Ten great cars on a £50,000 budget

It’s a nice problem to have, car hunting with £50,000 – if you’re struggling to pick a car out of the herd, we’ve selected ten to suit all lifestyles.

For the green-minded – BMW i3

Electric cars are a booming business right now and, while a number of less-fancied brands have made the tech their own, the BMW i3 is the first of the prestige battery cars – along with its sporty i8 sibling.

You can buy the i3 as either a full electric vehicle if you’re going for maximum green points or, for £3,150 more, as a range-extender with a small petrol engine rated to a frankly ludicrous 470mpg. It’s probably the better bet if you have any concerns with the EV’s 80-mile range.

For the kitchen sink – Mercedes E-Class Estate

If you need to move lots of stuff about, there’s no better way to do it than the estate-bodied Mercedes E-Class. With a 650-litre boot, even with all the seats occupied, the big Mercedes will hold more people and stuff simultaneously than almost anything else with five seats. Drop the back row and you’ve got a 1,905-litre cavern.

So long as you don’t want AMG power, our £50k budget will buy any E-Class – like a smooth E350 BlueTEC. Just don’t go nuts with the options list…

For school run cachet – Porsche Macan

When it comes to the school car park, nothing but a crossover will do. Tack on a Porsche badge and there’ll be envious parents left, right and centre. It’s a prettier car than its Cayenne bigger brother too.

The budget stretches to the Macan S in petrol or diesel form. Neither’s slow, but the petrol model goes like stink – the ultimate in school run weaponry. The only fly in the Porsche’s ointment is that its popularity means it’s tough to get hold of one; we’re hearing stories of 18-month waiting lists…

For the weekend – Alfa Romeo 4C

Of course you might not be after an everyday car, in which case the 4C should be right up your street. One of the prettiest cars on sale and a fabulous drive – it’s a little compromised for day-to-day use but if you’re going to buy a toy, why not buy one that looks like this?

At £45k, it’s in budget, though you’ll be at the back of a very, very long queue…

For the adventurous – Land Rover Discovery

The Discovery nabbed best 4×4 in the 2014 carwow awards and with good reason. Aside from being a pretty comfortable occasional seven seater, it’s one of the truest go-anywhere cars on sale. If you’re regularly driving on roads that don’t even merit the name or there’s the odd mountain on your commute, there’s nothing better.

For the ultimate comfort – Jaguar XF

If you want an easy ride, there’s no better way of doing it than a Jaguar. The XF embodies this perfectly and will deliver whatever you put into it to the end of your journey in peace and quiet. It’s getting on a bit now and a replacement is due in a couple of years, but it still offers a ride that’s hard to beat.

The V8 petrols won’t be in budget, but the rest of the petrol and diesel range are in reach and are excellent engines – the supercharged V6 is borrowed from the F-Type. Not to mention the fact you get a Jag.

For the fashion-conscious – Land Rover Range Rover Evoque

It’s been with us for a couple of years now but there’s still nothing more chic than an Evoque. The good news is the entire selection is available at this price, so you can go for £30k model or a £50k model and no-one will be any the wiser.

It’s an excellent all-round car too, with hatchback practicality and decent road manners – it doesn’t quite match the bigger brothers in the Land Rover stable off-road but, it’s still a Land Rover so, providing you specify all-wheel drive, it might be pretty much all the car you could need.

For the track – Lotus Elise

The Elise has been with us for many, many years and it’s still the very definition of a road-going yet hardcore track toy. It’s just about usable as a daily road car, providing you don’t have many things or friends, and its track credentials make it a brilliant proposition on B-roads too.

Of course we’d head straight for the £37k Club Racer model for the ultimate Elise – it’s even rated at 38mpg if you’re not planning on fuelling up before your track day.

For those who want everything – Audi SQ5

We almost made it through this article without mentioning Audi – almost. Problem is, Audi make really good cars and the SQ5 is one few could honestly argue with. European versions get a twin-turbodiesel V6 throwing out 309hp and 479lb ft of torque channelled through an eight-speed automatic gearbox and quattro four-wheel drive.

So it’s fast – but it’s also comfortable, spacious, well-equipped, neatly-appointed and desirable. The ideal transport for the posh family.

For the collector – Abarth 695 Biposto

A Fiat 500 for £50,000 we hear you ask? Yes. But it’s not just any Fiat 500. The Abarth brand lifts the regular car to a raucous hot hatch but the 695 Biposto (two-seater) takes it to new levels of insanity. Your budget will buy a Biposto with all the race-inspired goodies – lightweight body parts, composite windows, racing seats and harness and a sequential racing gearbox all help it become the maddest 500 ever.

It’s hugely expensive and offensively impractical – the perfect appeal-to-the-heart car. Abarth won’t make many of them so its a safe bet that it’ll start to gain in value later down the line.

Too steep?

If you want a car and have just a fifth of the budget required for these cars – fear not – we’ve put together our list of our favourite new cars for sale under £10,000 – and they’re not all tiny city cars…

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