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The best used cars for £5,000 and less

By Ted Welford | September 19, 2023

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With the cost-of-living crisis continuing to bite, many of us might be looking to move away from finance agreements and to cheaper cars.

The best used cars for £5,000 and less

But it’s amazing just how far your money can go on the used market, with plenty of great cars available for a relatively small sum. So, whether it’s a hatchback, something a bit sportier or even a seven-seater, we’ve picked out some of the best used cars available for less than £5,000. 

Volkswagen Polo

VW Polo

If you’re looking for a well-built small car that should prove to be reliable, you need to take a look at the Volkswagen Polo. For this budget, we’d recommend a fifth-generation model, sold between 2009 and 2017, and examples start from around £2,500. You’ll want to increase that budget if you want something with fewer miles, however.

Polos of this age are roomier than you might expect, and there is a fantastic range of petrol and diesel engines available, most of which are great on fuel. Just be aware that a lot of the diesel examples for sale won’t be ULEZ compliant.  

Skoda Octavia

Skoda Octavia

If you’re looking for an affordable and hugely practical family car, it doesn’t get much better than the Skoda Octavia. It might not be the most exciting car available, but it's a compromise worth making if you want a roomy car that offers a great deal of passenger space and a huge boot. 

You can choose the Octavia as both a hatchback or an estate, though each is closely comparable when it comes to space. This Skoda has a good reputation for its reliability too, while there’s a good range of petrol and diesel models available. Expect to pick up a tidy 2010-registered Octavia from about £3,000. 

Toyota Yaris

Toyota Yaris

Toyota has a great reputation for reliability, and it makes this brand’s models attractive used buys for those that prioritise dependability. One of our favourite used Toyotas is the Yaris supermini – a car suitable for new drivers as it is for small families. 

Though you can pick up a used Yaris for as little as £1,000, if your budget can stretch, we’d recommend a third-generation model instead, introduced in 2011, as it offers a roomy interior and high equipment levels. Expect to pick up a sub-100,000-mile example for around £4,000. 

Dacia Sandero

Dacia Sandero

For more than a decade, Dacia’s Sandero was the UK’s cheapest new car, and that is reflected in the used market, when this supermini is an absolute steal. Prices for a low-mileage 2013 example start from just £2,500, and there’s not too much that can go wrong with Sandero either, while replacement parts should be cheap to source. 

A lot of used Sandero models you’ll see for sale at this price will be free to tax, though it’s worth putting the registration in our number plate checker to be sure. Though this Dacia is quite basic inside and out, if value is a priority, you get lots of it with the Sandero. 

Audi TT

Audi TT

A £5,000 budget gives you access to a surprising range of used cars, and that can include something a bit sportier. One of the best used performance cars is the Audi TT, which is available as both a coupe and a roadster (convertible). It’s good fun to drive, looks the part and has a high-quality interior as well. 

Plenty of low-mileage, tidy examples are available for less than £5,000, and it shouldn’t lose any value either if you look after it well. The TT has a generally good reputation for reliability, though be aware that servicing and parts will be slightly more expensive. Given the TT’s age and value when new, it’s worth having a HPI Check carried out too. 

Seat Mii

Seat Mii

The Seat Mii, along with its Volkswagen Up! and Skoda Citigo, has become a go-to choice for those looking for an affordable first car to buy and run, and that certainly bodes well if you’re shopping for a car on a budget. 

This compact city car is good fun to drive, yet surprisingly roomy and well-suited to out-of-town driving as well. It’s fairly dependable when it comes to reliability, with its small petrol engines returning great fuel economy. You can pick-up a Seat Mii from around £3,000. 

Vauxhall Zafira Tourer

Vauxhall Zafira

If you’re in the market for a seven-seater, there aren’t all that many choices available for under £5,000. But one of the best is the Vauxhall Zafira Tourer – a sleeker replacement for this MPV that arrived in 2012. The design has aged well, while it’s also comfortable and available with a great range of engines. 

All models come with seven seats as standard, and though the third row is best suited to children, they’re useful to have nevertheless. The Zafira Tourer is good value for money as well, with tidy examples available from just £4,000. Be aware that many diesel models of this age will not be ULEZ compliant

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