Top 10 best cars for £15,000
If your budget for a new car is £15k, you can choose from an appealing selection of hatchbacks and SUVs. Here are the best ones
Brits spend on average £22,000 when they buy a new car. This is a huge amount of money, so it comes as something of a relief to find that there are so many excellent new cars on the market today at a rather less daunting asking price.
Indeed, £15,000 will get you behind the wheel of some extremely capable machines. With car manufacturers competing fiercely for their share of the market, it’s a constant battle of the brands to attract customers into cars. Often they’ll have special offers, too, to attract people into the showroom.
We’re concentrating here on cars that appear in price lists at no more than £15,000, and there’s a good chance you’ll see further savings on that figure, particularly if you’re a dab hand at negotiation – our guide to tactics can give you a few pointers that might help you drive an even better deal and we also keep an eye on just which cars have the best deals available right now.
You may well be surprised at just how much choice you have at this price point – as well as hatchbacks, our list of favourite sub-£15,000 cars includes several stylish SUVs. And if this figure doesn’t quite represent your cost ceiling, every model we’ve featured can be ordered with various options to allow you to personalise them to your requirements. Honestly, no matter how much you have to spend, the sheer amount of choice means UK car buyers have never had it so good.
Read on for our 10 favourite new cars for less than £15,000.
It may be a city car, but the Kia Picanto does a great impression of a bigger, more expensive machine. There’s plenty of space for you, your mates and a bootful of luggage, and you’ll have fun behind the wheel. The Picanto is agile and nippy, while its compact size takes the stress out of tight parking spaces. Sure, it’s not the most powerful or the fastest car on the road, unless you can stretch the budget slightly to Kia’s punchier turbocharged engine.
Note that only X-Line and X-Line trims have five seats; the rest have four. The Picanto is one of the cheapest cars on this list, and nearly all its trim levels can be bought for under £15,000. X-Line brings rugged looks borrowed from SUVs, GT-Line has a sporty look that’ll turn heads, while ‘2’ and ‘3’ trims get all the must-have equipment.
The VW up! is showing its age a bit now, but it’s still one of our favourite city cars. Most of its trim levels are available for less than £15,000, while the top-spec R-Line is about £500 over budget. You won’t get a touchscreen like in the Picanto and i10, but air-conditioning, DAB radio and Bluetooth are all fitted. There’s a neat phone holder on the dash and, if you download a couple of apps, your phone can act as the sat-nav and information display.
It's a great-looking car, with a squared-off shape helping to maximise the amount of space inside, so four average-sized adults will be comfortable for even longer journeys. The up! offers driving entertainment as well as comfort and practicality – it corners keenly with very little body lean and enjoyably precise steering. There's a healthy market for used examples, too, so you'll have little trouble moving yours on when it comes time to sell.
The new Skoda Fabia is now Skoda’s smallest and cheapest car, since the discontinuation of the Skoda Citigo. A new generation brings plenty of improvements over the last version, but prices have risen, too. A base-spec Fabia is now around £300 over budget, but it’s worth checking out if you can stretch to it.
The practical Fabia is also well known for sharing many parts with the desirable Volkswagen Polo, leading many customers to question why they’d pay more for the VW. At this price point, the 64bhp engine is all you’ll get, but it’s fine for town driving. S might be the cheapest way into Fabia ownership, but you don’t miss out. Standard equipment includes alloy wheels, LED headlights, lane-keeping assistance and three ISOFIX child-seat points – a rarity in cheap cars.
The UK’s cheapest new car doesn’t feature on this list simply because it undercuts everything else. Sharing most of its parts with the current Renault Clio means the Sandero is a supermini contender whether you’re worried about value for money or not.
All manual Sanderos, whether you choose the regular model or the jacked-up Stepway, come in under budget, and that includes Dacia’s Bi-Fuel versions that have an LPG tank in the spare wheel well. LPG is super-cheap compared with petrol, and with both tanks filled you can travel up to 600 miles. The latest Sandero looks much more stylish than its predecessor, and is far better equipped. It even has a big boot for a car this size, so the Sandero makes a huge amount of sense.
The Hyundai i10 is a little more expensive than the Kia Picanto, a car with which it shares many parts, but the SE Connect sweet spot is still available for less than £15,000. Unlike the cheaper SE trim, it gets a really useful touchscreen, not only with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto but also with a reversing camera.
Unless you need an automatic, the manual gearbox is the best choice. Two engines are offered: a 66bhp 1.0-litre or an 82bhp 1.2-litre, and the latter is the better option if you’re going to be regularly venturing out of town. It just sneaks under our budget at the time of writing.
The i10 is very practical for a city car, with a class-leading boot and room for four adults. Its boot capacity is around 90% of the size of a Toyota Yaris’, so you won’t struggle to fit the weekly shop in.
If you want to turn heads with your £15,000 budget, the Citroen C3 will attract a lot more glances than many other family hatchbacks for the same price. Rivalling the Ford Fiesta, Volkswagen Polo and SEAT Ibiza, it's arguably more eye-catching than either and certainly has value on its side, because it’s far less expensive than either of those cars.
As of January 2022, the C3 is a little too expensive for this list, but a new trim level is coming in April this year that will cost just £12,995. Citroen has just withdrawn the smaller C1, and the new C3 ‘You’ trim level will undercut top versions of the C1.
Rather than focusing on sportiness like the Fiesta does, the Citroen serves up a much more comfortable, lounge-like driving experience. Add an interior that comes close to matching its distinctive exterior, and the C3 looks like good value for money.
The Suzuki Ignis is one of the most distinctive cars you can buy, at any price. Not everybody will remember the Suzuki 'Whizzkid' SC100 coupe that lends the Ignis its distinctive style, but those who do will understand the fascinating shapes and details that make up its design. Straddling the line between hatchback and SUV, the Ignis is available with front or four-wheel drive, but the former gets our recommendation unless you’re planning to skip over rough terrain.
The 1.2-litre Dualjet petrol engine offers 82bhp, enough to feel quite lively in such a lightweight car and a clever mild-hybrid power system brings fuel economy up and exhaust emissions down. Up to 56.9mpg is claimed to be possible, while 0-62mph in 12.7 seconds is adequate for confident driving in most traffic conditions. If you can stretch to the mid-range SZ-T specification, you benefit from smartphone connectivity and roof rails.
If you’d rather a car that looks more conventional, the Suzuki Swift is also well priced. It uses the same engine and is actually a little more economical, although it’s a little more expensive and slower.
With the SUV remaining a popular pick with UK buyers, Toyota has sought to capitalise on this by reimagining the popular Aygo city car into a tiny crossover. It’s called the Aygo X (pronounced as cross), and it adopts a tougher stance than the old Aygo with a raised ride height and SUV-style body cladding. On the inside, it’s just as funky as before with trim coloured to match the exterior helping to brighten things up.
The Toyota Aygo X only just squeezes onto this list, with its starting price of £14,795. However, despite the low starting price it offers plenty of standard equipment including a seven-inch infotainment touchscreen with Apple Carplay and Android Auto functionality, air conditioning, a reversing camera, cruise control and 17-inch alloy wheels. Top-spec models even get a retractable canvas roof, turning the Aygo X into a convertible of sorts.
The Dacia Duster is one of those models that makes you question why other SUVs are so expensive. Yes, the Access trim (with its sub-£10,000 price) was basic in the extreme when it was on sale, even making do without a stereo, but the Essential has everything covered, from air-conditioning to DAB radio and Bluetooth – and it still costs under £15,000. Our favourite Comfort trim is less than £16,000, but the difference on a PCP finance deal over Essential is about £15 per month.
Even the range-topping Prestige with 17-inch wheels and blind-spot monitoring is cheaper than its most basic rivals. The only fly in the ointment is that the engines are a little noisy and aren’t built with performance in mind.
SsangYong has a lower profile in Britain than many other brands, but the range of cars it offers is steadily growing in reputation and popularity. The Tivoli is by far the most stylish car SsangYong has brought to Britain so far and its semi-SUV style makes it a very practical family runabout.
A smidge over £14,500 will put you behind the wheel of a Tivoli EX with a manual gearbox. This is a reasonably well equipped car, with keyless entry, cruise control, split-folding rear seats and digital radio. The interior is fairly nicely put together, too, but key to its appeal is the amount of space inside, with loads of head and legroom available for all on board. SsangYong offers a class-leading seven-year/150,000-mile warranty.
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