Best cars for £15,000
If your budget for a new car is £15k, you might think you’re limited to a small hatchback. Our top 10 rundown proves this need not be the case and features a surprisingly broad variety of cars.
Brits spend on average £22,000 when they buy 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.
For a third less than that average figure, £15,000 can see 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.
The Ford Fiesta is our reigning Car of the Year 2019, and you can park one on your driveway for under £13,000. However, we'd recommend upgrading to the Zetec model if you can stretch to it, as it features alloy wheels, front fog lights, leather trim, a heated windscreen and Ford's large SYNC touchscreen (which includes Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and DAB radio). All this equipment, plus a great driving experience and affordable servicing, can be yours for around £15,000. No wonder it was the best-selling car in the UK in 2018...
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) is basic in the extreme, 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 £12,000. 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 the 1.6-litre petrol engine, which is a little noisy and can only muster 43.5mpg economy.
The Skoda Fabia sits one rung above the Skoda Citigo in the showroom pecking order and the Skoda Fabia Estate adds an extra dimension of practicality. Like the Citigo, the Fabia is surprisingly roomy for the class it sits in and the estate boosts boot space from 330 litres to a huge 530, larger than many far more expensive load-luggers. The 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 1.0-litre TSI petrol engine is our favourite, with 94bhp for reasonable performance and quiet, relaxed motorway motoring, while using no more fuel than the cheaper 59 and 74bhp engines. The SE is our favourite trim level, too, as it brings essentials like air-conditioning, Bluetooth and rear parking sensors, as well as attractive alloy wheels.
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 – you can secure a Feel model with the PureTech 82 petrol engine for close to £15,000. That figure includes a seven-inch touchscreen entertainment system with Apple CarPlay and MirrorLink, as well as air-conditioning and alloy wheels. Economy is a strong point too, with 60.1mpg claimed for the PureTech 82 engine, while other running costs are respectably low, including an inexpensive group 8 insurance rating. Add an interior that comes close to matching its distinctive exterior, and the C3 looks like good value for money.
The VW up! is one of our favourite city cars and our favourite version, the £12,465 High up! five-door, leaves enough change from £15,000 to take it on a trip across Europe and put its standard sat nav to the test. 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. The price mentioned above secures the most powerful 1.0-litre 89bhp petrol engine, which returns a claimed 60.1mpg yet still manages a 0-62mph time of under 10 seconds. There's a healthy market for used examples, too, so you'll have little trouble moving yours on when it comes time to sell. Fancy something faster? The new up! GTI packs 115bhp and a 8.8 second 0-60mph time, and can be yours for just £14,315.
The Kia Rio is one of the most sensible family hatchbacks you can buy and the 1.0-litre T-GDi petrol 2 model is our favourite. As logic suggests, 2 is the second trim level in the hierarchy and ticks most of the important must-have boxes when it comes to standard equipment. You get a seven-inch infotainment display, Bluetooth, USB music input, DAB radio and a reversing camera, as well as air-conditioning, cruise control, LED daytime running lights and 15-inch alloy wheels. The 1.0-litre GDi petrol engine is the most sophisticated in the Rio range and blends plentiful performance with claimed 62.8mpg fuel economy. Most families should find plenty of space inside, while the Rio's boot is among the largest in its class. The Rio, as with other Kias, brings the peace of mind of a seven-year/100,000-mile warranty, which is fully transferrable to the next owner when it comes time to sell your car on.
The Hyundai i20 is closely related to the Kia Rio and in 1.0-litre 99bhp form, it uses the same engine and returns the same claimed 62.8mpg fuel economy. In fact, in many ways the two cars are so directly comparable you can more or less choose which you prefer the look of. Some may find the Hyundai more attractive to look at – it has a sharper, sportier style than the Kia – but the latter arguably has the more attractive interior treatment as some of the Hyundai's materials feel a little cheap to the touch. Standard equipment is similar, too, with DAB radio and a five-inch infotainment touchscreen, rear parking sensors and cruise control. The i20 has light, precise steering and the body doesn't lean noticeably when cornering, but doesn't deliver quite the driver involvement you'll experience in a Ford Fiesta or SEAT Ibiza. There's a strong warranty, too – it runs for five years and has no upper mileage limit.
The Vauxhall Corsa is a household name, and deservedly so. Thousands of new drivers every year pass their driving test in a Corsa, so it makes a fantastic first-car choice. Its appeal is broader than that, though – there's enough space inside for a young family and the model range stretches from the attractively priced entry-level Sting through to the higher-performance GSi. For £15,000, though, our choice would be the 1.4-litre, 90bhp Energy model, a car with a well equipped interior that boasts a heated steering wheel and front seats, 16-inch alloy wheels, air-conditioning, IntelliLink and useful 60:40 split-folding rear seats. Vauxhall claims up to 55.4 mpg from the turbocharged 1.4-litre engine, which is plenty powerful for motorway trips. The Corsa doesn't quite entertain like the Ford Fiesta on a twisty road, but we reckon it's more comfortable on a long journey.
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 £15,000 will put you behind the wheel of a Tivoli EX with a manual gearbox. This is a pretty well equipped car, with leather seats (heated in the front), dual-zone air-conditioning, a seven-inch infotainment system, Bluetooth, cruise control and 18-inch alloy wheels. 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. There's also a big 423-litre boot, and if you need more space than that you can choose a longer XLV version although it's a little more expensive. The 128bhp 1.6-litre diesel engine promises 65.7mpg, too, and SsangYong's five-year warranty is just as impressive as that offered by Hyundai.
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. The 1.2-litre Dualjet petrol engine offers 89bhp, enough to feel quite lively in such a lightweight car and a clever mild-hybrid SHVS power system brings fuel economy up and exhaust emissions down. Up to 65.7mpg is claimed to be possible, while 0-62mph in 11.3 seconds is more than quick enough for confident driving in most traffic conditions. In range-topping SZ5 specification, the Ignis is well equipped, with dual-zone climate control, LED headlamps and autonomous emergency braking, while sat nav and a reversing camera make the car easy to live with.