Best cars for £2,000 or less

A tight budget doesn’t mean you have to compromise on quality. Here are some great used cars available for under £2,000

If you’re looking for a brand new car it should offer you the very latest technological advancements, refined comfort and lively performance, plus improved running costs on the generation that came before it. However, if your budget doesn’t stretch to something fresh out of the factory, don’t despair: a used vehicle can still provide plenty of fun while not breaking the bank. Here are the best used cars you can get for £2,000.

We've found seven options for under £2,000, covering everything from sporty saloons to hot hatchbacks. It just goes to show that if you’re willing to look closely enough in the second-hand car market, there’s every chance you’ll unearth a bargain set of wheels that do everything you need them to.

There's little better for roaring around a race track than the Renault Clio 182 and if you'd rather have a rare sports saloon with real performance, the Mazda 6 MPS will do the job. For cheap thrills, there's something for everyone here. 

• Buying a used car: all you need to know

We also found plenty of third generation Toyota MR2s, which should provide open-top motoring and relatively low running costs.

In this price bracket a thorough inspection and test drive are a must, though, while a clean service history will go a long way to determining whether or not a used car is in good working order.

But with the right amount of caution, there’s no reason you can’t get hold of a genuine half-price hero. And for less than £2,000, a gamble might be worth the risk…

Scroll down to read more about our half-price heroes - all of which can be bought for less than £2,000 - or have a look at these other price brackets... 

Half-price heroes for all budgets:

BMW 330Ci (E46)

We found: 330Ci (2004/04-reg, 100k miles)Price new: £35,000 Now £2,000Engine: 3.0-litre 6cyl, 228bhp  Economy: 29.4mpg  CO2: 230g/km  Euro NCAP: 5 stars (2004)

In the late nineties you’d need to fork out the best part of £35,000 for a well-specced 330Ci. Today, you can buy a smart example for less than a tenth of that. Strong performance and a solidly built, spacious cabin make it a great all-rounder.

2019 BMW 3 Series review 

It may sound obvious, but avoid ones with dodgy aftermarket extras. There’s loads of examples on the used market to pick from though, so you can afford to be picky. 

Mazda 6 MPS

We found: Mazda6 2.3 i MPS (2006/55-reg, 137k miles)Price new: £23,950 Now £1,989Engine: 2.3-litre 4cyl, 257bhp  Economy: 27.7mpg  CO2: 245g/km  Euro NCAP: N/A

Is there a more subtle sports saloon than the Mazda 6 MPS? The styling may be understated, but a 2.3-litre turbo will thunder you from 0-62mph in 6.6 seconds, while four-wheel drive give the Mazda 6 a planted feel. Think of it as a grown-up Subaru Impreza WRX.

You’re likely to need to set cash aside for an alloy-wheel refurb, because the standard rims are prone to corrosion.

Renaultsport Clio 182

We found: 182 16v (2004/04-reg, 108k miles)Price new: £13,040 Now £1,489Engine: 2.0-litre 6cyl, 179bhp  Economy: 39.4mpg  CO2: 194g/km  Euro NCAP: 4 stars (2004)

£1,500 is enough to buy one of the greatest hot hatchbacks of all time. Renaultsport Clio 182 values won’t stay low for long, thanks to brilliant handling and a lusty 2.0-litre engine the 182 is guaranteed future classic status.

Best hot hatchbacks 2019 

While the little French hot hatch is a perfectly usable day-to-day, it can also roar down b-roads as fast as most supercars. Worn synchros in second and third gears point to a thrashed one and remember to check for cambelt changes.

Ford Mondeo 

We found: 2.0 Ghia X (2005/55-reg, 40k miles)Price new: £20,492  Now £1,989Engine: 2.0-litre 4cyl, 143bhp  Economy: 36.2mpgCO2: 187g/km  Euro NCAP: 4 stars (2002

The Ford Mondeo is a shadow of its former self in 2019, but back in the mid-2000s it was a titan of the family car market, with fleet managers up and down the country filling their office car parks with them. And there was good reason for this, because this generation of the Ford favourite is great to drive and impressively spacious and practical.

We found a really low-mileage 2005 example for less than £2,000, which shows exactly what good value for money the car is at the moment. You could get your hands on a high-mileage model for much less, but we’d go for this slightly more expensive version simply because many Mondeos were used and abused as taxis in a former life.

Toyota MR2 Mk3

We found: 1.8 VVT-i (2000/X-reg, 68k miles)Price new: £18.495  Now £1,600Engine: 1.8-litre 4cyl, 138bhp  Economy: 38.2mpgCO2: 178g/km  Euro NCAP: N/A

The third-generation MR2 was intended as a proper rival for the MX-5. The mid-engined set-up contrasts with the Mazda’s conventional layout, while the perky 1.8-litre engine unlocks 0-62mph in under eight seconds.

Often overlooked, you can get good example for way under £2,000 - so the Toyota makes sense when seeking cheap drop-top thrills. But without a proper boot, don’t expect the MR2 to be practical.

Volvo S40 

We found: 2.0D S 4dr (2006/56-reg, 130k miles)Price new: £18,117  Now: £1,000Engine: 2.0-litre 4cyl, 134bhp  Economy: 48.7mpg  CO2: 154g/km  Euro NCAP: 5 stars (2004)

A more traditional family car like a VW Passat can be yours for £1,000, but we reckon a Volvo S40 will be more interesting to own, plus more reliable.

Mid-2000s Volvos shared parts with Fords, so spares should be plentiful, but the Swedish firm’s reliability is legendary anyway. So is its safety; the S40 scored a five-star Euro NCAP rating in 2004.

It’s comfortable and spacious inside, although it’s smaller than you might expect from a saloon because it rivalled larger family hatches when new. 

Mazda RX-8

We found: 1.3 192PS (2006/55-reg, 51k miles)Price new: £21,150  Now £1,000Engine: 1.3-litre rotary, 189bhp  Economy: 26.2mpg  CO2: 267g/km  Euro NCAP: N/A

Want a sports car that stands out? The Mazda RX-8 could be for you. The rear-wheel-drive coupé has space for four, with rear-hinged half-doors to aid access, and nimble handling makes driving a joy.

But while the rev-happy rotary engine delivers a relatively modest 189bhp (there was also a 228bhp version), it’s heavy on fuel and oil. The latter needs topping up as frequently as every 1,000 miles; not doing so can potentially lead to engine failure. So be sure any potential purchase has been well cared for.

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