Best cars for £10,000 or less
A £10k budget will get you a basic new car. It could also get you an amazing used one. Here are some best pre-owned cars in that bracket
For £10,000, you can afford to enter the new car market with a great range of base level hatchbacks and superminis. Although you’ll probably have to option them lightly, they should offer you a reasonable drive, the top-drawer economy and more reliability than you can shake a stick at. However, thanks to the phenomenon that is depreciation, you could also consider a greater spec of vehicle with the only drawbacks being age, mileage, maintenance, and the fact that someone has owned the car before you. It’s worth considering, right?
So with an imaginary £10,000 in our pockets, we trawled the classifieds to see what a five-figure sum would get us if we were realistic. For that money you can get your hands on all manner of exuberant used cars, although practical drivers will probably aim for a young, low mileage model in order to make the best use of their cash.
Obviously a test drive and full inspection is a must with any used car, even if newer models are less likely to have developed faults or to have been exposed to poor maintenance. But with a clean service history and proper care, there shouldn’t be too much to fear when approaching the second-hand dealership.
With a bit of patience and intuition, you’ll be climbing into the driving seat of your brand new used wheels before you can say ‘half price hero’. The examples below prove that it is possible...
Scroll down to read more about our half-price heroes - all of which can all be bought for less than £10,000 - or see what's available in these other price brackets...
Half-price heroes for all budgets:
• The best cars for under £1,000 • The best cars for under £2,000 • The best cars for under £3,000 • The best cars for under £5,000• The best cars for under £15,000• The best cars for under £20,000• The best cars for under £30,000
We found: 2.5 DI-D CR Barbarian LB (2014/64, 88k)Price new: £27,173Now: £7,950Engine: 2.5-litre 4cyl, 175bhpEconomy: 35.8mpgCO2: 208g/kmEuro NCAP: 4 stars (2009)
The Mitsubishi L200 has a rock-solid reputation and is one of Britain’s favourite pick-ups. The Series 4 model is still a fairly common sight on our roads, and if you opt for a late example such as the 64-registration car we’ve singled out here, it may even still come with a warranty.
All double-cabs have a 175bhp 2.5-litre turbodiesel. It’s far from economical, but the L200 is a strong workhorse with a 2,700kg towing capacity and a tonne-plus payload.
We found: 1.5 dCi Dynamique Nav (2016/16-reg, 54k)Price new: £18,075Now: £7,290Engine: 1.5-litre 4cyl, 108bhpEconomy: 76.4mpgCO2: 98g/kmEuro NCAP: 5 stars (2013)
The UK automotive market is awash with small, stylish compact crossovers, and the Renault Captur is a strong contender in the flood. It uses a similar platform to that of its Clio stablemate and Nissan Juke cousin, and remains one of Renault’s most popular models.
As well as plenty of cabin space, the Captur offers a reasonable amount of safety and convenience equipment, and cheap running costs. It’s not the most exciting car from behind the wheel; body roll is noticeable, the gearshift action isn’t great and the steering doesn’t feel particularly direct.
However, the Captur’s engines are at least economical, with the 1.5-litre diesel powerplant chosen here offering real-world economy of more than 50mpg. In addition, small updates mean a used example still looks and feels contemporary.
We found: 2.0 TDI CR 140 SE DSG (2015/15-reg, 81k)Price new: £23,440Now: £7,990Engine: 2.0-litre 4cyl, 138bhpEconomy: 54.3mpgCO2: 135g/kmEuro NCAP: 5 stars (2015)
Large family cars from mainstream manufacturers are in decline, yet this means you can bag a big model such as the excellent Superb for not much used.
Skoda’s flagship car is no longer an entirely modest proposition, and well-equipped examples could leave VW Passat buyers thinking twice. The current-generation model isn’t quite in budget, but the Mk2 Superb laid the foundations of its success.
The 2.0-litre TDI engine makes most sense in the Superb. Allied to a solid six-speed DSG automatic, it’s an easy, comfortable and spacious family cruiser.
BMW 3 Series
We found: 320d EfficientDynamics (2012/62-reg, 77k)Price new: £30,600Now: £7,995Engine: 2.0-litre 4cyl diesel, 160bhpEconomy: 68.9mpgCO2: 109g/kmEuro NCAP: 5 stars (2012)
As with many used models under 10 years old, the last-generation 3 Series is cheaper than ever now that a new car has gone on sale. Values have more than halved, making this car a tempting alternative.
This version of the 3 Series retained BMW’s place at the top of the compact executive market. It’s fun, well put together and both brisk and frugal. The 2.0-litre EfficientDynamics diesel model serves up more than enough grunt for most overtakes, at 380Nm, while the chassis sweetly balances comfort, grip and ability.
We found: 1.6 THP Sport (2013/62-reg, 40k miles)Price new: £21,075Now: £5,999Engine: 1.6-litre 4cyl, 156bhpEconomy: 44.1mpgCO2: 149g/kmEuro NCAP: N/A
While the Peugeot RCZ could never match the Audi TT in a straight popularity contest during its six years on sale in Britain, it did offer drivers looking for something a bit different an alternative to the ubiquitous German coupé. Importantly, it’s a striking choice that oozes French design flair. We think it still looks stunning today.
For the cash, we’ve singled out the least powerful version of the facelifted RCZ – the 1.6 THP Sport that produces 156bhp. However, this still blends enough performance with decent fuel economy, so alongside the tempting purchase price, this is a fun-driving, head-turning car that shouldn’t cost a fortune to run.
We found: 1.6 TDI 110 Greenline III (2016/16-reg, 70k)Price new: £20,225 Now: £8,939Engine: 1.6-litre 4cyl, 108bhp Economy: 80.7mpgCO2/tax: 90g/km Euro NCAP: 5 stars (2009)
Family motoring doesn’t get much more sensible than a Greenline-badged Skoda Octavia – a roomy cabin, big boot and a frugal diesel tick most used buyers’ boxes in this class.
A boost in quality took the Mk3 Octavia closer to its VW Golf cousin. Its 1.6-litre diesel claims 80.7mpg, with 50mpg-plus easily achievable. CO2 emissions of 90g/km mean cheap road tax, too. Greenline III spec adds low-resistance tyres (probably replaced on a used car), stop/start and a low-drag design.
So while it’s not exciting, an Octavia Greenline is one of the best family cars here for daily use. And with a 70,000-miler at half price, it’s a bargain.
We found: 1.4 TFSI Sport Sportback (2013/63-reg, 26k)Price new: £17,685 Now: £8,000Engine: 1.4-litre 4cyl, 138bhp Economy: 57.6mpgCO2: 113g/km Euro NCAP: 5 stars (2010)
Audi’s smallest model was a sales hit, offering premium-brand appeal at a more affordable price to a new group of drivers. If you want a used supermini with an upmarket image, the Mk1 A1 looks top value at less than half its original price with not too many miles on the clock.
The 1.4-litre turbo engine is eager enough, while running costs should be fairly low, despite that upmarket image. A MINI may be more thrilling fun to drive and some conventional superminis are more practical, but the Audi has build quality, image and desirability on its side.
We found: S350 CDI (2010/10-reg, 90k)Price new: £58,598 Now: £9,995Engine: 3.0-litre V6, 232bhp Economy: 37.2mpgCO2: 199g/km Euro NCAP: N/A
Ten years and 90,000 miles after it rolled out of the factory, one of the most luxurious cars on sale has shed just under £50,000 in value. So now you can have a W221 S-Class for less than the cost of a new Dacia Duster.
Even a decade later, the car cuts a dash. Everything that made the Merc such a great luxury car still impresses today, including its effortless pace, serene refinement and raft of tech. Just budget for big bills in case any of those toys fails.
Peugeot 508 SW
We found: 2.0 BlueHDi 150 GT Line (2015/15-reg, 52k)Price new: £31,049 Now: £9,995Engine: 2.0-litre 4cyl, 148bhp Economy: 72.4mpgCO2: 102g/km Euro NCAP: 5 stars (2011)
Space, comfort, refinement, low running costs – the Peugeot 508 SW has it all. It wasn’t the best car in its class, but it’s hard to argue with the sheer value on offer when a 2015 model with around 52,000 miles can be snapped up for just under £10,000.
The 2.0-litre diesel under the bonnet has the usual blend of low-down punch and great economy – the perfect choice for long trips.
Some older Peugeots don’t have the best reputation for reliability, but the contemporary 508 performed well in our Driver Power 2016 survey. Just watch out for electrical issues; faults with the infotainment system were a common complaint.