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.

In our hunt, we discovered an Audi A1 from 2012, which originally cost £16,230 but today will set you back some £8,100. With a 1.4-litre 4-cylinder engine cranking out 52.3mpg, that’s not a bad deal at all.

• Buying a used car: all you need to know

We also found a Range Rover Sport  from 2007 with just 99,000 miles on the clock for a very, very reasonable £7,995. The original price just over 10 years ago? £47,265.

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

BMW 6 Series


Model: BMW 645Ci (E63)
Price: From £5,500
Engine: 4.4-litre V8
Power/torque: 329bhp/450Nm
0-60/top speed: 5.6 secs/155mph 

For a while, the 645Ci was actually the hottest version of BMW’s E63-generation 6 Series. It was the only V8 option from launch, but was quickly superseded by the 650i and full-fat M6. As such, it’s a bit of a dark horse on the used market, being both rare and very reasonably priced. 

Dacia Duster

Model: Dacia Duster 1.5 dCi Lauréate 4×4 (14/14-reg, 59k mi)
Price new: £15,495
Now: £7,000
Engine: 1.5-litre 4cyl, 109bhp
Economy: 53.3mpg
CO2/tax: 135g/km/£140
Euro NCAP: 3 stars (2011) 

Since arriving in the UK in 2012, Dacia has aimed to bring value for money to the new car market, and that’s reflected in the prices of its used models, too.

There aren’t many four-year-old, 4WD SUVs with a decent diesel engine and less than 60,000 miles on the clock available for this kind of money. True, it feels basic and its safety rating is poor, but as a no-nonsense workhorse, the Duster is admirable.

Honda Integra Type R


Model: Honda Integra Type R (DC2)
Price: From £7,000
Engine: 1.8-litre 4cyl
Power/torque: 187bhp/178Nm
0-60/top speed: 6.2 secs/137mph

“The greatest front-wheel-drive car ever” is how our sister title evo summed up the wonderful Honda Integra Type R. Sublime handling, a high-revving 1.8-litre engine and a snappy manual shift make it a true performance legend. Official UK models have four round headlamps; square lights signify a Japanese import.

Mitsubishi L200

Model: Mitsubishi L200 2.5 DI-D Animal (07/56-reg, 90k miles)
Price new: £26,540
Now: £7,500
Engine: 2.5-litre 4cyl, 160bhp
Economy: 31.7mpg
CO2/tax: 228g/km/£540
Euro NCAP: 4 stars (2008) 

Pick-up trucks such as the L200 have soared in popularity in recent years because of their ability to cope with family duties. For that thank the double-cab layout which adds a second row of seats, while the L200 was one of the first pick-ups to offer better equipment and a more refined drive than ever.

The Mitsubishi is known for its reliability, too, although because many will have led hard lives as working trucks, we’d still recommend a thorough check and seeing evidence of regular maintenance. 

Mercedes C-Class

Model: Mercedes C200 CDI BlueEfficiency SE (12/12-reg, 88k mi)
Price new: £24,747
Now: £7,900
Engine: 2.1-litre 4cyl, 134bhp
Economy: 58.9mpg
CO2/tax: 125g/km/£120
Euro NCAP: 5 stars (2009)

The W204-series C-Class represented a real return to form for Mercedes, feeling built to last and plush to travel in, particularly in post-2011 facelift guise.

A powered tailgate is standard on all estates, and opens to reveal a 475-litre boot. SE trim also gets front and rear parking sensors, a leather-covered steering wheel and climate control. The C200 CDI isn’t the quickest estate, but for something that is reassuringly practical, comfortable and fairly frugal, look no further. 

Alfa Romeo Brera

Model: Alfa Romeo Brera 3.2 V6 JTS (07/57-reg, 29,000 miles)
Price new: £29,250
Now: £7,995
Engine: 3.2-litre V6, 256bhp
Economy: 24.6mpg
CO2/tax: 273g/km/£555
Euro NCAP: N/A 

If you’re the kind of person who lets their heart dictate a car purchase, then the Brera will be an attractive choice. There’s something to be said for an Italian coupé with Pininfarina styling, particularly if it includes a tuneful and potent V6 petrol engine.

For everybody else it’s difficult to find a rational reason for buying a Brera, which is cramped to travel in, doesn’t handle particularly well and isn’t especially quick, with a 0-60mph sprint time of 6.8 seconds.

Range Rover Sport

Model: Range Rover Sport TDV6 HSE (07/07-reg, 99,000 miles)
Price new: £47,265
Now: £7,995
Engine: 2.7-litre V6, 187bhp
Economy: 28.2mpg
CO2/tax: 265g/km/£555
Euro NCAP: N/A 

If you fancy an SUV with bags of style and prestige, the Range Rover Sport is tempting. It looks the part, is great to drive (both on and off road) and Land Rover’s 2.7-litre V6 diesel is gutsy and refined.

Reliability of these cars isn’t perfect, though, so look for an example with a full service history and evidence of regular maintenance. We’d also recommend a good aftermarket warranty that’ll cover you in the event that something major does go wrong. 

Audi A1

Model: Audi A1 1.4 TFSI Sport Sportback (12/12-reg, 53,000 miles)
Price new: £16,230
Now: £8,100
Engine: 1.4-litre 4cyl, 120bhp
Economy: 52.3mpg CO2/tax: 122g/km/£120
Euro NCAP: 5 stars (2010)

The A1 has never had the MINI’s charm, but it does shrink most Audi attributes – including the classy cabin – into a more accessible package.

With the 1.4-litre TFSI petrol on board, which includes a grown-up level of performance, 120bhp in such a compact car goes a fair way. As with the MINI, this isn’t the most spacious supermini, but in Sportback guise you do at least get five doors. 

Volkswagen Polo GTI

Model: Volkswagen Polo GTI Mk5
Price: From £8,500
Engine: 1.4-litre 4cyl turbo and supercharged petrol
Power/torque: 178bhp/250Nm
0-62/top speed: 6.7 secs/142mph 

The hot version of this Polo GTI had two engines during its lifetime – but the earlier cars you’ll find for under £10,000 feature the VW Group’s familiar 1.4 TSI petrol, instead of an Audi-sourced 1.8.

Even so, there’s 178bhp on tap for punchy acceleration, and while agility isn’t at Renaultsport Clio levels, solid build makes the Polo an appealing (and rapid) everyday hot hatch. It feels nearly as grown up as the more expensive Golf GTI, while its compact dimensions mean it’s a doddle to drive around town, too.

Bentley Brooklands

Model: Bentley Brooklands (93/L-reg, 69,000 miles)
Price new: £87,829
Now: £9,995
Engine: 6.75-litre V8, 221bhp
Economy: N/A
CO2/tax: N/A/£255
Euro NCAP: N/A 

At its 1992 launch, the Brooklands four-door saloon replaced the Mulsanne S and Bentley 8, in effect acting as the brand’s ‘entry-level’ car.

It might now look dated (and certainly lacks the visual appeal of the later two-door coupé), but even so it’s hard not to marvel at the fact that £10,000 will buy you a genuine British luxury car with a turbine-smooth 6.75-litre V8 under the bonnet.

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