Best cars for £5,000 or less

If you’ve got a £5,000 budget for a used car, what do you buy? We've done some digging, and these are the best options for £5k…

If you buy a brand new car you’ll probably get a refined drive, penny-saving economy and unshakeable reliability, but getting the best of these comes at a cost. Literally. The entry price to new car ownership – however reasonable a particular model may seem – can be off-putting for those with a limited budget, even once a good finance deal has lowered the initial outlay. That, of course, is where the second-hand car market can provide a sensible, alternative option when searching for a fresh set of wheels.

We searched high and low with a budget of £5,000, and discovered that each of the following used cars could be bought for less than that five grand figure. Quite extraordinary when you think that a factory-ordered, Dacia Sandero will cost you at least £6,995.

• Buying a used car: all you need to know

At the exciting end of the spectrum, we found a Porsche Boxster from 2003 for just £4,900. Alright, so that price comes with the caveat of 93,000 miles on the odometer, but high mileage doesn’t always mean high maintenance.

There was also a 2005 BMW 7 Series with just 87,000 miles on the clock, the original asking price for which was £50,300. But since then its value has come down to just £3,995, showing that you can also get a large slice of luxury in this price bracket.

Naturally we’d recommend a test drive and a full inspection, as even at this price bracket there’s no guarantee that a car has been properly maintained over the course of its life. But should it have roadworthy components and a clean service history, there’s no reason why a second-hand car can’t be bought in fine health.

If you’re willing to bide your time and keep a keen eye on the classifieds, you’ll be driving your own half-price hero before you know it. And for less than it costs to buy a bog standard Sandero, you’ll be laughing all the way into the sunset…

Scroll down to read more about our half-price heroes – all of which can be bought for less than £5,000 – or browse these other price brackets instead…

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 £10,000
  • • The best cars for under £15,000

BMW 7 Series

Model: BMW 730d SE (05/05-reg, 87,000 miles)
Price new: £50,300
Now: £3,995
Engine: 3.0-litre 6cyl, 228bhp
Economy: 34.4mpg
CO2/tax: 216g/km/£315
Euro NCAP: N/A

Flagship models from BMW, Mercedes and Audi keep their value like a sieve holds on to water, mainly due to future buyers being wary of steep repair bills should one of the gadgets go wrong.

If you’re prepared to risk it, there are bargains to be had. Take the 2005 87,000-mile 7 Series we found, powered by BMW’s brilliant 228bhp 3.0-litre straight-six diesel, for just under £4k. Luxurious, smooth and quick, it’s a staggering amount of car for the money. 

BMW 1 Series


Model: BMW 130i Mk1
Price: From £4,000
Engine: 3.0-litre 6cyl
Power/torque: 261bhp/315Nm
0-62/top speed: 6.1 secs/155mph 

The BMW 1 Series offers a unique take on the hot hatch formula. It’s set apart from rivals thanks to a creamy straight-six that feeds the rear wheels. A quick browse through the listings shows that £4,000 will buy one with around 100,000 miles on the clock – an undisputed performance bargain.

Ford Focus ST

Model: Ford Focus ST Mk2
Price: From £4,00
Engine: 2.5-litre 5cyl turbo
Power/torque: 222bhp/320Nm
0-62/top speed: 6.6 secs/152mph

While the Focus ST handles well and is refined enough to use every day, it earns its place here for what’s under the bonnet. The fantastic-sounding five-cylinder turbo gives it character missing in rivals. It makes the fast Ford worth every penny.

Skoda Yeti

Model: Skoda Yeti 2.0 TDI SE (09/59-reg, 120,000 miles)
Price new: £16,965
Now: £4,399
Engine: 2.0-litre 4cyl, 138bhp
Economy: 46.3mpg
CO2/tax: 159g/km/£195
Euro NCAP: 5 stars (2009)

Few cars are as well equipped to withstand family life as the Skoda Yeti. For that you can thank the way it combines space, versatility (the rear seats slide forwards and backwards or can be removed completely), tough materials and low running costs. All these attributes come in a package that’s not only easy to drive, but also genuinely enjoyable.

It’s no wonder the Czech SUV was named our Car of the Year in 2010, an accolade that has since been backed up by Auto Express readers voting the model consistently strongly in our annual Driver Power owner satisfaction surveys.

The 2.0-litre diesel engine is available with 108, 148 or 168bhp on tap, and it’s the middle output we are recommending here. That’s because it serves up a great blend of performance and ability with standard four-wheel drive, plus it should comfortably exceed 40mpg fuel economy in the real world.

Opting for a Yeti in SE specification, meanwhile, gets you dual-zone air-conditioning, rear parking sensors, alloy wheels and cruise control as standard. 

Hyundai Santa Fe

Model: Hyundai Santa Fe 2.2 CRDi CDX (07/07-reg, 89,000 miles)
Price new: £22,820
Now: £4,495
Engine: 2.2-litre 4cyl, 155bhp
Economy: 38.7mpg
CO2/tax: 191g/km/£290
Euro NCAP: 4 stars (2006)

In 2007 Hyundai was on its way to becoming a serious rival to the mainstream European and Japanese firms, and it was the Santa Fe that led the charge.

Admittedly, it lacked the sophisticated driving manners of the class leaders, but it made up for that by being great value for a large SUV that offered up to seven seats, a strong diesel engine and lots of equipment. The same applies as a used buy today, where the Santa Fe makes for a fine family 4×4. 

Ford Mondeo

Model: Ford Mondeo 2.0 TDCi Titanium X (09/09-reg, 64,000 miles)
Price new: £25,645
Now: £4,745
Engine: 2.0-litre 4cyl, 138bhp
Economy: 47.9mpg
CO2/tax: 154g/km/£195
Euro NCAP: 5 stars (2007) 

The Mk3 Ford Mondeo had everything in its favour apart from a premium badge. It’s spacious enough for five people and their luggage, well equipped and brilliant to drive, thanks to strong engines and a ride and handling balance that’s up there with Ford’s best efforts.

Heavy depreciation means it also represents great value as a used buy, with less than £5,000 enough to get a generously specced Titanium X model featuring Ford’s powerful 2.0-litre diesel engine and under 70,000 miles on the clock.

Porsche Boxster

Model: Porsche Boxster 2.7 (03/52-reg, 93,000 miles)
Price new: £31,450
Now: £4,900
Engine: 2.7-litre 6cyl, 245bhp
Economy: 30.4mpg
CO2/tax: 222g/km/£315
Euro NCAP: N/A

The £5,000 Porsche Boxster is nothing new in itself, but the fact that sum now buys a late first-generation car with the more powerful 2.7-litre flat-six and a mileage the right side of 100,000 is certainly something to be celebrated.

After all, the Boxster is by any measure a truly outstanding car to drive. It is perfectly balanced thanks to its mid-engined, rear-wheel-drive configuration, and is propelled by a tuneful engine.

And with the German model’s steering, which is full of feel, it ticks all the right sports car boxes. Insist on a well-documented service history, preferably from a Porsche specialist, if you are considering buying a Boxster, however.

Citroen DS3

Model: Citroen DS3 THP DSport
Price: From £5,00
Engine: 1.6-litre 4cyl turbo
Power/torque: 154bhp/240Nm
0-62/top speed: 7.3 secs/133mph

Performance car buyers often overlook the stylish DS3 THP DSport, but they’re missing out; the 1.6-litre turbo feels strong, and the chassis strikes a good balance between ride and handling.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *