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Finding the right car to match your life and needs doesn’t have to be difficult. There are many practical reasons for choosing a particular car and we want to make it easy for you to decide which suits those needs.

You might need plenty of boot space for camping weekends or you want to enjoy the freedom of the road in a two-seater. Do you need a car that’s comfortable for longer commutes or something nippy that whips ‘round the city?

You might have a wish-list already, and if you don’t, that’s fine too. Some factors are more important than others, which is why we’ve chosen 5 categories:

  • Safety
  • Performance
  • Reliability
  • Fuel economy
  • Style

We think you’ll like them as much as we do.

BEST FOR SAFETY - VOLKSWAGEN GOLF

Now in its 8th generation, this sturdy hatchback has been impressing drivers since it was launched back in 1974. Crammed with safety features and precision engineering, the Golf has been awarded 5-stars from NCAP, Europe’s independent crash testing body. If you’re looking for a safe car that’s great to drive then look no further than the Golf.

This ever-popular hatchback is available in petrol, diesel and fully electric, which made its debut in 2020. It’s already got plenty of positive reviews so definitely worth a look. Some of the impressive safety features you should look for when searching for used models include: stability control, driver’s knee airbags and the autonomous emergency braking system. This automatically applies the brakes if the car senses an imminent low-speed collision keeping you safe on the roads.

2020 also saw the release of the latest generation of the Golf with a fresh new design. Whenever there’s a new model released you can expect to find some great deals on older models since dealers will want to make room for the new.

Best features:

  • Adaptive cruise control
  • Dynamic road sign display
  • Driver alert system

USED PRICES FROM £400

BEST FOR SAFETY - FORD FOCUS

It’s should be no surprise to see Ford’s Focus on a list for safe cars. Like the Golf, it too has received a full 5-stars from NCAP for safety. Ford has put a lot of attention into the safety technology to make the Focus one of the safest on the road.

Look out for impressive features like ‘Evasive Steering Assist’ available on more recent models – this helps you steer clear of parked or slow-moving cars. The latest technology can even detect cyclists and pedestrians before they step out onto the road. In older models you’ll find stability control which stabilises the car when you need to take evasive steering manoeuvres.

Now in its 4th generation, the Focus has consistently topped the best-selling lists since it was launched. It’s easy to see why with their impressive safety features, efficient engines, comfort and great handling. Regardless of which year you choose, you’re sure to have a car that helps you feel safe.

Best features:

  • Security system
  • Cross traffic alert
  • Rear-view camera

USED PRICES FROM £350

BEST FOR PERFORMANCE - JAGUAR F-TYPE

If it’s performance you’re after, the Jaguar F-type will not disappoint. This stunner from Jaguar is available in a coupe or convertible and will certainly turn heads. If you like the guttural purr of an exhaust, you’re in for a treat with this Jaguar. This car sounds glorious, but looks and sounds are just the beginning.

Thanks to the 50:50 weight distribution, where the front and back wheels bear the same amount of weight, you feel in control at all times.  Whether you’re on a long-straight or hugging the curves of a winding road, the tyres grip the road at all times. Despite sitting low to the ground, you’ll feel nicely cocooned in the cockpit with more space than expected in a typical 2-seater sports car.

Available in a 2, 3 and 5 litre, the powerful V8 reaches speeds of 200mph. The smaller engines still reach a speedy 155mp and can go from 0 – 60 in as little as 5.3 seconds.

Best features:

  • Slick, responsive steering
  • Impressive top speeds
  • Comfortable ride

USED PRICES FROM £24,000

BEST FOR PERFORMANCE - MAZDA MX-5

With heaps of classic roadster appeal, the MX-5 was created for performance at a fraction of the cost compared to the Mercedes SLC or Audi TT. This delightful two-seater has been around since the late 80s and has remained popular ever since.

The latest generation, like previous versions, enjoys a well-balanced weight distribution which helps you hug the curves of the UK’s notoriously windy roads. Because the MX-5 has a softer suspension, you can expect to feel some body lean but that’s part of the appeal.

If you really want to push the car to its limits, you can reach 60mph from a standstill in 8 seconds and enjoy top speeds of 135mph.

Best features:

  • Six speed manual gear box
  • Light weight
  • Rear-wheel drive

USED PRICES FROM £700

BEST FOR RELIABILITY - TOYOTA RAV 4

Toyota has a reputation for building reliable cars and the Rav 4 is no different. In several satisfaction surveys, drivers who own the Rav 4 rarely report any problems with the SUV. Add to this Toyota’s excellent customer service and you’ve got yourself a motor that’s reliable and keeps people happy.

Impressive safety features like Toyota Safety Sense 2 come as standard. This technology helps prevent crashes by applying the brakes when cameras detect an object in front. If you buy a used Rav 4, you could still benefit from the manufacturer warranty – it’s valid for a massive 5-year/100,000 miles.

The Rav 4 started off as a compact SUV, but over the years it’s grown into a full-size SUV with an abundance of space. There’s plenty of room for 4 adults to sit comfortably and headroom for taller folks. A 580 litre boot when the seats are up and 1,690 litres available when folded down.

Best features:

  • 5-year/100,000 mile warranty
  • Roomy cabin
  • Advanced camera system

USED PRICES FROM £900

BEST FOR RELIABILITY - LEXUS RX HYBRID

It should come as no surprise Lexus is known for reliability, especially since it’s part of the Toyota family. The RX is a refined luxury SUV with eco-credentials in the hybrid offering and battery lasting between 10 -15 years.

Lexus regularly scores well in reliability and dependability surveys, and the RX was rated the 5th-best car to own with less than 10% of owners experiencing any problems with the vehicle. Plus, the RX comes with loads of safety features as standard so you won’t have to pay for more expensive trims to benefit.

Keep an eye out for the Takumi edition – this top of the range trim comes with even more useful features such as rear cross-traffic alert and panoramic view monitor. No more worries about blind-spots when reverse parking.

Best features:

  • 10-15 year battery lifespan
  • Impressive standard safety features
  • High reliability scores

USED PRICES FROM £3,000

BEST FOR FUEL ECONOMY - HYUNDAI IONIQ

One of the most popular hybrids on the road, it’s easy to see why the Ioniq is so iconic. It’s popular with Uber drivers thanks to the impressive fuel economy. The Ioniq is powered by a 1.6-litre petrol engine and electric motor which gives you an impressive 55mpg.

When driving on the electric motor the car makes next to no noise and once the petrol engine kicks in it’s still relatively quiet. The Ioniq is best when used as a city car as it struggles to overtake on the motorway, plus you lose a lot of the fuel economy.

If you want to up your eco credentials, you can opt for the plug-in or full-electric Ioniq – all three are practical and affordable.

Best features:

  • Impressive standard equipment
  • £140 per year to tax
  • 84g/km CO2

USED PRICES FROM £9,000

BEST FOR FUEL ECONOMY - KIA NIRO

If you’re after a crossover SUV and hybrid mix, look no further than the Kia Niro. This family-friendly motor looks as normal as you can get. A lot of people are put off by hybrids because they’re not known for their looks. It’s easy to mistake the Niro for a petrol or diesel, but this surprisingly spacious car is 100% hybrid.

The Niro was always planned as a hybrid and this means the bulky battery and electric motor have been thoughtfully included in the design. As a result, you’ll get a lot more space than you expect making it an ideal family car.

You can expect to achieve around 59.8mpg, when driving under ideal circumstances and it’s available as a plug-in hybrid too.

Best features:

  • Predictive energy control
  • £140 per year to tax
  • 110g/km CO2

USED PRICES FROM £10,000

BEST FOR STYLE - BMW Z4 ROADSTER

BMW know a thing or two about engineering great cars and the Z4 not only runs great it looks great too. You’ll be hard-pressed to drive this 2-seater convertible down the road without getting noticed. The BMW grille at the front is rounded out by the curvy, bulbous back end – a well-balanced design.

It’s not just the outside that has style-appeal. The inside is packed with luxury features so you don’t have that stark overly sporty feel you find with some sports cars. You get leather upholstery as standard and BMW’s infotainment system is one of the best you can get.

If you happen to get caught in the rain you can easily close the top at the touch of a button even while driving up to 30mph. Pretty useful when you live in a country where it’s likely to rain.

Best features:

  • Apple Car Play
  • Leather seats
  • Gesture controls

USED PRICES FROM £2,100

BEST FOR STYLE - PORSCHE 718 BOXSTER

Often described as the entry level Porsche, the Boxster is certainly far from basic. Introduced in 1996, Porsche upgraded the style and charm of the 1950s roadster with the Boxster. It gets its name from the portmanteau of box engine and roadster.

Now in its 4th generation, you can’t get more appealing than the Boxster. It’s got the looks as well as a bit of oomph under the bonnet. Porsche isn’t known for being overly generous with internal features, but the seats are comfortable for weekend driving and there’s plenty of space for an overnight bag or two.

Despite the lack of features, you can still connect your gadgets with the in-built multimedia system, which includes Apple Car Play.

Best features:

  • Porsche Communications Management
  • Apple Car Play
  • Classic roadster looks

USED PRICES FROM £4,000

Find the perfect car that suits your needs at Motors.co.uk

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