Cheap and cheerful: Your guide to a new car

Find out “Cheap and cheerful: Your guide to a new car” New cars are expensive, especially if you have your heart set on something aspirational like a BMW or a Mercedes. Premium motors like these are loaded with safety equipment, upmarket materials and clever hybrid technology, which can drive their prices north of £50,000. That’s well out of reach for the average car buyer, especially in the current financial climate.

Of course, you can always browse through the UK’s wealth of used cars for sale and chance your arm on a luxury bargain. However, you then run the risk of buying someone else’s problems. Not every used car has been maintained to the manufacturer’s exacting standards – and you might find that the money you save by shopping used, you spend on costly repairs.

Cheap and cheerful: Your guide to a new car
Cheap and cheerful: Your guide to a new car

Thankfully, if you want a cost-effective and hassle-free solution, there are still some affordable brand-new cars on the market. Granted, they don’t have the same level of technology, safety equipment or badge appeal as their upmarket alternatives but, because they haven’t passed through the hands of umpteen careless owners, they’ll give you years of reliable service.

To help you get started on your search, we’ve listed five of the best cheap new cars on sale in the UK today. Each has a starting price of less than £15,000 – and they all offer great fuel economy, surprising practicality and fastidious dependability. And remember, if you live in London, you could scrap your old car under Sadiq Khan’s latest ULEZ scrappage scheme and receive up to £2,000 to spend on one of these brand-new motors. Scroll down for some inspiration.

The best cheap cars on sale in the UK now

Citroen Ami – from £7,695

If all you need is a vehicle to get you from home to work (and you’re only commuting within your local town), why not buy an Ami? It’s small, it’s cute, it’s amazingly affordable and it’s great fun to drive around city streets in. Plus, it’s fully electric, which means you can dodge any tariffs imposed by ultra-low emission zones or congestion charge areas.

The Ami technically isn’t a car, though. It might have four wheels, two doors and seat belts, but it’s officially classed a quadricycle which means it doesn’t need to conform to car crash test regulations. Still, it’s much safer and drier than commuting to work on a moped – and its tiny battery pack means you don’t need an expensive EV charging hub to top it up. It can recharge fully in just three hours from a three-pin socket to give you 46 miles of emissions-free motoring.

Kia Picanto – from £13,665

If you want a Kia Picanto, now’s the time to buy one. The Korean firm has just launched a facelifted version of the car, which means it’s flogging the remaining stock of its previous model at knockdown prices to make space on its forecourts. You’re not making such a sacrifice by opting for the older model, either, because it’s still a great little city car.

It’s spacious for its size, well made and well-equipped. What’s more, you also can have the previous version of the car with Kia’s brilliant turbocharged 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol engine. It serves up 99bhp which is enough to turn the bantamweight Picanto into a junior hot hatchback. That engine has been discontinued for the updated car, though, which we think is a huge oversight.

Dacia Sandero – from £13,795

The Sandero costs about the same as the Picanto, but it’s way bigger inside and out. That means it’s much better value for money. In fact, because it’s more spacious than a Volkswagen Polo, it can be comfortably used as a family car. It has a 328-litre boot and enough room in the back for even tall adults to get comfortable. Practicality like that is difficult to find at this price point.

However, Dacia did make a few sacrifices to keep the Sandero’s price low. Because it does without a lot of active safety technology it only scored two stars in Euro NCAP’s crash tests. It isn’t the most refined car here, either. There’s quite a lot of wind and road noise at motorway speeds. Still, you can’t really complain for the money.

MG 3 – from £13,820

MG is another manufacturer that champions value for money – and the MG 3 remains one of the best-value new cars on sale today. Sadly, value is the only thing this car has going for it. It’s smaller inside than the Sandero, its engines aren’t anywhere near as smooth and it isn’t that good to drive. When compared to its rivals, it also feels like its interior was lifted from a car from the 1990s.

However, the MG 3 has an ace up its sleeve. It comes as standard with a seven-year warranty, which is the second-best on the market today, sitting just behind the 10-year package offered by Toyota. That gives excellent peace of mind. Boot space is quite reasonable at 285 litres, too.

Citroen C3 – from £13,995

The Citroen C3 is a different sort of supermini because it abandons all aspirations of sportiness. It’s unashamedly comfortable, which is handy when you live in a country with a road network that’s as smooth and well-maintained as the surface of Mars. This impressive comfort comes courtesy of a soft suspension setup and some heavily cushioned front seats,

The sub-£14,000 model is trimmed in Citroen’s You specification. It’s only available to order online and is fitted with far less standard equipment than the company’s more generous Elle and Shine Plus trims. Still, it comes with front fog lamps, a DAB radio and a 5.0-inch infotainment system. You even get some handy safety features such as LED headlights and lane departure warning.