 miles)
Typical price £14,950  Representative finance £221 per month

With good visibility, light steering and a comfortable ride, driving the Nissan Qashqai is arguably even easier to drive than a standard hatchback like the Ford Focus.

And as one of the best-selling cars in the country, there's plenty of choice on the used market, with highly-specified car available for less than £15,000. The car was updated last year, but beyond the new grille, little really changed. This makes the slightly older and cheaper models great value.

If you need more space (the Qashqai's boot is on the small side), have a look at the larger Nissan X-Trail, which offers the option of seven seats. A 15,000-mile, 2016-registered X-Trail 1.6 DiG-T Acenta seven-seat model costs £14,995, or £227 a month.
Nissan Qashqai buying guide


Ford Fiesta ST

Best hot hatch for under £15,000

Our pick Ford Fiesta ST-2 3dr (2016, 14,000 miles)
Typical price £13,000  Representative finance £193 per month

When this version of the Ford Fiesta ST arrived in 2013, it blew away the competition, delivering more driving joy than most cars that were twice the price. There was no secret formula: just an energetic petrol engine that launched the car forward at an exhilarating rate; sharp and responsive steering; plus enough grip to keep it on the road in tight corners. Most importantly, you could experience it all without ever breaking the speed limit.

Mid-spec ST-2 trim is our choice for its heated seats, rear privacy glass and a sporty starter button. Despite the arrival of a new Fiesta ST in the coming months, this car will keep you grinning for years to come.
Ford Fiesta ST buying guide


BMW 3 Series

Best premium family car for under £15,000

Our pick BMW 318d SE (2015, 30,000 miles)
Typical price £14,395  Representative finance £220 per month

A three-year-old BMW 3 series for less than £13,500 represents remarkable value for money. It’s the complete car: comfortable, great to drive and that BMW badge on the bonnet. It's not just about badge snobbery: BMW's strong image helps to maintain the car's value, which reduces the cost of finance.

Despite the reluctance of some motorists to buy diesel engines, they are an excellent fit in the BMW 3 Series, providing smooth, quiet and economical power. It's worth opting for a car that meets the latest emissions standard, known as Euro 6, as these vehicles are less likely to be affected by inner city charges in clean air zones. Most 3 Series models from with a 65 plate from 2015 or later should comply with the standard, but it is worth double checking.
BMW 3 Series buying guide


Seat Alhambra

Best large people carrier for under £15,000

Our pick Seat Alhambra 2.0 TDI SE (2015, 40,000 miles)
Typical price £14,490  Representative finance £211 per month

Despite their unfashionable boxy design, it's hard to overlook a large people carrier when you have a big family or a half a football team to carry.

The Seat Alhambra is one of the best. Its slab-like design cloaks an incredibly roomy, seven-seat interior. All five rear seats individual and can be folded flat as you wish. The side doors slide (they can be electrically powered as an option) to allow easy access in tight spaces.

There's a surprisingly powerful petrol engine available, but most used Alhambras are diesel models, as it offers better fuel economy and is quieter at steady motorway speeds.

If you think that VW Sharan looks similar that’s because it's virtually the same car but the Seat is better value for money.
Seat Alhambra buying guide


Mazda MX-5

Best sports car for under £15,000

Our pick Mazda MX-5 SE-L Nav (2015, 15,000 miles)
Typical price £14,250  Representative finance £224 per month

Light, nimble and simple, the Mazda MX-5 is designed to make you fall in love with driving again. Push back the roof, start up the engine and feel the feel the wheels bobbing over bumps and twisting in corners, through the thin-rimmed steering wheel.

It's designed for 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..

There are two body styles: the soft-top and the RF with a folding hard-top roof, which provides more security and better insulation in winter. The boot will accept a couple of carry-on suitcases, so the MX-5 is a reasonably practical proposition, too.
Mazda MX-5 buying guide


Renault Zoe

Best electric car for under £15,000

Our pick Renault Zoe Dynamique Nav (2017, 500 miles)
Typical price £14,999  Representative finance £272 per month

If you have a medium-distance commute and the possibility of recharging your car at either end of your journey, there’s lots to recommend an electric car, especially one like the Renault Zoe.

Quiet and nippy, it's quite capable of motorway speeds and comes well-equipped in in Dynamique Nav specification, with a TomTom sat nav, cruise control and rear parking sensors as standard.

The Z.E.40 model, launched in 2016 provides a realistic range of around 160 miles in between charges and picking one with the Quick Charge system allows it to be recharged from zero to 80% in 65 minutes - if you connect it to a fast charger. 

So-called ‘i’ versions of the Zoe have a battery included in their price, but most require you to lease the battery, which will cost at least £50 a month, and most likely more, depending on your annual mileage.
Renault Zoe buying guide


Skoda Superb estate

Best large estate car for under £15,000

Our pick Skoda Superb 2.0 TDI 140 SE estate (2016, 30,000 miles)
Typical price £14,499  Representative finance £211 per month

When it comes to shifting big loads, few cars can touch the cavernous Skoda Superb estate. Its boot expands from 660 litres with the seats up to a maximum of 1,950 litres with them folded down. That's more than you get in the Mercedes E-Class Estate and is on a par with the Volvo XC90 large SUV – for a lot less money.

All this loadspace doesn't come at the expense of interior space. Three adults can sit in comfort in the back thanks in particular to a generous supply of legroom.

The Superb provides a smooth ride wherever it's driven but it’s on the motorway, soaking up the miles comfortably and quietly, that the Superb estate excels. For this role, the 2.0 TDI diesel is the engine to choose.
Skoda Superb buying guide


Honda HR-V

Best small SUV for under £15,000

Our pick Honda HR-V 1.6 i-DTEC SE Nav (2015, 12,000 miles)
Typical price £14,995  Representative finance £236 per month

Honda's neatly-designed HR-V is not cheap as a new car, but used versions are more tempting.

It’s spacious inside, where rivals such as the Nissan Juke are cramped, especially in the rear. The boot is a good size and it has Honda’s Magic Seats whose bases can be raised cinema-style to accommodate tall loads.

If you don't want a full family crossover like the Nissan Qashqai, but need a decent amount of practicality, then the HR-V could be the car for you.

It's comfortable car to drive, without a great deal of leaning in corners, and the steering is light, which makes it easy to drive in town.


Toyota Auris

Best family hybrid for under £15,000

Our pick Toyota Auris 1.8 VVT-I Excel (2015, 20,000 miles)
Typical price £14,800  Representative finance £269 per month

With the hybrid parts from a Toyota Prius, covered with a more conventional design, the Toyota Auris promises excellent fuel economy without the drama.

As well as a petrol engine, it has a battery that's charged by recovering energy that would normally be wasted during braking, as well as from the engine when it's efficient to do so. This then drives an electric motor to provide a power boost during acceleration, or to drive the car at slow speeds.

In typical stop-start city conditions, the system can return fuel economy of around 80mpg but that can almost halve on steady journeys where the electric motor is rarely used

It’s a reasonably roomy family hatchback but really, its technology and in-town economy benefits without a diesel engine are why you might want the Auris. And there are few rivals at this price.
Toyota Auris buying guide


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