Best cars for £15,000 or less

Spending around £15k will get you a good new car, but it could land you a brilliant used one. Here are the best used cars for that budget...

With £15,000 to spend on a car, you only really have two choices: head to the nearest showroom and buy yourself a new car, or opt for the slightly less predictable but potentially very rewarding used car market. To help you if you decided to go for the latter, we've rounded up the best used cars you can buy for £15k.

While a new car should give you refined performance, great economy and unbeatable reliability, a used one can also do much the same while making your money go that little bit further as well. Thanks to the wonder that is depreciation, you might find that out-of-reach new models become attainable if you’re willing to consider an older, second-hand alternative.

We spotted a 1997 Lotus Elise with just 35,000 miles for £14,450, which represents great value for such an iconic driver's car, while at an even lower price point, and providing a cost-effective path to electric car ownership, is the Renault Zoe - a snip at just £12,790.

A test drive and full inspection are a necessity with any kind of car, but especially so when you’re forking out up to £15,000 on one that has been in the care of another motorist. A clean service history and visible efforts to maintain a car are always good signs, but always exercise caution if a deal seems too good to be true.

Using a bit of nous and patience, there’s no reason why you won’t be able to pick up your own half price hero, whatever your tastes and requirements might be. The cars below are just some of the options you may come across in this price bracket...

Scroll down to read more about our half-price heroes - all of which can be bought for less than £15,000 - or alternatively discover what's out there in these other price brackets...

Skoda Kodiaq 

  • Model: 1.4 TSI SE 4x4
  • Year/reg: 2017/17
  • Mileage: 59,000 
  • Price: £15,000

To find a Kodiaq with the 1.4 TSI engine, SE trim and all-wheel drive you have to look for higher-mileage examples if you want to sneak under the £15,000 cap for our budget. However, it’s very much worth the effort, because few cars in this class are more practical and appealing than the Kodiaq. 

The sharp exterior styling has a hint of Audi about it so there’s plenty of driveway kudos, while the interior is spacious, well constructed and offers plenty of kit. The Kodiaq is another high-scorer in the Driver Power survey, too, so ownership should be a relatively painless experience. Stretch the budget and the more frugal, torquier diesels should be available.

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

BMW X1 

  • Model: xDrive 18d xLine
  • Year/reg: 2016/66
  • Mileage: 49,000 
  • Price: £15,000

BMW’s X1 always sold well, but the original version was an acquired taste visually, and the interior space was compromised by its rear-wheel-drive platform. 

The new model may not look much more elegant, but it’s certainly a more modern vehicle. It also makes more sense as a family car now, because it’s based on the same underpinnings as the 2 Series Active Tourer MPV. Plus it’s still available with all-wheel drive for those who need it. 

The handling is perfectly appropriate for a car of this type, and the engines are smooth and frugal. The interior took the biggest step up in the move to this generation of the car, though. It’s spacious, and the quality and tech are among the best in the segment.

Check the latest prices for used BMW X1 models on our sister site BuyaCar...

Audi A3 

  • Model: 35 TFSI SE Technik
  • Year/reg: 2019/19
  • Mileage: 17,000 
  • Price: £14,800

THIS generation of Audi’s A3 premium hatchback has just been replaced by an all-new model, which means it’s the perfect time to pick up a late example of the superseded car. The good news is it’ll still look and feel fresh, and not just because the example we’ve found is only a year old. The handsome styling and high quality inside and out mean the A3 is able to defy age better than many of its rivals. 

The slick, sporty-looking cabin is a particular highlight, and the 35 powertrain (Audi-speak for a 1.5-litre TFSI petrol engine with 150bhp) is punchy yet frugal. The A3 is a great all-rounder, but what if a hatch doesn’t appeal? Well, Audi made an A3 saloon, too, which is every inch the downsized compact executive.

Check the latest prices for used Audi A3 models on our sister site BuyaCar...

Peugeot 3008 

  • Model: 1.6 BlueHDi Allure
  • Year/reg: 2017/67
  • Mileage: 32,000 
  • Price: £14,600

Whisper it quietly, but Peugeot’s 3008 could be one of the best-looking SUVs currently on the road. The French company’s design language has translated perfectly to the high-riding form of this SUV, and the good news is that things get even better inside, with a genuinely high-quality, characterful feel. 

Owners also rate the car incredibly highly. It finished second in our 2020 Driver Power new car survey, having been the outright winner of the poll back in 2018. With a competitive line-up of engines (the 1.6 BlueHDi we’ve found provides a fine blend of economy and punchy performance) and decent practicality, it’s an excellent family SUV.

Check the latest prices for used Peugeot 3008 models on our sister site BuyaCar...

Lotus Elise 

  • Model: 1.8
  • Year/reg: 1997/P-reg
  • Mileage: 35,000 
  • Price: £14,450

The British-built Elise is quite a bit older than most of the other cars you’ll find on these pages, but in terms of the driving experience if offers, there’s still really nothing quite like it on the road. 

If you want one for less than £15,000, you’ll have to move fast because prices have been creeping up for several years now. Shop carefully, though, and it’s still possible to find the earliest (and many say the purest) examples at this point. The Rover K-series engine does have its share of issues, but when well maintained it suits the car perfectly, with a snorty induction note and plenty of performance in the lightweight body. The Elise is a real future classic.

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

Mazda 6 

  • Model: 2.0 Sport Nav
  • Year/reg: 2017/17
  • Mileage: 27,000 
  • Price: £14,300

You don’t see many of them about, so it’s easy to forget that the current-generation Mazda 6 saloon and estate are among the most elegant of their kind on the road, particularly if you can find one finished in Mazda’s stunning “Soul Red” paint. 

What you may not know is that they’re both really good to drive, too, with a compliant ride and engaging handling, while the 2.0-litre petrol engine is much more economical than you might expect. 

It’s also rather pleasant inside the 6, and everything is a model of clarity. Mazda’s BMW iDrive-style infotainment set-up is easy to use, while the driving position and quality are both a match for anything else that’s available in this class.

Check the latest prices for used Mazda 6 models on our sister site BuyaCar...

Toyota Prius+ 

  • Model: 1.8 VVT-h Excel
  • Year/reg: 2014/63
  • Mileage: 53,000 
  • Price: £13,495

MPV practicality paired with Prius-like fuel economy seems like a no-brainer, but it still took Toyota 14 years and three generations of Prius before it got around to coming up with the Prius+. 

As with the regular Prius it’s based on, you won’t buy a Prius+ for its styling or an entertaining drive, but if you need space for seven (well, five plus two) while using minimal fuel and incurring little in the way of running costs, the Prius+ is a smart buy. Beware tatty ex-minicabs and find a nice family-owned car with a full history, and you can’t go too far wrong.

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

Renault Zoe 

  • Model: 80kW Dynamique Nav R110
  • Year/reg: 2019/19
  • Mileage: 26,000 
  • Price: £12,790

If you’re discouraged by the cost of a new electric car, then there are definitely some bargains to be had in the used market. A year-old Renault Zoe is one of them, particularly when fitted with the 40kWh battery pack, with a quoted 186-mile real-world range. Something closer to 150 miles is more realistic, but that should still comfortably cover most trips. 

The Zoe is easy to drive, its cabin has a relaxing atmosphere, and our preferred Dynamic Nav trim has 16-inch alloys and sat-nav. However, do check whether the battery is included on the model you’re buying, or if it’s still on lease – although you can buy out the lease if you wish.

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

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