The 8 best British-built cars in 2020

7 minutes Published: 19/05/2020
Sidse Sorensen

Most people think that the manufacturing aspect of the car industry is done overseas. Au contraire. Although a lot of the larger car manufacturers with rich British heritage are no longer British-owned, a lot of them are still crafted and assembled back home, in Britain.

Take Jaguar and the iconically British Land Rover, although founded and to this day manufactured in England, the Jaguar Land Rover organisation is officially a subsidiary and headed by Indian Tata Motors.

Quite a few of the overseas car companies use UK plants for making and customising vehicles, so you’ll also find a few foreign manufacturers on the list.

Shopping locally is an easy way to cut a huge slice off your next car’s life-cycle emissions. If you buy or lease a car that’s made in the UK, you’re putting a little less strain on the environment. And let’s be honest, some of the car makers on this ‘Made in Britain’ list are absolute crackers, so why not give the ozone layer a break?

If buying local and being kind to the Earth is important to you, check out our Best Electric Cars, or our Best Low Emission Cars!

1. Land Rover Discovery

RRP: £45,340 - £66,840
  • Doors:
  • Engine:
  • Fuel:
  • Body: SUV
  • Drive:
  • CO2:

Pros

  • Top of the class off-road ability.

  • Luxurious.

Cons

  • You’ll need serious skills to park this beast on a busy Saturday afternoon in town.

  • Expensive.

Made In: Halewood, Liverpool

Regardless of whether you’re after a phenomenal motorway cruiser or durable off-road car, the Discovery is a powerful premium SUV. In fact, the Discovery is a jack of all trades, and master of most! 

The Discovery is Land Rover’s biggest machine and it is huge! If you’re driving a hatchback, saloon or city car and have ever parked next to a Discovery, you’ll know just how big they are. You can’t even peek in the windows!

Off road, the Discovery is one of the best cars on the market. With automatic Terrain Response Software, your Discovery will adjust its differentials to match the surface you’re travelling on effortlessly. 

2. Jaguar F-type Coupe

RRP: £53,150 - £95,410
  • Doors: 2
  • Engine: 5.0
  • Fuel: P
  • Body: Coupe
  • Drive: M, A
  • CO2: 163 - 269g/km

Pros

  • Fun to drive.

  • Stunning looks.

Cons

  • It’s a wide car .

  • Another expensive car!

Made In: Castle Bromwich, Birmingham

Just like the wild cat, the Jags of today are beautiful and powerful beasts. This F-Type is truly one of the best designed British Vehicles you can find on the market, and it’s a charismatic and boisterous one too!

It’s a well-balanced car with a low point of gravity and it’s fun to drive. When you floor the gas, you can really feel the power. The F-Type offers a truly premium motoring experience.

The cabin of the F-Type looks and feels like a sports car. With a swanky mix of materials including leather, Alcantara and aluminium, the cabin feels exclusive and sporty.

3. Honda Civic Hatchback

RRP: £18,180 - £33,895
  • Doors: 3 - 5
  • Engine: 2.2
  • Fuel: P, D
  • Body: Hatchback
  • Drive: M, A
  • CO2: 215g/km

Pros

  • It’s lively to drive.

  • All trims come with an impressive range of standard kit.

Cons

  • The Civic was originally designed for the Americans, and let’s be honest - either you love it or you hate it.

  • Sportier options available at this price point.

Made in: Swindon, Wiltshire

You might be wondering how the Japanese conglomerate Honda made the list of best British cars, but Honda has been making cars in the UK for over three decades now!

The Civic design is unique, and originally made for the American market, but get behind the wheel and you’ll realise that the Civic is a nice car to drive and actually has quite a bit of punch to it.

Although it has a sporty enough interior and some practical storage, the inside is nothing special. What was once a very popular car for young performance-minded enthusiasts and Fast and the Furious fans, is now just a good-quality, affordable commodity car. Not quite a Ferrari, but a great car nonetheless.

4. Vauxhall Astra Hatchback

RRP: £18,660 - £28,180
  • Doors: 3 - 5
  • Engine: 2.2
  • Fuel: P, D
  • Body: Hatchback
  • Drive: M, A
  • CO2: 227g/km

Pros

  • You get a lot of car for your money.

  • Parking assist is excellent.

Cons

  • The design is very unoffensive (and rather boring).

  • There’s a new and updated Astra set to launch in 2021 - it would be a shame to settle for this slightly older model.

Made In: Ellesmere Port, Liverpool

In 2018 the Astra had a much-needed upgrade. The interior, seating and the handling have all benefited from this do-up. You might even say it’s a rather nice car now!

A popular choice for a first car, Vauxhall is the UK’s oldest surviving car brand dating all the way back to 1903 when its first model rolled off the line. The thing with a Vauxhall is, it’s not the best ageing car manufacturer in the world. With a very high supply of both new and used cars and a relatively high depreciation, it’s unlikely that you will get your money back at trade-in time if you go out and buy one.

That said, the new Vauxhall Astra is actually a cracking hatchback and has become a very popular leasing choice amongst brits. The Astra is a cheap car to lease, surprisingly nice to drive and you don’t have to worry about resale value!

5. Nissan Qashqai

RRP: £19,080 - £31,760 | From £198.89 per month to lease
  • Doors: 5
  • Engine: 2.0
  • Fuel: P, D
  • Body: Crossover SUV
  • Drive: M, A
  • CO2: 208g/km

Pros

  • The Qashqai handles well and is a comfy, quiet cruiser.

  • Size, power and drive considered, the Qashqai is pretty economical.

Cons

  • Being the first crossover, competitors such as the Seat Ateca and the Kia Sportage have taken the crossover/ compact SUV idea and improved it.

  • Not very spacious in the back.

Made In: Sunderland, Tyne and Wear

Another curveball on the list, the Nissan Qashqai. The one car that took the automotive industry by storm and gave birth to the crossover/compact SUV market.

Although Nissan is not a traditional British brand as you might have guessed, the Qashqai is made in Sunderland.

It’s a practical small SUV, with a large boot and strong levels of standard equipment. The Qashqai is tremendous value for money, and it’s a great all-round car giving the more premium brands like BMW and Mercedes a run for their money!

6. Mini Hatchback

RRP: £12,180 - £31,065
  • Doors: 3 - 5
  • Engine: 2.0
  • Fuel: P, D
  • Body: Hatchback
  • Drive: M, A
  • CO2: 216g/km

Pros

  • Brilliant infotainment system.

  • Nippy engine and fairly economical. Impressive top speed for a small car.

Cons

  • The original Mini Cooper Isn't very aerodynamic and there’s quite a bit of wind whistle.

  • The rear headlights aren’t for everybody.

Made In: Cowley, Oxfordshire

With its characteristic styling and body, driving a Mini is a fashion statement.

In the latest facelift, BMW has taken the ultimate British car and made it even more British, or kitsch if you will. With Union Jacks on the rear lights, the new Mini is quite a statement. There’s no doubt that some of the keener Mini enthusiasts will find this feature charming, but there are guaranteed to be others who find it... challenging!

The Mini is notoriously fun to drive and has a go-kart feel to it when you take a tight corner. The rear seating and boot space isn’t the most practical but then who buys a Mini for its boot space?

7. Range Rover Estate

RRP: £84,810 - £177,485 | From £739.19 per month to lease
  • Doors: 2 - 4
  • Engine: 5.0
  • Fuel: P, D, H
  • Body: SUV
  • Drive: M, A
  • CO2: 398g/km

Pros

  • Trim up and your seats will come with a massage function.

  • Top of the range, Range Rover interior.

Cons

  • Hard to fault, but the infotainment is a bit sluggish compared to some of the competitors.

  • Expensive - you’re paying for the prestige.

Made In: Solihull, West Midlands

Want to drive like a Queen, literally? Although no longer behind the wheel herself, the Range Rover has for many years been the Queen’s vehicle of choice for private use - and with good reason.

You’ll have to search far and wide to find a vehicle more enduring, exclusive and regal than the Range Rover. Actually, pretty much the entire British Royal family seem to love this big and bulky premium SUV.

The Range Rover is recognisable all over the world as a symbol of wealth. If the Range Rover is a bit large (or unjustifiably expensive) for you, there’s always the smaller and chicer Range Rover Evoque which is a great alternative and more affordable, especially as a lease car!

8. Toyota Corolla Saloon

RRP: £23,600 - £26,060
  • Doors: 4
  • Engine: 2.0
  • Fuel: P, D, H
  • Body: Saloon
  • Drive: M, A
  • CO2: 190g/km

Pros

  • Lots of sporty standard equipment.

  • Cheap to run .

Cons

  • No Apple CarPlay or Android Auto in any of the trims.

  • Hit or a miss design.

Made In: Burnaston plant, Derbyshire

Recently, Toyota marked the end of the Auris and the return of the Toyota Corolla to the UK market after an absence of 13 years.

Manufactured in Derbyshire, first under the alias of a Corolla, then Auris, and now the Corolla again, Toyota’s mid-range hatchback is back with a vengeance to take on the Ford Focus, Vauxhall Astra and Volkswagen Golf.

While hardly a supercar, the new Corolla is looking rather sleek. With a minimal and very unique interior and infotainment set up, Toyota has really put in the effort to make this new generation Corolla a success.

9. Bentley Continental GT

RRP: £148,800 - £193,900
  • Doors: 2
  • Engine: 6.0
  • Fuel: P
  • Body: Coupe
  • Drive: A
  • CO2: 410g/km

Pros

  • Absolutely gorgeous design, ex and interior.

  • A roaring engine that gives you goosebumps.

Cons

  • High-end car, high-end price.

  • No Android Auto.

Made In: Crewe, Cheshire

It was a close call between this Bentley, the Aston Martin Vantage, and the Rolls-Royce Phantom, but the Bentley just edged it. The details in the sculpted body and the massive bonnet of the GT are true indicators of the premier British engineering and craft that has gone into this vehicle. The interior is lush as anything and all leather stitchings are done by hand in Crewe, Chesire. The Continental GT is as British as James Bond himself!

And not only does it look impeccable, but the Bentley also has some proper cool features like a retractable rear spoiler, lights designed to look like diamonds, and you can rotate your 12.3“ touch screen for some analogue dials.

Start the V8 engine, rev it and you’re goosebump guaranteed. While more suited to the motorway than motorsport, the Continental GT engine is incredibly powerful and rapid on the roads. Lease a Bentley Continental GT and you’ll never be the same again. A truly beautiful car.

Summary 

So, there you have it! It might be surprising to learn how many of your favourite cars are actually made in Britain. 

Why care? Buying closer to home helps cut down your carbon footprint, and helps the economy of the country you live in. 

Is reducing your carbon emissions important to you? Check out our Best Electric Cars or our Best Low Emission Cars!