Best used cars for under £12,000

Options are plentiful if you're looking for a used car under £12,000, including hatchbacks, SUVs and estates. Here are eight of the best

Shane Wilkinson
Jan 24, 2022

Thinking about changing your car? A budget of £12,000 will be plenty for you to get a great used car, because there's a whole range of exciting cars available at this price point.

Whether it’s a spritely supermini, a comfy and elegant saloon or a rough and rugged SUV, there are plenty of options for your consideration. We've listed eight of the best available used cars for under £12,000 here on BuyaCar to give you a helping hand.

When perusing the used market, things like age and mileage can make all the difference between you being able to afford an entry-level model or a top-of-the range model. So it's good to be clear on what you'll be looking for from your next car - are you happy to go for a slightly older or higher-mileage car in order to gain that all important touchscreen media system, sat-nav or a reversing camera?

If you're ready to get started on your search for your next car, read on for our pick of the best used cars you can buy for less than £12,000. There are also plenty of other used car deals on offer from BuyaCar, with great value deals starting from less than £7,000.

Best used cars for under £12,000

1. Volkswagen Golf

Our pick Volkswagen Golf 1.6 TDI Match Edition
Used deals from £9,795
Monthly finance from £189*

The Volkswagen Golf has become a household name, and for good reason. As an all-rounder, nothing else can touch it, at any price. As a family hatchback, it's perhaps the best across the board in terms of reliability, practicality, comfort and refinement - there really isn't much more you could ask for.

A budget of £12,000 is enough for an entry-level S model. However, we'd recommend you focus your interest on a Match Edition model - at which point you will be treated to an eight-inch touchscreen media system and alloy wheels.

The choice of petrol and diesel engines are good, they both offer impressive levels of power and economy, although the diesel options are most suited to drivers who cover high mileages. You also get a choice of either a manual or automatic gearbox.


2. BMW 3 Series

Our pick BMW 320d EfficientDynamics Sport
Used deals from £11,595
Monthly finance from £227*

The BMW 3 Series has been one of the best medium-size saloon cars since the first-generation model arrived back in 1975. For £12,000 you can easily grab yourself one of these greatly-renowned ‘ultimate driving machines’, this particular generation of the 3 Series was sold from 2012-2019.

Our pick of the range is the 320d EfficientDynamics model. This comes with an economical 2.0-litre diesel engine, along with a good smattering of standard equipment. If you’re happy to opt for a slightly older car, M Sport models offer a more aggressive look while sacrificing some of that fuel economy, but the improved performance will be more than a fair substitute.

Because a new 3 Series was released in 2019, prices for used models have fallen and will continue to do so. As a result, there's never been a better time to bag yourself a great deal on a BMW 3 Series.


3. Ford Mondeo Estate

Our pick Ford Mondeo Estate 1.5 EcoBoost Titanium
Used deals from £10,795
Monthly finance from £272*

The Ford Mondeo is a very common sight on UK roads, but with production of new models coming to an end in 2022, used prices are now dipping quite nicely under the £12,000 mark - and lower spec or higher mileage cars can be picked up for even less.

Depending on your annual mileage, either the 1.5-litre ‘EcoBoost’ petrol (for those who cover less miles) or the 2.0-litre ‘TDCi’ diesel (for those who cover more miles) in Titanium trim will be your best option. Diesel models are more common, as are manuals, but automatic petrols can still be found if you search a little.


4. Volkswagen Tiguan

Our pick Volkswagen Tiguan 2.0 TDI Match
Used deals from £11,889
Monthly finance from £145*

The Tiguan is one of Volkswagen’s medium-size SUVs, and conforms to the usual standards by which most VWs are judged. It has a conservative design inside and out, and one that has aged well. It’s well built, easy to live with, and is available with a good choice of petrol and diesel engines.

The boot is a substantial 505 litres in size, which makes it larger than those in the Skoda Yeti and Mazda CX-5. Go for a diesel if you tow regularly, or a petrol if you don’t cover many miles.


5. Ford Fiesta ST

Our pick Ford Fiesta ST-3
Used deals from £11,500
Monthly finance from £241*

Fast Fords have something of a cult following, with the previous-generation Ford Fiesta ST on track to go down as one of the all-time great hot hatchbacks.

The styling and interior don’t quite match the level of fun and performance the 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol engine and precise steering offer, but if you can look past that, you will have one brilliant car on your drive.

ST-3 models sit at the top of the range, and with a budget of £12,000 there is no reason to settle for anything less. This version of Fiesta ST is one that you will easily find within budget, and low mileage cars aren’t out of the question. So, if you’re after an affordable and fun-to-drive machine, it’s a great choice.


6. Skoda Yeti

Our pick Skoda Yeti 1.2 TSI 110 SE
Used deals from £10,500
Monthly finance from £200*

The Skoda Yeti was replaced by the Karoq in 2017, but that doesn’t stop the Czech crossover being an exceptionally good car. There's a wide range of models on offer, with two-wheel drive, four-wheel drive, manual, automatic, petrol and diesel variants - and that is before we get the list of trim levels.

Our pick of the range is the 1.2 TSI 110 SE, which is a two-wheel drive petrol version. While having four-wheel drive is nice, the fact is most people don’t need such capabilities or the extra running costs that come with it - such as worse fuel economy and higher emissions, which could potentially mean more expensive road tax.

The Yeti was given an update towards the end of 2013, and the good news is a budget of £12,000 will afford you a much newer, updated version.


7. Abarth 595

Our pick Abarth 595 1.4 T-Jet 180 Competizione
Used deals from £8,495
Monthly finance from £165*

The Fiat 500 has been a sales phenomenon for the Italian brand. It’s cute and funky looks and overall retro charm have made it appeal to a wide range of people.

The Abarth 595, however, is a sporty version from Fiat’s performance sub-brand, Abarth, which although similar on the outside, is actually a very different animal. Abarth takes the tiny 500 and pumps it full of power and fun.

A turbocharged 1.4-litre petrol engine is standard across the entire 595 range, with the Competizione trim adding extra features like 17-inch alloy wheels and a leather and Alcantara interior. Automatics are available but they are rather rare.

Due to its small size and somewhat cramped interior, the Abarth is not a particularly great choice if you want a practical everyday car. But if you want fun by the bucketload, then look no further.


8. Citroen Grand C4 Picasso

Our pick Citroen Grand C4 Picasso BlueHDi 120 Flair
Used deals from £10,789
Monthly finance from £251*

As the most practical car on this list, the Citroen Grand C4 Picasso will manage the strains of transporting up to seven people without a batting an eyelid, and there are a mix of petrol and diesel engines (in manual and automatic guise) available for under £12,000, with the newest being just three years old.

For the most part, a 120hp 'BlueHDi' diesel Flair model is great option, but Exclusive and Selection trims come very well equipped and are within budget, too. The Grand C4 Picasso was replaced in 2018 by the Grand C4 SpaceTourer, but you’re not missing out on much by opting for the cheaper Picasso, for all intents and purposes these two are practically the same car.


*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.


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