Finest for £5k - 5 classy cars that won’t break the bank

By Rosie Earl

Looking for a new car? Here are the best budget cars out there that won’t break the bank or let you down.

When you’re on a budget, you want the best set of wheels you can get at a price you can afford. However, the cheapest cars will often cost you more long term, due to wear and tear, unreliability, or fuel inefficiency. Also, they tend to look awful! With a little forward thinking, you can find the coolest car for your budget, both right now, and until you’re ready for something bigger and better.

Setting your budget

Before you start shopping, decide how much you can afford to spend and how you’re going to pay for it. You may have the money saved up, or you might be using a credit card, or you may be taking out a loan or dealership finance. You should be aiming for something within your budget that is affordable to purchase, either in full or with a deposit and monthly payments, and also to run on a monthly basis. Working this out before you start will give you a guide of how much you can afford to spend. That 1980 Mini might be a steal and look awesome, but will seem like a real nightmare when you’re trying to replace its rusty exhaust!

The cars featured here work on a budget of a £5,000 vehicle, and have good efficiency and running costs*. Whether your budget is lower or higher, this guide is a great starting point for finding your dream first car.

Suzuki Swift

A car close to my heart, as one of my first cars was  Suzuki Swift. I would have driven that thing into the ground if I hadn’t accidentally written it off! A five year old Swift hatchback costs around £4,500, has a 1.2l engine and runs on petrol, rather than diesel. They are spacious for a small car, and have a reputation for being reliable and fuel efficient, with the 2012 model getting an average of 30.5 miles to the gallon. They are also easy to park, due to being small, and look quite cool. All in all, a great first car.


The Stats

Newest car under £5k - 5 years old (2012)

Approx price - £4,500

MPG - 30.5

Engine size - 1.2l

Annual road tax - £140

Dacia Sandero

The Dacia Sandero is like the Aldi-brand car. It doesn’t look cheap, it’s reliable, and it costs less than the standard new car. This no-frills vehicle starts at just less than £6,000 new, so even fairly recent used cars won’t set you back too much money. A three year old hatchback model costs around £4,800, and comes with a 1.2l engine, and some models come with cool extras, like integrated sat nav and bluetooth. The 2014 model also gets a fabulous average 42 miles to the gallon, making it a winner for fuel efficiency.


The Stats

Newest car under £5k - 3 years old (2014)

Approx price - £4,800

MPG - 42.0

Engine size - 1.2l

Annual road tax - £135

Kia Soul

The Kia Soul is a great budget car, because you’re getting a powerful SUV with a lot of ‘oomph’ for relatively little money. You can pick up a six year old model for less than £4,500, which will get you a 1.6l diesel hatchback. The car is less fuel efficient than other models featured, getting approximately 25.6 miles to the gallon, but if you do a lot of miles, may be a more comfortable and spacious ride than smaller cars.


The Stats

Newest car under £5k - 6 years old (2011)

Approx price - £4,500

MPG - 25.6

Engine size - 1.6l

Annual road tax - £135-£190 (depending on model)

Toyota iQ

If you’re looking for a car to match a quirky personality, and you don’t need anything too big, a Toyota iQ is a great first car. They’re tiny little two doors (like a grown up version of the Fisher Price car you had as a kid), and are great for nipping into even the teeniest parking space. A six year old model costs around £3,500, and has the added bonus that they have very low (£30) or even free road tax. They’re fuel efficient too, getting a fabulous average 41.1 miles to the gallon.


The Stats

Newest car under £5k - 6 years old (2011)

Approx price - £3,500

MPG - 41.1

Engine size - 1.3l

Annual road tax - £0 - £30

Renault Wind

If you’re looking for something a bit sexier from your first set of wheels, you might consider the Renault Wind. This two seat convertible is a really sporty number for someone on a budget, and, if you get one that has been looked after, will look far more expensive than its bargain price tag. A six year old 1.2l model comes in at around £4,000, and will get you an amazing 44.8 miles to the gallon. The major drawback is, if you have kids or more than one friend to transport, there’s no room for them!


The Stats

Newest car under £5k - 6 years old (2011)

Approx price - £4,000

MPG - 44.8

Engine size - 1.2l

Annual road tax - £150

Top Takeaways

- The Dacia Sandero is a great place to start for those who want something new. This means you can get customisable options to get the perfect car for you.

- Say no to road tax with the Toyota iQ. It's environmentally friendly running will not only save the planet, it will save you the annual road tax outlay.

- The Renault Wind will prep you for your first sports car, and looks far more expensive than its budget price tag.

- If you’re looking for more ‘oomph’ for your buck, check out the Kia Soul. It’s one of the cheapest SUVs on the market, and is great value if you want something bigger.

- Suzuki Swift’s reputation speaks for itself. Reliable and affordable, and a perennial favourite for both new and experienced drivers.


What are your first car recommendations? Share in the comments below!

*Disclaimer: The advice in this article cannot be applied to individual vehicles, which may have been modified or misused. It is advisable to get the full service history when you buy a vehicle, or have it checked by a mechanic you trust.


Author bio: Rosie is a massive geek who loves anything Hello Kitty or penguin related. She writes every day and wants to be Caitlin Moran when she grows up. If she was an animal, she would be a baby dragon (with a solid background in finance). The Sorting Hat would have put her in Hufflepuff, and she is cool with that.

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