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
Feb 4, 2022

We'd all love to be driving around in a good looking car, and there are plenty of cheaper options out there for all of us to enjoy. You don't need to be a millionaire to pose in a pretty car. Some of the best looking cars on the market are no more expensive than a standard family hatchback, and we've picked out our favourites below.

Finding a good looking car is one thing, but you may well need that car to fulfil certain requirements. Depending on what you need the car for, though, there are plenty of stylish models available in a variety of shapes and sizes. There are some incredibly good looking family cars, SUVs, convertibles and saloons out there that are all available at a reasonable cost.

When you're searching for good looking cars, one of the biggest problems is finding something that is also cheap and suitable for your needs. Happily, we've done the hard work for you and pulled together eight stylish cars that suit a variety of lifestyles, but all of them are hugely affordable.

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 outside the school gates? We can help there too.

Cheapest good looking cars

1. Fiat 500

Cheapest good looking city car

Fiat 500 front three quarters view

Our pick Fiat 500 Lounge
Used deals from £5,200
Monthly finance from £0*

The Fiat 500 is as chic as it gets, and an update in 2015 helped to keep this little city car feeling fresh and modern in terms of styling and technology. Older models are still full of character and look fantastic on the road, but they do feel as dated on the inside as the 2008 launch date suggests.

Rival manufacturers have had plenty of time to produce a car to out-style the Fiat 500, but nothing has really come close. The larger Mini Hatchback offers a similar sense of iconic flair, but it's a much larger and more expensive alternative. If you're keen to drive something much smaller, we don't think there is anything better looking than the Fiat.

This car is at its best with the 0.9-litre 'TwinAir' engine. It's turbocharged, which gives it a satisfying punch when you put your foot down, and it sounds good too for such a small engine. Opt for Lounge trim if you're looking for plenty of tech, these models feature digital radio and Bluetooth for connecting your phone to the seven-inch touchscreen media system with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.

FIAT 500 BUYERS' GUIDE

2. Seat Leon

Cheapest good looking family hatchback

Our pick Seat Leon FR
Used deals from £7,989
Monthly finance from £0*

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 £9,500
Monthly finance from £0*

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 models 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 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 £11,000
Monthly finance from £229*

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, 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 £12,500
Monthly finance from £427*

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.

2008-2017 VOLVO XC60 BUYERS' GUIDE

6. Mazda MX-5

Cheapest good looking roadster

Our pick Mazda MX-5 SE
Used deals from £9,995
Monthly finance from £0*

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 headlights.

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 £353*

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.

2012-2019 BMW 3 SERIES BUYERS' GUIDE

8. Mercedes C-Class Coupe

Cheapest good looking coupe

Our pick Mercedes C250 CDI Coupe
Used deals from £9,995
Monthly finance from £456*

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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