best used small cars for less than £10,000 (and one to avoid)

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Small cars are the jack of all trades. They can be a hoot to drive, they can be compact premium vehicles – ideal for congested city streets – and they can be reliable, good-value transport serving as a second family car.

Deciding which one to buy used can be daunting due to the diversity of what’s available today. You could go for an evergreen such as the Ford Fiesta or splash out on something more fashionable such as the Audi A1 or Mini. Rest assured, there’s something for everyone and our list reflects this. Take a look at our top 10 to see what takes your fancy.

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best used small cars for less than £10,000 (and one to avoid)

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10: Audi A1

This first-generation Audi A1 proved very popular thanks to its ability to pack the build quality and upmarket feel of Audi’s more expensive models into a smaller and neater package. It's good to drive and comfortable, too, even if it isn’t quite as spacious as some of its rivals. There's a smart interior and also the same strong range of engines as the Volkswagen Polo. The downside, of course, is that it’s expensive to buy so you get an older car for this money. 

We found: 2016 Audi A1 1.0 TFSI Se 5dr, 40,149 miles, £9596

best used small cars for less than £10,000 (and one to avoid)

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10: Audi A1

Pros Refined petrol engines Agile handling Superb interior quality

Cons Diesel is noisy Sports suspension hurts ride comfort More expensive than rivals

best used small cars for less than £10,000 (and one to avoid)

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9: Vauxhall Corsa

You can’t have a top ten list of small cars without mentioning the previous-generation Vauxhall Corsa; rarely out of the bestsellers list, there are examples of them everywhere. It doesn’t seem to matter that there are many rivals that beat it in key areas; the Corsa’s appeal is that it manages to provide a practical, well-built car at an affordable price. Indeed, for this budget, you’ll be able to find numerous Corsas with plenty of kit, which makes it a tempting proposition.

We found: 2019 Vauxhall Corsa 1.4T 75 Griffin 3dr, 19,690 miles, £8000

best used small cars for less than £10,000 (and one to avoid)

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best used small cars for less than £10,000 (and one to avoid)

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9: Vauxhall Corsa

Pros Spacious interior Comfortable low-speed ride Keen pricing

Cons Vague steering Fiddly infotainment Handling could be better

best used small cars for less than £10,000 (and one to avoid)

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8: Honda Jazz

Maximising useful interior space was Honda’s aim with the previous-gen Jazz, and it succeeded. Boot space is on a par with hatchbacks from the class above and, what’s more, the rear seats can fold completely flat, which is rare in a small car. In addition, the base of the rear bench can also fold up against the seatback to allow tall or wide items to be loaded widthways. If you need a small car that is also practical, the Jazz is hard to beat.

We found: 2018 Honda Jazz 1.3 SE, 25,000 miles, £9995

best used small cars for less than £10,000 (and one to avoid)

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8: Honda Jazz

Pros Very spacious Well equipped Sturdy cabin quality

Cons Harsh ride Unrefined engine Not much fun to drive

best used small cars for less than £10,000 (and one to avoid)

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7: Renault Clio

The previous-generation Renault Clio has been a popular choice for all of those seeking a good-looking, refined and grown-up small car. Picking Dynamique Nav means you get sat-nav, automatic lights and wipers, a 7.0in infotainment touchscreen and keyless entry. The 1.5 dCi 90 offers the best fuel economy but, unless you’re planning to do lots of motorway miles, you’ll probably be better off with the 0.9 TCE petrol.

We found: 2019 Renault Clio 0.9 TCe Play 5dr, 9,500 miles, £8995

best used small cars for less than £10,000 (and one to avoid)

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7: Renault Clio

Pros Flexible engines Proving reliable Low CO2 emissions

Cons Cheapest cars are poorly equipped Notchy gearchange Tight rear head room

best used small cars for less than £10,000 (and one to avoid)

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best used small cars for less than £10,000 (and one to avoid)

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6: Hyundai i20

Handsome looks, generous standard equipment levels and plenty of interior space mean there’s a lot to like about the old i20. The ride is a little unsettled around town and it doesn’t handle quite as well as the best on offer. However, Hyundai performs strongly in reliability surveys, and this is backed up to some degree by the five-year warranty from new, which should make ownership relatively stress-free.

We found: 2019 Hyundai i20 1.2 MPI Se 5dr, 40,827 miles, £9662

best used small cars for less than £10,000 (and one to avoid)

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6: Hyundai i20

Pros Spacious interior Refined petrol engines Well-equipped

Cons Ride can be choppy Uninspiring handling

best used small cars for less than £10,000 (and one to avoid)

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5:Mini Hatch

Small cars don’t come much more desirable than the Mini. It handles well, comes with a large range of engines and has a funky, high-quality interior. And with so many different paint colours, you’ll rarely find two Minis that are the same. True, you lose out on boot space and the rear seats are pretty cramped, but if practicality isn’t so much of an issue, there’s no doubt the Mini is a car that appeals to the heart.

We found: 2017 Mini Hatch 1.2 One 3dr, 24,178 miles, £9900

best used small cars for less than £10,000 (and one to avoid)

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5: Mini Hatch

Pros Fun to drive Low running costs

Cons Not as practical as some rivals Some cheap materials inside

best used small cars for less than £10,000 (and one to avoid)

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4: Volkswagen Polo

The Volkswagen Polo costs more to buy than many of its rivals, which is why it finishes in position number four, but you do feel as though you are getting more. Avoid the low-power petrol cars and you’ll have a small car that allows you to tackle long-distance drives in comfort, thanks to low levels of wind noise, a supple ride and a nicely finished interior that mimics the larger Golf. The small turbocharged petrol engines are the best picks as they tend to be smoother and quieter than the diesels.

We found: 2017 Volkswagen Polo 1.2 TSI Match 5dr, 43,585 miles, £8995

best used small cars for less than £10,000 (and one to avoid)

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best used small cars for less than £10,000 (and one to avoid)

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4: Volkswagen Polo

Pros Classy image Comfortable ride Economical engines

Cons Comparatively expensive Not as fun to drive as rivals Underpowered entry-level engine

best used small cars for less than £10,000 (and one to avoid)

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3: Seat Ibiza

Previous generations of the Seat Ibiza were good and popular cars, but they never competed right at the top of the small car class. All this changed when Seat launched this fifth generation car in 2017 . The attractive body is distinctively styled and there's more interior room. It rides and handles well and it's comfortable and practical. Find our favourite 1.0-litre version in well-equipped SE Tech trim and for this price it looks like a bit of a bargain. 

We found: 2018 Seat Ibiza 1.0 TSI SE Technology, 7,500 miles, £9460

best used small cars for less than £10,000 (and one to avoid)

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3: Seat Ibiza

Pros Great to drive Remarkably spacious Strong petrol engines

Cons Interior could be classier Road noise

best used small cars for less than £10,000 (and one to avoid)

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2: Ford Fiesta

The Fiesta is a bestseller for good reason. Ford knows how to do small cars well and the attractive Fiesta was another feather in its cap, with class-leading ride and handling qualities, plus a vast amount of engine choices to suit enthusiasts and misers in equal measure. Its infotainment system isn't quite on a par with the best in the class, but the rest of the package is so good that it’s hardly a deal-breaker.

We found: 2019 Ford Fiesta 1.0 EcoBoost Zetec 5dr, 30,059 miles, £9,945

best used small cars for less than £10,000 (and one to avoid)

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2: Ford Fiesta

Pros Brilliant to drive Lots of safety kit Punchy Ecoboost engines

Cons Small boot compared with rivals Not as much rear leg room as a VW Polo or Seat Ibiza Some cheap interior plastics

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