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The best small cars to buy second-hand

  Wednesday, 14 June 2023

Small cars represent around 40% of the UK passenger car market, but how much does a great small car cost?

If you’re interested in the best small car to buy second-hand in the UK under £10,000, you’ve come to the right place. The cars in our list rank best for features like fuel economy, running costs and build quality. With a budget of £10,000 you will be looking at cars at least 4 or 5 years old, some with high mileages. But they can still be worth the money.

Don’t worry if your budget is less than £5,000. If you’re willing to go for an older model, there’s usually a bargain to be found on most of these small cars.

Remember to check out our online salvage auction page, where you will find a huge range of second hand small cars, family cars, automatics, EVs and commercial vehicles available for sale.

Ford Fiesta

2011 Ford Fiesta 1560cc Econetic TDCI recently at auction

Price from approx. £5,000 - £10,000

The Ford Fiesta is still one of the best-selling cars in the UK. Known particularly for its reliability, the Fiesta also possesses a solid reputation as an all-rounder. It offers crisp steering, low maintenance costs, and dampened suspension, providing comfort levels suiting a much larger car.

The car can be found with a good selection of efficient engines too, although later models tend to offer much more in terms of both style and entertainment options. There is also the bonus that used Ford parts are available from ASM.

Audi A1

2012 Audi A1 1598cc TDI Sport recently at auction

Price from approx. £4,000 - £10,000

The A1 is a convenient miniature alternative to Audi’s larger models, capturing all the upmarket appeal of the brand with its clean, sporty design and aesthetically appealing interior. While its size makes it a fine candidate as a city car, there’s little compromise on the handling sharpness or engine efficiency we expect from this manufacturer.

Practicality can take a back seat to style, as there is less room for passengers in the rear of the vehicle than other contenders in this category. However, buying an Audi A1 second-hand, though it can be pricey, offers one of the most affordable routes to tasting luxury car experience.

Vauxhall Corsa

2014 Vauxhall Corsa 1229cc Limited Edition recently at auction

Price from approx. £4,000 - £10,000

The Vauxhall Corsa is now beginning to show its age. However, what it lacks compared to contemporary rivals is balanced by the Corsa’s wide availability and affordability on the used market. The car is no dud, though, offering famously competent ride and handling, as well as plenty of space in the back.

With a lively 1.0-litre petrol engine, the Corsa works perfectly well for trips to town and short motorway journeys. Nearly as popular as the Fiesta, there’s also no shortage of choice available and plenty of high mileage bargains to be found.

Renault Zoe

2014 Renault ZOE Dynamique Intens recently at auction

Price from approx. £4,500 - £10,000

The only electric vehicle on our list, the Zoe remains one of the most popular zero emission small cars around. A pure battery EV, the Zoe has a cutting-edge electric drivetrain and modern looks, and the latest models have larger ranges and better infotainment. You can pick up a used 8 or 9 year old Zoe for as little as £4,500.

Mini Hatchback

2009 MINI Hatch 1397cc One recently at auction

Price from approx. £4,000 - £10,000

Like the Audi A1, a used Mini Hatchback represents a fine opportunity to buy and enjoy a small car with more than a touch of upmarket quality. The Mini is famed for the pleasurable driving experience it offers, especially in petrol-engined versions providing nimble handling, quick acceleration and respectable fuel economy.

That’s not saying anything about its characterful styling or good-looking interiors. The Mini Hatchback can be expensive, even on the used market, while boot and passenger space leaves some to be desired. However, these aspects can be readily traded for the car’s great reliability and sheer fun factor.

Volkswagen Polo

2017 Volkswagen Polo 1422cc Match Edition TDI recently at auction

Price from approx. £4,000 - £10,000

Like many on this list, the VW Polo’s key selling point is its dependability: generally, this is a reliable car you can buy without fear or trepidation. The Polo is undoubtedly well-built, providing comfortable ride, ample passenger space, plenty of room in the boot and highly respectable fuel economy.

Prices can sometimes trend on the high side, but you’ll likely be spoiled for choice with the large amount of petrol and diesel models available on the used market. Furthermore, you’ll never distrust the Polo’s build quality, offering something close to a ‘big’ car experience, whether driving through town or along the motorway.

Škoda Fabia

2017 Skoda Fabia 1197cc SE TSI DSG recently at auction

Price from approx. £3,500 - £10,000

If practicality is your guiding star when it comes to buying a used small car, you could do much worse than Škoda’s Fabia. While some smaller petrol engines can make acceleration a tad sluggish, the overall driving experience and build quality of the Fabia has been widely praised, topping multiple awards lists over the years.

The Skoda Fabia offers more boot space and legroom than many rival models, and what the model sometimes lacks for visual flair is made up by interior quality and a healthy range of equipment options.

Your life doesn’t have to be absolutely Fabia-less – cheap to run, it’s one of the best value small used cars you can buy, and one of the most well liked too.

Hyundai i20

2009 Hyundai I20 1248cc Classic recently at auction

Price from approx. £4,000 - £10,000

Handsome looks, generous standard equipment levels and plenty of interior space mean there’s a lot to like about the previous generation i20. The ride is a little unsettled and doesn’t handle as well as the best on offer, but Hyundai performs strongly in reliability surveys, and this is backed by the five-year warranty from new, which should make ownership relatively stress-free.

SEAT Ibiza

2013 SEAT Ibiza 1390cc TSI FR DSG recently at auction

Price from approx. £3,000 - £10,000

The SEAT Ibiza has maintained a strong reputation since it was released, in the face of some stiff competition. Building upon the same platform as the Volkswagen Polo, the Ibiza’s primary selling point is the superior driving experience on offer.

In ride and handling, the car is almost unmatched, designed especially to promote a quick, sporty feel. While it can be less comfortable over bumps than other cars on our list, the Ibiza excels on the motorway, as well as in the town centre, with an enormous amount of boot space for all occasions.

Find the best second-hand small car with ASM

We hope this guide to the best used small cars provides some useful starting points on your journey to buying a great value second-hand vehicle. Don’t forget our guide to the best used family cars and the best used SUVs to buy.

ASM Auto Recycling offers a hassle-free way to sell and buy used cars. Visit our auction pages to see the range of vehicles available and how we grade them, or contact us today for a car valuation.

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