Cool cheap cars

Be both cheap and chic with these cool cheap cars

BuyaCar team
Apr 8, 2022

Coolness is hard to define. What we find cool is likely to be different to what you find cool, but there are some cars that are just definitively cool no matter the beholder. Sometimes it's not even clear what makes them so, but the six cars listed below are some of the coolest cars you can buy, and to make them even better still, they're also incredibly cheap.

That's right, cool cars needn't be restricted to those with higher budgets. While you won't be able to bag anything like an Aston Martin or Bentley, you'll still be able to take the keys to something you won't mind being seen behind the wheel of in broad daylight.

If you're keen to get driving in something that's firstly affordable, but also going to add to your street cred rather than detract from it, we think these options we've picked out here will be your best choices. Although as we said before coolness is subjective, so apologies if you disagree, you can always check out our pick of the sportiest looking cars, but these are generally much more expensive.

But if you're working with a small budget, we don't think you can do much better than this, so take a look below at some cool cheap cars.

Cool cheap cars

1. Mini Hatchback

Best cool cheap car for supermini style

Our pick Mini Cooper 3dr
Used deals from £8,000

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 powerful, but is just as good looking.


2. Mazda MX-5

Best cool cheap car for wind in the hair thrills

Our pick Mazda MX-5 2.0 Skyactiv-G
Used deals from £14,996

Like the Mini above, the MX-5 has always been cool. Ok, the previous version 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.

The slower 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 often fall within budget, but it's the 2.0-litre versions that provide the most drama. Having said that, the smaller-engined cars are more nimble because they weigh less.


3. Volvo V40

Best cool cheap car for non-conformists

Our pick Volvo V40 1.5 T3
Used deals from £11,990

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. The 1.5-litre turbocharged petrol engines in the T2 and T3 models are also reasonably efficient.


4. Citroen C3

Best cool cheap car for families

Our pick Citroen C3 1.2 PureTech 110
Used deals from £7,400

Accuse us of lazy stereotyping here if you want, but the Citroen C3 is genuinely quirky. Higher-specification cars get plastic strip 'Airbumps' that are designed to protect against scratches.

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.

The 1.2-litre PureTech engines come in multiple flavours - the 68hp and 82hp versions are best avoided in favour of the turbocharged versions which should prove just as economical in the real world because they need to be worked less. 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.


5. Fiat Panda

Best cool cheap car for new drivers

Our pick Fiat Panda 0.9 TwinAir
Used deals from £5,895

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.


6. Abarth 595

Best cool cheap car for hot-hatch fanatics

Our pick Abarth 595 1.4 T-Jet
Used deals from £8,390

Here is a rather special little car. It's flawed, no doubt about that, but it's also a very, very cool car. The Abarth 595, in Competizione spec, will turn heads from all directions. 

Based on the standard Fiat 500 city car, the 595 is fitted with a bold body kit and a hugely inappropriate exhaust system that makes a noise bigger than the car itself. If it weren't the intention of designers to make a car that stands out from virtually everything else, you'd say it was a mistake, but luckily for Abarth, it just works. 

The car is rather firm on the road, and the stiff suspension can quickly get old if you aren't prepared to embrace the overall package. But if you're after a unique and hugely charismatic small Italian hot hatch, you can't really do any better.


*Representative PCP finance - Ford Fiesta:

48 monthly payments of £192
Deposit: £0
Mileage limit: 8,000 per year
Optional final payment to buy car: £2,923
Total amount payable to buy car: £11,926
Total cost of credit: £2,426
Amount borrowed: £9,500
APR: 9.9%

BuyaCar is a credit broker, not a lender. Our rates start from 6.9% APR. The rate you are offered will depend on your individual circumstances.


Read more about:

Latest best cars & vans

  1. Cars with top tethers for child seats

  2. Best cars for four car seats

  3. Cheapest five-door cars