Best cars for £15,000 or less

A budget of £15k will get you a good new car, but it could land you a brilliant used one. Here are the best used cars in that bracket

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.

Case in point: we found a 2013 Jaguar XF with just 80,000 miles on the clock that had lost over a third of its value, down from £34,940 to just £10,950.

• Buying a used car: all you need to know

We also came across a 2013 Mercedes E-Class that had done 57,000 miles for £13,994. The original price of that particular model? £34,270. Quite a drop in just five years…

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…

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 £10,000

Jaguar XF

Model: Jaguar XF 2.2d Luxury (13/13-reg, 80,000 miles)
Price new: £32,940
Now: £10,950
Engine: 2.2-litre 4cyl, 163bhp
Economy: 57.7mpg
CO2/tax: 129g/km/£120
Euro NCAP: 4 stars (2011) 

When Jaguar updated the XF in 2011, the aim was to show it could still battle the German establishment for quality, performance and refinement – hence the continued use of powerful six-cylinder engines.

However, business users on a budget will be better off with one of the later four-cylinder diesels – and in particular the 2014-onwards 163bhp unit. Thanks to stop/start tech it emits a reasonable 129g/km of CO2 when combined with the responsive eight-speed auto. 

Peugeot RCZ

Model: Peugeot RCZ 1.6 THP GT (14/14-reg, 37,000 miles)
Price new: £24,500
Now: £10,995
Engine: 1.6-litre 4cyl, 156bhp
Economy: 44.1mpg
CO2/tax: 149g/km/£155
Euro NCAP: N/A

Although it might not have caught on in anything like the same way as Audi’s TT, there’s no doubt that Peugeot’s RCZ coupe alternative strikes all the right notes when it comes to style.

The double-bubble roof alone is enough to warrant having it on your wishlist, while the low stance and short overhangs make it look every bit the performance machine. There’s better news still in that the RCZ handles with real composure, and the 1.6-litre turbo engine is both flexible and frugal.

Audi A6 Avant

Model: Audi A6 Avant 2.0 TDI 177 SE (11/61-reg, 49,000 miles)
Price new: £32,000
Now: £11,000
Engine: 2.0-litre 4cyl, 168bhp
Economy: 48.7mpg
CO2/tax: 152g/km/£195
Euro NCAP: 5 stars (2011)

At this money an A6 Avant looks very tempting. It’s family sized, beautifully refined, has the feel of a premium product even now and offers punchy performance that isn’t too hard on your wallet.

You’ll also enjoy the low, flat loading lip of this traditional estate’s 565-litre boot, while the electric tailgate that comes as standard on SE and S line models is another welcome practical touch. 

Kia Sportage

Model: Kia Sportage 1.7 CRDi 3 (14/14-reg, 68,000 miles)
Price new: £22,195
Now: £11,000
Engine: 1.7-litre 4cyl, 114bhp
Economy: 54.3mpg
CO2/tax: 143g/km/£155
Euro NCAP: 5 stars (2010) 

While it was the Cee’d hatchback that announced Kia’s arrival into the mainstream automotive market, it took the Sportage of 2010 to add some much-needed desirability. Styled by Peter Schreyer, whose previous design work included the Mk1 Audi TT, the crossover still looks terrific today.

The Kia badge means you can buy a Sportage with your head as well as your heart, too. This is in part because it’s powered by a frugal 1.7-litre diesel, but it’s also thanks to the seven-year manufacturer warranty, which can be transferred to new owners providing the car has been correctly maintained.

Skoda Superb Estate

 

Model: Skoda Superb Estate 2.0 TDI DSG Elegance (15/15-reg, 70k mi)
Price new: £27,400
Now: £11,777
Engine: 2.0-litre 4cyl, 138bhp
Economy: 54.4mpg
CO2/tax: 134g/km/£140
Euro NCAP: 5 stars (2009) 

By opting for a last-of-the-line Mk2 Superb Estate from 2015, you’ll have a car with terrific ride comfort and cabin quality that comes close to the premium German brands – particularly in top-spec Elegance trim with its sat-nav and electrically adjustable leather seats.

It also happens to be about as spacious as estate cars get, with acres of rear legroom and a boot that measures 633 litres in capacity when the back seats are in place and 1,865 litres with them lowered.

Volkswagen Amarok

Model: Volkswagen Amarok 2.0 BiTDI Trendline (12/62-reg, 45,000 miles)
Price new: £28,200
Now: £12,000
Engine: 2.0-litre 4cyl, 178bhp
Economy: 35.3mpg
CO2/tax: 211g/km/£315
Euro NCAP: 4 stars (2010)

There was no way a company the size of Volkswagen was going to look at the burgeoning pick-up market and not want a slice of the action. Its Amarok of 2010 brought a new level of sophistication, interior quality and refined driving dynamics to the commercial vehicle sector, while still being practical, rugged and capable.

For this, thank the truck’s standard double-cab configuration, ladder-frame chassis, selectable four-wheel-drive system and large load bed. The twin-turbo BiTDI powerplant isn’t as capable as the later V6s, but otherwise a used Amarok is easy to recommend. 

Mercedes E-Class

 

Model: Mercedes E220 CDI SE (13/13-reg, 57,000 miles)
Price new: £34,270
Now: £13,944
Engine: 2.1-litre 4cyl, 168bhp
Economy: 58.9mpg
CO2/tax: 128g/km/£120
Euro NCAP: 5 stars (2010)

Choosing a practical family car doesn’t always mean sacrificing something with a premium badge. Indeed, many of the things that make large exec saloons such as the Mercedes E-Class so good – such as the generous rear legroom, large boot, comfortable ride and high levels of safety – also mean they are ideal for transporting your brood.

What’s more, although these cars cost more to buy on the second-hand market than one of the more mainstream offerings, running costs can be competitive – particularly if you go for the four-cylinder diesel engine. 

Maserati 4200

Model: Maserati 4200 Cambiocorsa (04/04-reg, 60k miles)
Price new: £56,650
Now: £13,950
Engine: 4.2-litre V8, 390bhp
Economy: 15.0mpg
CO2/tax: 430g/km/£555
Euro NCAP: N/A 

Spending £14,000 on a Maserati 4200 is not necessarily as foolhardy as you might think, providing you are prepared for the inevitable maintenance bills that come hand-in-hand with any Italian thoroughbred.

In return you’ll have a car of quite staggering beauty boasting a sublime Ferrari V8 and a thumping paddleshift box. Admittedly it doesn’t handle like a Porsche 911, and you’ll spend a small fortune on fuel, but for sheer drama there are certainly worse ways to spend your money. 

Audi A7

Model: Audi A7 3.0 TDI S line (11/61-reg, 88,000 miles)
Price new: £49,800
Now: £14,995
Engine: 3.0-litre V6, 242bhp
Economy: 47.1mpg
CO2/tax: 156g/km/£195
Euro NCAP: N/A 

Viewed at its most basic level, the A7 Sportback is an A6 with frameless rear windows and a distinctive hatch that’s designed to appeal to a style-conscious audience. However, the result is so much more than that; this car has an intangible sense of prestige and exclusivity that serves as a perfect fit for Audi’s smooth V6 diesel.

This lower-powered version of the engine offers reasonable CO2 emissions given the performance, plus the beautifully finished cabin is a fine place from which to watch the miles roll by. 

Jaguar XJ

 

Model: Jaguar XJ 3.0D V6 Premium Luxury (10/10-reg, 44k)
Price new: £57,400
Now: £14,995
Engine: 3.0-litre V6, 271bhp
Economy: 39.2mpg
CO2/tax: 189g/km/£290
Euro NCAP: N/A

Depreciation is rarely kind to large Jaguar saloons, and so it’s transpired with the latest-generation XJ. While this loss of value is depressing for anybody who bought one new, it also means there are some amazing used deals, with £15,000 putting you in a powerful V6 diesel with fewer than 50,000 miles on the clock.

Compared with its German rivals, the XJ is pleasingly involving to drive for a luxury car, while still being a joy to travel in as a passenger.

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