Best British-made cars

Want to buy British, but have no idea which cars are actually made here? Read on to find out which British-built cars could fit the bill

Sam Naylor
Sep 18, 2020

If you live in Britain, it’s a great idea to buy a car made here, for all sorts of reasons. The UK car manufacturing industry may not be the giant it once was, but there are still a handful of cars still being produced here - and of course, there are plenty of used models that were built right here in Britain available right now.

Buying a British-built car over one that was shipped here from overseas means the car should have a lower carbon footprint, since the boats used to move cars around the world are huge polluters. This is even more relevant if you’re after an electrified model - and there are a couple of these to choose from below.

Another reason to buy British would be to feel that your new pride and joy wasn’t just sent here from a far-away land, but made close by. It might even have been assembled close to where you live, as there are plants all over the country, although admittedly only in England.

We’ve picked out a wide variety of models here, from SUVs and estates through to hot hatches and sports cars - so no matter what kind of car you want, there’s bound to be a British-built model that’s right for you. All are available to buy right here on BuyaCar.

Best cars made in Britain

1. Toyota Corolla Touring Sports

Best for families

Our pick Toyota Corolla Touring Sports 1.8 VVT-i Hybrid Design
Used deals from £21,696
Monthly finance from £313

That’s right - the first car on our list of the best British-built cars is a Toyota, which is a Japanese car brand. You’ll notice brands from other countries outside the UK on this list as well, but all are built in Britain. Toyota’s plant in Burnaston, Derbyshire produces the Corolla, and here we’ve picked out the Touring Sports version, which is a roomy estate.

It’s not the most spacious estate car around, but with 598 litres of boot space with the seats up, there’s more than enough room for a few bikes or dogs. Fold the rear seats down and there’s even more space inside, and there’s plenty of rear legroom as well - which makes it a great family car.

That’s not all - the Corolla name might remind you of boring models from years gone by but this new model is great to drive and comfortable too. Plus, it’s got most of the tech you’d want. Most importantly the Corolla is available as a petrol-electric hybrid, which is the model we’ve picked out. Running costs are very low as a result, without needing to resort to a diesel model.

TOYOTA COROLLA BUYERS' GUIDE

2. Nissan Leaf

Best for commuting

Our pick Nissan Leaf (24kWh) Acenta (2015)
Used deals from £7,999
Monthly finance from £142

The original Nissan Leaf and the current model introduced in 2017 are both Sunderland-built, and the Leaf is the only fully-electric car on this list. We’ve chosen the previous-generation model because it represents great value for those looking at getting their first all-electric car.

For around £160 per month you can get into a relatively low-mileage 2015 model. The Leaf was one of the first of the modern generation of electric cars, offering rock-bottom running costs, near-silent running at lower speeds and punchy acceleration.

Standard kit on the Acenta model we’ve chosen here includes Bluetooth, cruise control, a rear-view camera, 16-inch alloy wheels and sat-nav. It’s comfortable and nippy to drive around town, so it’s well worth a look if you can manage its range of around 100 miles per charge. 

2010-2017 NISSAN LEAF BUYERS' GUIDE

3. Honda Civic Type R

Best for all-round fun

Our pick Honda Civic 2.0 i-VTEC Type R GT
Used deals from £19,000
Monthly finance from £301

There’s no doubt about it - the Honda Civic Type R is one of the best hot hatchbacks you can buy. Like all models in this class of car it mixes the practicality of an everyday hatch with the performance and handling of a true sports car, and yes - the Type R is built in Britain, at Honda’s Swindon plant.

What makes the Type R special is the way it blends its talents. Set it to Comfort mode using a button on the dash and it drives much like the normal Civic, dealing with bumps in the road very well. Yet at the same time it’s up there with the best sports cars when it comes to handling around corners - there’s loads of grip and it’s brilliant fun.

The 2.0-litre engine delivers astonishing performance, and the manual gearbox is a delight to use. All of this comes in a car that will comfortably seat five, with loads of room in the boot for luggage. It’s a true all-rounder.

HONDA CIVIC TYPE R BUYERS' GUIDE

4. Land Rover Discovery

Best for luxury

Our pick Land Rover Discovery 4 3.0 SDV6 SE Tech
Used deals Limited stock

The Land Rover Discovery 4 - which is the previous-generation model sold from 2009-2016 - was built at Land Rover’s plant in Solihull. The current Discovery divides opinion with its looks, but the model we’ve picked has a very familiar and popular shape, with its big, boxy outline.

It’s not just built here, of course, as Land Rover is a British brand - it was designed here too. So it’s perfect for the kind of off-roading you’ll come up against in Britain. Muddy fields, green lanes and farm tracks are nothing to the mighty Discovery, as it’s a brilliant off-roader.

Yet it’s also an incredibly comfortable car on-road, and one that can seat seven in relative comfort - only the rearmost seats are slightly lacking in legroom. It’s big enough for anything you want to throw in the back or even on the roof, from mountain bikes to surfboards. Plus, the 3.0-litre V6 diesel model is smooth and powerful, as you’d expect of a luxury SUV.

LAND ROVER DISCOVERY BUYERS' GUIDE

5. Mini Hatchback

Best for young drivers

Our pick Mini Hatchback 1.5 Cooper 5dr
Used deals from £8,600
Monthly finance from £154

The original Mini was the ultimate British car, representing the boom of the 1960s and the might of the UK car industry at that time. The new model might be backed by BMW - itself German - but the cars are still built in Oxford, and they’re brilliant in so many ways.

We’ve chosen a five-door model from 2016, as this version has useable rear seats (the three-door model’s back seats are pretty cramped), but retains the three-door Mini’s brilliant handling, punchy 1.5-litre petrol engine and smart looks.

The Mini is a big-seller, so there’s plenty of choice on the market and a 2016 car brings a good balance between newness and price, and you can pay less than £130 per month for one on BuyaCar.

MINI 5-DOOR HATCHBACK BUYERS' GUIDE

6. Nissan Qashqai

Best for crossover style

Our pick Nissan Qashqai 1.3 DiG-T Acenta Premium (2019)
Used deals from £8,280
Monthly finance from £154

Nissan’s Sunderland plant produces the Qashqai - arguably the car that kick started the current wave of 'crossovers', the family hatchbacks styled as SUVs that have become all the rage in recent years thanks to their higher driving position, appealing to drivers who like the idea of driving a big and imposing car that drives like a hatchback.

The Qashqai is great value, as you can get into a model that’s nearly new, with less than 10,000 miles on the clock, for around £200 per month. Go for an Acenta Premium model and you get features including sat-nav, smartphone connectivity, parking sensors, climate control, 17-inch alloy wheels and plenty of active safety kit.

The 1.3-litre petrol engine is our pick of the bunch - it was introduced on later models and is quiet, reasonably efficient and you don’t have to work it hard to make good progress. If you're after a good-value family SUV you could do a lot worse.

NISSAN QASHQAI BUYERS' GUIDE

7. Vauxhall Astra

Best for long trips

Our pick Vauxhall Astra 1.6 CDTI 136hp SRI Nav 5DR (2018)
Used deals from £7,798
Monthly finance from £127

Vauxhall is one of the oldest British car brands and while it’s owned by German brand Opel these days, it does still build the Astra in Ellesmere Port. The current Astra is a sleeper hit - it’s a far cry from the dull older models that share its name, as it’s actually really good to drive, has space for a family and is comfortable too.

Diesel isn’t dead yet, as it really suits those drivers who do a lot of miles each year. A 1.6-litre diesel Astra has an official economy figure of around 70mpg, and that should be possible on the motorway with a careful driver - so it’s an economical choice, and great value to purchase as well, with low monthly payments available.

We’ve picked out a low-mileage diesel car in SRI Nav spec, bringing sat-nav and a sharper look thanks to its 17-inch alloy wheels. It’s a 2018 model, so not too old, yet with 25,000 miles on the clock it’s ready to take on plenty more trips.

VAUXHALL ASTRA BUYERS' GUIDE

8. Jaguar F-Type

Best for sports car appeal

Our pick Jaguar F-Type 3.0 V6 Coupe (2016)
Used deals from £31,500
Monthly finance from £461

A list of British cars wouldn’t be complete without a sports car - and lightweight, back-to-basics niche models such as the Caterham Seven and Lotus Elise are good examples. Yet there’s a much more popular and upmarket model, the Jaguar F-Type, that’s built at the brand’s Castle Bromwich facility near Birmingham.

The F-Type is all about having fun. The big V6 engine in our chosen model sounds great, and brings strong performance: 0-62mph takes just 5.1 seconds, and the car’s top speed is 161mph. The Coupe model makes more sense than the convertible, as it’s cheaper and looks great - but if you’ve got the cash to spend, the drop-top is just as good to drive.

The F-Type is a fast, stylish and well-equipped sports car that you’ll have no trouble driving every day, as it rides well and the automatic gearbox is smooth and easy to use.

JAGUAR F-TYPE BUYERS' GUIDE

 

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