Whether you’re after a reliable SUV, a sleek saloon, a hot hatchback, or something sportier, a budget of £30,000 can get you a great quality car from, with the exception of the very top-end brands, just about any manufacturer that takes your fancy. However, this price range can also prove to be a difficult crossroads: which provides the best value, a high-spec model from a mid-range brand, or an entry level car from a more luxury manufacturer? Our guide is here to highlight a few of the best new models you can pick up right now for under thirty grand, and ensure that you get the best bang for your buck.
Kicking things off in the SUV category, the Jaguar E-Pace is a spacious and practical 4×4 that you can pick up brand new for prices starting at £28,500. Inspired by Jag’s much sportier (and much pricier) F-Type on both the inside and out, the E-Pace effectively combines the creature comforts of a typical SUV with the power and striking looks of the F-Type to great effect. The same car that boasts a “deep centre console with removable cupholders” will also comfortably take you from 0-60mph in under 6 seconds, resulting in a Jaguar that you can happily drive every day, but also one that packs a considerable punch.
Brand Alternative: If bulky SUVs aren’t your thing but you’re still after a Jag, their new sports saloon, the XE, starts at £28,295.
Starting at £24,300 with the 218i SE, the BMW is the least expensive option on this list. It’s hard to disagree that this is a gorgeous car, and if you’re willing to shell out a bit of extra cash you’ll be supplied with more than enough power to boot, culminating in the 340HP, six-cylinder M240i, although this very top-end model will tip you over the £30,000 mark. For those who don’t require the practicality of four doors and the more spacious boot of a hatchback, the 2 Series Coupé presents a great value, well-designed BMW that’s good looking as well as fun to drive.
Brand Alternative: The latest BMW X1 is a vast improvement on the original 2009 model, and from £28,460, it’s transformed from a cramped, lacklustre four-door into a refined SUV with good value for money.
£28,500 will only get you Audi’s entry level TT Coupé, but it’s well worth it. With the first model being released in 1998, Audi have been pumping out TT’s for what now feels like donkey’s years, and in that time, it’s gained somewhat of a reputation for being a car that’s all bark and no bite. Make no mistake though, the newest version of the TT is a stylish, sporty two-door that’s well and truly got over its growing pains with a sleek new exterior. Granted, the cheapest 180HP 1.8-litre petrol engine won’t take many scalps on the drag strip, but for some extra cash, the more powerful 230HP 2.0-litre will do 0-62mph in a very respectable 5.3 seconds. Above all, this is a fun car, and for an extra £1,750, you can capitalise on this aspect of the Audi by upgrading to the convertible TT Roadster. Ignore the naysayers, the new TT is a car you’ll have a blast in, as long as you don’t try to squeeze anyone into the tiny back seats.
Brand Alternative: The Audi A4 Saloon is a fantastic executive vehicle with prices starting at £27,260. It’s not a sporty car, but it more than makes up for it with an exceptional quality interior, a comfortable ride, and overall, a very relaxing driving experience.
The prestige of having the three-pronged badge on your car these days is almost as big a selling point for Mercedes as their reputation for quality. As an aspirational brand, most Mercedes models are beyond the £30,000 price point, but luckily you can still pick up a new C-Class saloon for just under that, with prices starting at £29,035. A well styled saloon that drives well and comes with a boatload interior tech to boot, the C-Class is a Benz designed just as well as its badge would lead you to expect.
Brand Alternative: The GLA is Mercedes’ SUV/hatchback crossover. Starting at £26,220, it’s easy to drive everyday, comfortable and affordable, but might be slightly dull to some drivers. If you’re yearning for more power, however, the suitably raucous AMG GLA 45 can do 0-60 in 4.4 seconds, albeit for an eye-watering £46,875.
Okay, we’re cheating a bit here- the Model 3 has a pre-order list longer than Elon Musk’s bank balance, meaning you probably won’t be able to get your hands on one for another 12 to 18 months. However, from £27,000, it looks set to be one of the best value electric cars made to date, boasting a 215 mile range with a full charge costing as little as three or four quid. Simply plug your Model 3 into one of the Tesla chargers increasingly lining the world’s motorways for super fast refuelling, or just leave it plugged in overnight in your garage and wake up to a full battery. Tesla’s current models are cutting edge, but priced too highly for most. In the next year or two, however, the Model 3 could be the affordable electric vehicle the world seems to be waiting for.
Brand Alternative: The Model S and Model X are currently Tesla’s only other models, but they’re very costly, starting at around £53,500. For those determined to go electric affordably without having to wait, the new Chevrolet Bolt looks promising from around £24,350, but sadly it’s currently unavailable in the UK.