Britain’s cheapest cars aren’t as affordable as they were a few years ago.
While you weren’t looking, even the smallest cars have crept above the £10,000 mark, with some familiar names now costing more than £15,000, often because they now contain pricey safety technology. It speaks volumes that the Ford Fiesta and Vauxhall Corsa are notable absentees from our list of the cheapest new cars in 2021.
List prices are becoming increasingly irrelevant. Today’s buyers are more interested in the monthly repayments than the recommended retail price. Here, we’ve rounded up the 20 cheapest new cars in Britain, including the all-new, and highly rated Dacia Sandero. The images might not be reflective of the cheapest model in the range. We start at £15,000 and work our way down to the cheapest new car you can buy right now:
Suzuki Swift – £14,999
Coming in at a pound short of £15,000, the Suzuki Swift has long been one of our favourite superminis. It offers the practicality, performance and efficiency to rival many of its more expensive rivals. This is especially true following the introduction of mild-hybrid technology in 2020. It’s also one of a select number of small cars available with a permanent four-wheel drive system.
The entry-level Swift SZ-L comes with decent standard kit including adaptive cruise control, 7.0in touchscreen with DAB radio, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, air conditioning, rear-view camera, leather steering wheel, 16in alloy wheels and radar braking support. The mid-range SZ-T costs £16,499, while the SZ5 is priced at £17,999.
Suzuki Ignis – £14,499
It might be a city car, but you’d be forgiven for calling the Suzuki Ignis a small SUV. All versions except the entry-level SZ3 feature flared wheel arches, while the raised suspension and optional Allgrip four-wheel drive system enable the Ignis to venture further off-road than many city cars dare to tread.
Like the Swift, the Ignis was treated to a mid-life facelift in 2020, with subtle design tweaks and a new mild-hybrid powertrain option. Without the flared arches, side mouldings and roof rails, the SZ3 loses some of the car’s charm, so we’d recommend upgrading to the mid-range SZ-T. At £15,999, it still represents excellent value for money, while the sliding rear seats and enhanced smartphone connectivity will make it easier to live with.
Skoda Fabia – £14,365
With prices ranging from £14,365 to £17,935, the Skoda remains one of the best value small cars you can buy. It’s not quite a supermini for a city car price, but it’s very close. You can even get a practical Skoda Fabia Estate, which, following the withdrawal of the Dacia Logan MCV, is the cheapest new estate car you can buy.
The entry-level Fabia S is a little short of flair, but you do get a 6.5in touchscreen display, DAB radio, Bluetooth and a steering wheel adjustable for height and reach. Take a closer look at the price list, because although the S is entry-level in terms of equipment, the SE with the wheezy 59hp 1.0-litre three-pot petrol engine is actually cheaper. It also slots into the lowest insurance group.
SsangYong Tivoli – £14,345
The SsangYong Tivoli is one of only two crossovers to make our list of the cheapest new cars. An update in 2020 saw the compact crossover gain subtly evolved styling, a revamped interior and a new 1.2-litre three-cylinder petrol engine. Unfortunately, it’s no longer possible to buy a four-wheel drive Tivoli.
We’d find it hard to recommend the entry-level Tivoli EX. It just about covers the basics, although the ‘delux [sic] fabric seats’ hint at a less than glamorous package. The Ventura aces the EX in terms of value, but the Ultimate and Ultimate Nav trims offer a long list of equipment for a reasonable price. All versions come with an impressive seven-year, 150,000-mile warranty.
Nissan Micra – £13,995
With dull and basic wheel trims, the entry-level Nissan Micra Visia is hardly dripping in glamour. It does, however, offer exceptional value for money, not least because it includes automatic emergency braking, lane-keeping assistance, automatic headlights and rain-sensing wipers.
Perhaps we’re being unfair on the Nissan Micra. While the N-Sport (pictured) looks the part, the basic Micra is still one of the most stylish cars in a crowded sector. The 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol engine offers punchy performance and excellent fuel economy. Why spend more?
Citroën C3 – £13,995
If you’re after a supermini for the cheapest price, the fact that you can paint the Citroën C3 in 97 colour combinations will be of no interest to you. Of greater interest is the entry-level C-Series, available for just £13,995, before you start haggling for a bigger discount. At the time of writing, Citroën was offering savings of up to £1400 on higher trim levels.
Not that you need to upgrade from the C-Series. It comes with the obligatory Airbump side panels, along with LED headlights, 16in alloy wheels, DAB radio, reversing sensors and a contrasting black roof. There is one catch: you’re limited to one engine, though it’s a good one: a torquey 1.2-litre petrol triple.
Kia Rio – £13,645
We can’t talk about the Kia Rio without mentioning the seven-year warranty. It gives the Rio a meaningful USP in the crowded supermini segment; buy one today and it’ll be under warranty in 2028. While you might have grown out of the Rio by then, it’s good to know that the cover can be transferred to the next owner.
The £13,645 price is Kia’s way of dragging punters into a showroom, but we’d encourage you to upgrade to the Rio ‘2’ For an extra couple of grand, you get 15in alloy wheels, 8in touchscreen display, rear parking sensors, cruise control and lane follow assist. More importantly, the Rio ‘2’ is powered by a 1.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine, rather than the wheezy 1.2-litre unit.
Fiat 500 Hybrid – £13,170
With the new Fiat 500 venturing down electric strada, the old version remains on sale with a mild-hybrid powertrain. It’s a sensible move, because the chic 500 remains in fashion, long after most city cars have been sent to the charity shop for ‘recycling’. If you’re not ready to make the switch to electric, the standard 500 makes a lot of sense.
Don’t be fooled by the ‘Hybrid’ badge on the back, because you can’t plug it in or travel on electric power alone. Instead, the 500 features a 12-volt belt-integrated starter generator and a separate 11Ah lithium battery to improve economy and to deliver a small boost in performance. The £13,170 Pop trim is a bit basic, so it’d be worth upgrading to the £14,900 Lounge.
Hyundai i10 – £12,820
Remember when the Hyundai i10 could be bought for £4995 after the scrappage discount? The company sold 39,000 cars by the end of 2009, making it one of the biggest beneficiaries of the scheme. The i10 is no longer the bargain basement city car it was a decade ago. Indeed, the price has crept up to nearly £13,000.
There’s a good reason for that. Today’s i10 is a far superior city car; it’s arguably the best all-rounder in its class. It looks and feels more upmarket, is available with an excellent 1.2-litre petrol engine, and is backed by a five-year, unlimited mileage warranty.
Peugeot 108 – £12,785
While the Peugeot 108 is certainly showing its age, it remains a credible choice if you’re after a low-cost city car. Three- and five-door versions are available, along with the 108 Top, with a retractable electric fabric roof.
All versions are powered by the same 72bhp 1.0-litre petrol engine, which is great for nipping through city traffic, but it starts to struggle once you leave the urban sprawl. The entry-level Active trim features a 7in colour touchscreen, DAB radio, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, air conditioning and a 50/50 split folding rear bench.
Volkswagen Up – £12,705
The Volkswagen Up is one of the most versatile city cars you can buy. In addition to the standard three- and five-door versions, you can buy an all-electric e-Up and a sporty Up GTI. We said: “The Volkswagen Up city car isn’t revolutionary, it’s just quantifiably better than the opposition.”
Prices start from £12,705 for the three-door Up, with the more practical five-door Up costing £400 more. It’s worth the upgrade, especially if you carry rear-seat passengers, because climbing into the back can be a real pain. The Up GTI costs £16,140 or £16,540, depending on the number of doors you require. A VW GTI has to have three doors, right?
Toyota Aygo – £12,690
The Toyota Aygo shares a platform with the Peugeot 108 and Citroën C1 but comes with a longer warranty. If you intend to keep the car for a long period, the five-year warranty is a good reason to go Japanese. That, and the fact that the Aygo has the funkiest styling.
Even the entry-level Aygo X-Play looks bolder than the 108 or C1, but the absence of air conditioning makes it hard to recommend. For an additional £1000, the Aygo X-Trend adds 15in alloy wheels, automatic air conditioning and rear privacy glass. You can expect to achieve 53.2mpg to 56.4mpg from the 1.0-litre petrol engine.
MG 3 – £12,195
With the entry-level Explore axed from the range, the MG 3 looks more expensive than ever. Don’t be too hasty to dismiss the MG 3, because this simply means that the new base model comes with a longer list of standard equipment. Even the range-topping MG 3 Exclusive Nav comes in at £13,495 – some £3000 less than the Ford Fiesta.
Comparisons with the Fiesta are inevitable, not least because the MG 3 is almost as engaging to drive. Only the ageing 1.5-litre petrol engine lets it down. In the context of 1.0-litre turbocharged units, the engine in the 3 feels as old as the dinosaurs. That said, with a seven-year warranty and a revamped interior, it’s worth adding the MG 3 to your shortlist.
Fiat Panda – £12,025
The Fiat Panda is the best-selling car in Italy. Last year, it outsold its rivals for the ninth consecutive year, which might come as a surprise to anyone outside Italy. That, and the fact that the Lancia Ypsilon was the second best-selling car of 2020.
Today’s line-up is looking increasingly like the Fiat Panda wandered into a fancy dress shop and emerged wearing different clothes. Take your pick from Life, Sport and Cross, along with a choice of mild hybrid and TwinAir engines. Don’t worry, you can still buy the excellent Panda 4x4.
Dacia Duster – £11,745
The Dacia Duster continues to make a mockery of rival vehicle price tags. It’s a family SUV for the price of a city car? What’s not to like about that? Even if few people will be prepared to live with the basic Access model, upgrading to the Essential trims adds just a couple of grand to the price.
Crucially, it doesn’t feel cheap. Sure, it doesn’t boast the soft-touch materials and fancy technology of its rivals, but it’s hard to ignore the range of equipment and phenomenal value for money. Space for five people and a boot large enough to swallow the luggage for a family holiday – that’ll be the Duster.
Dacia Sandero Stepway – £10,995
Although you could argue that the Stepway is just a version of the standard Sandero, as Dacia’s best-selling model in the UK, it warrants its own berth on our list. Raising the suspension and adding rugged SUV styling was a canny move. How could it fail?
The all-new Sandero Stepway is better than ever, with more upmarket styling, an improved interior and upgraded tech. There are three trim levels: Essential, Comfort and Prestige. Even the most lavishly equipped model comes in at less than £14,000.
Kia Picanto – £10,995
The Kia Picanto you get for £10,995 doesn’t look anything like as glitzy and snazzy as the car in the photo. It does, however, come with five doors, four wheels and a seven-year warranty. Basic motoring for a basic price.
All versions except the GT-Line and GT-Line S come with the same 1.0-litre DPi petrol engine producing 66bhp. It’s a shame, because the 1.0-litre T-GDi turns the Picanto into a rival for the VW Up GTI, with more aggressive styling and a long list of equipment. Yes, we did use the word ‘snazzy’ to describe the Picanto.
Mitsubishi Mirage – £10,575
The Mitsubishi Mirage might look smarter following its facelift in 2020, but it still lags behind the competition in many areas. Its 1.2-litre petrol engine requires too much work to make anything approaching brisk progress, while the interior is sombre to the point of being boring.
It reminds us of a time when cheap cars felt, well… cheap. This is particularly true of the entry-level Verve trim, although the Design Pro model does offer a hint of modernity. You also get a five-year warranty.
Citroën C1 – £10,330
The Citroën C1 shares many things in common with the Peugeot 108. There are three- and five-door versions, an Airscape model with a fabric folding roof, and a price tag that puts it among the cheapest cars in Britain.
Avoid the entry-level C1 Live, as the Sense and Shine boast the kind of features you’d want over the course of a three-year PCP deal. The equipment list on the Sense includes air conditioning, 7in touchscreen media display, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Yours for a whisker over £12,000.
Dacia Sandero – £7995
In our review of the all-new Dacia Sandero – and it really is all-new – we said “it’s a night-and-day improvement over the previous car”. It really is that good, to the point that it edges closer to some cars costing considerably more than the £7995 price tag. Sanderos used to be based on obsolete Renault Clios from a couple of generations earlier; not any more – this one is based on the Clio that arrived in 2019.
It’s hard to recommend the entry-level Access model; the absence of air conditioning and a radio will be hard to stomach for most buyers. It doesn’t matter, because prices of the mid-range Essential start from £8995, while even the most expensive Sandero costs £11,995. Britain’s cheapest new car just got a whole lot better.