Britain positively drips with automotive heritage, but in recent years it’s become a considerable global force for car design, manufacture and research – and as a result has produced some world-beating cars. Here are the best British cars you can buy right now, and why we think they’re worthy of your attention.
1. Land Rover Discovery
The Land Rover Discovery is a hugely versatile and practical large SUV, which feels comfortable both on and off road and is a great all-rounder. Whether it’s the motorway or a bumpy dirt track, the Discovery will be able to tackle it with ease. The cabin has a plush but rugged feel, with a wide range of standard equipment.
Interior space is also hugely impressive – there’s a giant 1,131-litre boot and it’s also available with seven seats so it really is a go-anywhere family car that’s only likely to be stopped by a deep river. As for its British credentials, the Discovery is designed in the Midlands and looks set to take the SUV world by storm when it rolls off the Solihull production lines in late 2016.
2. Nissan Qashqai
The Nissan Qashqai is often credited with starting the whole crossover boom, mixing hatchback looks and performance with a high driving position that gives Qashqai drivers a better sense of security over lower-riding cars. It’s a practical small SUV too, and will comfortably seat four people (five on short journeys), and there’s a generous 430-litre boot for all the family’s kit.
With strong levels of standard equipment on all trim levels and prices from a little less than £18,500, the Qashqai also represents outstanding value for money. It’s renowned for being a great all-rounder in the small SUV sector and is pleasant to drive too. And we know what you’re thinking – surely Nissan is a Japanese brand? Well that is true, but the Qashqai is made in Sunderland. Can’t get more British than that.
3. Bentley Continental GT
The Bentley Continental GT is a luxurious coupe with plenty of plush details, standard equipment and luxurious materials – not to mention outrageously powerful engines. It’s one of the most comfortable quick coupes around and is an impressive motorway cruiser.
Whether you go for the monstrous 6.0-litre W12 engine or the more modest 4.0-litre V8, it’s a seriously quick car despite being a bit on the heavy side. Priced at around £140,000 for standard models it’s undoubtedly an expensive car, but that’s hardly surprising thanks to its luxurious cabin, incredible build quality and strong performance figures. The Conti GT is built in Bentley’s Pyms Lane factory in Crewe, Cheshire.
4. Mini Hatchback
The Mini Hatchback is a charming small hatchback with striking looks and impressive driving dynamics. Fun handling is one of the car’s biggest strengths and its sophisticated rear suspension system makes it feel nice and planted to the ground, even when you’re driving down a rural B-road like your hair’s on fire.
Inside, the Mini is a strong step forward compared to previous versions, with a well-built retro-quirky feel. Equipment levels are decent but options can bring the price up considerably, and for a small car, it’s not the cheapest around either, being priced at a little over £14,000. It’s built at Plant Oxford in Cowley, in Oxfordshire.
5. Range Rover Sport
The Range Rover Sport is another versatile, flexible and spacious large SUV from Land Rover. It’s a great all-rounder too thanks to impressive space, practicality and performance for a chunky off-roader. The Range Rover Sport feels just as comfortable on road as it does off it, with surprisingly sharp handling for such a large car.
Inside, there’s a huge amount of space thanks to a 489-litre boot and space for up to seven people. The cabin is typically plush and luxurious as well, with comfortable seats and a relaxing ride that smooths out the worst of British potholes. Equipment levels are impressive too, and there’s a sports-car-fast SVR model if you really want to make a lot of noise, terrify your passengers and increase your annual tyre bill. Oh, and all Range Rover Sports are built at Land Rover’s Solihull plant.
6. Vauxhall Astra
The Vauxhall Astra is a class-leading hatchback with impressive practicality and driving dynamics. It’s pretty much as fun to drive as the Ford Focus and matches smart exterior looks with a comfortable and well-built interior, packed with strong levels of standard equipment, including one of the best touchscreen infotainment sytems out there.
There’s a comfortable amount of interior space for four and a large 370-litre boot too. Despite all this, the Astra also represents good value for money, costing from around £16,000 for the lowest trim levels and engines, most of which are cheap to run. The Astra is built at Ellesmere Port in Cheshire.
7. Aston Martin DB11
The Aston Martin DB11 is one of the prettiest and most charming cars grand tourers you can buy. As you’d expect from an Aston Martin it’s jaw-droppingly beautiful and has a similarly striking interior, resplendent with intricate details and impressive equipment thanks to a tie-up with Mercedes-Benz.
As you’d expect for a car with a 5.2-litre turbocharged V12 engine, the DB11 is incredibly quick, yet the straight-line speed is backed up by agile handling that gives you the confidence to drive briskly on the road. Standard models are priced at £154,900 but few will be sold at this price, due to custom additions and options. The DB11 is built at Aston Martin’s plant in Gaydon, in Warwickshire.
Check out our price, specs and release date article for more details on the DB11.
8. Jaguar F-Pace
The Jaguar F-Pace is one of the best-looking family crossovers on the market, with sleek exterior lines and the British manufacturer’s signature imposing grille. It’s at the top of its class for interior space, with plenty of room for four people (five on shorter journeys) and an impressive 650-litre boot.
The interior is unsurprisingly plush for a Jag, with a leather-wrapped dashboard and a large 10.2-inch display dominating the centre console. It’s not the best off-roader, but on road the F-Pace is impressive to drive – it’s one of the sportiest feeling SUVs out there – and has a good range of efficient yet punchy engines. It’s built at Jaguar Land Rover’s Solihull plant.
9. Rolls-Royce Ghost
If you want unrivalled space and luxury regardless of cost, it’s hard to look past the Rolls-Royce Ghost. The handsome car is the little brother of the giant Phantom, but offers the same level of extravagance and comfort, for a slightly lower price.
Built quality couldn’t get much better and equipment levels are unsurprisingly strong, as you’d expect from a car priced from a little over £226,000 – although most models will be far more expensive due to options and extras. It’s a nice car to drive too, although those buying it likely won’t be in the driving seat. The Ghost is built at Rolls-Royce’s Goodwood plant in West Sussex.
10. Toyota Auris
The Toyota Auris is a spacious and well-built family hatchback and a close rival to the Astra. There’s a good amount of room inside for four people and a 360-litre boot. All models of the Auris come with a generous range of standard equipment, while the interior feels solid and robust, albeit not that exciting to look at.
Toyota is renowned for its reliability and it’s no different with the Auris, and there’s also a hybrid option for the family hatch too – perfect for city driving, and those who want a greener version of the car. It’s a good value car too, priced from over £16,000. The Auris is built in Britain at Toyota’s Burnaston plant in Derbyshire.
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