Cheapest good looking cars

Looks don’t have to cost the world, especially not with one of these handsome yet affordable cars - take your pick below

James Wilson
Jan 7, 2021

Good looking cars are great, but cheap good looking cars are even better. After all, who wouldn’t want a car that looks a million pounds but only costs £5,000 or £100 per month? Sure that might be a bit of an extreme example, but the principle stands - why not track down a car which other motorists look admiringly at but doesn't drain your mortgage deposit savings, the kids uni fund or your retirement pot?

Such a phenomenon isn’t restricted to one car type either. If you know where to look there are family cars, SUVs, convertibles and saloons that all look the part but don’t require you waiting for an inheritance to pay for. Keep reading to find the best handsome but affordable car for you.

When looking for cheaper cars, one of the biggest problems is finding something that is cheap, suitable for your needs and desirable, too. Happily, we've done the hard work for you, as all eight of the attractive cars below not only look good but should be perfect for taking on certain roles.

Spend your time bumbling around town and fancy something small and stylish that you'll want to be seen in? We have an option for that. Like the sound of a superbly comfy high-riding SUV that feels upmarket inside, is relaxing to drive, practical and safe, offers a high driving position and would look great outisde the school gates? We can help there too.

Striking two-seater sports cars, refined and sleek coupes, practical but handsome estate cars... Scroll on for all of these and more, available on BuyaCar from around £5,000 to £15,000 (or roughly £100 to £200 per month on PCP finance) for models that are seven years old or newer.

Cheapest good looking cars

1. Fiat 500

Cheapest good looking city car

Our pick Fiat 500 Lounge
Used deals from £4,450
Monthly finance from £93*

The 500 is as chic as it gets when looking at small cars - especially those sold by Fiat from 2016 onwards. What happened in 2016? Well, like many car makers, Fiat refreshes its models periodically to keep them up to date, and the 500 was treated to revised styling and improved equipment back in 2016.

This was about time, too, as Fiat launched the modern-day 500 in 2008 so it had been in production for quite some time so the exterior styling was starting to look a little less striking and the interior getting a bit dated. Despite the length of time other manufacturers have had to out-style the 500, however, few have come close. The hatchback Mini gives it a good go, but these can be much more expensive and are larger and less cute looking.

If you can afford around £8,000 to £10,000 (or around £150 per month on PCP finance), 0.9-litre TwinAir Lounge models are the pick of the range. Yes the engine is small, but it has a turbocharger that boosts the amount of power it produces and this two-cylinder engine produces a deep, thrummy engine note, which adds to the car's character.

That said, 1.2-litre Lounge versions are still a great buy and can be scooped up for less than £6,000 (partly because they were introduced earlier, meaning that older models are available). As standard, relatively recent Lounge models come with a digital radio, Bluetooth and a seven-inch touchscreen media system in the middle of the dashboard - the latter being Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatible.

FIAT 500 BUYERS' GUIDE

2. Seat Leon

Cheapest good looking family hatchback

Our pick Seat Leon FR
Used deals from £8,780
Monthly finance from £163*

The previous-generation Seat Leon shared much with the contemporary VW Golf - as VW and Seat are part of the same company - which is good news. Not only does it mean that build quality is high, but the Leon benefits from the Golf's punchy yet frugal engines, too.

There is one important difference between the two cars, though; Seat’s designers added a little more panache - particularly to sporty looking FR models. In fact, there is another important difference, too, as Seat’s engineers flexed their muscles a bit as well, resulting in the Leon being a more entertaining drive than the Golf - to live up to those sporty looks.

This worked well enough to help the Leon to compete against the best similarly sized hatchbacks for driver enjoyment (such as the Ford Focus and Mazda 3). Depending on your annual mileage, we'd recommend either a 1.8-litre TSI petrol or the 2.0-litre TDI diesel engine. The diesel is best suited to higher mileage drivers - typically those who cover more than 20,000 miles or so per year - with the 1.8 TSI being better for those doing more modest mileages.

Seat also offers automatic gearboxes (labelled as ‘DSG’ transmissions) which are really rather good and well worth considering if you don't want to change gear for yourself. If you're considering a Leon, bear in mind that Seat refreshed the model in 2016, although the biggest changes weren’t visual - including trim level updates and a new petrol engine. So, if the looks are the biggest selling point for you, you can save money and go for a pre-2016 version.

SEAT LEON BUYERS' GUIDE

3. Renault Megane Sport Tourer

Cheapest good looking estate car

Our pick Renault Megane Sport Tourer Play
Used deals from £7,399
Monthly finance from £172*

For years French cars have been viewed as cheap - but not always very well built - alternatives to Hondas, Toyotas and Fords. This is not the case anymore, though, as the latest generation Megane is an almighty improvement over its predecessor. In fact, as an overall proposition for a comfortable, affordable, well equipped car it takes some beating. Plus, practicality is a massive selling point for Sport Tourer - Renault's name for the estate - versions.

Testament to Renault’s push to take its models more upmarket, even entry-level Meganes are well worth hunting down, as they include plenty of desirable kit. Before early 2018 this meant Expression+ trim, which came with cruise control, Bluetooth, air-conditioning and a digital radio.

From 2018 onwards (Renault made some changes to the Megane range in 2018) this means Play trim, which features sat-nav, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility and keyless entry on top of what was included with Expression+. While the Megane isn’t the most exciting car to drive, it is comfy, and that is likely to make it more appealing as an everyday prospect than something overly sporty, provided you're not the kind of driver to zoom everywhere at full speed.

RENAULT MEGANE SPORT TOURER BUYERS' GUIDE

4. Mazda CX-3

Cheapest good looking crossover/small SUV

Our pick Mazda CX-3 SE
Used deals from £9,229
Monthly finance from £198*

Mazda is very much like that person who worked hard and did well all through school but never really made a song and dance about it...but has somehow turned into an incredibly good looking gazillionaire without anyone really realising. Take Mazda's CX-3 crossover, a car which goes up against tonnes of small SUVs but is a standout option thanks to its sharp styling, strong build quality and fun driving characteristics.

Over time there has been a mind-boggling number of CX-3 models to choose from - including petrol and diesels, manual and automatics, and two- and four-wheel drive options. All are well equipped - entry-level SE versions come with cruise control, air-conditioning, a digital radio and Bluetooth as standard - so there isn’t really a bad egg. Negatives? The rear seats are a touch cramped, but then again those after more room would likely be drawn to the larger CX-5 in the first place.

MAZDA CX-3 BUYERS' GUIDE

5. Volvo XC60

Cheapest good looking SUV

Our pick Volvo XC60 SE
Used deals from £15,850
Monthly finance from £290*

A cheap upmarket Volvo SUV? Yes, it does exist. The previous-generation Volvo XC60 now represents cracking value, despite still looking great and coming with a high-quality interior. Compared to rivals the XC60 is ahead in some regards and behind in others, so consider whether the styling and other plus points are good enough for you to gloss over the negatives. Take comfort and cabin space - the XC60 is amongst the very best. Then there is fuel economy, where the XC60 lags behind a number of other models.

Equipment levels are strong, though. Entry-level SE versions come with sat-nav, a digital radio, parking sensors, auto wipers and leather seats. There is a choice of petrol (only available with an automatic gearbox) and diesel engines (available as a manual or automatic).

Four-wheel drive was available with some models, too, though as the XC60 is a road-centric SUV rather than a tough off-roader, we'd stick with two-wheel drive models for better fuel economy than four-wheel drive versions and get a set of winter tyres if we had to deal with regular snow. For the lowest running costs, front-wheel-drive diesel models (badged as ‘D4’) with a manual gearbox are the way to go.

VOLVO XC60 BUYERS' GUIDE

6. Mazda MX-5

Cheapest good looking roadster

Our pick Mazda MX-5 SE
Used deals from £13,495
Monthly finance from £257*

The long-lasting Mazda MX-5 has out-sold every single one of its competitors and part of that is thanks to its great styling and affordability. It's also been on sale across several generations and decades, which has helped to boost the sales figures and reflects the car's desirability.

There is, of course, the added bonus that all MX-5s are incredibly engaging to drive - whether you enjoy dawdling along the coast with the roof down or blasting along a country road. With the current version of the MX-5 you get a decent level of standard equipment and even entry-level SE versions come with air-conditioning, electric windows and LED lights.

Mazda launched the latest MX-5 back in 2015 but there were revisions in 2018 and 2020 to keep the car fresh. Most notable is a stronger 2.0-litre petrol engine in 2018 (which upped power to around 185hp and made the car feel much more responsive) which is the best engine available.

If that's a little out of reach, it's actually the entry-level 1.5-litre petrol, which is the next best. It is a cracking engine but needs to be worked harder to get decent performance from it. That adds to the driving experience for keen drivers, but if you'd prefer a little more punch and aren't too concerned about the character of the engine, check out the pre-2018 2.0-litre models. Thanks to peppy engines, a slick manual gearbox and low weight, Mazda’s two-seater sports car offers one of the purest driving experiences going.

MAZDA MX-5 BUYERS' GUIDE

7. BMW 3 Series

Cheapest good looking saloon

Our pick BMW 3 Series M Sport
Used deals from £12,490
Monthly finance from £235*

The BMW 3 Series has been on sale - in one form or another - for more than four decades. It has gone up against many rivals over this time, but has always remained a popular choice. The reason for this? For decades it has stood out for offering an engaging driving experience in a sensible, practical body and for looking that bit more sporty than alternatives.

Strong build quality helps to make it feel upmarket, too, which has helped to justify high new prices. However, the 3 Series is much more affordable used, especially as the version we're talking was replaced in 2019, meaning there are some previous-generation used car bargains to be snapped up.

Part of the 3 Series’ appeal is that it is fun to drive, irrespective of engine and gearbox. Even low-power diesel models are that bit more engaging to drive than alternatives from Audi or Mercedes, for instance. Yes, the high-performance versions (such as M3 and M340i variants) are even more exciting with smooth and sonorous six-cylinder engines, but even economical and refined 320d diesel and 320i petrol versions are satisfying from behind the wheel, regardless of whether you're cruising up the M4 or whizzing along a twisting mountain road.

As for looks, M Sport specification makes the car look more racy, with more striking front and rear bumpers and big alloy wheels plus sportier seats and suspension to carry that feel through to the driver's seat. M Sport suspension is tuned for improved roadholding rather than prioritising comfort - not that the car is uncomfortable. You also get a good range of standard equipment, with most models coming with Bluetooth, climate control, parking sensors and automatic lights and wipers.

BMW 3 SERIES BUYERS' GUIDE

8. Mercedes C-Class Coupe

Cheapest good looking coupe

Our pick Mercedes C250 CDI Coupe

Mercedes’ third-generation C-Class came in a number of body styles but none are as sleek as the coupe. Not only does the coupe look great, but it also comes with the same upmarket feel as its more practical saloon and estate counterparts. Yes, you have plenty of choice if you want a mid-size upmarket coupe - including the BMW 4 Series and Audi A5 - but we'd wager that the C-Class is that bit more classy for the money you'd pay for a used model.

There is a range of engines - with petrol and diesel options - but for low running costs, the diesel engines are best. Pick of the bunch is the C250 CDI with an automatic gearbox as this brings the best blend of performance and fuel economy. Manual versions are available, but they aren’t all that great, as for many years Mercedes drivers have preferred automatics and so the company has put more time and effort into perfecting these.

As this version of the C-Class Coupe first went on sale a number of years ago, C-Class Coupes are more affordable than you might expect - offering much better value now than they did new. That drop in value has not changed the fact that these cars are well equipped, though, with climate control, Bluetooth and parking sensors all coming as standard.

MERCEDES C-CLASS BUYERS' GUIDE

*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.

 

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