Top 10 cheapest cars to buy

In need of a new car bargain? These are the cheapest cars on sale in the UK right now

Once, not too long ago, if you were looking to buy one of the cheapest cars 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.

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. Fortunately, our list of the cheapest cars in the UK offers plenty of full-sized city cars and superminis, too. What’s more is that many of these cars offer a number of the same luxuries that you’d find in much larger and pricier models.

The top 10 cheapest cars to buy

We’ve thoroughly tested every cheap car on sale in the UK, and have seen firsthand that low price no longer means low quality. Read on to find the top 10 cheapest cars to buy in the UK, listed in reverse order below…

10. Toyota Aygo X - £15,990

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. 

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.

9. Hyundai i10 - £15,420

Our 2023 City Car of the Year is not only one of the cheapest cars you can buy, but also surprisingly sophisticated for its size. Not only does the Hyundai i10 boast a generous amount of on-board tech, but it's comfortable to drive, offers plenty of cabin and boot space, and is 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. 

8. 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 are claimed 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.

7. Fiat Panda - £14,740

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.

6. Volkswagen up! - £14,630

A four-time winner of the City Car of the Year title at the Auto Express New Car Awards, the Volkswagen up! has always been a strong contender in the city car sector, and it remains a great buy more than a decade since it was launched.

The up!’s three-cylinder 1.0-litre 64bhp petrol engine is a capable little unit and should prove powerful enough for most daily needs. It’ll also return a claimed economy of more than 50mpg. The VW’s tiny size and tight turning circle make it almost effortless to manoeuvre and park in the city streets, and the grippy chassis means you’ll have fun while doing so. 

5. Citroen C3 - £13,995

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 C-Series Edition 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 54mpg for thrifty motoring. 

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. 

4. MG3 - £13,820

MG’s entry into the hatchback market is a simple but decent offering, especially considering its size and generous equipment levels. The MG3 was first introduced in 2013 and then refreshed in 2018 with exterior styling tweaks, an improved interior and updated infotainment system.

Underneath the facelift, the MG3 retained its 105bhp, 1.5-litre engine (the only engine available across the range) and five-speed manual. While this powertrain feels outdated and underpowered compared to more expensive rivals which utilise turbocharging, the agile chassis and lack of body roll mean the MG3 is good fun on a twisty road.

3. Dacia Sandero - £13,785

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. It's such a great package that we've named the Sandero our 2023 Supermini of the Year.

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.

2. Kia Picanto - £13,665

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.

There are a number of Picanto variants available, and your £13,400 will get you a basic model in ‘1’ trim fitted with a 66bhp 1.0-litre engine and manual gearbox. If you want any extras, a bigger engine, or an automatic gearbox, you’ll need to be prepared to pay more. With insurance starting from group one and cheap running costs, the Picanto should appeal to young drivers especially.

1. Citroen Ami - £8,095

Following in the footsteps of the bizarre Renault Twizy, the Citroen Ami is the latest French quadricycle to hit UK roads. This tiny, boxy EV is purely for short-distance city driving as it only has 46 miles of battery range, two seats and very little interior space. If the idea of blistering electric car performance excites you, its 28mph top speed may disappoint.

There is a point to the Ami, though. If you live in the city and only need to undertake a short commute or a hop to the shops, this quadricycle will allow you to do so without emitting any CO2, nor will you be spending very much on running it. Its minute size means this quirky Citroen can be parked just about anywhere, too.

Top 10 cheapest cars to buy

  1. Citroen Ami - £8,095
  2. Kia Picanto - £13,665
  3. Dacia Sandero - £13,785
  4. MG3 - £13,820
  5. Citroen C3 - £13,995
  6. Volkswagen up! - £14,630
  7. Fiat Panda - £14,740
  8. Dacia Sandero Stepway - £15,295
  9. Hyundai i10 - £15,420
  10. Toyota Aygo X - £15,990

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.

Looking to sell your current car quickly and for a good price? We’ve partnered with Motorway to bring you the best offer from its network of UK dealers...

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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