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Best cars for £15,000 or less

Spending around £15,000 doesn’t get you much in the new car market these days, but it can land you a brilliant used model

A £15,000 budget can get you the keys to a brand new car, such as a Citroen C3, Dacia Sandero or an MG3, but your money could go a lot further if you look on the used car market. There’s such a vast range of used cars on offer in the £15k price range, from executive saloons to family hatchbacks in petrol, diesel, hybrid and electric form, it might be difficult narrowing down your choices. Fortunately, we’ve chosen some of the best cars for £15,000 or less, below.

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As with any used car purchase, carrying out the appropriate checks before buying is highly recommended. At this price, you could expect to find newer, lower-mileage examples with some of the manufacturer's warranty left to run, or slightly older examples with comprehensive MOT, service and maintenance records.

Taking a car for an extended test drive allows you to see if it’s suitable for your needs, while giving you the opportunity to keep your eyes and ears open for any hidden mechanical issues. If in doubt, it’s worth getting a mechanic to look over the car before parting with any money.

For those looking to make the switch to an electric or plug-in hybrid car, there are plenty of cars which are starting to fall into this price bracket. Models like the Hyundai Kona Electric or BMW 330e hybrid may have lower battery ranges than their brand new counterparts, but they should provide a cost-effective way of reducing running costs, while still offering enough range for most. If you plan on sticking with pure combustion power, there will almost certainly be something which meets your needs. So read on to discover the best used cars for £15,000 or less.

The best cars for £15,000 or less:

Alfa Romeo Giulia

  • We found: 2.0T Super auto, 2017, 65k miles
  • Years produced: 2016 to date
  • Engines available: 2.0T, 2.9T petrol, 2.2 diesel
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Over the years Alfa Romeo has launched a lot of cars that have failed to capture the imaginations of buyers. The Giulia is arguably one of these; it hasn’t sold in big numbers, but those who have taken the plunge have generally loved their purchases. 

Most used Giulias at this budget are diesels, so you’ll have to search to find your perfect petrol-powered Alfa. All cars feature a slick eight-speed automatic transmission, which works brilliantly with the turbocharged 2.0-litre petrol unit.

PositivesNegatives
Well equippedFew to buy
Eye-catching designCabin quality is not quite there

BMW 330e

  • We found: 2.0 PHEV M Sport, 2018, 54k miles
  • Years produced: 2012-2019
  • Engines available: 2.0T PHEV

The 3 Series offers one of the most complete model ranges anywhere, and when BMW launched the sixth-generation car in 2012 it was more desirable than ever. 

Almost from launch there was a hybrid option, called the ActiveHybrid3, but the 330e plug-in hybrid that arrived in summer 2016 was altogether slicker. Its 181bhp 2.0-litre petrol engine and 85bhp electric motor work in harmony to provide exciting performance, with the prospect of 50-55mpg real-world economy. Available in saloon form only, the 330e is all you’d expect of a 3 Series model: glorious to drive, spot-on ergonomically, and easy to live with.

PositivesNegatives
Fun to driveNo estate
Real-world economyReduced boot space

Hyundai Kona Electric Mk1

  • We found: 64kWh EV Premium, 2020, 61k miles
  • Years produced: 2019-2023
  • Powertrains available: 39kWh/134bhp, 64kWh/201bhp EV
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Hyundai introduced the Kona in 2017, with a choice of petrol, diesel, hybrid and pure-electric powertrains – the latter quickly proving a hit with buyers, thanks to its combination of reasonably sensible pricing, usability, and an impressive real-world range when ordered with a 64kWh battery pack and a 201bhp electric motor. 

A 39kWh battery with a 134bhp motor was also available, and while there isn’t a huge volume of used Konas available, most have the bigger battery, which has a real-world range of up to 250 miles. Most are also in high-spec Premium trim.

PositivesNegatives
Well equippedSmall boot
Very usable rangeCramped rear seats

Ford Fiesta Mk7

  • We found: 1.0T Titanium, 2022, 8k miles
  • Years produced: 2017-2023
  • Engines available: 1.0T, 1.1, 1.5T petrol, 1.5 diesel

Almost everybody has a fond story about the Ford Fiesta. But then why would you not love a car that’s a hoot to drive, affordable to run, relatively cheap to buy, and has a cabin that’s more than spacious enough even though it’s a supermini

Generally sold in high-spec form and with Ford’s 1.0-litre Ecoboost turbo-petrol engine, other motors are available but this is the one to go for; just ensure it’s been serviced meticulously or things could get costly. Fiesta production has ended, so good ones are likely to hold their value.

PositivesNegatives
A blast to driveBusy dashboard
Well equippedSmallish boot

Honda Jazz

  • We found: 1.3 hybrid SE, 2020, 6k miles
  • Years produced: 2015-2020
  • Engines available: 1.3, 1.5 petrol
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You can just about buy a Jazz Mk4 for £15,000, but there’s far more choice if you stick with the previous iteration, with plenty of low-mileage examples available. There’s no shortage of third-generation Jazzes generally and prices are all over the place, so shop around to get more for your money. 

Until 2018 there was only a 101bhp 1.3-litre petrol engine, but then a 128bhp 1.5-litre unit joined the range. This came only in range-topping Sport form, so it looks a bit more eye-catching and comes with LED headlights and upgraded interior trim.

PositivesNegatives
Very reliableDull to drive
Versatile interiorLimited model range

Mercedes S-Class

  • We found: S 350 Ld, 2014, 110k miles
  • Years produced: 2013-2020
  • Engines available: 3.0T, 4.0T, 4.7T, 5.5T, 6.0 petrol, 2.1, 2.9, 3.0 diesels, 3.5 hybrid, 3.0 PHEV

The S-Class can trace its origins to 1951, and since then Mercedes’ flagship luxury saloon has been the benchmark in this class. Crammed with all the latest safety tech, the limousine has a roomy cabin, a cavernous boot and even entry-level models offer effortless performance and refinement.

Mercedes offered its flagship model with a wide range of powertrains, but the most readily available for £15k is the 3.0-litre diesel, which is all you need. 

PositivesNegatives
Incredibly refinedBig car to park
Effortless to driveCan be costly to run

Buying advice

“It almost goes without saying that the more you’ve got to spend, the greater your chances are of bagging a fine used car. But £15k is arguably the sweet spot – there are some great models to choose from at this price point.” John McIlroy, editor-at-large

The best cars for £15,000 or less

The best used cars for all budgets:

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Editor-at-large

John started journalism reporting on motorsport – specifically rallying, which he had followed avidly since he was a boy. After a stint as editor of weekly motorsport bible Autosport, he moved across to testing road cars. He’s now been reviewing cars and writing news stories about them for almost 20 years.

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