Fast SUVs for less than £30,000

If you have a budget of £30,000 for your next car you can get the keys to some seriously fast SUVs. Here are eight of the best...

James Wilson
Nov 4, 2021

A budget of £30,000 for a fast SUV gives you a whole heap of top-quality options. Models from the likes of BMW, Mercedes and Volkswagen are all within reach. Plus, if you want something a little different, there are affordable fast SUVs from Nissan, Ford and Mini, which offer a blend of style and performance and get you a newer car for your money.

One of the best things about having such a wide array of makes and models available to choose from is that finding something which suits your exact needs should be straightforward. Whether you want something more compact and nimble or a big, comfy bruiser of a fast SUV, there are numerous options. And if you're not sure which way to go, keep reading for our recommendations.

Below are eight fast SUVs for less than £30,000, which typically equates to around £450 per month or less on PCP finance. That said, some models can be found for much less than that, especially if you are willing to consider older second-hand versions, though all the cars below are seven years old or newer.

There are a couple of key points to consider when looking at fast SUVs. Number one is fuel type. There are some seriously quick diesel SUVs out there, but in large cities like London, local authorities are trying to persuade drivers away from older diesel cars due to environmental concerns, so it's worth considering which low emissions zones you might want to drive in and which cars are affected by those. If you are unsure as to whether a diesel is right for you, we have a simple article to help you decide.

The second important consideration is suspension. Some fast SUVs focus on straight-line speed. What this means is that they are excellent at overtaking or getting up to speed on a motorway really quickly but they aren’t so good at flying around corners at lightning pace. This type of pacey SUV tends to be more comfortable for both driver and passenger.

SUVs which focus on being able to corner fast will generally have firmer suspension. Not an issue if being able to nip around corners quickly is high on your priority list but one to keep in mind if you want your fast SUV to be super-comfortable or need it to be smooth enough for younger passengers to fall asleep on long journeys, for instance.

Fast SUVs for less than £30,000

1. Mini Countryman JCW

Used deals Limited stock

In terms of size, there isn’t much mini about the Mini Countryman JCW. There isn’t much mini about the power output from its 306hp 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine, either. As the Countryman is pitched as a practical family car, being large comes with the territory as it offers space for five plus a boot large enough for their luggage. As for performance, the JCW impresses, as it is a speedy bundle of joy to drive.

For maximum performance, 2019 and newer models are the ones to find, as Mini gave the Countryman JCW a substantial 76hp increase in power, taking it over 300hp, which makes later versions far quicker and more exciting to drive. All Countryman JCW models come with an automatic gearbox.

On a more practical front, the Countryman’s interior is a nice place to be, with plenty of upmarket materials and quirky interior features such as the circular media system display housing in the middle of the dashboard.


2. Ford Puma ST

Used deals from £24,699
Monthly finance from £0*

If you want a fast compact SUV that handles corners brilliantly, then the Ford Puma ST is the car to have. Full stop. Dissecting this a little, the fast Ford comes with a punchy 1.5-litre petrol engine that produces 200hp - enough to propel the Puma ST from a standing start to 62mph in 6.2 seconds - which is rapid for this type of car. Flat out the Puma ST can hit 137mph, which lags behind many other high-performance SUV, though this has no real impact, unless you make regular trips to Germany and blast along the autobahn.

All Puma STs come with a manual gearbox. Ford used its impressive Ford Fiesta ST as a base upon which to build the Puma, so they share an awful lot underneath their respective bodywork. There are some differences, though. For example, Ford’s engineers have made the exhaust sound a bit less boy racer, to help keep the Puma appealing to its target audience - those who want a practical small SUV. On the practicality front, the boot can take up to 456 litres of cargo, which is impressive for a car of this size.


3. Nissan Juke Nismo RS

Used deals Limited stock

The Nissan Juke has been dividing opinions on its styling since it was launched more than a decade ago, as it's a wacky looking thing. Arguably the most out-there Juke is the Nismo version, which comes with sporty alloy wheels and a racy body kit. To match its looks there is a 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol engine under the bonnet which produces 218hp. This is more than the Puma ST above, which is one of the fast Juke’s few rivals.

In truth, the Juke Nismo RS can’t compete with how good the Puma ST is to drive (although neither can any other crossover) but it is significantly more affordable, thanks to having been on sale for longer, which means that older used versions are available.

Other plus points include swanky suede-looking seats and steering wheel, plus plenty of standard equipment. The list of features includes a central touchscreen media system, climate control and cruise control.


4. Cupra Formentor

Used deals Limited stock

Cupra is a performance sub-brand of Seat - which in itself is a sister company of Audi, Skoda, Volkswagen and a handful of other makes. That said, the Formentor is pitched as Cupra’s first standalone model, although it does share an awful lot of components with other cars from its sibling brands - like the engines which are seen in the Audi A3 and Volkswagen Golf. Other shared equipment includes the touchscreen media system and various switches and dials.

Borrowing tech from other cars is no bad thing, especially when those other models have proven to be better than many of their rivals. However, if you just like the Formentor for its engines and kit, you can save thousands by picking a closely-related A3 or Golf.

What does help the Cupra stand out is its striking styling, with neat touches inside and out like bronze-coloured dials, switches and badges. For £30,000 you will likely be looking at a 1.5-litre petrol version and while these are the least powerful models in the range, they can go from 0 to 62mph in under nine seconds and look just as fast as other more powerful models. Meanwhile, if you have more to spend, you can take advantage of more powerful and faster versions.


5. Volkswagen Touareg

Used deals from £19,750
Monthly finance from £610*

The Volkswagen Touareg offers an effortless kind of speed. It comes with a 3.0-litre six-cylinder diesel engine that has a huge amount of shove to get the big VW going and enables you to pick up speed quickly and without much effort. All models come with an automatic gearbox and four-wheel drive.

This setup makes the Touareg incredibly easy to drive long distances, so it's great if you like to head over to the Alps for a spot of skiing in winter or you make annual trips down to the Mediterranean in summer. Or, if you have regular journeys to Scarborough to visit your family.

All Touaregs are five-seaters so they have a huge boot ready to swallow luggage, dogs and whatever bric-a-brac you fancy throwing at it. Standard equipment levels are good, although we’d recommend hunting down an R-Line model if you want a Touareg which looks fast as well as goes fast. Additionally, R-Line trim comes with some nice features like a panoramic roof, keyless entry, and large 20-inch alloy wheels.


6. BMW X3

Used deals from £13,650
Monthly finance from £0*

If you don’t need seven seats or an enormous boot then the previous-generation BMW X3 will tick an awful lot of fast SUV boxes. Handsome styling - check. Spacious cabin - check. Powerful engines - check. There are some drawbacks, of course. You will pay significantly more for an X3 compared to something less upmarket like a Renault Kadjar but then again, the Renault isn’t anywhere near as plush inside or as fast as an X3.

On the subject of speed, the best fast X3 models are the 35d and 30d versions - BMW uses ‘d’ to signify models with diesel engines. Both come with a 3.0-litre engine and both pack enough of a performance punch to go from 0 to 62mph faster than high-performance hot hatches such as the Volkswagen Golf GTI.

Of the two models, the 35d versions are the more powerful, as they come with over 300hp, along with a huge amount of low-engine-speed muscle. All versions come with an automatic gearbox and four-wheel-drive, which makes them very easy to drive and ensures that you can use much of the power without spinning the wheels, regardless of the weather.

2010-2018 BMW X3 BUYERS' GUIDE

7. Mercedes GLE

Used deals from £23,500
Monthly finance from £0*

If you want more of an old-school fast SUV then the Mercedes GLE is a great option. Its interior is of a design era where technology like digital screens were still relatively new and dashboards weren’t quite at IMAX levels like they seem to be nowadays.

Details like buttons and dials might seem trivial, but no matter how fancy a touchscreen gets, when driving it is typically easier to have well designed physical controls, rather than having to prod a touch-sensitive display. Consequently, you may prefer the GLE's slight last-generation feel. And another bonus is that used versions are far more affordable than pricey brand new models.

As for performance, the 2015-2019 Mercedes GLE was offered with a range of petrol and diesel engines. If you want a fast GLE you need to look at at least a GLE 350d. This comes with a six-cylinder diesel engine that produces 255hp, which is enough to give a 0 to 62mph sprint time of 7.1 seconds - decently quick for a car of this size. There are much more powerful V8 petrol models, but these will cost you far more when it comes to fuel bills, plus, they tend to cost more than £30,000.


8. BMW X5

Used deals from £22,790
Monthly finance from £570*

One of the biggest reasons the Mercedes GLE isn’t more popular is the BMW X5. It is roughly the same size, it offers a similarly high build quality and with the right engine, it is just as fast. Splitting the two is no easy task and for many it will boil down to which one they like the look of most.

We don’t just mean exterior styling, though, as the cabins of the X5 and GLE are a world away from one another. Saying that, the individual ingredients are the same - plush leather, high-quality dashboard materials and plenty of space for driver and passengers - it is just the final product which is different, with a different look for each car.

The bulk of this previous-generation X5 range uses diesel engines - only the range-topping X5 50i and performance-focused X5 M use a petrol engine. The latter makes for a great fast SUV but is quite rare, while the latter will set you back more than £30,000.

This isn't a problem, though, as the diesel-powered X5 30d and X5 40d are both plenty powerful but are also relatively economical. They will still cost significantly more to run than something smaller and lighter like a Volkswagen Golf, but significantly less than the big petrol versions.

2013-2018 BMW X5 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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