Cool cheap cars

Be both cheap and chic with these cool cheap cars

BuyaCar team
Dec 17, 2019

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 £49,000.

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.

Cool cheap cars

Mini Hatchback

Best cool cheap car for supermini style

Our pick Mini Cooper 3dr
Used deals from £7,450
Monthly finance from £116

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.

Mini Hatchback buyers' guide

Mazda MX-5

Best cool cheap car for wind in the hair thrills

Our pick Mazda MX-5 1.5
Used deals from £7,940
Monthly finance from £154

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 buyers' guide

Volvo V40

Best cool cheap car for non-conformists

Our pick Volvo V40 Momentum Nav Plus
Used deals from £7,980
Monthly finance from £145

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 buyers' guide

Citroen C3

Best cool cheap car for families

Our pick Citroen C3 Puretech 82 Flair
Used deals from £6,490
Monthly finance from £116

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 buyers' guide

Fiat Panda

Best cool cheap car for new drivers

Our pick Fiat Panda 4x4
Used deals from £6,500
Monthly finance from £127

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 buyers' guide

Abarth 595

Best cool cheap car for hot-hatch fanatics

Our pick Abarth 595 Competizione
Used deals from £8,849
Monthly finance from £142

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 inapropriate 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 far to 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 realistically do any better.

 

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