Cheap and Cheerful: Five of the Best Used Cars in 2022

In the last few months, second-hand car values have been rocketing up. As manufacturers struggle with continued supply problems, droves of buyers have given up on getting a new car and decided to go the second-hand route. In 2021, used-car transactions rose by over 11%, and there’s no sign the trend is slowing. That’s great news if you’re selling your used car, but not so good for buyers.

However, there are still plenty of used car bargains to be had. In this list we’ve picked five great second-hand models that offer reliable motoring on a budget. And as budget means different things to different people, we’ve covered a range of values, topping out at £6,500.

Ford Ka: Thrifty fun for under £1,000

Ford Ka M 93, Image Attribution, Wikimedia Commons

First up is the Ford Ka, an evergreen supermini that wears its years well. A quick search on Autotrader found a fair few 2008 models going for under 1K. That gets you a car that’s cheap to run and maintain, fun to drive and doesn’t look like it belongs in a period drama. The preferred option is the nippy yet still fuel-sipping SportKa.

Yes, the Ka will give you tinnitus on a motorway run and you won’t get much in the boot, but it’s great for low-drama pootling around town.

VW Touran: Seven-seat practicality for under £2,000

Volkswagen Touran. By M 93 – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0

If you need to shuttle seven people* around economically, you should definitely consider the Volkswagen Touran. We spotted some tidy looking 2007-ish examples below the 2K cut-off — all diesel. Although diesel is now more expensive than 30-year-old whiskey, you have to weigh that against a pretty frugal engine that claims to return 52 mpg. Look for the Bluemotion model for maximum economy.

There isn’t much in the way of driving pleasure (unless you always wanted to drive a bus), but the visibility is decent and the driving position configurable. Used Touran mileages tend to be interstellar, though that shouldn’t be too much concern if it’s been looked after.

*Two of them will have to be child-sized, as the rear two seats are pretty hemmed in.

Ford Fiesta: Ticking all the hatchback boxes for under £3,000

Ford Fiesta. By OSX – Own work, Public Domain

Our Autotrader search turned up 829 Ford Fiestas for under £3K, with well over 100 dating from 2010 onwards. The Fiesta’s popularity rests on its ability to tick all the right hatchback boxes: it’s sprightly, practical, economical and has more trim choices than you can shake a stick at. Having so many around keeps prices lower than some rivals, meaning it’s also good value for money.

If your budget will stretch a little more, the Fiesta’s 2012 update introduced such mod-cons as autonomous emergency braking and voice-activated infotainment.

If you want exclusivity, the Fiesta obviously isn’t for you. If you want a safe, reliable, does-everything small car, it’s a great choice.

Dacia Duster: Modern-ish SUV for under £5,000

Dacia Duster By Vauxford – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0

Arriving in Blighty in 2013, the Dacia Duster was marketed as a cheaper alternative to the ubiquitous Nissan Qashqai and other crossover offerings. Nine years on, that’s still its chief attraction. To illustrate, our Autotrader search turned up twenty-five 2013 Dusters sneaking in at under £5k. Granted that’s not a huge number, but we could only find one sub-5K Qashqai from the same year.

As you might expect at this price point, the Duster’s interior doesn’t measure up to its rivals. However, according to Parkers, the Duster offers class-leading practicality:

Dacia Duster practicality is best-in-class. With the seats in place the Dacia Duster has 475 litres of luggage space (408 litres in 4×4 with spare wheel) and with the rear seats folded this expands to 1,636 litres. Compare the boot space on the Duster to the Nissan Qashqai and you can see that the Duster has trumped the class-leading Qashqai on the practicality stakes.

What’s more, you get to own a car with a silly name — always a plus.

VW Phaeton: Cruise round like a boss for under £6,500

VW Phaeton. By Bewibble at English Wikipedia – Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons., Public Domain

We hesitated to include the Phaeton, because it’s not a particularly cheap car to run. However, we’re focusing on the sticker price, and we wanted to show that you can still do some executive cruising for package deal costs.

The Phaeton’s natural habitat is the motorway, or maybe Autobahn, where you can whisper along in your comfy leather seat for hundreds of miles, listening to Bach and stroking the high-quality cabin materials.

If you can splash out a bit more, the big-engined variants offer serious performance, though be warned that these do fewer miles per gallon than a cruise missile.

The Phaeton may not have the cachet of upmarket rivals, but it has luxury where it counts and leaves the aspiring boss with money in the bank.

Just a reminder…

Whatever used car you choose, remember to look carefully at the condition and record of the individual vehiclewhen it comes to reliability, track record usually trumps manufacturer or model.

The Welsh VW Specialist blog covers a wide range of automotive topics, from the contentious to the light-hearted. We are an independent garage specialising (as the name suggests!) in all the VW group marques, including Audi, Volkswagen, Skoda and SEAT. Welsh VW Specialists provide services, repairs and MOTs, delivering a main dealer level of care at affordable prices. To book your vehicle in, or for any enquiries, get in touch.