I don’t devote much time in the new car world in this slot because, well, I spend more than enough time in that environment doing the day job testing every significant new car to come to market.
APR 07th 2017
Thank Frankel it's Friday: The best new cars for under £40k
But this time it’s important or, at least, important to the surprising number of people who’ve asked me of late what new car they should buy costing less than the £40,000 mark at which new VED rules introduced at the beginning of this month hike car tax by £310 every year for the first five years of ownership. In the hope that at least some of you are wrestling with the same question, here are my current top five favourite sub-£40k new cars in varying categories.
1. A car for all reasons: Volkwagen Golf R.
Others might be fractionally quicker across the ground, or offer more face-splitting hilarity on a race track, but when you factor in everyday use, the 310bhp four-wheel drive Golf R with the option of three or five doors, manual or double clutch gearshifts, is in a league of its own. The best real world hatchback of its era and, arguably, any other
2. A car for pure fun: Ariel Atom
You can still buy a base specification Lotus Elise for this budget and a mighty tempting proposition it is too, even with relatively modest performance. A Caterham offers a yet more extreme take on the same theme and £40,000 will buy a fully equipped car with decent power, but if you’re after ultimates, an Ariel Atom is probably still the most desirable. This budget will only buy a normally aspirated car without much equipment, but it will still have a power to weight ratio better than a Ferrari F12, and you can always have the supercharger fitted at a later date.
3. Small family wagon: BMW 330d Touring
This only just dips in under the £40k barrier but what a machine it is! Acceleration you’d have needed a Ferrari to match 30 years ago, a genuine 45mpg ability and beautifully balanced BMW handling. Plus space your mutts in the back. A shame that, at least at present, Mercedes no longer offers a rival six-cylinder diesel in the otherwise superb C-class estate, but its loss is BMW’s gain.
4. Cool coupe: Ford Mustang V8
It seems ridiculous that a car this fast, this good looking and this much fun to drive should be available for this money, but Mustangs always were blue collar bargains over the water and it seems a reputation Ford is keen to foster further now sales are well established on this side of the pond too.
5. SUV. Jaguar F-Pace
There is a certain irony in the fact that the best Jaguar of modern times is of a type the company has never built before and one, indeed, that some traditionalists said should not be built. But the F-Pace is that car: an admirably complete and, in the class, uncommonly enjoyable SUV. No wonder it already sells as many as all other Jaguars combined.
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