Top 10 Cars under £500
We’ve based this top 10 list on experience and think the following cars would do you proud for less than £500. Don’t take our word for it though, if you think a car would suit you go for a test drive, there are plenty out there to choose from.
1) Peugeot 306
The Peugeot 306 has always been the choice for people looking for an excellent car on a budget. Justifiably popular, the 306 has outstanding handling, a practical interior layout and of a sturdy construction. With a wide range of bodies, engines and equipment levels there really is a 306 for just about everyone. It was never the most modern car in its class but it was one of the first modern diesels that were to be worth the smoke. The 306 ranged from a no-frills family hatchback to sports models, elegant cabriolets and roomy estates.
2) Citroen Saxo
This little gem has already developed a huge cult following due to its cheap-to-buy-and-run nature. Although lacking in Citroën’s traditional quirkiness it’s just as good to drive as its 106 counterpart once you get used to the offset foot pedals that is. With its cost-effective engine and spacious interior the Saxo is an above-average ride for both comfort and economy. It comes as two hot hatch versions, the 1.6VTR and the VTS 16-valve. Both are brilliant with the range receiving a makeover in late 1999 with a face lifted Saxo 2 version.
3) Audi 80
Despite its breezeblock styling the Audi 80 is a glorious beast that stays firmly planted to the road. For long motorway journeys the 80 conquers, not even bad weather and harsh crosswinds will blow this German engineered machine around the road. There’s plenty of room in the interior for 4 people, maybe even 5 at a push. A good steady ride in the dry with solid but predictable handling, it’s in the wet that it really shines. The build quality of these cars is fantastic but they aren’t too economical overall, it’s a small price to pay for the safety and performance for which Audi are famous.
4) Nissan Primera
The Primera is a sophisticated machine with an inclusive level of electronic equipment. Now the gadgets maybe great but it’s not the only reason for choosing it, it’s an extremely comfortable car with neat handling with good grip which produces a super quiet and smooth ride for motorway cruising speeds. With its fantastic suspension that’ll soak up even the most uneven of road surfaces around town. The 1.8 and 2.0 petrol engines and the 2.2 turbo diesel are all refined and economical. It has a distinctive style with a radical cockpit layout with all the buttons, controls and dials grouped in the middle. The result is both stylish and very useable with the occupants having a decent amount of room at both front and rear, access to the boot can be a little awkward but all in all the Primera is splendidly put together giving a reliable, above-average car.
5) Volkswagen Golf
With the VW Golf the budget buyer who values, quality, practicality and durability above style is spoilt for choice. The chunky Golf remains the best small family car in its price range and very safe by the standards of its time with a heavy body and old-tech engine means that the Golf’s performance is adequate rather than exciting. Still, with its nicely weighted steering and spacey interior the Golf is a must for someone wanting a cheap and above-average reliable car. Handling is predictable and composed and the firm ride is offset by its supportive seats, compared with a Astra or Escort of a similar age the Golf seems to be the budget choice for families and students alike.
6) Peugeot 106
The 106 is a very popular car with younger buyers, the cabin is very plain but easy to use. A stylish car that’s fun and easy to drive with plenty of space up front. The driving position isn’t the best with the pedals being a little bit too close and maybe a bit too small, also slightly off-set from the driver’s seat. Not always great when embarking on longer journeys. Don’t let any of that put you off when the 106 has so much to offer, it’s perfect for short rides around a town or city and there are many different 106 special editions offering metallic paint and sport seats in the 1.6. The 106 is the thinking person’s small car smart buy!
Where’s the rest? You might ask. For the last 4 cars we’re leaving this bit up to you! If you can think of a perfect budget car that you can find for under £500 then simply comment on this article and we’ll add it to this section to give people an opinion that isn’t just ours. We want your help to build up this site and make it the perfect resource for people wanting a great, reliable and cheap motor.