Top 10 cheap new cars
Buying a brand-new car doesn't have to feel like an expensive exercise. For less than £15,000 it's still possible to buy a really good new model, whether it's a city runabout or family-friendly SUV.
Here are our top ten new cars for under £15,000:
What Car? named the VW Up its 2012 Car of the Year, and it remains our favourite City Car for 2013. Its tiny size and upright rear end make it easy to slip into the smallest parking spaces, yet the interior feels surprisingly roomy. The interior is as classy you'd expect from any VW car. The boot is very small so you may struggle to squeeze in a even a basic, slim-folding pushchair, but two Group 1 child seat easily fit on the two rear seats, both of which have Isofix, and there's a good view out for little ones. The Up is nimble to drive round town but it certainly isn't limited to city driving; it feels composed and mature on the motorway, and its smooth petrol engine gives an average of 60.1mpg. An extra £375 buys a five-door model, giving easy access to the back seats.
We've always loved the way the Fiesta drives – it's so refined and so much fun that it feels like a more expensive car. The latest version is available with a turbocharged petrol engine that makes it pluckier still but gives an average of 65.7mpg and CO2 emissions of just 99g/km. Parents of teenagers will be reassured by the MyKey system in most models which allows owners to limit the car's maximum speed or the volume of the stereo according to who's driving. Bear in mind that you'll need to pay extra for rear curtain airbags. The boot is big enough for a small buggy, with some room left over for a couple of bags. There are some great discounts available from Ford dealers, so act the tough cookie when you negotiate and you could pay a lot less than the asking price.
The i10 is a great example of what Hyundai does best – cars that are cheap to own, yet also stylish and well equipped. The i10 is due for replacement this summer but the current model is one of our favourite city cars thanks to its low cost, generous equipment and smooth, economical 1.2-litre petrol engine. You'll be lucky if you can fit a pushchair in the boot so the i10 may be best for transporting older children; just bear in mind there are no airbags in the back. However, as with any Hyundai, there's the reassurance of a five-year, unlimited-mileage warranty.
Dacia is Renault's budget brand, and at £5995 the entry-level Dacia Sandero hatchback is the cheapest new car on sale in the UK. Tempting as that figure is, we'd recommend paying a bit more for the 0.9 TCe Ambiance model, which is more economical and comes with useful extra power and equipment. Its £7395 price means it's still dirt-cheap, too. The Sandero is has plenty of room for all passengers and a large boot that beats most rivals in the class. There are no top tether points for child seats in the seats with Isofix (the two outer rear seats, as with all the other cars here) and no rear airbags, nor is it as good to drive – or as classy inside – as some rivals; however, it's so cheap and practical that we're prepared to overlook its faults.
For the same price as some superminis, the Kia Ceed gives you all the space and sophistication you could want from a small family hatchback. Inside, the Ceed is classy and roomy, including a boot that's big enough for some three-wheel buggies. The cheapest Ceed –the 1.4 1 – has a smooth, strong petrol engine and averages 47.1mpg. Even this entry-level spec comes with air-conditioning, a USB input, stability control and six airbags including curtain 'bags to cover the rear windows. Kia's seven-year warranty completes a package that represents outstanding value.
Finding a new MPV for less than £15,000 might seem a tall order, but the Citroen C3 Picasso is just that. With lots of space and a light, airy feel, the C3 Picasso's cabin is perfectly suited to family life, including raised seating and wide-opening doors which make it easy to load small children, and a well-sized boot. Our favourite version – the 1.4 VTi 95 VTR+ – averages 44.8mpg and comes with air-con, alloy wheels, Bluetooth and six airbags including curtain 'bags for the rear passengers.
Skoda's reputation for great value has been boosted by the arrival of the Rapid. No other hatchback (bar the mechanically identical Seat Toledo) of this quality and at this price can offer as much cabin space for the money, and the boot is equally huge. There is some wind noise on the motorway and diesel models are a bit gruff round town, but the 1.2 TSI 86 petrol engine is quiet and reasonably flexible. The Rapid's interior is solid and user-friendly, and safety features include curtain airbags for the rear passengers.
Buying an SUV can be an expensive business, especially if it has four-wheel drive. Not if you go for a Dacia Duster, however. Prices for the Duster start from just £8995, whereas the cheapest Nissan Qashqai
(which is a similar size) costs nearly twice as much. You'll need to spend more to get four-wheel drive and anything like decent equipment, but the 1.5 dCi 110 Ambiance 4x4 gives you a family 4x4 with a huge boot for less than £14,000, and you can't argue with that.
Few cars sum up the concept of affordable fun as well as the Suzuki Swift Sport. As the name suggests, it's the sporty version of this supermini, and it's a hoot to drive, with responsive handling and a willing engine. It's not very practical, with limited rear legroom and a very small boot, but there are airbags for the rear windows, should anyone manage to fit in the back. A comparatively low insurance group (19) means this cost is surprisingly sensible, while standard kit includes Bluetooth, climate control and xenon headlamps.
It's a familiar sight, but the Mini remains a hugely desirable car. Choose your model carefully and it's also surprisingly cheap. The basic Mini Cooper 1.6 is our favourite – it has enough power to allow you to enjoy the Mini's brilliant handling, yet it averages over 50mpg. You might just manage to squeeze a particularly compact folded buggy in the little boot, but practicality isn't the point of the Mini, and unfortunately there are no top-tether points for the two rear Isofix seats, and no rear airbags. Adding the optional Pepper pack bumps the price above our £15,000 limit, but it adds useful extra kit. Mini's TLC mainentance pack is a worthwhile addition, too – for £249 it covers servicing costs for up to five years, or 50,000 miles. The extra expense can be offset against what you'll get back when you sell the car, because the Minis hold their value exceptionally well.