Top 10: Used small cars for £3000
Whether you’re a new driver looking for an easy-to-drive car with low insurance, or you simply want an urban runabout with cheap fuel costs, a small car will cater for the needs of many. You don’t need a massive budget to afford a good second-hand small car, either.
MINI Hatch (2007 - 2013)
You might think £3000 won’t get you very far if you want to buy something trendy, but it will get you a MINI Hatch in Cooper trim from around 2008. Avoid large wheels unless you want an ultra-harsh ride and don’t bother stretching to a Cooper S - they’ll be ropey for this money as we’ve had numerous reports of problems involving coked up engines and timing chain failures.
Honda Jazz (2008 - 2015)
The versatile Honda Jazz is one of our favourite small cars. It’s practical, cheap to run, and should prove to be a reliable purchase. A £3000 budget just about stretches to a 2009 model Jazz, making it a used car bargain in our eyes. We favour the 1.4-litre engine, although the 1.2 will be fine if most of your driving is around town.
Fiat 500 (2008 - onwards)
Despite its age, the Fiat 500 continues to prove a very desirable small car and one that's favoured by those who have just passed their test. The good news is that there are plenty around at this money so you can be choosy. Pop is the entry-level trim but Lounge models are worth seeking out as they come with extras inlcluding alloy wheels. Avoid the Multijet diesel and go for a 1.2-litre petrol.
Mazda 2 (2007 - 2015)
Many small hatchback buyers overlook the Mazda 2, but they could be missing out. They look good, are great to drive and cheap to run. Not only do we hear about very few issues with the Mazda2, it also has a higher than average MoT pass rate. A £3000 budget will get you a good example from around 2009. Although it's a bit noisy and not particularly quick, the 1.3-litre petrol engine is a reliable unit.
Skoda Fabia (2007 - 2015)
It’s not a trendy choice, but a second-hand Skoda Fabia combines good practicality with excellent value for money. Our £3000 budget will you get you a fine example of the Fabia from around 2010. If you cover lots of miles out of town, hunt out the 86PS 1.2-litre TSI engine with its 54mpg and 11.7 second 0-62mph time.
Ford Fiesta (2008 - 2013)
The Ford Fiesta is Britain’s best-selling car and that means there are loads of second-hand examples about, meaning you won’t have to search very hard for a good one. It’s great to drive and is more relaxing on long journeys than many small cars. The 1.25-litre petrol engine isn’t exciting but it’s bulletproof when it comes to reliability, with very few reports of problems. Opt for a Zetec for alloy wheels and a leather steering wheel.
SEAT Ibiza (2008 - 2017)
Although it lacks the quality cabin of the Volkswagen Polo, the SEAT Ibiza is the perfect choice for someone who wants a sporty-looking hatch. There’s a wide range of engine to choose from, although we’d avoid the 75PS 1.2-litre petrol unless you really like travelling slowly. Opt for the three-door SportCoupe for the ultimate in go-faster looks.
Volkswagen Polo (2005 - 2009)
The Volkswagen badge tends to command a small premium when it comes to used cars, due to its perceived quality. But that doesn’t mean the Polo is a bad purchase. You’ll be looking at the 2005-2009 model with a £3000 budget. Be careful if you’re looking at the 1.4 petrol - we’ve had reports of issues with this engine.
Toyota Yaris (2006 - 2011)
The Toyota Yaris enjoys a well-deserved reputation for bulletproof reliability, which means it holds its value better than alternatives such as the Ford Fiesta and Vauxhall Corsa. If you don’t mind paying the price, the Yaris makes for an excellent £3000 supermini purchase. Just avoid the MMT automated manual gearbox - they go wrong and are expensive to fix.
Nissan Note (2006 - 2013)
Arguably more of a mini MPV similar to the Renault Modus and Honda Jazz than a conventional small hatch, the Nissan Note offers loads of space and handy features such as folding picnic tables in the back. It’s a more appealing car than the Micra of the same era, and it makes for a very sensible second-hand purchase. Spend £3000 and you should find a tidy example from 2009.