Cars with engines in the rear

Fancy driving something a little different? Here are eight cars with engines in the rear, from sports car to electric hatchbacks

James Wilson
Dec 15, 2021

Cars with engines in the rear are a rare breed. Considering the advantages such a configuration brings, it can be a little confusing as to why there aren’t more rear-engined cars on the road. Still, there are a number of great options out there, ranging from small and frugal city cars to high-end performance cars. Some are even fully electric.

This touches on an important point, as an ‘engine’ isn’t solely something which uses petrol or diesel, it is any machine which can convert power into motion. Therefore, an electric motor is technically an ‘engine’. A significant number of battery-powered cars have their engines in the rear, which is somewhat surprising, as the vast majority of fossil-fuel-powered cars have their engines at the front.

Then again, putting an electric motor in the rear makes a lot of sense. You can get the same benefits as with other rear-engined cars, such as more agile handling around corners, greater cabin space and, in certain cases, a more streamlined body shape. Additionally, electric motors are more compact than petrol and diesel engines, so relatively speaking they take up less boot space when they are in the rear.

Below there are eight of the best cars with engines in the rear. They are solely rear-engined, as we have skipped any electric cars that have a motor in the rear as well as another in the front.

The cars listed are available from around £5,000 (or £100* per month when financed with PCP finance) for the more affordable models but can surpass six figures when looking at particularly rare versions of the Porsche 911. That said, there are less expensive Porsches priced from around £75,000 (or £1,000* per month). Keep reading to find the best rear-engined car for you.

Cars with engines in the rear

1. Porsche 911

Used deals from £49,948
Monthly finance from £1,559*

On paper, putting an engine in the rear is a terrible idea for a performance car. Engines are very heavy, so putting one so far back should create something of a pendulum effect when cornering at speed. In theory, this could mean that if you are going around a bend quickly, the rear could swing around and cause the car to fly off the road. Not ideal. With the 911, this is not the case, though; it is simply one of the best handling vehicles money can buy as it's been engineered with this format in mind.

The engine in the 911 actually acts as a big paperweight, pushing the rear tyres into the road surface. This helps to increase grip, enabling the driver to accelerate harder before the wheels spin. Putting more weight at the back also means that the braking system can be better balanced, which again makes it more capable at high speeds. Traditional cars have most of their weight at the front, as that is where the engine is, so they have significantly more powerful front brakes, meaning the system is less balanced.

Away from the driving experience, the 911 is a fantastically well-built machine and the cabin is a great place to be. It also has a unique style, with its low bonnet - since there's no engine underneath and its sleek silhouette, so it looks unlike anything else on the road. 

PORSCHE 911 BUYERS' GUIDE

2. Smart ForTwo

Used deals from £6,649
Monthly finance from £0*

The Smart ForTwo isn’t the same type of car as the 911 as it swaps great sportiness for a supremely easy drive. Regardless, as the engine in the Smart ForTwo is in the rear - and powers the rear wheels - there is more space under the tiny bonnet, which leaves the front wheels to solely handle turning. As a result, the ForTwo has an impressively tight turning circle - which makes it extremely manoeuvrable and takes the stress out of u-turns in tight city streets.

Unlike the Porsche, the Smart doesn’t gain much from its rear-wheel-drive layout in sportiness terms, however. What it does get, is more cabin space, for the length of car, than if the engine had been under the bonnet. Drivers have the choice of petrol and electric Smart ForTwo models, but due to the short range of the electric model - of up to around 80 miles per charge - more affordable petrol models will likely be the best option for most.

SMART FORTWO BUYERS' GUIDE

3. Hyundai Ioniq 5

Used deals Limited stock

Few mainstream electric cars have made as much of a stir based on their styling as the Hyundai Ioniq 5. It looks like it would be at home on the set of a Back to the Future reboot, what with its square lights and angular styling. This is made all the more impressive given that the Ioniq 5 is a practical, sensible and cheap-to-run family hatchback. This means it is effectively an electric alternative to cars such as the Ford Focus and Volkswagen Golf.

There are two rear-engined Hyundai Ioniq 5 models. The first comes with a 168hp electric motor and the second comes with a 214hp electric motor. Top of the range versions come with four-wheel-drive, as they add another electric motor up front. The Ioniq 5 comes very well equipped as standard - climate control, adaptive cruise control and a wireless phone charging pad are all included from the get-go.

Plus, there is Hyundai’s five-year, unlimited mileage warranty, which is above average for the car industry and makes it a particularly good used car purchase, as you can pay less for a second-hand model but still have plenty of warranty cover.

4. Renault Twingo

Used deals Limited stock

French cars have historically been a little quirky to look at and the Twingo very much lives up to this. While pretty much every other four-seater city car has an engine at the front powering the front wheels, the Renault does not - alongside the closely-related Smart Forfour, featured below. Instead, its engine is in the rear and it powers the rear wheels. You may worry that the engine takes up valuable boot space with this setup. On paper, things don’t look great, as the Twingo has 188 litres of space, compared with the Skoda Citigo's 251-litre volume.

In reality, the Twingo's higher boot floor - which is raised since the engine is located below - means that you don’t have to stoop down as much to load and unload bags. Plus, the boot opening is nice and square making it easy to fit bigger items in. So, the Twingo is more than practical enough for a city car. Another benefit of the having the engine in the rear is that, like the Smart ForTwo above, the Twingo can turn very tightly, making it very simple to drive around town.

RENAULT TWINGO BUYERS' GUIDE

5. Tesla Model 3

Used deals from £43,000
Monthly finance from £0*

The Tesla Model 3 is an incredibly capable electric car that can travel up to 278 to 360 miles from a single charge, depending which version you go for. ’Long Range’ versions can travel the furthest on a charge, though even the 278 miles per charge of the most affordable model is an impressive figure for an electric car, with 350+ miles only being achieved by the highest-range electric cars. The Model 3 is even strong value for money, as it starts at just over £40,000 when new with Long Range versions starting at nearer £49,000.

Other positives include rapid acceleration, a super-high-tech cabin with a very pared back layout including a massive media system screen, plus use of Tesla's Supercharger charging network. This network expands across much of the world, enabling you to travel across Europe using nothing but Tesla's own chargers if you wish. This means that you don't need to worry about finding compatible chargers on your travels - as all of these are specifically designed for Teslas and they are mapped on the car's sat-nav, enabling you to select them on screen and travel directly there.

6. Smart ForFour

Used deals from £6,980
Monthly finance from £318*

The Smart ForFour is fundamentally the same car as the Renault Twingo above. This is because Smart and Renault decided to team up and make a small car together - by doing so they were able to share the cost of developing a new car. Visually, the Smart looks very different to the Renault, although they are still similar in shape. Generally speaking, Smart pitches its models as upmarket small cars, so the ForFour is relatively well equipped to suit this image.

Arguably the biggest issue with the Smart ForFour, when it was new, was the price. However, second-hand models are much better value, negating this problem. There is also a mildly sporty Brabus edition, which comes with an automatic gearbox and a modest power increase and more aggressive styling. Like the ForTwo, there is also an electric model, but with a range of under 100 miles, it is best suited to city dwellers who don't regularly need to travel long distances in one go.

SMART FORFOUR BUYERS' GUIDE

7. BMW i3

Used deals from £16,850
Monthly finance from £506*

As with the Smart ForFour and Renault Twingo, the i3 has a tight turning circle and a spacious cabin for the size of car. Being that the i3 is electric, every model comes with an automatic gearbox, so there is no need to worry about stalling at the lights. Also, being battery powered the i3 has zero tailpipe emissions, which is great for driving in places such as London where there are charges for driving high-polluting cars (though be aware that 'Range Extender' models - sometimes referred to as 'REx' do feature a small petrol engine, which kicks in to keep the electric motor going if you run out of charge).

The i3 has been in production since 2013 and as BMW has made regular updates - including updates to boost the range achievable from a full charge - we’d recommend going for the newest model you can afford. BMW briefly offered the REx version of the i3, too, so it's worth thinking about whether you want a fully electric i3 or would value a little extra range.

This had a little onboard petrol generator that would run when the battery was getting low, charging as you go. With this, you could keep topping up the small petrol tank in an emergency if you were unable to charge and keep moving indefinitely, though making use of the petrol generator means that the car is no longer a zero-emission vehicle.

BMW I3 BUYERS' GUIDE

8. Porsche Taycan

Used deals from £99,900
Monthly finance from £0*

The Taycan is one of the most desirable cars on the road, never mind one of the most desirable electric ones. It offers a sleek body, rapid performance, low running costs and is available with an electric motor at the rear. Most of the Taycan range is four-wheel-drive with motors at the front and the rear but the entry-level version is rear-wheel drive only.

Despite the ‘entry-level’ name, you won't be disappointed with the least extravagant Taycan, as it is one of the best models in the entire lineup. Not the least because it is one of the most fun to drive - with less weight due to absence of a front electric motor - but because it has one of the best claimed ranges per charge; up to 301 miles with the optional Performance Battery Plus. That makes it a fast, comfy and long-range choice.

*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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