Best cars for adventure

Grab your coat, you could be going on a trip of a lifetime in one of these excellent cars for adventures - from sports cars to off-roaders

James Wilson
Jan 12, 2022

Some adventures involve going to the airport with a spare week, a passport and a credit card, while others involve jumping in the car and hitting the road - either with a route planned or simply a full fuel tank and plenty of time. If you like to spend your adventures behind the wheel, look no further: here we've rounded up the best cars for adventure.

Whether you plan to explore the far-flung corners of Europe or navigate deepest darkest Scotland, having the right car for the job can add a whole new dimension to your trips. Likewise, the wrong car could see you stuck on a hillside and soon to be featured on an episode of ‘Mountain Rescue: Hopeless Edition’. 

Of course, not all adventures are huge undertakings that require months of planning. There are spontaneous trips to the coast, weekends away in a snug B&B and even group outings to climb a mountain. Happily, there are a great number of cars suited to each of these, from sporty two-seater convertibles all the way up to large four-wheel-drive SUVs.

When looking for a good car for adventure it's important to consider the type of adventure you're after. If you want to travel hundreds if not thousands of miles with ease, you need to go for a reliable model that is effortless to drive and economical. Meanwhile, if you want something to enjoy weekend breaks in style, exterior design becomes far more important.

Below we have listed eight cars that are particularly well suited to adventurous trips. All of them can be bought second-hand for somewhere between £10,000 and £35,000, which is roughly £175* to £500* per month on PCP finance. So dust off your surf board, grab your picnic basket and chuck the tent in the boot, as you could be going on an adventure sooner than you think.

Best cars for adventure

1. Fiat 124 Spider

Best adventure car for romantic weekends away

Used deals Limited stock

Despite the Fiat 124 Spider only being on sale for a few years in the UK (it was in production from 2016 to 2019) it made quite an impression during that time. A large part of this is thanks to its fun character. Take the engine - it is a peppy 1.4-litre turbocharged petrol engine, which sounds great when you accelerate. Fiat made sure the 124 Spider handles corners with impressive agility, too, which is perfect for a small two-seater sports car.

It's closely related to the lightweight Mazda MX-5, which is great fun to drive itself and offers a little more punch from low engine speeds and is more of a cruiser than the Mazda, making it the better choice for going on a road trip where you want to drop the roof and rack up the miles.

Like most sports cars, the Fiat 124 Spider can’t measure up to the practicality of cars such as the Volkswagen Golf, but then again, the Golf isn’t nearly as much fun to drive nor is it as pretty to look at. The Fiat has a 140-litre boot which should be enough for a weekend's luggage if you pack carefully.

FIAT 124 SPIDER BUYERS' GUIDE

2. Audi A5 Sportback

Best adventure car for European road trips

Used deals from £12,050
Monthly finance from £0*

If adventure means jumping in the car and zooming off to the Alps to you, you need a car that can make even the longest journey comfortable. Chances are you'll want a number of cup holders for a start, comfy seats and smooth suspension plus plenty of performance for stress-free overtakes on country roads and to make it easy to keep up with the locals on the autobahn.

A decent range of in-car tech should make trips more enjoyable, too, potentially including slick sat-nav, decent speakers, climate control and heated seats to keep things comfortable. Choosing a model with an economical engine is important, as well, to make sure you don't melt your credit card with enormous fuel bills. The Audi A5 Sportback offers all this and more. There are plenty of engines to choose from, ranging from affordable models with 2.0-litre petrol and diesel engines to more performance-oriented versions with larger engines.

There are a number of engines and gearboxes to choose from and the pick of the bunch for country-to-country adventures is an automatic model with one of the 3.0-litre diesel engines, as these offer very strong acceleration and decent fuel economy to boot. If you'd rather stick to petrol power, however, one of the more powerful 2.0-litre petrol models is a good affordable alternative. 

The A5 ‘Sportback’ is a five-door coupe, with sleek looks and a useful hatchback. This type of car is great for those who would like a sporty looking car, but who need the practicality of rear doors and a large boot. BMW makes a similar model, the 4 Series Gran Coupe, and it is equally suited to long road trips. 

AUDI A5 SPORTBACK BUYERS' GUIDE

3. Fiat Panda 4x4

Best adventure car for country escapades

Used deals from £6,795
Monthly finance from £0*

If you want a car that can go off-road and unlock fun trips in the countryside, but don't want to spend big money on an expensive-to-run, difficult-to-drive tank, going for a small four-wheel-drive car could be a smart move. Compact models like the Fiat Panda 4x4 are far lighter than big off-roaders and so don't need such big, thirsty engines and can often scamper up hillsides and over slippery terrain that you wouldn’t think possible.

The Fiat Panda 4x4 is a great adventure car for those looking to get lost in the Lake District, or simply find any muddy track and see how far you can get. As the Panda is a city car, it is noticeably smaller than the Ford Fiesta, which makes it perfect for fitting down tight lanes. However, you might need to plan your adventure carefully when it comes to what you pack. If you are going camping and taking passengers, the 225-litre boot will be tight, but there is always the option of a roof box.

Meanwhile, if you don’t have passengers in the back, then the rear seats can be folded down to make space for all kinds of adventure gear. If you have heard that four-wheel-drive cars are expensive to run, fear not, as the Panda is affordable to purchase and comes with frugal engines, so it is relatively budget-friendly.

FIAT PANDA BUYERS' GUIDE

4. Suzuki Jimny

Best adventure car for serious off-roading on a budget

Used deals Limited stock

On paper, the Suzuki Jimny and Fiat Panda 4x4 are similar cars, being small and affordable but surprisingly capable off-road. On the road, they differ greatly though. Where the Panda is equally suited to town driving as it is muddy fields, the Jimny is first and foremost an off-road vehicle. It has plenty of clearance between the underside of the body and the ground, so it can drive over ditches and rocks without a problem and it has clever features that help make sure you have grip when the going gets slippery, such as when it snows.

The Jimny is also one of the most striking cars on the road. Some hate it, some love it, but hats off to Suzuki for designing a car that stands out. There are a couple of niggles with the Jimny, though; firstly the boot is tiny, so you will need a roof box or to fold the rear seats down if you are planning on taking anything larger than a weekend bag on your adventure.

The second is the price. Suzuki launched the Jimny and it was massively popular but then it was pulled from sale, as it didn't meet the updated European emissions standards. All is not lost, though, as if you cannot stretch to a relatively new Jimny there are some previous-generation models to choose from and these are good little off-roaders as well. If most of your driving is on the road, however, we'd recommend going for the more comfortable Panda 4x4 instead.

SUZUKI JIMNY BUYERS' GUIDE

5. Land Rover Discovery

Best adventure car for adventures with the whole family

Used deals from £18,395
Monthly finance from £794*

A small off-road car is great for many occasions, but what if you have both lots of people and luggage to take on your adventure? Then, the Land Rover Discovery will be an ideal choice. The Discovery has seating for seven and unlike some seven-seaters, there is plenty of space for adults to use the rearmost seats. Also, with all the seats in place, there is still 258 litres of boot space, which is roughly the same as a Kia Picanto city car. Fold the two rearmost seats down and this shoots up to 1,137 litres - which is more than enough for most adventures.

One of the other benefits of the Discovery is that it is very easy to drive considering its size. All models come with an automatic gearbox and Land Rover’s legendary four-wheel-drive system, with electronic assistance through a system called ‘Terrain Response’. This can automatically adjust how the engine and gearbox behave to make sure you remain in control when off-roading. It sounds complicated and the technology is, but for a driver, it couldn’t be easier to use. As a result, whether you're traversing a smooth motorway or a rutted woodland track, a Discovery should get you to your destination.

LAND ROVER DISCOVERY BUYERS' GUIDE

6. Volkswagen Transporter

Best adventure car for beach trips

Used deals from £16,995
Monthly finance from £0*

If you need an adventure car with loads of practicality, then look no further than the Volkswagen Transporter. It is a brilliant option for those who are into excursions such as the Three Peaks Challenge, as there is ample room for many passengers and plenty of luggage. Plus, there is more than enough interior room to transform the cabin into sleeping quarters at night. To cater for as many people as possible, Volkswagen offers the Transporter with manual and automatic gearboxes, as well as petrol and diesel engines plus two- and four-wheel-drive.

The range of Transporter models is huge. Transporter Shuttle versions are effectively shuttle buses - unsurprisingly, these are quite popular with taxi drivers. Then there are Transporter Kombi models which are a cross between a van and a minibus and benefit from additional load space, and last but not least are standard Transporter models. The most suitable option will come down to how much luggage you need to carry and the number of passengers you expect to transport, so it's a good idea to compare these and work out which format is best for you.

VOLKSWAGEN TRANSPORTER KOMBI BUYERS' GUIDE

7. BMW 5 Series Touring

Best adventure car for everyday adventures

BMW 5 Series Touring front

Used deals from £15,500
Monthly finance from £0*

For adventures big and small, the BMW 5 Series Touring is a smart choice. BMW uses the word ‘Touring’ to mean an estate with added boot space, but as the name suggests, the 5 Series Touring is a good choice for going on tour and travelling through a number of countries on a long-distance trip. The 5 Series is a capable everyday car, especially in 520d diesel guise, which offers plenty of performance and economy and is just as suited to long motorway trips as meandering along mountain roads.

The boot is large and while the Mercedes E-Class Estate offers more room, the BMW can still handle up to 560 litres of luggage, which is more than enough for most drivers. The cabin is spacious enough for five adults, meanwhile, and makes it feel like a very high-quality product. Throw in a good amount of standard equipment, such as an electronically opening and closing boot, and the 5 Series is a great car for most adventures.

BMW 5 SERIES TOURING BUYERS' GUIDE

8. Hyundai i30 N

Best adventure car for driving holidays

Used deals Limited stock

If there is one adventure that dictates a fun car, it is a driving holiday. Road trips spanning multiple days are incredibly popular, so much so there are specific routes promoted to attract drivers. One of the more popular UK routes is the North Coast 500 (or NC500 for short), which is a 500-mile route around Northern Scotland. Which car would we suggest tackling an adventure such as the NC500 in? The Hyundai i30 N.

The i30N was the first model made under Hyundai’s performance ‘N’ division and it has proven very popular with keen drivers, offering a more engaging driving experience than established rivals such as the Volkswagen Golf GTI. There are two types of i30 N; the regular model and a ‘Performance’ version. If your budget allows, we’d recommend the Performance, as it comes with more power and a number of features which make it more fun to drive, such as an electronic locking differential, which helps to boost grip when accelerating.

HYUNDAI I30 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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