Cheap used cars 2023
For drivers after a used car with low prices and running costs to match, these second-hand stars could be just the ticket
Small hatchbacks - or superminis - are a popular type of car with many car buyers, and it’s not hard to see where their appeal lies. Being compact cars, superminis promise to be agile and easy to drive in traffic and on narrow roads, which makes them good for pootling about town. However, they’re still big and roomy enough to do a decent job at being a bitesize car for families.
It’s not just in practicality terms where these superminis strive to emulate the larger models in their ranges. Even on some slightly older examples, superminis can come with a fairly comprehensive selection of convenience tech and safety features - the latter being especially important if you’re seeking out a new family car. A few superminis also come with plush, high-quality cabins, so they feel a bit like larger and more expensive cars from the inside.
Since superminis are a very popular type of car with new car buyers, it means a large number have filtered onto the used market, so there are loads of options available to you. They also cover a broad variety of price points, ranging from the least expensive value-oriented models to upmarket offerings that tend to command higher prices.
It’s likely a majority of the used superminis you’ll find for sale will be powered by petrol, though it shouldn’t take too much digging around to find diesel, hybrid and electric options if they’re what you’d prefer. Read on for our picks of the best used superminis that you’ll be able to find here on BuyaCar.
Best used superminis
Our pick Audi A1 30 TFSI Sport
Used deals from £8,995
Want a used supermini that combines compact dimensions with classy looks and a desirable badge? Then the Audi A1 could be the small car that you’re looking for. It takes a lot of the features that you’d expect to find in a contemporary medium or large Audi, such as a well-made cabin and high equipment levels, and condenses them down into a more affordable and easy-to-drive supermini package.
Both the original version of the Audi A1 and the second-generation model that debuted in 2018 (pictured above) sold in strong numbers, so there are a good number of used examples to choose from. If you plan on using the A1 as a downsized family car, the second-generation model is more suitable as it's roomier, has a bigger boot and better safety features than the original version. Expect to pay a bit more for a used Audi A1 than you would for similar age mainstream alternatives, due to the car’s strong resale values.
Our pick BMW i3 120Ah
Used deals from £11,897
The BMW i3 is another option out there for drivers after a used upmarket supermini, though that’s pretty much where its similarities with the Audi A1 end. As well as looking unlike almost every other small hatchback on the road, the BMW i3 differs from many of its contemporary peers in being an electric car.
Most of the BMW i3 models you’ll find for sale will be the fully electric versions, but up until 2018 BMW did do a Range Extender variant (BuyaCar prices for these start at £11,897) that used a small petrol engine to recharge the batteries when they ran out, which will be more suitable for drivers who aren’t able to plug their car into a charging point very often.
Regardless of the model you’re considering, the BMW i3 offers nippy performance, agile handling around corners and is easy to drive around town, though do bear in mind the car’s upmarket billing means it’s a fair bit pricier than an equivalent mainstream used supermini. However, charge at home and the savings compared to filling up with petrol or diesel should balance this out somewhat.
Our pick Citroen C3 1.2 PureTech 110 Saint James
Used deals from £5,790
In the past, the Citroen C3 was a fairly competent supermini, though it wasn’t accomplished enough to compete with many of the best cars of this type. That isn’t a criticism you can level at the latest version, though, as the current Citroen C3 is a far more appealing small hatchback than the previous versions.
It’s especially worth bearing in mind if you put comfort and ride quality towards the top of your priority list. Thanks to its supple suspension setup, the Citroen C3 does a very good job at rounding off the edges of sharp jolts in the road when you’re driving over potholes or more aggressive speed bumps, which makes the Citroen quite a comfy urban commuter car.
Post-update versions from late 2020 onwards promise to be even more cossetting, as they came with redesigned front seats which feature more cushioning and thicker fabric than the seats on pre-update Citroen C3s, so it's worth keeping an eye out for these, if you can afford them.
Our pick Dacia Sandero 0.9 TCe 90 Comfort
Used deals from £5,495
One of the big draws of the Dacia Sandero is that it offers great value for money. It undercuts all of its rivals as a brand new car, and despite strong resale values for this type of car, the Dacia Sandero also makes an affordable choice if you plan on picking up a used example. Because it’s quite economical and sits in low insurance groups, the Dacia Sandero range promises to be cheap to run, too.
Most of the listings you’ll find on places such as BuyaCar will be for the previous version of the Sandero, though a slowly growing number of current-generation examples have started to filter onto the used market. Irrespective of which Dacia Sandero iteration you decide to go for, we’d suggest you avoid cars in entry-level Access spec, as these versions were pretty bare-bones - older versions didn’t even come with a radio or air-conditioning.
Our pick Ford Fiesta 1.0 EcoBoost Titanium
Used deals from £5,995
The Ford Fiesta has long been one of Britain’s best-selling cars, and it’s easy to see why so many car buyers have flocked to the Ford. With its fun handling around corners, comfortable ride, good equipment levels and a roomy interior for a supermini, the Ford Fiesta is an accomplished all-rounder that covers a lot of bases to a high level.
At the time of writing, it’s a bit too early for the updated versions of the current Ford Fiesta to start being listed for sale as nearly new cars. Because the Fiesta sells in very high numbers, though, there are plenty of examples to choose from, which should also mean it shouldn’t be difficult finding a used Ford Fiesta to suit your budget and the specification you're after.
Our pick Nissan Note 1.2 DiG-S Tekna
Used deals from £6,495
The original Nissan Note was more a mini people carrier than a supermini, though Nissan opted to make the second-generation version a bit more car-like in comparison. Despite this change in identity, the most recent iteration of the Nissan Note retained the roomy credentials of its predecessor, so it makes a great choice for drivers who are after a small car with a lot of interior space.
The Note’s boxy dimensions mean that even tall passengers will have good amounts of headroom, and the luggage volume of up to 411 litres is a big increase over the boot size of many of the Nissan’s supermini rivals. Because the Nissan Note doesn’t have the best resale values, used examples can be quite a bit more affordable than other small cars of the same age, though don’t expect to find a huge amount for sale as the second-generation Nissan Note wasn’t as popular with new car buyers as more conventional superminis.
By their nature, superminis are compact cars that are almost always very easy to drive and are ideal for driving around towns and cities, which means they’re prime candidates for being given the electric treatment. Renault was one of the first car companies to cotton on to this, as it’s been selling variations of its Renault Clio-sized Zoe electric hatchback in the UK since 2013 - which means a healthy number of second-hand models are now available.
While the Zoe was given a comprehensive upgrade in 2020, the changes made to the car’s dimensions were minimal, so all versions of the car offer pretty much identical amounts of interior space. If you plan on doing longer journeys, the updated models will be better for you; due to their bigger batteries, they can travel up to 245 miles on a single charge.
Drivers who tend to do lots of shorter drives, meanwhile, should be fine with the 186-mile range of pre-update cars and these versions should be a fair bit more affordable than the post-update models, too. It is worth being aware that the earliest models, have far lower ranges, with some of these only being able to cover less than 100 miles per charge. These could be fine for your needs, but it's worth double checking the range of any individual cars you're considering to make sure you're not stuck with a model that doesn't work for you.
Our pick Volkswagen Polo 1.0 TSI SEL
Used deals from £7,995
If you’re after a used supermini that promises to be easy to live with and offer a high-quality feel, one of the very best options is the Volkswagen Polo. While it may not be the most exciting car of this type to look at or drive, it nevertheless appeals with its classy cabin, comfortable ride, big boot and efficient engines. Unlike some other small cars, it’s also not out of its depth on the motorway, so the Polo makes a good choice if you’re downsizing from a larger car.
Like some of the other cars on this list, there are two relatively new versions of the Volkswagen Polo that you’ll find listed for sale: used examples of the current car that went on sale in 2018, and previous-generation models. The newer version is the roomier of the two and comes with more advanced features and safety kit, though the latter is more compact and easier to manoeuvre in town, and should be more affordable, too. Regardless of the Polo you choose, there are a wide selection of used versions on offer, as both versions sold well.
*Representative PCP finance - Ford Fiesta:
48 monthly payments of £192
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
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.