Best budget cars

Looking for a new car on a budget? You can find cheap cars on BuyaCar that will save you money now, but also in the future

BuyaCar team
Sep 30, 2021

There's more to buying a car than just how much it costs to purchase. Sure, it's important, and it's always the big figure that attracts the most attention, but all of the other costs that surround a car are equally as important and ought to require just as much thought if you're trying to stick to your budget.

Before you buy the car, you'll need to make sure you've covered insurance and road tax in your initial workings out. You can of course opt to pay for the car and the insurance in monthly chunks to help mitigate the initial expense. But when you opt for a finance deal or monthly insurance payments, the overall cost will tend to increase by the time you've completed the payments, so if you're trying to limit your overall spend and you have the cash to pay, an upfront payment is likely to see you better off in the long run.

Then there's fuel economy and other running costs to consider. A car that costs £2,000 less might sound great initially, but if you're paying an extra £30 per week on fuel to keep it running, that saving will have disappeared within 18 months.

Finally, if you're thinking much further into the future, you'll want to keep an eye on depreciation, too. If you're buying a car and your intention is to sell it in future, the chances are you're going to lose money on the car. There are very few cars on the road today that can be considered to be appreciating (gaining value), so you can always expect to lose out in some form when selling on a car. But there are several aspects to a car that can affect how much it depreciates. If you'd rather limit your losses, it's worth taking the time to find a car that's going to hold on to some of its value.

We've selected our list of cars below on the basis that they address each of the points we've mentioned above. We've got cars here that are cheap to insure and cheap to tax for better initial savings. They're cheap to run, too, with good fuel economy and decent reliability records, so they shouldn't cost you too much while you're enjoying your ownership.

Read on for more details on this great selection of used cars that are all available on a budget, and should ensure you stay within budget every mile of the way.

Best budget cars

1. Dacia Sandero

Our pick Dacia Sandero Ambiance 1.2 5dr
Used deals Limited stock

In basic Access trim the Dacia Sandero is Britain’s cheapest new car. So already it’s looking like a top budget buy. But unlike some cheap cars, the Sandero also depreciates quite slowly, which means it loses less of your hard-earned money over time should you ever come to sell it.

All that said, our pick, a three-year-old Sandero Ambiance 1.2 looks like good value against its new equivalent, a 0.9 Ambiance which today costs £8,388 after discount. What’s more, Ambiance trim is better than basic Access because it has essentials such as a radio, electric front windows and Bluetooth. But you don't even have to spend that much, because BuyaCar have 2018 Ambiance models with less than 20,000 miles available from just .

Body coloured bumpers and door handles make the car look less downmarket, too. Fuel economy isn't special but that low insurance group helps make up for it.


2. Skoda Citigo

Our pick Skoda Citigo 1.0 MPI SE
Used deals from £5,245
Monthly finance from £0*

Skoda has always been associated with budget cars but what’s changed in recent years is that its cars are now well built, reliable and good to drive. Not only that, but they are looking increasingly like the smarter choice, especially if you're considering a more expensive Volkswagen, the company that actually owns Skoda.

The Citigo is a great example. You could have sister cars a VW Up or a Seat Mii (another company that VW owns) but the Citigo is cheaper and better value.

That value advantage extends into the used car market where our pick, a three-year-old 1.0 SE 5dr (SE is one up from basic S and comes with electric front windows and air-conditioning) costs less than £5,500. Cheap insurance and good economy complete the picture.


3. Hyundai i10

Our pick Hyundai i10 SE 5dr
Used deals from £5,895
Monthly finance from £0*

As a new car, the previous-generation Hyundai i10 came with a five-year warranty, so even if you're looking at a three-year old model it will still be covered for another two years. That’s one huge tick in its favour, but another is the extraordinarily low price.

Insurance group 6 may sound on the high side but in cash terms there’s very little difference between cars in groups 1 to 10. Although not class-leading, official economy of 57.6mpg is not to be sniffed at.


4. Skoda Fabia

Our pick Skoda Fabia 1.0 MPI SE
Used deals from £4,390
Monthly finance from £194*

No apologies for featuring a Skoda again. With a budget car it’s all about balancing cost and quality, and the Skoda Fabia hits the spot perfectly. Under the skin it shares a lot of parts with sister car the VW Polo so is a well-rounded model that is good to drive and which will withstand the rough and tumble of everyday use.

Like our other examples, at three years old, it looks good value for money. SE trim is one up from basic S and has features such as electric mirrors, a digital radio and a height-adjustable driver’s seat, but you don't get air-conditioning.


5. Nissan Pulsar

Our pick Nissan Pulsar 1.2 DIG-T Acenta
Used deals Limited stock

The Pulsar never really set the family hatchback class alight, which is a pity since it’s actually pretty good at most things. Its ace card is a seriously roomy rear interior where passengers can really stretch out. It’s good to drive and good value for money, too.

Because it’s such a dark horse, discounts are quite plentiful and come home to roost in keen used prices, as our top pick example shows.

Really, £7,495 for a genuinely roomy and practical hatchback such as the Pulsar is great value. What’s more, Acenta trim doesn't hold back on the luxuries with dual-zone air-conditioning, automatic wipers and four electric windows, all standard.


6. Vauxhall Astra

Our pick Vauxhall Astra 1.3 CDTi ecoFLEX Design
Used deals Limited stock

The huge selection of used Vauxhall Astra models on the market ought to be a delightful sight for prospective budget buyers, especially when it’s equipped with an economical diesel engine, which can bring even more savings.

This generation of the Astra produced pretty tough cars that competed well against the Ford Focus, which like for like was around £1,000 more expensive as a new car.

Even though this older model has been well and truly superseded by the current and far better Astra of late 2015, Design trim still comes with front electric windows, cruise control, body coloured handles, mirrors and bumpers to help distinguish it from the basic model.


*Representative PCP finance - Ford Fiesta:

48 monthly payments of £192
Deposit: £0
Mileage limit: 8,000 per year
Optional final payment to buy car: £2,923
Total amount payable to buy car: £11,926
Total cost of credit: £2,426
Amount borrowed: £9,500
APR: 9.9%

Buyacar is a credit broker, not a lender. Our rates start from 6.9% APR. The rate you are offered will depend on your individual circumstances.


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