Cool cheap cars

Be both cheap and chic with these cool cheap cars

Murray Scullion
Aug 23, 2018

Coolness is hard to define. Some people, some things, and inevitably, some cars, are just cool. And some aren’t.

While coolness is subjective, there are certain things within the realms of motoring that are universally deemed uncool. Too much chrome, overly large wheels, and of course, car eyelashes that are attached to the front lights of a car, are all unquestionably uncool.

Sadly, quite a lot of cool cars - like the Volvo XC60, Range Rover Velar, and BMW i8, all have one fatal floor. Price.

A car’s identity can often run in parallel to high pricing. The BMW i8 in particular is stunningly cool - but even the cheapest models start at £50,000.

Nevertheless, there are quite a few motors out there for below £15,000 that you wouldn’t be embarrassed to have on your driveway.

So if you think blingy BMWs are ghastly, and Ferraris are far too nouveau riche, please do read our list below of cool cars that you can actually afford.

Mini Hatchback

Best cool cheap car for supermini style

Our pick Mini Cooper 3dr
Latest Mini Hatchback deals from £7,489
Finance from £123 per month

Minis have been cool since they first caused a stir in the late Fifties. Since then they’ve grown up (literally) into something more upmarket, but equally as stylish. The classic three-door Mini is still the coolest, and efforts to enlarge the range further with the likes of the Countryman have only made the smallest Mini offering look cooler still.

The obvious choice is a sporting Cooper model. But watch out for the options. Minis are very customisable - some might even say, too customisable.

A Mini One will get you a newer car on your driveway for the same amount of money. It’s not as sporting, but is just as good looking. Remember,  the less chrome the better - but make sure you pick a car with alloy wheels. Wheel trims are no bueno.
Mini Hatchback buying guide

Mazda MX-5

Best cool cheap car for wind in the hair thrills

Our pick Mazda MX-5 1.5
Latest Mazda MX-5 deals from £8,990
Finance from £163 per month

Like the Mini above, the MX-5 has always been cool. OK the, the Mk3 wasn’t exactly a looker, but this latest model is superbly proportioned. Sharp at the front, svelte in the middle, and shapely at the rear. And with the roof down it looks even better as it makes the car look shorter, squatter, and more purposeful.

It lacks the pop-up headlights of the first generation cars, but we can forgive it. Mostly because non-pop-up headlights are better for pedestrian safety.

You probably won't find the more potent 2.0-litre model for sub £15k, but the 1.5-litre engine cars are only one second slower from 0-62 (7.3 seconds for the 2.0-litre, 8.3 seconds for the 1.5-litre) and do fall within budget. Besides, during real-world driving the difference between the two engines isn't as noticeable as the 0-62mph time would suggest, plus, the smaller engined cars are more nimble because they weigh less.
Mazda MX-5 buying guide 

Volvo V40

Best cool cheap car for non-conformists

Our pick Volvo V40 Momentum Nav Plus
Latest Volvo V40 deals from £8,550
Finance from £128 per month

Volvos are many things that aren’t necessarily correlational with coolness. After all, practicality and safety aren’t direct synonyms for cool. However, Volvo is Swedish, and all-things Scandinavian are very in at the moment. Plus, for the most parts, Volvos are effortless and have neat styling cues that very few manufacturers can pull off.

The biggest example of this in the V40 is the ‘floating’ console that houses shortcut buttons and a touchscreen sat-nav. It looks as though it’s floating in mid air, which is tres cool in our books.

We recommend Momentum Nav Plus models as they add parking sensors, sat-nav and cruise control to the basic specification.
Volvo V40 buying guide

Citroen C3

Best cool cheap car for families

Our pick Citroen C3 Puretech 82 Flair
Latest Citroen C3 deals from £6,795
Finance from £106 per month

Lambust us for lazy stereotyping here if you want, but the Citroen C3 is genuinely quirky. Higher-specification cars get plastic strip air bumps that are designed to protect against scratches, but also give it a distinct look.

Inside it’s just as distinct, however, it also has comfort on its side as the seats have been engineered to soak up bumps from the likes of potholes and uneven road surfaces.

We recommend the PureTech 82 engine. It’s usefully more powerful than the PureTech 68 engine, but has the same fuel economy figures. Also if your budget allows it, get a Flair spec car, as it adds some of the car’s distinctive features, including those plastic airbumps as well as a built-in dashcam.
Citroen C3 buying guide

Fiat Panda

Best cool cheap car for new drivers

Our pick Fiat Panda 4x4
Latest Fiat Panda deals from £4,290
Finance from £78 per month

The Fiat Panda, like its namesake, is pretty simple and robust. And also like its namesake, it’s cute and lovable.

The little Fiat has a utilitarian air about it which people love - it’s not fussy, and it’s boxy design stems from practicality rather than design.

The Panda 4x4 is the one to go for on the coolness front. Tall suspension gives drivers a better view, and the car will perform surprisingly well on the tough-stuff. Also, it makes it look a bit like a Tonka Toy. Something most people would agree is pretty cool.
Fiat Panda buying guide

Abarth 595

Best cool cheap car for hot-hatch fanatics

Our pick Abarth 595
Latest Abarth 595 deals from £8,789
Finance from £135 per month

The hot-hatch might conjure up images of Max Power magazine, Argos jewellery, and suspect sportswear, but as of late they’ve gone through a bit of a renaissance.

These days, hot-hatches are driven by people who find sports cars a bit blasé and pretentious. In other words, hot-hatches give drivers power, plus practicality, without the price.

The Abarth 595 is a warmed up Fiat 500, with 140bhp and 0-62mph time of 7.6-seconds. It feels substantially faster than this because of the way the power is delivered - there’s a huge whoosh from the turbo, which makes it a hoot to drive.

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