Best cars for £1,000 or less

A low budget doesn’t have to mean a low-quality. We’ve picked out some terrific cars for under £1k

For the same price as a couple of monthly payments on a new car lease, you could own a used car instead. Not all of us can afford the prices associated with brand new cars in today’s market, whether that be the list price or deposit and payments on a finance deal.  That’s why we’ve rounded up some of the top used car bargains out there and come up with a list of the best cars for under £1,000.

Our shortlist covers superminis, crossovers and even big, practical MPVs for families on a budget. If you’re after something with a bit of flair there’s even a stylish Italian hatchback in the shape of the Alfa Romeo 147 or a very British MINI Cooper.

There are pitfalls at this price point, of course. Rust, mileage and maintenance are all things to be wary of, but with a thorough inspection and a bit of patience there’s no reason you won’t come across a genuine, cheap-as-chips star that will keep you motoring without costing the earth.

Whether you’re after a cheap fun car for the driving thrills or simple low-cost practicality, this list has it all. And at less than £1,000, every single one is very much a half-price hero.

Scroll down to read about our the cars that can be bought for less than £1,000 - or check out these other price brackets...

Half-price heroes for all budgets:

MINI

  • We found: Cooper 3dr (2003/03, 76k miles)
  • Price new: £11,642
  • Price used: £1,000
  • Engine: 1.6-litre 4cyl, 115bhp
  • Economy: 42.2mpg 
  • CO2: 163g/km 
  • Euro NCAP: 4 stars (2002)

The MINI is a premium small car, but even those with a tiny budget can afford the original R50 model. It has the style, fun handling, comfort and image to satisfy any small-car buyer. We’ve picked out Cooper spec, but with a slightly bigger budget you could go for the hotter Cooper S.

However, the Cooper still has sweet steering and an agile chassis, plus a slick manual gearbox and the funky interior design that made the modern MINI an icon. Like many naturally aspirated motors, the 1.6-litre engine needs revs, but that’s part of the fun. With £1,000 you can get into a car with less than 80,000 miles in good condition, ready to be driven every day.

Check the latest prices for used MINI models on our sister site BuyaCar...

Alfa Romeo 147

  • We found: 2.0 Lusso (2005/54, 85k miles)
  • Price new: £16,352
  • Price used: £895
  • Engine: 2.0-litre 4cyl, 150bhp  
  • Economy: 31.7mpg  
  • CO2: 211g/km  
  • Euro NCAP: 3 stars (2001)

Alfa Romeo builds stylish cars, and you can get into one for a tiny initial outlay with the 147. In three-door form it’s one of the best-looking hatchbacks around. 

The 2.0-litre Twin Spark engine requires cambelt changes to be kept healthy, but it’ll reward you with a delightful exhaust note and sharp throttle response. With proper care the 147 won’t be any less reliable than any other sub-£1,000 car, although we do stress ‘with proper care’. The 147’s interior could be better built, and high-mileage cars will feel tired, but we can’t fault the cabin’s style.

Check the latest prices for used Alfa Romeo models on our sister site BuyaCar...

Ford Ka 

  • We found: SportKa (2007/07, 53k miles)
  • Price new: £10,112
  • Price used: £1,000
  • Engine: 1.6-litre 4cyl, 95bhp  
  • Economy: 37.2mpg  
  • CO2: 182g/km  
  • Euro NCAP: N/A

The Ford Ka was one of the best small cars to drive when it launched, and it’s still fun now. Tumbling values mean you can find one for hundreds, but the SportKa is our top choice. 

It has a 95bhp 1.6-litre engine and parts from the Puma coupé that improved it further. It keeps all the best bits of the Ka, though: it’s small so it’s easy to park, visibility is great and there’s enough room inside. Just be warned that rust is a big issue on all Kas.

Check the latest prices for used Ford Ka models on our sister site BuyaCar...

Volkswagen Touran

  • We found: 1.9 TDI S (2004/04, 103k miles)
  • Price new: £15,877
  • Price used: £650
  • Engine: 1.9-litre 4cyl, 105bhp  
  • Economy: 47.1mpg  
  • CO2: 162g/km  
  • Euro NCAP: 4 stars (2003)

If you have a small budget but need a lot of space, a Touran could be the answer. This seven-seat MPV offers van-like volume and versatility that big families will appreciate.

The 1.9 TDI diesel is noisy but it’s flexible, and it should get close to 50mpg if you’re careful. VW’s quality means the Touran still passes muster, although the interior design does give away its age. It’ll be tough to find a low-mileage one, though.

Check the latest prices for used Volkswagen Touran models on our sister site BuyaCar...

Subaru Forester

  • We found: 2.0 XT Auto (2003/53, 215k miles)
  • Price new: £22,197
  • Price used: £650
  • Engine: 2.0-litre 4cyl, 177bhp  
  • Economy: 29.4mpg  
  • CO2: 230g/km  
  • Euro NCAP: N/A

The Forester has never seemed hugely appealing next to contemporary rivals. Yet when you can buy one for very little money, its advantages start to shine. 

For a start, it’s as rugged as they come. If you’re looking for a car you can throw everything into and head off, whatever the conditions, the Forester fits the bill. Then there’s the curiosity factor of its boxer engine, plus it’s good to drive and spacious.

Check the latest prices for used Subaru Forester models on our sister site BuyaCar...

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