Best cars for potholed roads

Short of hiring your own road maintenance team, getting one of these cars is the best way to deal with potholes and speed bumps

Gavin Braithwaite-Smith
Dec 9, 2020

Potholes are a big problem. Research shows that one in four motorists have damaged their car on a pothole or speed bump, with the problem being much worse in urban areas.

At best, hitting a pothole will be uncomfortable, but the resulting damage could be unsightly and costly. Tyres, alloy wheels, suspension and steering parts are all at risk of falling victim to the dreaded pothole.

The government will spend £2.5 billion fixing potholes over the next five years, but it might be a while before something is done about those moon-like craters you encounter on the way to work.

At BuyaCar, we can’t offer you a lunar module, but you don’t need to spend billions of pounds solving the pothole crisis. We’ve pulled together a list of affordable cars that are great on roads plagued by potholes.

Best cars for potholes

1. Fiat Panda City Cross

Used deals Limited stock

With a name like that, you’d be forgiven for thinking this Fiat Panda is as angry as you are when it comes to the state of Britain’s roads. In fact, the Panda City Cross could be the perfect car for tackling potholes and speed bumps.

The ‘City’ part of the name is important, because unlike the full-fat Panda Cross, it’s not four-wheel drive. This means it’s ready to tackle the urban jungle, rather than a proper jungle. Not that you’ll stumble across too many jungles on your daily commute.

As it does without heavy four-wheel drive, it’s more economical than a Panda 4x4, too, while the body armour and raised suspension will help if you discover that what you thought was a pothole turns out to be a small quarry.


2. Suzuki Ignis

Used deals from £7,586
Monthly finance from £125*

In the battle for urban jungle supremacy, the Suzuki Ignis is the Panda’s nemesis. This won’t cut it as the opening to a Hollywood blockbuster, but the Ignis is great at busting potholes. Or something.

It looks like a pint-size SUV, and it’s thanks to this boxy styling that the Ignis is so spacious inside. There’s ample room for four adults, along with the kind of equipment you’d associate with cars with a much higher price tag.

Avoid the entry-level version and you get chunky wheel arch extensions, side mouldings, roof rails and 16-inch alloy wheels. You can even get a version with 'Allgrip' four-wheel drive, which will devour potholes like a crazed monster that only Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson can handle. Sorry, slipped into Hollywood mode again.


3. Citroen C4 Cactus

Used deals from £13,250
Monthly finance from £225*

The original Citroen C4 Cactus proved to be a rather divisive car - people loved and loathed the 'Airbump' protective panels on the side of the car in equal measure. For the 2018 facelift (shown in the image above), Citroen reduced the size of the panels and created a look that’s more upmarket than before.

But the big news was the arrival of cushions. No, not the kind of cushions you might pick up in the John Lewis sale, but what Citroen calls 'Progressive Hydraulic Cushions'. We’ll spare you the tech lesson, but let’s just say that they smooth out all but the worst road imperfections.

There’s more, because the front seats are wider, softer and more comfortable, with a design that wouldn’t look out of place in a home on Grand Designs. The overall result is a car that’s comfortable and relaxing to drive in town. Potholes? What potholes?


4. Skoda Octavia Scout

Used deals Limited stock

Even if you don’t live at the end of a farm track or down a muddy lane, there’s a lot to like about the Skoda Octavia Scout. Launched in 2014, the Scout comes with four-wheel drive, raised suspension, black plastic cladding and front and rear scuff plates.

It’s designed for the great outdoors, but that doesn’t mean it can’t tackle the potholes, speed bumps and width restrictions of the city. Indeed, because it’s as easy to drive and park as a regular Octavia, it’s arguably more appealing than an SUV.

The Scout costs a little more than a standard Octavia Estate, but this is justified by the generous level of equipment and the fact that it holds on to its value better than other models. You also get a massive boot and a Rough Road package, which comprises protection for the engine and underbody.


5. Volvo S90

Used deals from £20,000
Monthly finance from £283*

When it comes to a smooth and relaxing drive, the Volvo S90 is an excellent choice. This is a car that’s been designed with comfort in mind, from the supremely supportive and comfortable seats, to the laid back eight-speed automatic gearbox. Keyless drive is fitted as standard, so you don’t even have to unlock or start the car with a key.

The supple suspension irons out any imperfections in the road, even if you opt for the stylish 19-inch alloy wheels. The smaller the alloy wheels, though, the more rubber between you and the road, meaning the higher the comfort level will be. For city driving, we’d recommend the T8 plug-in hybrid model, as this offers an official 37 miles of electric range on a full battery charge.


6. Ford Focus Active

Used deals from £16,999
Monthly finance from £252*

The Ford Focus Active is a rugged version of this popular family car, designed for drivers who don’t fancy a full-fat SUV. It’s not four-wheel drive, but you do get a choice of driving modes, including ‘slippery’ and ‘trail’.

Available as an estate and a hatchback, the Focus Active also features a ride height that’s 30mm higher than standard, an elevated driving position and a host of SUV-inspired cosmetic upgrades.

The standard Active model is well-equipped, but the Active X adds 18-inch alloy wheels, a panoramic sunroof, front and rear parking sensors, keyless entry, heated front seats and dual-zone air-conditioning.


7. Dacia Duster

Used deals from £7,099
Monthly finance from £138*

Remember when you played with a Tonka toy on your living room carpet? Did you chuck it into the skirting board without worrying about the Euro NCAP safety rating? Was it rough, tough and ready to tackle any home-based obstacle you stuck in its way?

Good, because the Dacia Duster is the grown-up version of that Tonka toy. While we wouldn’t recommend it for living room adventures, it’s ideal for potholes and rough roads. It’s all thanks to more than 210mm of ground clearance and the option of four-wheel drive for those really big potholes.

It’s one of the most affordable cars on the BuyaCar website, so you won’t mind if it picks up a scrape or two. In short, it’s a spacious family SUV for the price of a small city car. Still want that Tonka toy?


8. Mercedes S-Class

Used deals from £27,950
Monthly finance from £519*

For the typical Mercedes-Benz S-Class owner, potholes are something for the chauffeur to worry about. Even if James (other chauffeurs are available) encounters a pothole, you’re unlikely to notice as you sit in the back, legs stretched out, enjoying the supreme luxury.

If you do decide to take the wheel, you’ll find that the S-Class is surprisingly satisfying to drive. Smooth and relaxing on a motorway, luxurious in the city, and pretty nimble on a country lane.

Worried you can’t afford such luxury? Fear not, because a 2015 Mercedes-Benz S-Class could cost little more than the price of a new Ford Fiesta. Potholes will be a problem for somebody else to worry about if you go for one of these.


*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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