Best driving cars

We've picked out eight of the best driving cars on sale, covering all types including practical options as well as two-seater sports cars

Sam Naylor
Apr 22, 2022

When you’re buying a car, there are plenty of different things to think about. You’ll want to consider what your budget is, the size of car you need, how many seats it has and how practical it is. You might then look into how much in-car technology it has, what its running costs are likely to be like, or how reliable it’s likely to be.

Most of those things are factual bits on information, so you can look them up. For example, if you want to see how many seats a car has or how big the boot is, a quick online search will give you the answers in seconds.

Yet perhaps the most important aspect of any car is how it drives. Even if a car is affordable, has all the tech you need, has an impressive fuel economy figure, is practical and the right size for you, if it’s rubbish to drive you might find you never want to get inside it.

How good a car is to drive isn’t a pure factual statistic, so it’s harder to tell which cars are better than others. Luckily, our experts have driven every car on sale and compared them all, and we’ve compiled a list of the best-driving cars available on BuyaCar below.

How a car drives isn’t just about how fast it is or how much grip it has around corners. In fact those things are very small factors, as most everyday driving isn’t about that. The best-driving cars, at least the ones we’ve picked out here, are good to drive no matter where you are or what kind of road you’re on.

The best models are comfortable as well as fun to drive, and are enjoyable whether you’re commuting to work on the motorway in the rain or going for a sunny drive on a twisty country road. We’ve picked out cars of various sizes and shapes, so there’s bound to be one that will suit you.

For a list of cars aimed at people who want something sporty and fast and much more engaging to drive, take a look at our recommendations for the best cars for petrolheads.

The best driving cars

1. Volkswagen Up GTI

Best-driving city car

Used deals from £12,000
Monthly finance from £0*

The Volkswagen Up is a tiny city car, but its small size and low cost don’t detract from it offering an enjoyable drive. In fact, small lightweight cars are often much more fun to drive than larger models, as they are more responsive when you turn the wheel and press the throttle - with less weight to hold you back - and you can feel more connected to the driving experience.

The Volkswagen Up is great in any form but the GTI version is the best of the lot to drive. It has a small 1.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine with 115hp, but since it’s so small and light, this is enough to ensure that performance is great. It’s no sports car but it’s still a lot of fun.

The Up GTI is also comfortable over bumpy city streets and handles well on twisty roads. It’s relatively practical for a small car, comes with enough kit for most people and is really easy to live with. It’s a fantastic all-rounder that’s great to drive and although it’s the most expensive version of the Up, it’s also the most fun.

VOLKSWAGEN UP BUYERS' GUIDE

2. Mini Cooper S

Best-driving small car

Used deals from £9,000
Monthly finance from £280*

There are loads of small cars that are great to drive but one of the best is the Mini Cooper S. It’s a compact supermini, and is best in three-door form, so it’s not the most practical option, but one trip behind the wheel will convince you that it’s worthy of a place on this list. It’s so much fun that it’ll win over even the most sceptical drivers - whether darting around town or bombing along a country road.

The Mini has lots of grip and precise steering, the driving position is superb and best of all, the 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine is fantastic. It sounds great and has lots of power with 190hp, so performance is strong no matter what gear you’re in. Talking of gears, the manual version has a fantastic shift action, so it’s really satisfying to use.

It’s comfortable too, so you can easily do long trips, and fuel economy is even acceptable considering how fast and fun the Cooper S is. It is available in five-door form, which is useful for people who need extra space in the back seats, but this version isn’t all that much more practical and costs more to buy.

MINI HATCHBACK BUYERS' GUIDE

3. BMW 3 Series Touring

Best-driving family car

BMW 3 Series Touring side view

Used deals from £22,000
Monthly finance from £391*

The BMW 3 Series Touring is our pick as the best-driving family car you can get. It’s at its best in terms of fun and performance in high-performance M340i form, but all versions are fantastic to drive, whether you pick a frugal diesel like the 320d or even a hybrid like the 330e.

There’s also the range-topping BMW M3 but this isn’t available (yet) as a Touring estate, so it’s not as practical - and it’s also quite harsh on bumpy roads. The beauty of the normal 3 Series is that it’s really fun and sharp-feeling on twisty roads while also being extremely comfortable over bumpy sections.

The Touring model is just as good to drive as the saloon, but has the benefit of lots more boot space and a useful hatchback boot opening that really boosts practicality. It’s roomy inside, packed with the latest kit, has a superb driving position and running costs are very reasonable. All the engines are excellent as well - especially the six-cylinder models, which are very smooth and sound sporty but refined.

BMW 3 SERIES TOURING BUYERS' GUIDE

4. Ford Mustang Mach-E

Best-driving electric car

Used deals Limited stock

The Ford Mustang Mach-E uses an iconic name that brings back memories of 1960s muscle cars, but it’s actually an ultra-modern electric car. It’s certainly worthy of the name, as it’s the best-driving electric car currently available.

You can choose versions with 265hp, 290hp or 346hp power outputs - or there’s the top-of-the-range Mach-E GT with a hefty 480hp. The more expensive versions have up to 379 miles of range per charge - which is more than most rivals - but even the basic models have up to 248 miles available. The Mustang Mach-E is packed with the latest safety and in-car tech and has a unique look.

What really impresses about the Mustang Mach-E is the way it drives, though. Fords are known for being fun, and this electric model doesn’t disappoint - it’s fast, like most electric cars, but also very nimble around corners and has pleasant steering, a good driving position and it stays very composed on country roads.

5. Alfa Romeo Giulia

Best-driving saloon car

Used deals from £15,790
Monthly finance from £309*

If you’re looking for a family car that looks like a sports car - and handles corners like one too - then consider the Alfa Romeo Giulia. It’s best in high-performance Quadrifoglio form, with a near-600hp V6 engine that gives it Ferrari-like performance at a much more affordable price. It can get from 0-62mph in under four seconds, which is faster than some supercars.

It’s not just about the performance - which is stunning - as the Giulia is sublime to drive. It’s comfortable but also has super-quick steering, loads of grip, a top driving position and a responsive automatic gearbox. Even cheaper versions of the Giulia, such as the 2.0-litre petrol Super versions, are fantastic to drive and look great.

There’s a decent boot and enough space in the back for passengers, so it makes a fine family car. It’s not the best in terms of technology, as the sat-nav system is more basic than you might expect, but in terms of driving it’s absolutely spot-on.

ALFA ROMEO GIULIA BUYERS' GUIDE

6. Mazda MX-5

Best-driving sports car

Used deals from £11,617
Monthly finance from £0*

The Mazda MX-5 is the world’s best-selling two-seater convertible and it wouldn’t be a stretch to say that it’s also the best sports car ever built. Not only is the Mazda affordable for many people, it’s also more fun to drive than some models costing several times as much.

It’s available as a soft-top and a hard-top - the latter is called the RF, and the middle part of the roof can still fold away into the boot using an electric mechanism. The normal soft-top is cheaper and quicker to raise and lower, though, so that’s our pick.

The Mazda is small, nimble and has all the performance you need. There are 1.5-litre and 2.0-litre models, and while the larger engine brings more power, both are really fun to use. The real joy of driving the MX-5 is that it’s engaging on twisty roads - regardless of your speed - has a fantastic gear change, a low driving position and yet remains comfortable and usable as an everyday car.

MAZDA MX-5 BUYERS' GUIDE

7. Porsche Macan

Best-driving SUV

Used deals from £30,000
Monthly finance from £771*

If you are a keen driver then SUVs might not be on your radar, as they are typically worse to drive than their lower, smaller, lighter counterparts like hatchbacks and estate cars. Yet the Porsche Macan is one viable option if you really want a bigger car, as it’s the best-driving SUV around.

All versions of the Macan are great to drive, as they have superb steering, lots of grip and plenty of performance. Our favourite is the GTS model, which has a 2.9-litre V6 engine with 440hp. It’s a lot of fun on a twisty road yet has all the practicality you would expect from a higher-riding SUV model with a hatchback boot.

The Macan has more than enough room for a family, and while the technology inside lags behind some other similar models, it’s got all the functions you really need. The seats are comfortable and the driving position is one of the best in any SUV - it feels sporty yet you still get a commanding view out over the road ahead.

PORSCHE MACAN BUYERS' GUIDE

8. McLaren 570S

Best-driving supercar

Used deals Limited stock

Here’s a choice for people with an unlimited budget - a genuine supercar. The McLaren 570S is perhaps the best-driving car you’ll find on BuyaCar full stop, and although it has a hefty price tag, it’s far better to drive than some supercars costing twice as much. This is partly because it has lost more value than some cars that cost a similar amount when new.

It uses a 3.8-litre twin-turbocharged V8 engine with - as you might expect - 570hp, and can go from 0-60mph in a seriously rapid 3.1 seconds. Those are impressive figures, but there are many cars that can go fast in a straight line. The McLaren is all about the corners, and it’s absolutely stunning in that respect.

The steering is perfect, with loads of feel and feedback but without being too heavy. Likewise, the driving position couldn’t be better, and it has so much grip that you can push it harder than you might think possible. It shines on a track day but the real magic of the McLaren is that it’s satisfying and fun to drive even when you’re driving normally, too.

*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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