Lifestyle Guides

Best cars to buy for £15,000

Got a bit of cash to spend on a new motor? Spend it wisely with our top 10 guide


If you're looking to change car and you have a budget of £12,500-£15,000 you can choose anything from a brand new Ford Fiesta to the recently-launched Citroen C3 Aircross compact crossover.

However, if you're prepared to buy used or nearly-new there's a lot more choice with everything from the 100% electric Renault Zoe to the Mazda MX-5 - the world's best-selling sports car.

We've scanned the second-hand market to find 10 of the best cars for less than £15,000. We looked at used vehicles with a low mileage (less than 10,000 miles per year), aged up to three years and available at main dealers and independent garages.

1. Kia Sportage


Kia's top-selling model is also one of the best-handling SUVs on the market. Priced new from £18,795, a used example of the latest version (launched in 2016) could be yours for below £15,000. The 1.6 petrol is good, but if you can find a 1.7 diesel, even better. Look hard and you could snap up a 16/66-reg, and remember, it will have as much as five years left of its seven-year warranty. The previous generation Sportage (pre 2016) is good too. It was crowned Diesel Car magazine’s Used Car of the Year 2017.

2. Renault Zoe


Renault's all-electric five-door supermini is a fun car to drive, especially around town. Named What Car? 'Best Electric Car under £20,000' for five consecutive years, the stylish Zoe is a great introduction to zero emissions motoring and could be yours for less than £15,000. Look hard enough and 65-reg examples are available from as little as £11,500.

3. Skoda Octavia


A spacious family favourite, the Octavia is available as a hatchback or estate. Priced from £17,695 new for the entry-level 1.0 TSI petrol in S trim, you can choose a 17-reg well-equipped larger petrol (1.4 TSI) or diesel (1.6 TDI) for less than £15,000. Go back to a 2016 car and you're looking at closer to £12,500, which is a lot of car for the money, plus peace of mind because Skoda has a great reputation for dependability.

4. Nissan Qashqai


The car that started the crossover craze in 2006 is as popular as ever. Good looking, spacious, practical and with a raised driving position there are plenty to choose from in the second-hand market. Updated slightly for 2017, pre-facelift, low-mileage examples from 2016 are available from £12,500. The 1.2 DIG-T turbo petrol is a zippy little engine, while the 1.5 dCi diesel is capable of 74mpg.

5. Seat Leon ST


The Seat Leon family hatchback is right up there with the Ford Focus and Volkswagen Golf. The estate version, known as the Leon ST, is just as sharp to look at and drive, but adds a much bigger boot. Priced new from £18,965-£28,470, pre-facelift models from as recent as 2017 can be bought used from £13,000. Go for the eager 1.0 TSI turbo petrol or 1.6 TDI diesel, which has fuel economy of 69mpg, and aim for a high-spec model.

6. BMW 1 Series


Few hatchbacks can beat the BMW 1 Series for driving engagement and premium badge appeal. Priced £22,405 - £35,810 new, the 1 Series would normally be way out of budget, but if you're prepared to buy used, low mileage examples from as recent as 2016 are available from £12,500. We'd recommend opting for the swift 118i (1.6-litre) petrol engine or the 116d (1.5-litre) diesel which has fuel economy of 67mpg.

7. Mazda MX-5


Launched in 2016, the fourth generation Mazda MX-5 is the best yet and won World Car of the Year. Priced new from £20,495, the world's most popular sports car is stylish and fun to drive. If you're prepared to buy nearly-new and you look hard enough, low mileage 2016 cars are available for a fraction under £15,000. If you can, go for a 1.5i SE-L Nav. Perfect for the summer.

8. Audi A3


Looking for a classy hatchback with serious badge appeal? An Audi A3 would set you back between £21,805 - £34,330 new. However, buy used and you could be driving around in a 2016 example for as little as £13,000. The A3’s engine choice is impressive, but we'd suggest going for the 1.0 TFSI petrol or a 1.6 TDI diesel.

9.Citroen Grand C4 Picasso


When it comes to space, it's hard to beat the Grand C4 Picasso people carrier. Stylish, easy-to-drive and oozing French chic, it's surprisingly economical if you opt for the 1.6 or 2.0-litre BlueHDi diesel engines. Scooping the ‘Best Seven-Seater’ prize in the prestigious Carbuyer Best Car Awards 2017, good low mileage examples from 2016 can be bought for as little as £12,500. Serious bang for your bucks.

10. Volkswagen Golf


Engaging to drive, well equipped and classy, Europe's best-selling family hatchback is a great buy. As a new car it's just out of reach at £18,230 - £27,760. Buy nearly new and it's possible to snap up a Golf from 2017 for £15,000. Choose a 2016 model and there even more choice around the £12,500-mark. There's plenty of fun to be had with the 1.0 TFSI turbo petrol, while the 1.6 TDI diesel is a great all-rounder.

Admiral Car Finance 

Want to learn more about how you could afford your dream car? Check out Admiral Car Finance, and see if you could get finance that suits you.