10 best used small cars

Small cars can be mighty. These are the ten best used small cars available now, starting from under £5,000

BuyaCar team
Aug 10, 2018

They might be small by name but these cars are surprisingly versatile vehicles. They’re perfect for nipping in and out of cramped cities and towns - often while seating several adults in relative comfort.

There’s plenty of choice too. Tiny city cars like the Hyundai i10 and VW up! are enough for people without children, while larger models, such as the Skoda Fabia and Ford Fiesta, are enough for most small families.

Some of the cars on this list cost from less than £5,000, and it's possible to spend under £10,000 and have a reasonable amount of manufacturer's warranty remaining. You don't have to miss out on creature comforts either, as most small cars come with niceties like alloy wheels and air conditioning, and some come with relatively new safety technology like autonomous emergency braking and lane departure warning.

Scroll down for our verdict on the best cars available now, or click the button below to see all current deals.

Best used small cars

Mini Hatchback

Best used small car for character

Our pick Mini Cooper 3dr
Latest Mini Hatchback deals from £7,689
Finance from £126 per month

You'll need just £8,000, or less than £130 per month to put a current-generation Mini Cooper Hatchback on your driveway, which is a bargain for one of the most characterful, fun and well-built small cars on the market. The petrol-powered Cooper is the pick of the range, with zippy acceleration and decent fuel economy but all of the range feels energetic, with nimble steering a sporty feel. This does make it less comfortable over bumps than a Skoda Fabia or Ford Fiesta.

Every car has a retro-feel interior with a circular surround in the middle of the dashboard and toggle switches. Cars fitted with the Chili Pack cost from £9,800 or £157 per month. These include extras such as steering wheel controls, sport seats, driving modes, climate control and LED headlights.
Mini Hatchback buying guide


Skoda Fabia

Best used small car for comfort

Our pick Skoda Fabia SE 1.2 TSI 90
Latest Skoda Fabia deals from £5,299
Finance from £90 per month

The Skoda Fabia offers so much practicality that you could use it as your only family car. The 330 litres of boot space is more than most other small cars, including the Ford Fiesta and there's the option of an estate car for more boot space. Inside, there's enough legroom in the back for six-foot adults who shouldn't feel cramped, but will struggle to stretch their legs.

It's efficient, with the 1.2-litre TSI petrol engine returning more than 45mpg in real-world driving, and comfortable, thanks to soft suspension that soaks up bumps and potholes. SE models are a good option, thanks to standard air conditioning, alloy wheels and 6-speaker surround sound system, with prices for 2014 SE cars starting at just £5,299. Even nearly-new Fabias cost from under £10,000.
Skoda Fabia buying guide


Ford Fiesta

Best used small car for dependability

Our pick Ford Fiesta Zetec 1.0 EcoBoost
Latest Ford Fiesta deals from £5,500
Finance from £92 per month

Unless we’re talking about the Fiesta ST, the best little hot hatch you can buy, then it’s fair to say the Fiesta doesn't have the most exciting image. Instead, it’s like legal tender – dependable, familiar and safe. It all sounds a little virtuous except that the Mk6 facelifted version that ran from 2012 to earlier this year when the new Fiesta was launched, was also great to drive, good looking thanks to its Aston Martin-like grille and available with a few standout engines, not least the 1.0-litre turbo petrols called EcoBoost. Our favourite, the EcoBoost 125PS can do over 60mpg but is really nippy, too.

Voice-activated technology and city brake assist are standard while Zetec trim, our favourite, brings alloy wheels and air conditioning. Rear cabin space is not the greatest but in all other respects the Fiesta is a brilliant all-rounder.
Ford Fiesta buying guide


VW Polo

Best used small car for build quality

Our Pick VW Polo SE 1.2 TSI
Latest Volkswagen Polo deals from £5,995
Finance from £96 per month

Volkswagen's Polo is well-built, roomy and comfortable. Like the Fiesta, it’s a safe purchase – one you can make with your eyes closed. Which is not to say it’s boring. After all, there’s nothing boring about high levels of refinement, supple suspension, logically arranged controls, tough interior trim and room for four adults. They all just mean everyone arrives at their destination relaxed and feeling fresh.

There is a wide a range of petrol and diesel engines to choose from. If you’re a high-mileage driver (over 12,000 miles a year) or travel long distances from time to time, check out the 1.4 TDI Bluemotion, which can do over 80mpg. However, for most people travelling just two-up around their local area, the 1.2 TSI 89bhp petrol will do just fine. Avoid basic S spec and go with mid-range SE with its alloy wheels, air-con, and digital radio with colour touchscreen.
VW Polo buying guide


Seat Ibiza

Best used small car for sportiness

Our pick Seat Ibiza Connect 1.2 TSI 90
Latest Seat Ibiza deals from £5,000
Finance from £85 per month

Despite first going on sale a decade ago, the previous-generation Seat Ibiza hasn't aged badly. The design doesn't look that different to the current Ibiza, which went on sale in 2017, and Connect models built after 2015 even had the option of the latest Apple CarPlay and Android Auto software, for simple control of phone apps on the screen or with voice commands.

The Ibiza is engineered to feel sporty and agile, which does make it fun to drive, particularly when combined with the 1.4-litre petrol engine. It does mean that the car is less settled over bumps, where it's not as smooth as most alternatives on this page.
Seat Ibiza buying guide


Honda Jazz

Best used small car for space

Our pick Honda Civic SE 1.3
Latest Honda Jazz deals (current model) from £9,285
Finance from £150 per month

The boot is almost as big as you'll find in a Vauxhall Astra; it will accommodate five adults without causing them any discomfort; and the rear seat cushions can be flipped up when unoccupied, to create more space in the footwells. No small car comes close to matching the Honda Jazz for space and practicality, which is reason alone to buy one.

The current model went on sale in 2015. It's quiet and smooth compared with an average small car, but doesn't feel particularly nippy thanks to its modest engine and tendency to lean in fast corners. Bluetooth, digital radio, air conditioning and cruise control are standard across the range. Mid-range SE cars gain alloy wheels, a 7in dashboard touchscreen and parking sensors.
Honda Jazz buying guide


Fiat 500

Best used small car for retro chic

Our pick Fiat 500 Lounge 0.9 TwinAir
Latest Fiat 500 deals from £4,375
Finance from £74 per month

Image is one thing the little Fiat 500 has bags of. Better still, the car maker has been careful not to date earlier versions with radical facelifts of later cars. Basically, stick a private plate on your used Fiat 500 and everyone will think you’re driving a new one. 
To some extent, its styling has trumped its practicality. Simply, it’s pretty small inside. There’s just enough space in the front for a pair of average-sized adults to get comfortable but the back’s suitable only for children. There’s a range of small petrol and diesel engines but our favourite is the 0.9-litre TwinAir petrol. It can do up to 74.3mpg but more important, its raspy engine note suits the 500 to a T.
Fiat 500 buying guide


Volkswagen up!

Best used small car for city car value 

Our pick VW Move up!
Latest VW up! deals from £4,463
Finance from £77 per month

The up! looks cool, and feels solid and grown up, so you feel better about driving such a small car. On top of all that, it’s all the things you expect of a city car: great value, economical (around 60mpg) and practical (three or five doors, a 251-litre boot).

There’s everything from a stripped-out runabout badged Take up!, via a hip version called the Beats with a great sound system, to a more powerful mini-limo with an automatic gearbox called the High up!. There’s even an electric one, called the e-up! Basically, you’ve no excuse for not finding the up! of your dreams.
VW up! buying guide


Audi A1

Best used small car for prestige

Our pick Audi A1 Sport 1.4 TFSI 125PS
Latest Audi A1 deals from £9,000
Finance from £133 per month

Audi's A1 is a miniaturised version of the company's larger cars. That's what it looks like outside, and the theme continues from behind the steering wheels, where you'll find the same kind of buttons, clean design and dashboard screen - controlled by a rotary dial - that are fitted to bigger Audis.

This makes the car feel more upmarket than most rivals (apart from the Mini) and helps to disguise the car's age: it lacks features such as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and its pop-up display doesn't have the same resolution or slick graphics as the most up-to-date models. It's one reason why a new Audi A1 will go on sale this year - which should mean better deals on used cars.
Audi A1 buying guide


Hyundai i10

Best used small car for a big warranty

Our pick Hyundai i10 1.0 SE
Latest Hyundai i10 deals from £4,979
Finance from £87 per month

After the Toyota Aygo’s edgy image and styling, something more sensible is in the shape of the Hyundai i10. Not a car to grab your attention straight away, the i10 simply grows on you as you learn to appreciate its many talents. Chief among them are its spacious cabin, impressively large 252-litre boot and easy, secure driving manners.

However, what really drives home its advantage over most of the cars here is its long warranty. Buy a 2014-reg car and you’ll still have up to two years’ cover remaining, assuming all services have been carried out according to the official schedule.
Hyundai i10 buying guide


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