autos, cars, best used cars for £1,500
1/23 SLIDES © Honda

Bargain used cars

What you can buy for £1,500? A half-decent mountain bike, perhaps, or a 12.9-inch iPad Pro with 1TB of storage. How about an actual car that would, a decade ago, have cost at least 10 times that price? We’ve searched the pages of Auto Trader to find a selection of used cars you can pick up for £1,500 or less.

To make the search a little more realistic, we’ve set a few ground rules. Firstly, the maximum mileage we’re interested in is 150,000, and we’re aiming to look at the most modern cars possible that will ideally pass through ULEZ emissions zones without charge. That makes our search a little more tricky, although you should have little problem securing one of the following used cars.

autos, cars, best used cars for £1,500
2/23 SLIDES © Ford

Ford Focus

The venerable Ford Focus was Britain’s best-selling car for years, until the smaller Fiesta nudged it down the rankings. That means there are hundreds to choose from, with our £1,500 budget comfortably stretching to the late Mk2 version seen here. The Focus is good to drive, practical and cheap to run, while the estate version is very versatile indeed.

autos, cars, best used cars for £1,500
3/23 SLIDES © Ford

Ford Focus

If you want a usable modern classic for your £1,500, the original Mk1 Focus is a great bet (although not all will be ULEZ compliant). In a recent interview, Top Gear’s Chris Harris said this would be his cheap runabout of choice – and it’s not hard to see why. This is a car that changed the shape of the family hatchback, with funky ‘New Edge’ styling and dynamics that utterly shamed its closest rivals. Amazingly, you can still pick one up from £500 upwards.

autos, cars, best used cars for £1,500
4/23 SLIDES © Toyota

Toyota Avensis

Far too many people dismiss the Toyota Avensis as a car without magic and sparkle. Granted, it’s about as exciting as an M&S beige cardigan, but what price reliability and dependability? The British-built Mk2 Avensis (T250) arrived in 2003 and picked up where the old model off. A combination of hard-wearing interiors, tough engines and Toyota’s reputation for reliability means the Avensis will still be going long after more interesting saloons and estates have bitten the dust.

autos, cars, best used cars for £1,500
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autos, cars, best used cars for £1,500
5/23 SLIDES © Honda

Honda Civic

As the old saying goes, if you want to drive into the urban jungle, buy a Volkswagen Golf. If you want to drive out again, buy a Honda Civic. Actually, nobody has ever said that, but the Civic is one of the most dependable family hatchbacks you can buy. This eighth-generation model was built in Britain – and its spaceship styling has hardly aged. Add a private plate and your neighbours will never guess how little you paid…

autos, cars, best used cars for £1,500
6/23 SLIDES © Honda

Honda Civic

If you prefer something more conventional (and more affordable), the Mk7 Civic was introduced in 2000 and was the last version before Honda went all otherworldly. The driving position is great, the cabin is spacious enough for five adults, and the engines are capable of covering big miles. Opt for the sporty looking Type S if you fancy a hint of the brilliant Civic Type R hot hatch.

autos, cars, best used cars for £1,500
7/23 SLIDES © Audi

Audi A3

For a touch of family hatchback class, how about an Audi A3? The ageless styling is maturing well, meaning even a 15-year-old version still looks clean and tidy. It uses Volkswagen Golf oily bits, so is reliable and cheap to run, while Audi’s impeccable build quality inside really is a cut above the mainstream. Choose from either the regular A3 three-door or the more practical A3 Sportback five-door pictured here.

autos, cars, best used cars for £1,500
8/23 SLIDES © Vauxhall

Vauxhall Meriva

The Vauxhall Meriva is a sturdy, affordable small people carrier. There are plenty of first-generation models available at bargain-basement prices, but we prefer the more rounded second-generation version pictured here. The reverse-opening rear doors are clever (note the location of the rear doorhandles!) and it’s spacious enough inside for growing families. It’s a better choice than the troublesome Vauxhall Zafira that’s also available at this price point – if you really need a bargain, reliable seven-seater, keep on clicking…

autos, cars, best used cars for £1,500
9/23 SLIDES © Kia

Kia Picanto

The Picanto represented a turning point for Kia in the UK. It was the company’s first city car that could rival the established players, offering a superb blend of practicality and value for money. All versions have five doors and plenty of room in the back, so it’s the ideal city car if you need to carry four adults. An update in 2008 (pictured here) improved the styling, although earlier cars are available for as little as £500. Although the seven-year warranty (introduced in 2010) will have expired, it shows how much faith Kia had in its smallest car.

autos, cars, best used cars for £1,500
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autos, cars, best used cars for £1,500
10/23 SLIDES © Toyota

Toyota Auris

Look up ‘reliability’ in the dictionary and you might be instructed to ‘see Toyota Auris’. Enough said.

autos, cars, best used cars for £1,500
11/23 SLIDES © Honda

Honda Jazz

There are a few things working in favour of the Honda Jazz. Not only is it dependable straight out of the box, it tends to be owned by people who stick to service schedules. When was the last time you saw a Jazz engaged in a traffic light grand prix? Come for the reliability, stay for the clever Magic Seats.

autos, cars, best used cars for £1,500
12/23 SLIDES © Ford

Ford Fiesta

The Ford Fiesta is Britain’s most popular new car by a comfortable margin. Like the Focus, this means no shortage of used examples available at the budget end of the market. At the time of writing, there were 500 Fiestas available for less than £1,500, so you can afford to be picky. The little Ford is great to drive, cheap to run and easy to maintain.

autos, cars, best used cars for £1,500
13/23 SLIDES © Nissan

Nissan Micra

Many of us passed our driving tests in Nissan Micras, before moving onto bigger – but not necessarily better – things. The Micra is easy to drive, with light controls and a modest footprint. But its main selling point is reliability. After all, if it can put up with hundreds of ham-footed learners, it can put up with you. This third generation (K12) model is your best bet for £1,500. It’s actually nicer to drive than the version that replaced it.

autos, cars, best used cars for £1,500
14/23 SLIDES © Nissan

Nissan Qashqai

If you need more space than a Micra, the similarly British-built Qashqai is now available for around £1,500. OK, you’ll have to accept high miles, but Nissan integrity means that shouldn’t be too worrisome – and you will be getting a hip-looking machine that lays claim to being the world’s very first crossover SUV. Such machines are everywhere these days: here’s how you can get into one of the best for a true bargain price.

autos, cars, best used cars for £1,500
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15/23 SLIDES © Volvo

Volvo V70

Need to lug loads in classless style? Try the Volvo V70. They’re as tough as old boots and the diesel versions are pretty economical, while petrol versions should be clean enough to escape upcoming ULEZ emissions zones. They’re smooth and comfy to drive, with brilliant seats and stereo systems, and generally just run and run. Naturally, a fine contemporary safety record is very reassuring, too.

autos, cars, best used cars for £1,500
16/23 SLIDES © Mazda

Mazda MX-5

If the answer to every question is the Mazda MX-5, we need to include it on our list of bargain cars. For this budget, you’re looking at the Mk2 MX-5 (NB), which just happens to be one of the best sports cars of the era. Rot is the Mazda’s biggest enemy, so do a proper inspection before parting with your cash. Also check that everything works, because dampness can affect the electrics.

autos, cars, best used cars for £1,500
17/23 SLIDES © BMW

BMW 3 Series

Handsome styling, a quality interior and excellent dynamics – where do we sign? Few cars have aged as well as the E90 BMW 3 Series. Available as a hatchback, saloon, coupe and convertible, all versions have one thing in common: the way they drive. For an introduction to the joys of rear-wheel drive, look no further than the BMW 3 Series.

autos, cars, best used cars for £1,500
18/23 SLIDES © Toyota

Toyota Corolla Verso

Buying a seven-seater at this end of the market can be a risky business. Years of abuse at the hands of children and dogs can leave the interior looking like a warzone. Most seven-seat MPVs aren’t really shabby chic, they’re just… shabby. We can’t promise that the Corolla Verso won’t have its fair share of sweet wrappers in the footwells and questionable stains on the upholstery, but reliability is almost a given.

autos, cars, best used cars for £1,500
19/23 SLIDES © Honda

Honda CR-V

Honda was one of the first manufacturers to realise that the majority of SUVs spend most of their time on the road, rather than off it. It kicked things off with the Mk1 CR-V, before introducing the Mk2 in 2001. It was a more rounded vehicle, helped in no small part by the introduction of a diesel engine. These things are built to last and surprisingly good to drive. A budget SUV you should be able to rely on.

autos, cars, best used cars for £1,500
20/23 SLIDES © Skoda

Skoda Roomster

There are plenty of Skoda Fabia and Octavia models available for less than £1,500, but if you fancy something different, it’s worth looking at the Roomster. The bold styling isn’t for everyone, but the practical interior is excellent for growing families. The individual rear seats slide and recline to give you the choice of a large boot or maximum rear legroom. You can even remove the middle seat to create a spacious four-seater.

Keyword: Best used cars for £1,500


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