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Whilst no longer the behemoth it once was, the UK car manufacturing industry is still responsible for producing some world-class vehicles. With a long automotive heritage, Britain has a string of iconic car designs and reputable nameplates to its credit, as well as a host of brands that are considered quintessentially British. But what cars are the best?

REASONS TO BUY BRITISH CARS

Whether you are feeling patriotic or just inquisitive about our automotive industry, buying British comes with a handful of benefits. Although it may not seem massively important from the outset, the reasons certainly add up to become significant. Typically, buying a car built on home soil will:

  • Lower your carbon footprint (as the vehicle will not have to be shipped from overseas)
  • Support the British automotive industry, including the many jobs within it
  • Support the UK economy and infrastructure
  • Possibly save you money – this could be more of a point following Britain’s exit from the EU, depending on the UK/EU trade deal and the tariffs placed on imported cars from Europe

TOP 10 BEST BRITISH CARS

When it comes to this category it’s easy to think of quintessential British brands like Jaguar, Bentley, Aston Martin, and Mini… but the truth is these brands are no longer owned by British companies or investors, instead the marques have been adopted by overseas interests. In fact, there are very few truly British car companies left in the automotive industry, although there are still lots of British-built vehicles from famous brands as diverse as Toyota, Nissan, and Vauxhall. That’s why we’ve essentially split this list into two parts: the first three autos are from three of the very few remaining British car companies, fourth place straddles the line, whilst the last six (5-10) are the best British-built vehicles. Read on to discover our top picks.

1. MCLAREN 570S

McLaren is a pioneering British car company that specialises in high-performance supercars and sports cars, producing some of the finest autos ever built. They’re pricey and they’re exclusive, but they’re also works of motoring art, finely crafted, tuned, and powerful. The McLaren 570S is such a car. It has a stunning exterior with aggressive sporty looks and it has an astonishing performance. McLaren insists it’s a sports car, which gives you an insight into the minds of their engineers, because it’ll hit a top speed of 204mph and reach a blisteringly fast 0-62mph in a mere 3.2 seconds – keeping up with some of the best supercars available. Like any McLaren, it’s obviously fast, but it also has expert handling, precision, and agility. In short, the 570S is grin inducing, thrilling, and the most fun you can have on four wheels.

Best features:

  • Incredibly fun to drive
  • Expert handling and agility
  • Astonishing performance power

USED PRICES FROM £85,000

2. CATERHAM SEVEN

With a suave, old-school style, the Caterham Seven brings a sense of purity back to the world of motoring. The iconic British car and company adhere to a mantra that focuses on simplifying the design and making it lighter, providing a stripped-back experience. You won’t find any fancy driver’s aids, high-tech equipment, or luxurious kit with a Caterham Seven, but what you will find is a wholly unique and refreshing take on motoring. At just over 500kg, the two-seater sports car is incredibly lightweight, couple that with a very low centre of gravity and agile handling and you get the recipe for a great sports car. Add to that mix incredible performance, with lightning fast speeds in the top spec model of 0-60mph in only 2.8 seconds, and you have an altogether different beast. And that’s the Caterham Seven, a classic sports car in a league of its own, with contemporary engineering and performance.

Best features:

  • Suave, old-school style
  • Incredible performance
  • Unique and iconic

USED PRICES FROM £15,000

3. ARIEL ATOM

A very small British car company with some very talented and knowledgeable employees, Ariel produces roughly a hundred vehicles a year from a roster of two: one of them is the two-seater high-performance Ariel Atom. There’s a theme to British car companies – those that remain are all specialists and they all produce very unique and very powerful vehicles. In that regards, the Ariel Atom is no different. But it is a very different kind of auto. Firstly, it uses the chassis as an exoskeleton, so it doesn’t have a roof, a windscreen, doors, or even any body work. And that makes it incredible lightweight, less than 500kg in fact. Secondly, it’s powered by a supercharged Honda Civic Type R engine and it’ll make your eyes water with a 0-60mph speed of merely 2.8 seconds, reaching 100mph in only 6.8 seconds. So it’s definitely a sports car you’ll want to take to a track day to see what it can really do. It’s not just superbly fast. It’s also perfectly responsive and precise, with expert handling. Simply put, the Ariel Atom is one of the most fun and exhilarating cars on the market.

Best features:

  • Extraordinary performance
  • One of the most fun cars
  • Truly unique and special

USED PRICES FROM £37,000

4. MORGAN PLUS SIX

Established in 1909, the Morgan Motor Company has been manufacturing British cars for over 110 years and for nearly all of that time it has been a British-run family business passed down from generation to generation. The Morgan family continue to own a large portion of shares in the company, although in 2019 European investment group, Investindustrial bought a majority stake in the company. Nevertheless, the Morgan family continue to act as stewards of the brand and the cars continue to be hand-crafted in ash, aluminium, and leather. And the Morgan Plus Six remains a truly British car, with beautiful classic styling from a golden age of motoring coupled with 21st century engineering and performance. It’s a very unique two-seater convertible sports car, with a luxurious finish and a one-off a kind driving experience. The Plus Six is sophisticated, it’s regal, and it’s just as niche and special as the other autos produced by British car companies.

Best features:

  • Classic, golden age styling
  • Hand-crafted car
  • Unique driving experience

USED PRICES FROM £85,000

5. LAND ROVER DISCOVERY

From here on out, the cars on this list are built in Britain, but not British owned. Nonetheless, when it comes to British brands, the Land Rover Discovery is an automotive icon of the UK. A favourite of the royal family, the Discovery has been on UK roads (and off the beaten track too) since 1989. It’s a class leading car in multiple domains: it’s one of the most capable off-road 4x4s that’s able to tackle the harshest terrain, it’s one of the most spacious luxury SUVs on the market as a genuine seven-seater, and it’s one of the most practical in the segment with a mammoth 1,137-litre boot when the third row is folded down. Plus, it’s as good to drive on the tarmac, proving refined and comfortable, as well as a very capable long distance cruiser. Quite simply, it’s one of the best family SUVs on the market.

Best features:

  • Class-leading SUV
  • Genuine 7-seater
  • Class-leading off-roader

USED PRICES FROM £2,500

6. JAGUAR F-TYPE

Like Land Rover, Jaguar is part of the Tata Group, but it doesn’t stop the brand from being quintessentially British. Introduced in 2013, the F-Type is a two-seater sports car built on home soil, available as a coupe or a convertible. Whichever body type you choose, it is a supremely good-looking car with a very stylish design. As you’d expect from the premium marque, the car has that unmistakable seal of quality with a high-class cabin that is comfortable, beautifully laid out, and finished with soft materials. It has the performance to boot as well, with very impressive speeds up to 186mph and acceleration at 0-60mph in a mere 3.5 seconds – so it’s another car take on an open track day. Needless to say, the Jaguar F-Type is a lot of fun to drive.

Best features:

  • Very stylish design
  • Lots of fun to drive
  • Impressive performance

USED PRICES FROM £24,000

7. MINI HATCH

As a brand Mini has been around since the 1960s (and used in model names since the 50s), it is a household British name famed for its cars of dinky proportions. In 1994, the brand was taken over by BMW who injected a sense of luxury into the new line-up of Mini cars. And it’s a great marriage of two ideals: a unique playful design with low centre of gravity and a premium quality finish with an eye for detail. The resulting Mini Hatch remains as iconic and stylish as its forebears, only now it sports a high-quality cabin that’s comfortable and more spacious. On the driving front, it’s as close to go-kart like as you can get in a mass-produced road car, with light steering and excellent agility paired with a punchy and a sprightly ride experience. It’s a fun car in almost every aspect, but particularly in the way it drives.

Best features:

  • Iconic, premium design
  • Go-kart like to drive
  • High-quality cabin

USED PRICES FROM £700

8. NISSAN LEAF

The Nissan Leaf is a class-leading electric vehicle (EV) introduced in 2009. It quickly established itself as one of the central EVs to bring affordable electric motoring to the general public, helping to popularise this type of car in the process. It’s an excellent hatchback in its own right and since its release it has consistently been at the forefront of the electric car market too, thanks to its extensive range which always places the Leaf with the other EV front runners. The latest model is capable of a range up to 168 miles, whilst the e+ variant has a claimed range of 239 miles. But that’s not the only thing going for the car. It’s also very practical with a spacious cabin and very low running costs. The Leaf is very easy to drive as well, with most of the driving done by one pedal, the ‘e-Pedal’, which is a clever regenerative braking system that increases battery range and ease of use – ideal for new and young urban drivers.

Best features:

  • Very easy to drive
  • Good range
  • Practical and spacious

USED PRICES FROM £6,000

9. HONDA CIVIC TYPE R

We briefly mentioned the Honda Civic Type R when discussing the Ariel Atom in third place (which uses a supercharged version of this car’s engine). Well, the Type R is also built-in Britain and it’s one of the finest hot hatchbacks on the market. For performance it’ll hit 0-60mph in just 5.9 seconds and reach a top speed of 169mph, but it’s not just about its acceleration and high-performance power. It also handles corners with pinpoint precision, steering like a high-end sports car with excellent grip and poise. As you can no doubt imagine, the Type R is a lot of fun to drive. Yet it’s also very practical for everyday use, providing enough space in the cabin to comfortably sit adults in the rear seats and a large 420-litre boot. It really is a fantastic alternative to a sports car.

Best features:

  • Lots of fun to drive
  • Practical for everyday use
  • Fantastic performance

USED PRICES FROM £3,000

10. VAUXHALL ASTRA

First on sale in 1979, the British built Vauxhall Astra is one of the most popular family hatchbacks on UK roads. And it’s no surprise why. The Astra (also available as an estate model) is a jack of all trades, great in practically every department. It looks stylish, it has an excellent range of engines to suit your driving needs, it offers low running costs, and it comes with lots of equipment and safety kit as standard. Plus, it’s good to drive, whether darting around town or commuting to work or going on a long motorway journey. It’s practical too, with a good-sized boot. Overall, the British made car fits into your life easily, well-serving the motoring needs of families.

Best features:

  • Good to drive
  • Low running costs
  • Well-equipped as standard

USED PRICES FROM £330

Looking for British cars to buy? Check out our huge range of cars available at Motors.co.uk

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