With prices of petrol and diesel hitting record highs – and showing no signs of slowing – you’ll undoubtedly have noticed the cost of filling up has skyrocketed in recent months.
Though driving more efficiently and removing any excess weight from the car will help reduce fuel usage, if your car is just not very economical, it could be worth thinking about switching to something cheaper to run.
Here we look at the best options across a range of fuel types, all costing under £10,000.
Petrol – Volkswagen Up!
As a very general rule of thumb, the smaller the car the cheaper it will be to run. So if you’re looking to reduce your costs, downsizing is always a good option. One of the best choices in this respect is the Volkswagen Up!, which is offered in three- and five-door body styles – the latter actually offering a decent amount of roominess and practicality.
Using small 1.0-litre petrol engines, the Up! brings the possibility for very low running costs. Look out, in particular, for ‘BlueMotion Tech’ models, which received further fuel-saving measures, and are capable of returning up to a claimed 67.3mpg, while also qualifying for free car tax. Around £5,000 will buy a 2013-registered Up! with 50,000 miles on the clock.
Diesel – Skoda Octavia Estate
Though diesel might not be very fashionable these days, if you do lots of miles, especially at higher speeds, they’re still hard to beat. You can also choose more practical and family-focused cars, with a fantastic option being the Skoda Octavia Estate. Bringing a huge interior with loads of rear seat space and a large boot, there are few estate cars that are more useful.
Diesel engines were popular in the Octavia, so you won’t struggle to find a used one, either. Where the best running costs are concerned, seek out a 1.6-litre TDI model, and in particular the ‘GreenLine’ versions. With these, Skoda claims it could return up to 89mpg, though expect slightly less in the real-world. Low CO2 emissions also equates to free car tax. Expect to pay around £7,000 for a 2015 car with 100,000 miles on the clock.
Hybrid – Toyota Auris Hybrid
Hybrid models have proven increasingly popular in recent years as a way to reduce your running costs, but without having to worry about plugging a vehicle in. Toyota is a market leader in this area, too, introducing hybrid models well ahead of most other manufacturers. With a fantastic reliability reputation, the Japanese firm’s used hybrids are a very appealing buy too.
We’d look out for a second-generation Auris, which was sold between 2012 and 2018. Available as a hatchback or a Touring Sports (estate), its 1.8-litre petrol-electric hybrid system is very efficient and economical, particularly around town. Toyota claims 78mpg, with 84g/km CO2 emissions also giving the model free car tax. Used hybrids are holding their value well, so you’ll pay around £9,000 for a 2013 car with 90,000 miles on the clock, and about £1,000 more for an estate.
Plug-in hybrid – Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV
For drivers that are able to charge regularly and predominantly do smaller journeys with the occasional longer trip, a plug-in hybrid is a great choice. These models have only been introduced more recently, though, meaning they’re only just sneaking within this £10,000 budget.
One of the most affordable choices is the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV, which was the best-selling vehicle of this fuel type for a number of years. With the ability to travel for up to 28 miles on electricity at a time, there’s scope for very low running costs – Mitsusbishi claiming 156mpg and 42g/km CO2 emissions, though these figures are slightly ambitious. A £10,000 budget will buy a 2014 example of this SUV with 120,000 miles on the clock.
Electric – Nissan Leaf
It’s no secret that electric cars are more expensive to buy than conventional petrol or diesel cars, but there are an increasing number of more affordable used options on the market. As the Nissan Leaf was the first true mass-market EV, this is the best choice for a low budget, as there’s a decent number of examples available.
With a roomy interior, an easy driving experience and plenty of standard equipment, the Leaf is an appealing option, and brings low running costs if you’re able to charge at home on the cheapest tariffs or with free public or work chargers.
This budget will get you a 24kWh battery model, which will limit you to a real-world range of around 80 miles, though. It’s a good idea looking for a Leaf with an ‘owned’ battery too, as many examples were offered with a leasing scheme, and means you pay between £50 and £100 per month just to rent the battery from Nissan. Expect to pay around £7,500 for a car with 50,000 miles on the clock.