Buying a used small car - What should we buy?

We're looking at buying a small second-hand car (e.g. Seat Ibiza, Ford Fiesta, Volkswagen Polo, Vauxhall Corsa size). We want to spend around £5000 and would like a good deal with as low mileage as we can get.

We initially thought no older than five years but have just test driven a 2008 VW Golf which has had 3 owners, around 30,000 miles on the clock, good condition with full history for £4000. Just wondering what your thoughts were on this - is it a good deal (even though it's a slightly older car than we initially were looking at) and should we take it?? Thank you!

Asked on 21 June 2016 by H Dickson

Answered by Honest John
On the basis of reader feedback, Golf V and VIs initially look really good (which is the intention) but for reliability are disaster zones. See www.honestjohn.co.uk/carbycar/ Strangely, and somewhat surprisingly, readers report very few faults with Corsas and the 2008 - 2013 Fiesta also comes up relatively trouble free.
Similar questions
I have £6750 to £7500 spend on a used small car. I live in a rural hilly area and rarely venture onto a motorway. My mileage is about 10,000 a year. Which would you buy out of the Ford Fiesta, Volkswagen...
I've shortened my used car search list to either a Mazda 2 after 2007 or a Ford Fiesta after 2008. I have used the warranty index stats to come up with these as I feel they are both reliable. I do believe...
I would like to buy a second-hand car for 20 mile commute (busy roads). I also work in town going on short distance drives to and from my base. I have £4500 to spend or thereabouts and want a car with...
Related models
Well built with an upmarket interior. Enjoyable and involving to drive. Cheap to run 1.6TDCI ECOnetic. Exceptional reliability record. Very few problems reported despite more than 500,000 sold.
Decent handling and comfortable on the move, impressive TSI engines, massive improvement over the previous Golf, high-economy Bluemotion models, high quality feel of interior, five-star Euro NCAP safety rating.
 

Ask Honest John

Value my car