The nine best British cars to buy in 2024

09th February 2024
Ethan Jupp

Union Jack on standby, it’s time to look at some of the best cars produced on this fine island. Sadly, the UK car industry is a shadow of its former self, meaning our mass production heyday has made way for specialisation in sportscars, supercars and the best luxury machines on the planet. You’ll find examples of those here and a mainstream hatchback that scratches your patriotic itch without busting the bank balance. Here’s our guide to the nine best British cars to buy in 2024.


McLaren 750S

While the Artura hybrid sets the tone for McLaren moving forward, if you want to experience the company at its analogue best, you’ll need a pure ICE model, and they don’t come much purer than the 750S.

The 750S is McLaren at its very best, mating a 740PS (552kW) twin-turbocharged V8 to a lightweight carbon fibre chassis which means it weighs less than a Volkswagen Golf. The result? Acceleration of 0-62mph in 2.8 seconds, in-gear acceleration that will make your jaw drop and a 206mph top speed. But the McLaren is about more than crazy numbers. Its hydraulic steering drips with feel, and its suspension combines ruthless body control with surprising comfort. Patriotic purchasing has never been easier.


Caterham Seven 170

British sportscars don’t get much purer than the Caterham Seven. Unburdened by frivolities like a boot, doors or ‘luxuries’ like a radio, the Caterham tips the scales at a mere 440kg.

But while it’s one of the cheapest cars here, it arguably offers the most theatre. Getting in is an event in itself, and once you’re in place, peering up the long bonnet from behind the Caterham’s flat windscreen, it’s not hard to feel like a vintage race racer about to dice with death. Nothing about the engine is vintage, though. The turbocharged Suzuki three-pot gets the Caterham from 0-62mph in less than seven seconds and returns fuel economy of more than 50mpg. If you like to have your cake and eat it, this could be the car for you.


Jaguar F-Type

Speaking of manual transmissions, the updated Jaguar F-Type we drove sadly no longer offers a three-pedal option which is perhaps unsurprising, although the supercharged V6 with a six-speed manual was always our pick of the first generation. Thankfully the F-Type does remain delightfully old school in one respect by offering a vocal V8 driving just the rear wheels, although it does mean settling for a mere 450PS (331kW) rather than the 575PS (423kW) offered in the all-wheel-drive F-Type R. The restyle is perhaps a bit less characterful around the front end but the rear is as attractive as ever and it is still capable of leaving many other drivers with that view receding into the distance.


Rolls-Royce Spectre

If any car could be undeniably suited to electrification, it’s a Rolls-Royce. Inimitable timeless style that doesn’t need adjusting to reflect its change of heart, truly silent effortless power, what’s not to like? Well, the fact the new Spectre weighs almost three tonnes is a touch alarming. Then again, it’s not like Rolls has ever been the last authority in Superleggera motoring. With near-on 600PS (441kW) and with over 300 miles of range, this successor to both the Wraith and Phantom Coupes will define what we expect from Rolls-Royce going forward, knowing that in the past, Rolls-Royce has offered nothing but the best.


Aston Martin DB12

Aston Martin has been building gorgeous GTs for as long as we can remember. Still, prehistoric switchgear and a driving experience that feels off the money amongst exalted rivals – like the Ferrari Roma – have hobbled recent efforts.

That changes now, and the DB12 marks the turning point. It’s staggeringly beautiful and with 680PS from its Mercedes-sourced twin-turbo V8, it’s also mind-altering quick – so far, so Aston. It’s inside where the changes become apparent. Instead of old Mercedes switchgear, you’ll find an interior worthy of a car costing more than £180,000 with expensive materials and high-definition digital displays. The next shock is how the DB12 drives. Coined a “super GT”, its stiffer setup makes it easier to pedal to the limit, but with the comfort you’d expect of an Aston GT.


Land Rover Defender 130

Hardcore Land Rover Defender fans may have gotten over the controversial looks and new, more road-biassed feel of the new Defender, but one problem remains. For a huge, working SUV that’s as happy on the farm as it is on the high street, it’s not that practical.

Step forward the Defender 130, a car that sacrifices its appearance to provide you with generous interior practicality courtesy of a rear overhang stretched by 600mm compared to a Defender 110. As a result, the 130 can carry up to seven tall adults comfortably and has a luggage capacity that would make some vans seem underwhelming. Everything else about the 130 is the same as any other Defender, meaning it’s a ferociously capable off-road and pleasing fun to drive on it, especially if you go for the loony-tunes supercharged V8.


Lotus Eletre

Purists (us included) find it hard to get excited about the Lotus Eletre – a 2.5-tonne electric SUV built by a company that used to pride itself on lightness but look at the big picture, and it makes more sense. Much like the Cayenne did for Porsche, if the Eletre’s a success, it could bankroll a generation of sporty new Lotus models and who couldn’t like the sound of that?

In fairness, there are signs of Lotus DNA in the Eletre’s accurate steering and effective body control, and with up to 912PS (671kW) on tap, outrageous performance is assured despite the SUV’s serious weight problem. But it also has a comfortable ride, a roomy cabin and all the fancy kit you’d expect of a luxurious SUV and Lotus claims a decent (and by all accounts optimistic) range of up to 373 miles between charges.


MINI Cooper S

MINI sums up the British car industry perfectly. The original Sir Alec Issigonis MINI was a masterfully packaged small car held back by a failing parent company that was eventually bought, like most of the companies here, by overseas money (BMW), which set about building a car for the modern era.

The latest 3-door MINI has much of the charm of the original. Its stylish looks are highly personalisable, and while it’s not exactly roomy, its interior quality makes it feel like a pint-sized premium machine. BMW’s even injected in the fun drive of the original, the MINI gripping corners like a limpet courtesy of independent rear suspension. The Oxford-made MINI is one of your best options – this side of Nissan Qashqai at least – to get your hands on a British-built car.


Gordon Murray T.33

We’ll spare you the 11,000rpm V12 manual hyperbole. All that stuff is fairly common knowledge when it comes to what Gordon Murray offers. It’s the back-to-basics ethos, the emphasis on lightweighting and the pride of agility in what GMA does that’s exciting. This is a small company with an unwavering vision, that through ingenuity and efficiency can achieve things the bean counters at enormous automotive conglomerates simply don’t think is possible. As for the GMA T.33 itself, well, it’s final proof that as a supercar maker, GMA is out from under the shadow of the McLaren F1, instead deferring to the timeless style of ‘60s racers, while still offering that incredible engine and a stick shift. What’s more, there should be more of them too, with the 100 T.33s already spoken for being joined by two further 100-car runs of yet-to-be-revealed T.33 derivations. We’re excited for the T.33 along with everything else that GMA has done and will do.

  • List

  • McLaren

  • Aston Martin

  • Rolls Royce

  • Spectre

  • Lotus

  • Land Rover

  • Defender

  • Jaguar

  • F-Type

  • 750S

  • Caterham

  • Seven

  • DB12

  • Eletre

  • MINI

  • Cooper S

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