Best second-hand cars

Hoping to save money on a second-hand car? There are plenty of great value options that can reduce your costs without sacrificing quality

Chris Rosamond
Aug 27, 2020

If you’re looking to change your car, chances are that you’ll have a pretty good idea about what you need from it. Whether you need a machine to rack up business miles with just you behind the wheel or the daily grind of the school run with three children in tow, a loaded-to-the-gunwales workhorse, or something sporty for the weekend, here at BuyaCar we have top-value deals on all sorts of second-hand cars for all reasons and seasons.

Even if you've narrowed down the specific qualities you’re looking for, things are rarely black and white when it comes to making your final choice. A car you never looked twice at may suddenly seem fabulously desirable in a particular colour combination, or you might find a fantastic deal on a slightly unexciting car that may prove too enticing to ignore.

We’re the first to acknowledge that the used cars we've rounded up below across a broad range of vehicle types may not all suit you perfectly - but chances are that one or two of them may be just right. We’ve pulled together second-hand cars that we know deliver the goods across a range of criteria to help kickstart your search for your perfect car.

Scroll through our list to see if our thinking aligns with yours, and to check out some of the fantastic bargains available on the vehicles we’ve highlighted here. We set our maximum price at £20,000 or roughly £300 per month on PCP finance, because the best second-hand cars have to be affordable, right?

Best second-hand cars

1. Kia Sportage

Best second-hand SUV

Used deals from £7,850
Monthly finance from £146

The popular Kia Sportage SUV combines terrific practicality for families, pleasant driving characteristics, and high specifications for your money. Oh, and there’s the small matter of that seven-year warranty that can be transferred between owners, too.

The Sportage has come a long way over four generations, and the latest models delight with classy and fashionable styling, a great range of engine choices, quality build and a decent media system. While Kia still doesn’t have quite the upmarket feel of some European rivals, that simply makes the Sportage a more logical choice for pragmatic buyers who aren’t swayed by ‘badge appeal’ but do want to enjoy the benefits of fashionable SUV/crossover motoring.

Launched back in 2016, the fourth generation Sportage is now available for less than £10,000 or as little as £150 per month. There are petrol and diesel options, the choice of two- and four-wheel drive, and if you want to spend a little more, the latest 1.6 mild hybrid diesel offers a claimed maximum economy of 52.3mpg, so your fuel bills shouldn't prove too bad.

KIA SPORTAGE BUYERS' GUIDE

2. Skoda Citigo

Best second-hand city car

Used deals from £4,400
Monthly finance from £90

The Citigo went electric-only in 2020, but if you’re looking for a high quality, reliable and efficient city car runabout, the older petrol version is well worth a look. An early 2013 or 2014 car with low miles could be yours for less than £100 per month, but you can get a much newer version for not a lot more. In fact we’d recommend a post-2017 model as it came with a facelift, a built-in multimedia system and a greater range of options.

There are three- and five-door versions available, and the latter is much more usable if you intend to make use of all five seats. They’re the same size bumper to bumper, so the extra practicality brings no compromises when it comes to parking. All come with the same 1.0-litre petrol engine, albeit with two power outputs, and we’d recommend the punchier 75hp version for its greater motorway ability.

The Citigo is a sister-model to the Volkswagen Up and the Seat Mii, and truth be told there’s not a lot between them in terms of looks, performance or price - although the VW is usually the more expensive of the trio. Meanwhile, the Skoda is often the cheapest, so it's a good place to start.

SKODA CITIGO BUYERS' GUIDE

3. BMW 2 Series

Best second-hand coupe

Used deals from £9,999
Monthly finance from £162

While a variety of three-door hatchbacks are being branded as sporty ‘coupes’, there’s a lot to be said for the classic, sleek coupe format which looks as sharp as this one - especially when it says BMW 2 Series on the bootlid.

Enthusiasts will find it hard to overlook the five-year old M235i or M240i versions, which are seriously high-performance tools. Still, the smart money probably veers towards a post-2017 facelift 2 Series with the popular M Sport trim. Facelifted cars got sportier-looking air intakes with a bigger grille and LED headlights, as well as modern essentials such as Apple CarPlay.

All 2 Series models offer sporty rear-wheel drive handling and are great fun if you regularly venture onto twisty B roads. There’s also a great range of engines, with something for everyone from mild to manic - the M240i churns out 340hp. That's more than enough for seriously rapid autobahn trips, let alone any road the UK can throw at it.

In fact, it’s hard to find a better handling or more fun car to drive this side of a Porsche Cayman, but the BMW gives you four seats and a decent sized boot. And it's decent value on the used market, too. What’s not to like?

BMW 2 SERIES BUYERS' GUIDE

4. Vauxhall Insignia Sports Tourer

Best second-hand estate car

Used deals from £8,099
Monthly finance from £145

While the world and his dog are driving SUVs and crossovers these days, we’ve still got a soft spot for that previous family favourite - the good old estate car; effectively a hatchback with a stretched boot area. Easy to drive, unassuming and downright practical, a hatchback-derived estate car can still make a lot of sense for both business users and large families with a taste for road trips - or those who are incapable of travelling light.

There are plenty of swankier options, but if you can resist the lure of a Mercedes, BMW or Audi badge, then one of the best value estate cars around is the second-generation Vauxhall Insignia Sports Tourer launched in 2017. Despite the unexciting badge, the Sports Tourer looks pretty sharp, too.

Although it’s still sold around the world, sadly Vauxhall dropped the model in 2019. There are plenty of nearly new/low mileage examples around, though, and for comfortably less than £20,000 and/or £300 per month. With deals like that, there's no need to mourn the fact you can't get one brand new anymore.

Bigger than a Skoda Superb - albeit beaten marginally on boot space - the Insignia Sports Tourer offers acres of room for passengers and luggage. It’s pleasant and comfortable to drive, with a good range of diesel and petrol engines - including some pretty quick options. Four-wheel drive versions are available too, and the spec-sheet is lavish with all cars getting touchscreen media systems with Apple CarPlay, cruise control, 17-inch alloy wheels and comprehensive safety kit.

VAUXHALL INSIGNIA SPORTS TOURER BUYERS' GUIDE

5. Ford Focus

Best second-hand hatchback

Used deals from £5,995
Monthly finance from £101

It’s one of the most popular compact hatchbacks in the UK for a reason - the Ford Focus is a brilliant all-rounder that’s well-priced, practical, good looking, reliable and affordable to run. All of which makes it incredibly easy to recommend as one of the best second-hand car options you can buy.

The latest version hit the road in 2018, with new edgier styling, as well as a modern engine line-up that kicks off with Ford’s 1.0-litre Ecoboost three-cylinder petrol options and also includes a punchier 1.5-litre version. There are a couple of extremely efficient diesel variants, while the sporty ST models are a genuine delight for enthusiastic drivers.

You can get the latest Focus in five-door and estate guise, and all versions come comprehensively equipped with loads of kit - including the SYNC 3 touchscreen media system. Safety is impressive too, with the Co-Pilot 360 system offering adaptive cruise control, sign recognition and lane-keeping assistance to take the stress out of driving.

The previous generation Focus may not have quite the same level of zing - or the latest tech features - but it’s still a highly competitive machine that makes loads of sense in the used car market. So, if you want the most car for your money, keep an eye out for older models, too.

2018 FORD FOCUS BUYERS' GUIDE
2011 FORD FOCUS BUYERS' GUIDE

6. Renault Grand Scenic

Best second-hand people carrier

Used deals from £7,995
Monthly finance from £150

Once upon a time the name MPV or people-carrier conjured up the image of a box on wheels. Not any more, thanks to stylish machines such as the Renault Grand Scenic which are as eye-catching as they are practical.

The Grand Scenic has been around since 2016, and has proved popular thanks to its combination of great design and terrifically family-friendly interior. It’s not just the fact it boasts seven seats, either, because the Grand Scenic boasts all sorts of clever storage cubbies, has a big boot (especially with the rear seats folded away), and is impressively screwed together too.

Factor in the generous equipment levels, with even entry Play models getting a seven-inch touchscreen media system, climate control and Apple CarPlay, decent driving manners with a range of economical engines, and cheap running costs - and it’s easy to see why Grand Scenic owners think they’re onto a winner.

With the latest model Grand Scenics on BuyaCar starting at not much more than £200 per month depending on your deposit, you could be onto a winner too.

RENAULT GRAND SCENIC BUYERS' GUIDE

7. Mazda 6

Best second-hand saloon

Used deals from £14,749
Monthly finance from £234

Large family-friendly saloon cars - like the Mazda 6 - may not be as popular as they once were, thanks to the many drivers' insatiable appetite to drive an SUV, but this type of car typically offers far more car for your money. While swanky ‘premium exec’ models like the Mercedes C-Class, BMW 3 Series and Jaguar XE grab most of the limelight, there’s a small but desirable cohort of family saloons such as the Volkswagen Passat, Vauxhall Insignia Grand Sport, Peugeot 508 and Skoda Superb that offer much more style and luxury than their prices and bread-and-butter images might suggest.

Also on that list is the svelte and stylish Mazda 6, which in post-2018 facelift guise offers a superb combination of an upmarket feel on the inside, superb fit and finish, engaging driving characteristics - with some fantastically smooth and powerful diesel engines - and loads of the latest in car entertainment and safety tech.

The classy Japanese saloon comes with a range of efficient engines, and even the basic SE-L comes with active cruise control and Apple CarPlay as standard. Higher spec models have a genuine luxury feel, which the 6’s classy looks more than live up to.

An excellent reliability record and strong owner satisfaction scores make the Mazda 6 a reassuring - and surprisingly affordable - used purchase.

MAZDA 6 BUYERS' GUIDE

8. Mini Convertible

Best second-hand convertible

Used deals from £10,450
Monthly finance from £187

For its mix of great driving, decent practicality and affordable fun, the iconic Mini Convertible is hard to beat. It competes against a number of compact hatchback based cabrios, some of which admittedly have more room for passengers and luggage. Nonetheless, we like the Mini for its iconic looks, and because it’s typically more fun to drive than most. Direct and responsive steering and an agile go-kart like feel that responds well to enthusiastic driving are all part of the formula.

We also like the Mini Convertible because it has a timeless nature. Pick the right deal and you can buy a 2014 version for as little as £150 per month, and the experience won’t be too far removed from a post-2018 facelift car costing closer to £300 per month.

Yes the newer model is better all round, with significant updates to the in-car entertainment systems as well as driver assistance tech, but the overall look and feel remains familiar. For ultimate wind-in-the-hair thrills, pick the Cooper S.

MINI CONVERTIBLE BUYERS' GUIDE

 

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