Best cars for music festivals

Spend half of every summer touring all the best music festivals and want a car that's up to the job? These cars should be music to your ears

Gavin Braithwaite-Smith
Jul 15, 2020

The best way to travel to a music festival is by helicopter, but unless your surname is Ezra, Capaldi or Eilish, this might not be an option. Like the rest of us, you’ll have to brave the traffic - and the mud - before completing your 10,000 daily steps on the walk from the car park.

The alternative to a helicopter would be to borrow your Dad’s Volvo, but he won’t be too impressed if you return his car caked in a layer of mud, with a cabin that smells like a damp dog. In other words, you’re going to need your own set of wheels for Glastonbury, Reading or Leeds.

We stood knee-deep in mud for an afternoon before downing a bottle of cheap cider to be sure which eight cars are best for a music festival. Now if you don’t mind, we’re going to set the digital recorder so that we can watch the festivals from the comfort of the living room.

1. Land Rover Discovery Sport

Our pick: Land Rover Discovery Sport 2.0 TD4 SE Tech

Used Land Rover Discovery Sport deals from £16,500
Monthly finance from £240

There’s a good reason why we’re starting with an off-roader. As sure as night follows day, you can almost guarantee that a music festival will coincide with some wet weather. While you’re enjoying Stormzy, the rest of the country will be sheltering from Storm [insert name here].

This is why you need a Land Rover. Not only will you make a grand entrance in a Discovery Sport, there’s a good chance you’ll be able to make a great escape once the car park has been turned into a quagmire. The only problem is that then everyone else will want help getting out of the car park. But we'll gloss over that bit.

The majority of models offer seating for seven - which will make you popular with your mates - while many will come equipped with four-wheel drive - important for maximum get-out-of-the-car-park-ability.

LAND ROVER DISCOVERY SPORT BUYERS' GUIDE

2. Suzuki Jimny

Our pick: Suzuki Jimny 1.3 VVT SZ4

Used Suzuki Jimny deals Limited stock

When the Creamfields car park turns into a muddy field, the Suzuki Jimny will rise to the fore. Don’t let its small dimensions fool you, because the Jimny is a terrific 4x4, with mountain goat levels of off-road ability.

Because it’s so small, it’ll cut through the narrowest of gaps - unlike the Discovery Sport above - so you can move like Jagger between the cars left stranded by the inclement weather. Other Maroon 5 references are available but won’t be used. 

Meanwhile, if you're on a tighter budget, the previous generation Suzuki Jimny is surprisingly economical - thanks to its 1.3-litre petrol engine - although you won’t want to spend too long on a motorway, because the ride quality can get a little Van Halen. That’s to say, jumpy.

If you’re lucky, you might even find versions of the current Jimny on the BuyaCar website. This generation offers better on-road manners, but even better off-road talent, though used models are likely to be hard to find, since it doesn't sell in great numbers. If you can find one, however, it’s like a fun size Land Rover Defender. You’ll love it.

SUZUKI JIMNY BUYERS' GUIDE

3. Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV

Our pick: Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV 2.2 DI-D GX3

Used Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV deals from £12,750
Monthly finance from £216

Let’s be honest, large 4x4s aren’t exactly flavour of the month, With one eye on climate change, you could find that an SUV is about as welcome at a music festival as a plastic carrier bag at a conference of marine biologists.

This is where the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV comes in. In its current guise, the plug-in hybrid emits just 46g/km CO2 and offers 28 miles of all-electric range. Perfect for wafting silently in and out of the festival car park - provided you remember to plug it in regularly. Fail to do so and most of the time it will burn through petrol - making ti far less green than you might think.

It’s one of the few cars you can buy that’s capable of some serious off-roading while powered by electricity. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto come as standard, so you can fire up your festival playlist as you make your way home from the event.

MITSUBISHI OUTLANDER BUYERS' GUIDE

4. Dacia Duster

Our pick: Dacia Duster 1.5 dCi Laureate 4x4

Used Dacia Duster deals from £4,995
Monthly finance from £101

The Dacia Duster is the cheapest new SUV you can buy - and one of the cheapest - reasonably recent - used ones too. Although most of the models sold in the UK are front-wheel drive, it’s possible to buy a Duster with four-wheel drive, which makes it one of the most affordable ways to tackle the British countryside.

If a Land Rover Discovery is the automotive equivalent of glamping at a music festival, the Dacia Duster is akin to buying a budget tent from Millets and slumming it. Spend too much on one and the less convincing it becomes, but the we’re rather fond of the Duster’s no-nonsense approach to motoring. Go for a mid-range model for the best mix of value and an acceptible level of kit.

The entry-level Access trim, meanwhile, lacks air conditioning, so on the slight chance that you encounter a sunny weekend, we’d avoid that. Sweaty car journeys before and after days camping in a field with limited facilities sounds like a bad idea to us. Access trim also lacks a radio, which is hardly in keeping with a music festival. Unless you're a karaoke junky and want to provide the soundtrack yourself, that is.

DACIA DUSTER BUYERS' GUIDE

5. Volvo V90

Volvo V90 front

Our pick: Volvo V90 D5 AWD Inscription

Used Volvo V90 deals from £17,490
Monthly finance from £230

If an SUV is too predictable for you, here are some different flavours of festival transport. The Volvo V90 is an estate - and an upmarket one at that - so there’s plenty of space for your camping equipment. Heck, it’s big enough to sleep in if the tent gets a little chilly.

We’re recommending the D5 AWD - referring to its all-wheel drive system - which will be handy if the car park gets a little slippery, while the plush Inscription trim will make you feel like one of the festival headliners. Apple CarPlay is a £300 option, so make sure your Volvo has this fitted if you want to mirror your phone.

We’d also recommend the excellent Bowers & Wilkins premium audio system. It’s a £3,000 option when new, which is a bit crazy but boasts 19 speakers and a ‘Gothenburg Concert Hall’ sound system. Quite simply, it’s one of the best audio systems you’ll hear. Pick a used version with this fitted for great sound for far less of a premium.

VOLVO V90 BUYERS' GUIDE

6. Volkswagen Polo Beats

Our pick: Volkswagen Polo 1.2 TSI Beats

Used Volkswagen Polo deals from £5,400
Monthly finance from £109

The Volkswagen Polo Beats is the perfect supermini for driving to and from a music festival. Let’s start with the equipment. On the previous generation Polo, built between 2010 and 2018, the Beats came with air-conditioning, electric windows, a digital radio, Bluetooth, USB port and a colour display.

But as the name suggests, the Polo Beats also featured a 300-watt, eight-channel amplifier. If you love music, this is one of the best superminis to go for, as cheap cars normally come with cheap speakers, so the Polo Beats makes a pleasant change. Further upgrades included 16-inch alloy wheels, sport seats and tinted rear windows.

Opt for the 1.2-litre turbocharged petrol engine and you’ll be darting through the festival traffic faster than a Jay-Z rap. Prices of the old Polo Beats start from around £150 per month, while the current Polo Beats should cost around £20 extra.

VOLKSWAGEN POLO BUYERS' GUIDE

7. Fiat Panda 4x4

Our pick: Fiat Panda 4x4 0.9 TwinAir

Used Fiat Panda 4x4 deals from £7,000
Monthly finance from £137

The plucky Fiat Panda 4x4 can show many large SUVs a thing or two about off-roading. The diminutive 4x4 can tackle a slippery car park with the best of them - barely sinking into the mud like big and heavy off-roaders - and because it’s based on a standard city car, it’s actually pretty good to drive on the road.

When powered by the 0.9-litre 'TwinAir' engine, the Panda offers a terrific turn of pace, while the soundtrack is good enough to grace the Pyramid Stage with a bassy thrum coming from under the bonnet. You're unlikely to get close to the claimed fuel economy figures with this car, therefore, but you’ll be having so much fun, you won’t even notice.

FIAT PANDA BUYERS' GUIDE

8. Suzuki Celerio

Our pick: Suzuki Celerio 1.0 SZ4

Used Suzuki Celerio deals from £4,395
Monthly finance from £87

If you’re planning on attending all of the summer music festivals, you might need some cheap transport. Step forward the no-thrills and no-frills Suzuki Celerio, which is currently one of the cheapest cars you can buy on the BuyaCar website.

Prices start from around £80 per month, which might be less than the cost of your mobile phone contract. It’s also practical, easy to drive, and cheap enough to ensure that you won’t spend your entire time at the festival worrying about the car.

In fact, it’s almost cheap enough to leave it parked amongst the disposal tents at the end of Glastonbury. Almost - we’d rather you cleaned up after yourself. Think of the planet.

SUZUKI CELERIO BUYERS' GUIDE

 

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