Best 1.0-litre cars for sale

Want an economical car with a small engine, but don't want to sacrifice performance or usability? These eight cars should fit the bill

Chris Rosamond
Apr 6, 2021

In the past, small engines were the standard for economy cars, offering low fuel bills, cheap insurance and just enough performance, but now 1.0-litre engines are much more prevalent than they used to be, giving you far more choice.

While previously the preserve of hatchbacks and city cars, modern power-boosting tech means that 1.0-litre engines are now common in a range of bigger cars including some people carriers and SUVs. New levels of efficiency and power for these small engines, allied to the fact that diesel engines are falling in popularity - due to questions over emissions - means that it’s likely that trend will continue.

Many people may be concerned that such a small engine capacity - especially those that only have three cylinders, which is the case with many modern 1.0-litre units - will not provide the necessary punch to keep up with traffic when you’re driving a bigger car. However, the proof of the pudding is in the eating, and once you’ve tried an engine like the Ford 1.0-litre EcoBoost with more than 120hp in a Puma SUV or C-Max people carrier, you’ll soon forget any negative preconceptions.

We’ve tried to cover as many different vehicle classes as possible with our selection here, so we’ve covered city cars like the Toyota Aygo and Volkswagen Up, superminis are represented by the Renault Clio, and SUV crossovers by the Renault Captur and Ford Puma. We also have five- and seven-seater people carriers in the form of the Ford C-Max and VW Touran, while those looking for maximum luggage space will like the Skoda Octavia Estate.

If none of our selection ring your bell, then it’s a simple matter to find a 1.0-litre alternative here on BuyaCar - simply click on the button above or use the engine-size selector on our search function, and you can see all the 1.0-litre cars available on the site. At our last count, that was well over 10,000 cars, with cars covering a broad range of price points - from a £4,000 2014 Citroen C1 to a £30,000 2020 Ford Focus Vignale. PCP finance monthly payments start from just £80 on the Citroen with a 10% deposit.

Best used 1.0-litre cars

1. Toyota Aygo 1.0 VVT-i

Used deals from £4,199
Monthly finance from £78*

The Toyota Aygo is one of the more popular city car options, and it shares much of its underlying engineering with the Citroen C1 and Peugeot 108 - all three are built under the same roof at a joint venture factory in the Czech Republic.

All offer similar driving characteristics, which means they’re supremely easy to drive and park around town but feel a bit stretched on the motorway. The trio all benefit from a frugal and technically advanced three-cylinder engine which offers more than 50mpg in the real world, but there are several reasons we place the Aygo at the head of the trio. The Toyota’s manga inspired design has a more striking look, and the firm’s five-year warranty beats its stablemates by a couple of years too.

The latest model was launched in 2015, and BuyaCar deals start from as little as £4,500 or less than £90 per month on PCP finance.

TOYOTA AYGO BUYERS' GUIDE

2. Volkswagen Up GTI

Used deals from £10,910
Monthly finance from £190*

While it’s a little more expensive than many of its rivals, the Volkswagen Up is more appealing than most of these, feeling like a bigger, more upmarket car, despite its tiny size. It’s a practical and roomy offering that’s extremely well-built and finished, and many would say that its biggest competitors are its sister models from Seat and Skoda (brands which are part of the VW Group).

Though there are closely-related Seat and Skoda versions of the Up - the Mii and Citigo respectively - the VW is undoubtedly the variant with the most upmarket feel, thanks to its very grown-up interior design and excellent fit and finish. 

The model that’s most desirable is the Up GTI, which while not quite a full-on hot hatchback, offers about as much fun as you can have in an affordable city car. It absolutely looks the part too, with features including sporty alloy wheels, go-faster styling tweaks and VW’s iconic GTI tartan seats.

Power comes from a 115hp version of the Up’s 1.0-litre engine, which is just enough to make it fun while remaining affordable for young and old owners alike. It’s relatively cheap to insure compared to other sporty hatches, and economy is quoted at over 50mpg, so fuel bills should be affordable, too.

VOLKSWAGEN UP BUYERS' GUIDE

3. Renault Clio

Used deals from £10,299
Monthly finance from £146*

There's always fierce competition between superminis and it’s common for well-known models like the Ford Fiesta, VW Polo and Vauxhall Corsa to trade places at the top of the class.

The Renault Clio is another model vying for pole position, with both the new-for-2019 version and its predecessor ranking highly for style, practicality and affordability.

Part of the Clio’s success story can be laid at the feet of its excellent 1.0-litre engine which is currently available in 75hp SCe or 100hp TCe turbocharged form. The 100hp unit is one of the best Clio options, offering perky performance and economy that tops 54mpg in official tests.

RENAULT CLIO BUYERS' GUIDE

4. Renault Captur

Used deals from £13,750
Monthly finance from £191*

One of the most popular small SUVs around, the Renault Captur, is a winner thanks to its fashionable and contemporary style, well-designed and practical interior, easy driving character and great value prices.

It’s based on the Renault Clio platform, so shares the supermini’s running gear and engines. That means that like the Clio, the latest Captur models benefit from the excellent pair of 1.0-litre SCe and TCe engines with their great combination of efficiency and performance.

As a Clio derivative, the latest-generation Captur arrived some months behind the 2019 Clio, so it’s still pretty new and the majority of used cars currently available have bigger engine. However 1.0-litre variants of the latest model are beginning to arrive on BuyaCar, with prices starting at around £17,000 or a little over £250 per month. If you can’t wait, the previous-generation Captur with its 0.9-litre engines is available from as little as £7,000 for a 2016 model.

RENAULT CAPTUR BUYERS' GUIDE

5. Ford Puma

Used deals from £16,752
Monthly finance from £226*

The number of small SUV/crossover options available to drivers has been growing rapidly in the last few years, and one of the most interesting recent arrivals is the Ford Puma, launched in 2019.

It’s a practical family car with more boot space than a Ford Focus hatchback, but the Puma is more focused on style and fun driving than most rivals, achieving the latter with impressively nimble roadholding and a trio of efficient three-cylinder 1.0-litre 'EcoBoost' petrol power options.

The entry-level Puma has 125hp, but you can also have the same engine boosted with hybrid tech to increase efficiency. There’s also a 155hp version of the 1.0-litre engine, again with hybrid tech, and all three engine configurations have the potential for 50mpg motoring.

A stretched Fiesta chassis is the key to the Puma’s responsive steering and agile handling, and there’s an ST sporty version with upgraded suspension that improves the fun factor even further. It’s pretty quick for a 1.0-litre SUV too, with 0-62mph arriving in 8.9 seconds for the 155hp model.

MORE DETAILS ON THE FORD PUMA

6. Skoda Octavia Estate

Used deals from £8,629
Monthly finance from £151*

If you’re looking for a roomy family car with an efficient petrol engine, the 1.0-litre 'TSI' Skoda Octavia Estate is a great option, offering surprising space and power.

Whichever engine you choose, the Octavia wagon is a paragon of practicality, offering the type of load capacity you'd expect from a larger car. A brand new model went on sale in 2020, with sharp new styling and chockful of the latest tech, but the previous generation is an excellent choice for families who want their budget to stretch as far as possible.

Although priced to compete against estate versions of cars such as the Ford Focus, Seat Leon or Toyota Corolla, the Octavia load-lugger boasts more boot space than the larger Ford Mondeo Estate.

The smallest Octavia engine is a 1.0-lite TSI petrol unit which seems very small for a relatively large car, but works well in practice and the car is not only relatively nippy with this engine, but also enjoyable to drive, making it easy to pick up speed without fuss. It can manage over 48mpg when driven carefully, so is still economical and is responsive, too, able to do 0-62mph in a reasonable 10 seconds.

SKODA OCTAVIA ESTATE BUYERS' GUIDE

7. Volkswagen Touran

Used deals Limited stock

The VW Touran is a medium sized people carrier which has seven seats as standard, and it’s based on the VW Golf hatchback platform. As such, it’s very practical, reliable, well built and cheap to run, so has naturally become a firm favourite for families. In particular, the slick, easy-to-use seating setup offers lots of flexibility, although the rear pair of seats are relatively tight and best for kids.

The current-generation model dates back to 2015, but in 2019 VW decided to offer its latest 1.0-litre three-cylinder engine to Touran drivers. With 110hp the smallest petrol engine takes the Touran from 0-62mph in 11.3 seconds, which is perfectly adequate for most family drivers. They’ll also appreciate the near-diesel level of fuel efficiency, with VW quoting an official economy figure of 53mpg.

VOLKSWAGEN TOURAN BUYERS' GUIDE

8. Ford C-Max/Grand C-Max

Used Ford C-Max deals from £7,400
Monthly finance from £136*
Used Ford Grand C-Max deals from £7,899
Monthly finance from £140*

Ford’s excellent three-cylinder 1.0-litre 'EcoBoost' petrol engine has proven its abilities in a range of models including the Fiesta supermini and Focus hatchback, both of which are deserving of a place in any 1.0-litre engine roundup, too.

We’ve plumped for the C-Max people carrier instead, because at BuyaCar we like options that offer maximum bang for the buck. For its combination of practicality, driving fun and affordability, the five-seat C-Max and seven-seat Grand C-Max are hard to beat.

Production ended in 2019, but the model’s popularity means there are plenty of used examples available - all at far less than the list price. The car was built on the same platform as the Focus hatchback, which accounts for its enjoyable drive - the C-Max is one of the most fun-to-drive cars of this type.

There’s a very fuel-efficient 1.5-litre diesel engine available that returns 48mpg, but the 1.0-litre EcoBoost petrol shows its remarkable efficiency by running it close in official figures with up to 42mpg, while being smoother and more refined.

*Representative PCP finance - Ford Fiesta:

48 monthly payments of £192
Deposit: £0
Mileage limit: 8,000 per year
Optional final payment to buy car: £2,923
Total amount payable to buy car: £11,926
Total cost of credit: £2,426
Amount borrowed: £9,500
APR: 9.9%

BuyaCar is a credit broker, not a lender. Our rates start from 6.9% APR. The rate you are offered will depend on your individual circumstances.

 

Read more about:

Latest best cars & vans

  1. Best BMWs with reversing cameras

  2. Best hybrid car in the UK

  3. Best electric cars for towing a caravan