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Cheapest cars to buy 2024

Searching for a brand-new bargain? These are the cheapest cars in the UK right now

​Once, not too long ago, if you were looking to buy one of the cheapest cars to buy in the UK, there was an underlying sense of ‘you get what you pay for’. These cars may have looked like a great deal but the cost-cutting was obvious, to say the least. However, times have changed, and you can now look at these motoring bargains using both your head and heart.

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It’s not just the times that have changed, though, as the new car market is also continuing to evolve. Perhaps inevitably, prices have continued to creep upwards but, in light of this, a new type of budget-oriented car has made an appearance on UK roads. Legally known as quadricycles, these low-priced vehicles are lightweight, limited to a 28mph top speed, and can be driven on a CBT motorcycle licence

These tiny cars will get you from A to B, but they’re highly restrictive in crucial areas such as comfort, practicality, and safety. Because of this, our list of the cheapest cars in the UK focuses on fully-sized budget-friendly models, such as city cars and superminis

Top 10 cheapest cars to buy

Our expert road testers have driven every cheap car on sale in the UK, and have seen firsthand that low price no longer means low quality. Read on to find cheapest cars to buy in the UK, listed in reverse order below.

10. Dacia Duster - £17,295

There are plenty of city cars and superminis to be found on this list, but you needn’t worry if you’re one of the many UK drivers who fancies owning an SUV. The Dacia Duster is practical enough for the whole family and it’s even surprisingly capable at off-roading, yet pricing starts from well below £18,000.

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£17,295 will bag you a Duster in entry-level Essential trim. This certainly isn’t the plushest of cars but there is a decent helping of usable features thrown-in as standard, such as air-conditioning, cruise control, a DAB radio and automatic headlights. If you’re after a sturdy and straightforward family car, the Duster really is tough to beat.

9. Fiat 500 Hybrid - £16,800

The first modern Fiat 500 took the market by storm when it arrived in 2007, and it’s still available to buy brand-new today alongside the much newer, fully-electric 500e. It is starting to feel its age, but this little Fiat still has plenty of that classic charm about it, as well as a tiny stature that makes it an absolute doddle to drive and park.

The only powertrain that’s now available is a 1.0-litre 3-cylinder petrol engine which is accompanied by mild-hybrid tech (making the ‘Hybrid’ name a little bit misleading). With only 69bhp on tap, it’s far from being a performance machine, but the 500’s claimed fuel economy figure of 61.4mpg on the WLTP cycle isn’t one to be sniffed at.

8. Toyota Aygo X - £16,140

The Aygo X is something of a pseudo-SUV; it’s a compact city car with beefed-up styling. This design helps the tiny Toyota to stand out in terms of looks, but there’s also a strong level of standard equipment to back up its big car aspirations. Opting for the entry-level Pure trim will bag you the lowest price, but you’ll still get adaptive cruise control, a 7-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and Toyota’s Safety Sense package. 

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As with most city cars, the Aygo X’s compact size makes it easy to drive and park, and the 1.0-litre 3-cylinder engine provides adequate power for this sub-one tonne car. The powertrain does feel a bit dated when compared to an increasing number of electrified rivals, but it should still achieve over 55mpg with little fuss.

7. Hyundai i10 - £16,030

Our 2023 City Car of the Year is not only one of the cheapest cars you can buy, but it’s also surprisingly sophisticated for its size. The Hyundai i10 boasts a generous amount of on-board tech, as well as being comfortable to drive and filled plenty of cabin and boot space. It’s even fitted with interior mood-lighting – just like you’d get in a far bigger and pricier Mercedes. A five-year/80,000-mile warranty and Hyundai Roadside Assistance sweeten the deal, too.

The cheapest i10s are fitted with a 66bhp 1.0-litre 3-cylinder engine. This unit is sluggish in terms of acceleration but, when you do reach cruising speeds, the compact Hyundai is far more comfortable than most of its rivals. 

6. Kia Picanto - £15,595

The Kia Picanto is now in its third generation and has developed into a stylish little city car with enough kit to make it genuinely desirable before the price is even taken into account. It’s easy to see why the Picanto is so popular because this small car offers tremendous ride quality and the brand’s famous seven-year/100,000-mile warranty – a great deal for such a low-priced car.

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There are a number of Picanto variants available, and your £15,595 will get you a basic model in ‘2’ trim fitted with a 66bhp 1.0-litre engine and manual gearbox. If you want an automatic gearbox, you’ll need to be prepared to pay more. 

5. Dacia Sandero Stepway - £15,295

The Dacia Sandero Stepway takes the best bits of the standard Sandero and adds in more rugged SUV-style looks, a bit more space, and extra features that bring the base Stepway more inline with mid-spec city car rivals – as opposed to the rather sparse nature of the standard Sandero.

The base Essential trim includes a DAB radio, Bluetooth, air-conditioning, and cruise control as standard. You even have a choice of engines – a petrol-powered TCe 90 or (for an extra cost) the Bi-Fuel TCe 100. Both versions claim to return more than 45mpg, so running costs should prove very affordable. With its 328-litre boot, the Sandero Stepway is an affordable family option, too.

4. Dacia Spring - £14,995

It’ll probably come as no surprise to see yet another Dacia on this list, but what may shock you is that this sub-£15,000 car is fully-electric. That’s right, the new Dacia Spring is the cheapest fully-fledged electric car that you can now buy in the UK.

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In order to keep the cost down, the Spring is bit basic compared to most of its rivals, and the entry-level model will only cover up to 137 miles on the WLTP combined cycle. That being said, if you often find yourself zipping around city streets on shorter journeys, this should prove more than enough. There’s a reasonable amount of essential kit included, such as air-conditioning, and, of course, you’ll avoid emissions-based charges and VED road tax (at least until April 2025).

3. Fiat Panda - £14,750

For many years the Fiat Panda has been a favourite choice of Italian drivers looking for an affordable, dependable, and straightforward car that’s easy to live with. UK buyers can also reap the bargain benefits of the Fiat Panda, with the latest-generation car being available for under £15,000. 

As can be seen from the styling, the Panda is a bit more characterful than some rivals. It also offers energetic handling and a reasonably comfortable drive. It’s not all fun and games, though, since the Panda does the serious stuff rather well, too. All-round visibility is excellent, and there are plenty of useful storage spaces throughout the cabin. The little Fiat has also earned a positive overall reputation for reliability in our Driver Power survey.

2. Citroen C3 - £14,150

After axing its C1 city car, Citroen introduced the C3 You! supermini – a cut-price trim level with a starting price not far above the smaller C1. Considering the next level up is the Plus which starts from more than £17,000, the You! seems like a real bargain. It’s limited to the 1.2-litre three-cylinder PureTech 83 petrol engine, but this is fine for urban and suburban driving, and can average up to 53.4mpg for thrifty motoring. 

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Considering its lowered price, the You!’s standard kit isn’t as measly as you might expect – there’s Bluetooth, LED headlights, a five-inch touchscreen, DAB digital radio and even body-coloured bumpers and door handles. Safety hasn’t been skimped on, either, with features like a coffee break alert to remind you to take a break. 

1. Dacia Sandero - £13,795

The Dacia Sandero is a full-sized supermini that offers simplicity, comfort and surprising practicality for those who seek basic transport without any gimmicks. The interior is actually more spacious than many of the Sandero's supermini rivals, running costs are usefully low and the mechanicals have proven their worth in the past, so the Sandero should be reliable. Thanks to its Renault heritage, the latest Sandero shares a platform with the current Clio – a much more expensive supermini.

This means the car’s chassis is more modern than before and it feels sophisticated to drive. Build quality is questionable in places, but some of the engine line-up uses Renault’s latest fuel-saving technology, meaning the Sandero is surprisingly efficient and perky on the road. The Bi-Fuel version is one of the only cars available from the factory that’s able to run on LPG, which is a cheaper fuel than petrol where it’s available.

Top 10 cheapest cars to buy

  1. Dacia Sandero - £13,795
  2. Citroen C3 - £14,150
  3. Fiat Panda - £14,750
  4. Dacia Spring - £14,995
  5. Dacia Sandero Stepway - £15,295
  6. Kia Picanto - £15,595
  7. Hyundai i10 - £16,030
  8. Toyota Aygo X - £16,140
  9. Fiat 500 Hybrid - £16,800
  10. Dacia Duster - £17,295

What about quadricycles?

You might be thinking that you’ve seen new ‘cars’ that undercut the vehicles on our list in terms of price. We’ve restricted ourselves to the legal definition of cars for this list, however, ignoring the category of vehicles known as quadricycles.

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Although quadricycles have four wheels, they are far smaller and lighter than a typical modern car and are limited to a maximum speed of 28mph. Due to their basic construction, reduced power and small size, quadricycles are much cheaper to buy than a normal car, but they are also much less suited to many drivers’ day-to-day needs. If you rarely use your car, though, and only cover very small distances around town, quadricycle models like the Citroen Ami and Ark Zero can be bought brand-new for as little as £5,995.

Why are these cars so cheap?

Sadly, as with many things, the cost of buying a new car has increased over time. The cheapest full-size new cars today begin at more than £13,500 so, if you’ve got a tighter budget than this, you may be better off looking for a used car. 

Of course, if your negotiation skills are top-tier you may be able to haggle this price down further. What you should remember, though, is that cars in this price bracket should come with a different set of expectations. They’ll get you from A to B for sure, but will they be as economical, practical, or well-built as something that costs a few grand more? There’s no guarantee.

To achieve those low sticker prices, cheap new cars are often stripped of everything bar the basics and they’ll sometimes feel a little low-rent next to more expensive versions of the same car just a few steps up the trim ladder. Many buyers will happily put-up with some blanked-out buttons, downmarket trim finishes or even an underpowered engine but others will see the extra outlay needed to secure a few more creature comforts as money well spent. Either way, the cheap car’s head-turning sticker price has done its job.

In many instances, the biggest challenge facing cars at the cheap end of the market is the existence of used alternatives offering more kit, a better engine and, often, a more desirable badge for the same money. Again, many people will rather sink their cash into an apparently better car with a few thousand miles on the clock, but the appeal of a brand new model with a full warranty and finance facilities not always open to used car buyers is still strong.

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Shane is responsible for looking after the day-to-day running of the Auto Express website and social media channels. Prior to joining Auto Express in 2021, he worked as a radio producer and presenter for outlets such as the BBC.

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