There’s no denying that £50,000 is a fair chunk of change to spend on a car, but if you are in the fortunate position to do so then there are some great vehicles to choose from.
In this article, our road-test team has scratched its collective head and narrowed down some of the very best options out there, covering everything from two-seater sports cars to seven-seater family SUVs and a few luxury saloons, too.
The best cars for £50,000 or less are:
- Audi TTS
- BMW 2 Series M240i
- Porsche 718 Cayman
- Kia EV6
- Range Rover Velar
- Skoda Kodiaq
- Volvo XC40
- Audi A6 Avant
- Mercedes C-Class
- Tesla Model 3
1. Audi TTS
The Audi TT has been around for decades, becoming more polished with every generation. For our budget you can stretch to the mid-range all-wheel-drive 320hp TTS model. It’s extremely rapid, with a 4.5-second 0-62mph time and delivers an acceptable 34mpg in mixed driving.
The customisable digital dashboard is sharp and clear, and you get plenty of kit as standard. Space and comfort up front are great, although the rear seats are best reserved for extra luggage rather than people.
2. BMW 2 Series M240i
The latest BMW 2 Series is a high tech sports coupe that in M240i form is almost as quick as the outgoing M2. Its searing 4.3-second 0-62mph time is thanks partly to its 374bhp 3.0-litre turbocharged engine and a standard all-wheel-drive setup. It still handles like a BMW should, and the (smallish) rear seats and decent boot make it perfectly suitable for the school run and shopping duties.
The ride may be a bit firm at slower speeds, but the M240i remains is one of the most accomplished cross-country sports cars you can buy for under £50,000. No wonder it was selected as one of our carwow Buy It award winners for 2023.
3. Porsche 718 Cayman
Everyone wants a 911 but drive a Cayman first and you may change your mind. The mid-engined handling dynamics and strong performance make even the base Cayman a formidable sports car that continues to be the benchmark in its class.
It may lack the rear seats of its bigger 911 brother, and our budget means you’ll have to entry-level 295bhp four-cylinder Cayman, but it’s hardly a chore when that means a 0-62mph time of 5.1-seconds, rear-wheel-drive and a great manual transmission. If you only need space for two, look no further.
4. Kia EV6
A good family car needs to be spacious, efficient and practical. The Kia EV6 ticks those boxes and many more. Its 226bhp electric powertrain is smooth, provides quick acceleration and will do 328 miles between charges. There are more powerful 321bhp and even 577bhp versions, but neither goes as far on a charge and all that extra performance will be totally wasted around town.
The base Air and mid-range GT Line trims are within our 50k budget, and both are packed with standard kit. It will happily seat four to five adults and it’s certainly one of the best-looking family-friendly SUVs you can currently buy.
5. Range Rover Velar
Stunning design and plenty of high-tech features set the Range Rover Velar apart from most of its alternatives. The entry-level D200 diesel fits into our budget with a few pounds to spare. In this trim you still get plenty of kit and can add leather seats and sat nav without going over our 50k limit.
The 204bhp diesel engine is punchy and frugal, offering 44mpg in mixed driving. It’s also capable of heading further off the beaten path than most other SUVs in this class.
6. Skoda Kodiaq
The Skoda Kodiaq is a great buy for those looking for a well-priced large SUV with the option of seven seats. The Kodiaq shares much of its interior tech and engine range with the VW Tiguan Allspace but comes with a lower price tag.
You could go wild with the options list and still come in under our imaginary 50k budget. Pick the 200bhp diesel for great economy and decent performance or go for the 245bhp vRS trim if you never want to be late for another meeting.
The Kodiaq has plenty of standard and optional kit, from a digital driver display to umbrellas in the front doors. No surprise then that it’s another carwow Buy It award winners for 2023.
7. Volvo XC40
Compact, stylish and spacious, the Volvo XC40 is one of the best small SUVs out there. It is available with a broad array of trims and engine options. Our budget allows us to pick one of the higher Plus trim and the 211bhp Plug-in hybrid engine which delivers 135mpg and is very smooth and refined.
If you prefer a fully-electric option, the XC40 Recharge is within our budget and offers up to 285-miles of range between charges, you’ll need to look at the slightly lower spec Core trim, though. You could also just about get into the larger XC60 for this money, too, though again only a relatively entry-level model.
Overall, the XC40 offers a refreshingly different interior design compared to its German alternatives, with plenty of stylish and practical features, although the infotainment can take a bit of time to get used to.
8.Audi A6 Avant
On paper, estate cars are the ideal body style. They offer just as much space and practicality as SUVs but have better driving dynamics and tend to be cheaper. The Audi A6 Avant is a great example of this, costing less than the Audi Q5 SUV, yet offering more boot space, better economy and performance all at a lower price.
You can get the Sport trim with all-wheel-drive and a punchy 265bhp petrol engine for just under 50k or opt for the higher spec S Line trim with a 204bhp version of the same engine. Both offer loads of high-tech features as well as space for five adults and 565-litres of luggage.
9. Mercedes C-Class
The latest generation Mercedes C-Class is an extremely refined and technologically advanced luxury saloon. It mixes a sporty exterior with a plush cabin that looks like it belongs in an S-Class.
Both the base 204bhp C200 petrol and 200bhp C220D diesel alternatives are in reach on our budget, but we’d go straight for the C300E Plug-in hybrid which is quicker and more efficient. And it’s still under the £50,000 price point.
Its boot is a bit smaller than in the other two, but it will zip from 0-62mph in just 6.1-seconds and can do up to 71 miles on purely electric power.
10. Tesla Model 3
There is no denying that the Tesla Model 3 is a seriously impressive piece of kit. Even in base trim it will get from 0-62mph in under 6.0-seconds and can do 305 miles between charges. It’s smooth and effortless whether you are crawling along in city traffic or cruising along on the motorway.
The minimalist interior is dominated by a huge 15-inch touchscreen which controls just about every function and setting. The almost complete lack of buttons takes a little while to get used to, and quality levels aren’t quite up there with some German alternatives, but getting back into a conventional petrol car after experiencing the Model 3 can feel like a step back in time.
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