A lot can change in 12 months. When we last updated the list of Britain’s cheapest new cars, all 20 of the budget motors cost less than £12,000.
Thirteen of them even cost less than £10,000.
Today, all but two cost more than £10,000 – and the upper limit has crept up to £14,000. A sign of the times?
Read on to discover the cheapest new cars on sale, with the results presented in reverse order.
SsangYong Tivoli – from £13,995
We kick off with the new SsangYong Tivoli, a compact crossover that’s backed by a seven-year warranty. The basic EX trim isn’t overloaded with equipment, but you do get keyless entry, front and rear electric windows, air conditioning, steering wheel audio controls, rear parking sensors and a suite of safety systems. Upgrading to the ELX trim requires an extra £3,500, but it still costs around the same price as a new Ford Fiesta. Speaking of which, neither the Fiesta or the Vauxhall Corsa make the list of the cheapest new cars in 2020.
Suzuki Swift – from £13,749
This time last year, the £9,000 Suzuki Celerio was one of the country’s cheapest new cars. With the Celerio and Baleno no longer available, it’s left to the Swift and the Ignis to carry the budget baton for Suzuki. The entry-level Swift SZ3 features air conditioning, DAB digital radio, Bluetooth, a leather steering wheel and LED daytime running lights. Power is sourced from a 1.2-litre mild hybrid engine with the potential to deliver 56.4mpg on a combined cycle.
Kia Rio – from £13,260
In most cases, the lowest price is designed to tempt you into a car showroom, where the dealer will attempt to upgrade you to a more expensive model. Take the Kia Rio. In ‘1’ trim, you get a pretty basic specification, including air conditioning, Bluetooth, a 3.8-inch radio display and electric front windows. For an extra £2,000, the Rio ‘2’ adds 15-inch alloy wheels, a seven-inch colour display, cruise control, reversing camera, rear parking sensors and a leather-trimmed steering wheel. We think it’s worth the upgrade.
Suzuki Ignis – from £13,249
Spoiler alert: the majority of Britain’s cheapest cars are devoid of charm, lacking in style and are as cheery as a Belarusian bus station. But the Suzuki Ignis bucks the trend, with a design that’s quite unlike anything else on the road. In SZ3 trim, the Ignis features digital radio, Bluetooth and air conditioning, but you’ll need to upgrade to the £14,749 SZ-T for 16-inch alloy wheels, sliding rear seats, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, roof rails, wheel arch extensions and side mouldings.
Fiat 500 – from £13,020
How badly do you want to own a Fiat 500? In £13,000 Pop guise, the fashionable city car features 14-inch steel wheels, manual air conditioning, DAB digital radio, steering wheel audio controls and… that’s about it. The £14,750 Lounge trim adds 15-inch alloy wheels, a seven-inch touchscreen display, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, rear parking sensors, leather steering wheel and a fixed glass roof to the mix. List prices are almost irrelevant in 2020 – monthly payments are king. Upgrading from Pop to Lounge won’t break the bank.
Skoda Fabia – £12,990
With the petrol version of the Citigo consigned to the history books, it’s left to the Fabia to play the budget card for Skoda. It has a few aces up its sleeve, including a spacious interior, efficient engines and some of Skoda ‘Simply Clever’ features. The Fabia is also one of only a few small cars to offer an estate variant, but you’ll need to find at least £15,500 for the Fabia wagon.
Hyundai i10 – from £12,820
Hyundai was one of the companies to gain the most out of the original ‘scrappage’ scheme of 2009, with many motorists ‘trading up’ to an i10. Today’s i10 isn’t the bargain city car it once was and the entry-level SE model is a little short of toys. That said, the SE Connect is only £1,000 more expensive and will be a lot easier to live with. You can even buy an N Line version, with styling inspired by the i30 N hot hatchback.
Peugeot 108 – from £12,785
This time last year, you could buy a Peugeot 108 in Active trim for less than £10,000. Today, you’ll need closer to £13,000 for the entry-level 108. In fairness, the spec is a little more generous than before, with the 108 Active boasting air conditioning, a seven-inch touchscreen display, DAB digital radio, steering wheel controls and a height adjustable driver’s seat.
Volkswagen Up – from £12,705
Because the Skoda Citigo and Seat Mii have gone down electric avenue, the Volkswagen Up is the only one of the tiny trio to be available for an affordable price. The basic three-door Up features 15-inch alloy wheels, a five-inch colour touchscreen display, DAB digital radio, air conditioning and a smartphone navigation interface. Adding an extra couple of doors adds £400 to the price.
Toyota Aygo – from £12,440
The Toyota Aygo is based on the same platform as the Citroen C1 and Peugeot 108, but it has a snazzier face. In basic X-play trim, the Aygo comes with 15-inch steel wheels, smartphone integration, a reversing camera and solid red paint. We’d recommend the X-trend. It might cost an extra £1,000, but you get 15-inch alloy wheels, air conditioning and rear privacy glass.
MG3 – from £12,195
We like the MG3, even if the nod to the brand’s heritage feels a bit disingenuous. The bargain Explore trim has been discontinued, which explains why the entry-level price has increased from £9,500 to £12,000. The specification is impressive and includes air conditioning, leather steering wheel, an eight-inch colour display, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, DAB digital radio, 16-inch alloy wheels and reversing camera.
Dacia Duster – from £11,245
Perhaps predictably, Dacia dominates the second half of this feature – the Renault-owned company has cornered the market formerly occupied by the likes of Kia and Hyundai. In Access trim, the Duster is lacking in glamour, but even the flagship Prestige trim costs less than the price of an entry-level Corsa. The cheapest four-wheel-drive variant costs £18,595.
Citroen C1 – from £11,015
You could buy a new Citroen C1 for a little over £11,000, but we wouldn’t recommend it. The black bumpers, 14-inch steel wheels and a heater in lieu of air conditioning all hark back to the 80s or 90s. And if you want to relive the 80s or 90s dream in a Citroen, may we suggest buying a ZX or Xsara? Both are cheap as chips and unlikely to depreciate.
Renault Twizy – from £10,995
Technically, the Renault Twizy is a quadricycle, but it has the same number of seats as the Smart Fortwo, so we’re happy to include it here. It’s interesting to note that the price of an entry-level Twizy has gone up from £6,690 to just shy of £11,000 in 12 months. There’s a good reason for the inflated price. In the past, you had to lease the batteries at a cost of around £50 a month. Today, the cost is included in the price of the car.
Dacia Logan MCV – from £10,745
Britain’s cheapest estate car has a 573-litre boot and a £10,745 price tag. This is around £2,000 more expensive than this time last year, simply because Dacia has ditched the entry-level version. So while the Logan MCV might look more expensive than before, the Essential trim actually offers better value for money. Alternatively, you could opt for the SUV-inspired Logan MCV Stepway. Prices start from £12,945, but you get more kit as standard.
Fiat Panda – from £10,580
We love the Fiat Panda. It’s the car we’d like to hire when in Rome. And it puts us in mind of Giugiaro’s classic. But this isn’t Rome and a lot of acqua has passed under the ponte since the Italian maestro penned the original. The zero-star Euro NCAP rating makes it hard to recommend the Panda, especially in light of more contemporary rivals. On the plus side, the price has gone up just £500 in 12 months.
Mitsubishi Mirage – from £10,575
Mitsubishi has revamped the Mirage. We think it looks rather good, and with many rivals upping their prices, it’s now one of Britain’s cheapest new cars. The entry-level Verve trim is a miserly in terms of spec, but you do get air conditioning, automatic wipers, Bluetooth and a leather steering wheel. We’d recommend spending an extra £2,000 on the Design trim, which adds 15-inch alloy wheels, a 6.5-inch colour display, smartphone connectivity, faux leather and fabric seats, plus keyless start.
Kia Picanto – from £10,220
Kia secured a foothold in the UK thanks to a range of budget-led hatchbacks and SUVs, but the Korean company has its eyes on the premium establishment. The Rio costs upwards of £13,260, while the cheapest Picanto city car sits just above the £10k mark. There are no fewer than nine different versions of the Picanto, including a rugged X-Line and a sporty GT-Line.
Dacia Sandero Stepway – from £9,245
We’re cheating a little here. Although Dacia positions the Sandero Stepway as a separate model, in reality, it’s a Sandero with quasi-SUV styling and a raised ride height. Having said that, it does look more premium than the Sandero, and the £11,145 Comfort trim offers excellent value for money.
Dacia Sandero – from £6,995
The Sandero arrived in the UK with a headline-grabbing £5,995 price tag, helping the Dacia to corner the budget end of the market. Today, you’ll pay £6,995 for the basic Access model, meaning it tops the list of cheapest new cars on sale in the UK. The question is: could you live without a radio and air conditioning?