With the black cloud and uncertainty of Brexit, British manufacturing is facing an uncertain future. If you want to support British workers and the economy, here are five of the best new cars built in the UK.
The Mini – Built in Oxford, England
Since its comeback the iconic Mini has evolved into a sophisticated small car offering plenty of options. The Mini owned and built by BMW since 2000 has inherited a lot of BMW refinement, some might say it lost some of its raw fun factor but it’s a fine small car non-the-less. The Mini retains some of its British identity and heritage with Hatchback (hardtop), Clubman and Countryman models all by being manufactured in BMW’s plant in Oxford, England.
The Hatchback models comes in 3 or 5 door models, the 3-door is the popular option and if your travel is mostly with just 1 or 2 people more than adequate and the ideal choice. If you frequently have rear passengers then the 5-door should be a consideration as getting in and out of the back may be a task especially for older people. Standard across the range are front/rear rear LED Lights, a 6.5-inch colour infotainment system with DAB radio and Bluetooth support.
There’s no diesel option here, just petrol with manual or automatic transmission. The standard 1.5 petrol with manual transmission is great engine in our opinion. You can get over 50mpg (combined) and it has still got enough oomph to take you from 0-62mpg in a tad over 8 seconds. The more powerful 2.0 models offer more ‘fun’ with 0-62mph achievable in around 6.8 seconds and combined fuel economy of 43mpg. There’s also a new full electric 3-door Mini which should be available to order at the back-end of 2019.
Countryman and Clubman models have the additional option of a 2.0 diesel that offers around 60mpg and the Countryman model also has PHEV (plug-in hybrid) option offering 117mpg (combined).
The 5-door Mini Hatchback features a higher roof line and it’s a tad longer with a slightly chunkier appearance than the 3-door, it doesn’t look quote as appealing as the 3-door aesthetically but it offers a little bit more head and 3cm more leg room which could be very useful for rear passengers. Inside it shares the same refinement with dashes of retro-styling.
The Mini Clubman is the estate version of the 5-door hatch, its 27cm longer and 3cm wider than the 5-door hatchback model, with the iconic double ‘cupboard’ doors at the rear. The latest Clubman model is also a tad larger than the older, outgoing Clubman model with improved boot space. Head and leg room in the Clubman take the Mini Clubman out of the small City Car class and rival larger ‘supermini’ cars, head and leg room are similar to the Audi A3 for example.
The aptly named Mini Countryman is the largest Mini in the range with a 4-wheel drive option available. It offers 90 litres more boot space than the Clubman model with rear seats up than and is great option for a family of 4 or 5.
You can compare all Mini models, specs and the latest deals here
Nissan Qashqai – Built in Sunderland, England
The Nissan Qashqai is Britain’s best-selling SUV/Crossover vehicle and made in Nissan’s Sunderland plant. The Qashqai is the original Crossover that set the benchmark and trend for an incredibly popular car sector with demand still increasing. The competition is stiff with popular rival models like the Skoda Ateca, Mazda CX-5, KIA Sportage and Renault Captur.
Buying British and supporting the British workforce is a good reason to buy the Qashqai but it still stands up on its own as a fine all-round Crossover.
The latest 2019 model gets two new 1.3 turbo petrol engines (138bhp and 158bhp options), the latter is the better petrol option for towing or heavy loads whilst the 1.3 petrol (138bhp) is the most popular option and perfect for around town driving and short dashes down the motorway.
The most frugal engine is the 1.5 dCi which can offer up 74mpg (combined) and low CO2 emissions of 100g/km. The 1.7dCi offers more pulling power and is a great for towing and more demanding driving condition with a 4WD option available.
The Qashqai drives nicely and handles bumps in the road well, motorway driving is also a very pleasant experience. The caveat here is that if you go for one of the top-end models with larger 18-inch alloy wheels, it does stiffen up the ride a tad and you will feel the bumps and holes in the roads a little more around-town. This is even more noticeable if you go for a model with the largest 19-inch alloy wheels, with this in mind the Acenta or Acenta Premium model with 17-inch alloys would be a great choice.
Acenta premium trim-levels offer great levels of equipment for your money, including the 7-inch infotainment system with sat nav, Bluetooth, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. There’s also dual zone climate control in the cabin and plenty of driver aids like parking sensors, rear-view camera, lane departure warning system, automatic emergency braking, cruise control and traffic sign recognition.
You can compare all Nissan Qashqai models, specs and the latest discounts here
Toyota Corolla – Built in Burniston, Derbyshire
Toyota have resurrected the Corolla, a very familiar name in the UK in the guise of a hatchback that will replace the Auris. The all-new Toyota Corolla will be made at Toyota’s Burniston plant in Derbyshire.
The Corolla badge disappeared from UK shores back in 2006 and was subsequently replaced by the Toyota Auris. Now its back with a bang and has been very well received, with some quarters going as far as to say it’s the best family hatchback Toyota has produced to date . The Corolla is direct rival for cars like the Ford Focus, Mazda3 and Vauxhall Astra,
There are no diesel offerings, instead Toyota offer a frugal 1.2 petrol turbo engine with manual transmission and 1.8 or 2.0 self-charging petrol hybrids with automatic transmission. The hybrids are an ideal choice for those looking to dip their toe into the hyrbid car arena for the first time. Self-charging hybrids require no overnight charging or need for long pit-stops at public charging stations and will give you next level running costs over a conventional engine and bridge the gap on your journey to a plug-in further down the line.
The 1.2 petrol offers up to 50mpg (combined) and emissions of 128g/km and it still feels powerful enough for around town and motorway driving. The 1.8 litre (122bhp) self-charging hybrid will cost you around £2500 more for a like for like model but running costs are attractive with CO2 emissions of 83g/km and fuel economy up to 78mpg (combined). For around another £1700-£1800 the 2.0 litre (180bhp) self-charging hybrid packs much more of a punch (it can take you from 0-62mph in under 8-seconds) whilst delivering CO2 emissions of 89g/km and a fuel economy of up to 72mpg (combined).
Driving and handling are a pleasure with the Corolla and if you do plump for a Hybrid model you’re effectively getting a slightly smaller Prius with less quirky looks.
Build quality is very good as you’d expect from a Toyota and there’s plenty of tech. Our recommendation for a family car is the 1.8 hybrid and you can’t go wrong even with the entry-level icon model that includes 16-inch alloy wheels, Toyota Safety Sense 2, adaptive cruise control, automatic LED headlights, front fog light, dual zone automatic air con, electrically adjustable driver’s seat, heated front seats and heated rear outer seats, 7-inch infotainment system with DAB radio, Bluetooth support and a reversing camera.
Our pick is the Icon Tech model, if you can afford around an additional £1000 on the cost of the entry-level model you’ll get an upgraded infotainment system owith sat nav, voice recognition plus front and rear parking sensors with SIPS (Simple Intelligent Park Assist).
You can compare all Toyota Corolla models, specs and the latest deals here
Vauxhall Astra – Built in Ellesmere Port, Cheshire, England
Of all the cars on this list the Astra boasts a very British influence with the Ellesmere Port plant producing its first Astra 40 years ago and still going strong.
The latest Vauxhall Astra is built on a completely new platform, has plenty of equipment upgrades and Vauxhall have even reduced the price, so you could be looking at around £2000 in savings on a like for like model on the older pricing. One thing Vauxhall haven’t tinkered with too much is the exterior looks, it retains the stylish looks and is a bity of eyecatcher especially on the sportier models with body kit.
The Astra is a staple diet of the British public is a great all-rounder and can be a great family car or offer something for the young (or young at heart) with the sportier options in the line-up.
One of Vauxhall’s aces in the pack with this latest model is its significantly lighter than the outgoing Astra model, meaning you’ll get a good blend of performance and low running costs from whichever engine you choose.
The 1.4 litre petrol (125bhp) is very good all-rounder with a bit of nip (0-62mph in 8.6 seconds) it offers combined fuel economy 48mpg and emissions of 125g/km. We think despite being the cheapest engine, it’s a fantastic option. There’s a more powerful 150bhp petrol engine but you won’t notice the extra power enough to be convinced that’s it worth the additional outlay and taking a hit on running costs. The diesels offer lower running cost but the 1.4 petrol is till a better all-round option in our opinion and a very strong point in the Astra’s favour when comparing it with similar rivals’ models like the Ford Focus.
Inside the cabin the quality and materials are good and improved significantly on the older Astra model. Equipment levels are generous even on entry-level models you get plenty of tech including a 7-inch colour touchscreen infotainment system with DAB radio, Bluetooth, USB, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. If you move up to the Tech Line model (our pick) you’ll get an upgraded infotainment system with sat nav.
There so much to like about the Astra and the latest model sees lots of upgrades so if you are looking for hatchback it should be on your shortlist for sure.
You can compare all models, specs and the latest Astra prices here
Nissan Leaf – Built in Sunderland, England
The Leaf is a full-electric hatchback car built at Nissan’s Sunderland plant, this latest 2nd generation Nissan Leaf is an all-round improvement on the first model and the best-selling full electric car across Europe.
Nissan have been at the forefront of electric car technology and whilst some car manufacturers are only just dipping their toe in the electric car sector, Nissan are miles ahead of some rivals with their first Nissan Leaf rolled of the production line back in 2011 and the release of new and improved 2nd generation model builds on that.
One of the first question people want to know about an electric car is bow far it will travel on a full charge, Nissan have improved technology and although the battery size is essential the same you should now get approaching 170 miles on a full charge, of course factors like speed, acceleration and how hard you work the car can all affect this.
It’s more powerful too, generating 150bhp which is capable of accelerating from 0-62 mph in under 8 seconds.
Inside is good mixture practicality with improved soft touch materials and the drive is a serene experience of silence. Whilst it does have little bit of quirkiness to its exterior looks we think it’s a great looking car.
Nissan don’t skimp on equipment, even the entry-level Acenta model boasts plenty of safety tech including a Lane Departure Warning System, Intelligent Emergency Braking with Pedestrian Recognition, Intelligent Lane Intervention, Intelligent Cruise Control, Rear Cross Traffic Alert and High-Beam Assist technology.
Inside the Accenta and you get the 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system with sat nav, rear view camera and smartphone integration with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.
Move up to the N-Connecta (our pick) and it adds a few useful additions in Addition to the Acenta model including Intelligent Around View Monitor with Moving Object Detection, Front and Rear Parking Sensors, part synthetic leather interior and heated front seats. And steering wheel.
The Leaf should also qualify for a government grant of up to £3500.
You can compare all Nissan Leaf models, specs and prices here
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