With European-built cars imported to the UK set to become around £1,500 more expensive from next year, home-made motors are likely to be in higher demand than ever before.
The Government confirmed in May that vehicles imported from the EU will be subject to a 10 per cent tariff from 2021, and trade bodies have warned that manufacturers will pass these charges onto buyers in Britain by ramping up model prices.
Fortunately, there is a way of steering clear of unwelcome price rises, by purchasing new cars that have been assembled in UK factories.
But what are the options for home-grown automotive talent? We’ve broken it down into nine different car categories and named three brilliant models that are bolted together by British workforces around the country.
Built in Britain: Want to know which models are produced at home? We’ve listed 27 cars across 9 different categories to help you choose
Unless the Government negotiates a free trade agreement with the EU between now and the end of the Brexit transition period – which is due to terminate on 31 December 2020 – some of Britain’s most popular cars are going to be even pricier in 2021.
That includes best sellers like the Ford Fiesta, Volkswagen Golf and Mercedes-Benz A-Class.
But you can avoid these premiums entirely by buying a car that’s built in Britain – and it will be a decision that helps one of the nation’s biggest industries at a very difficult period.
In the first six months of 2020, UK car manufacturing is down 43 per cent, mainly due to the impact of Covid-19..
Trade bodies have warned that the industry is now on course to produce just over 880,000 new cars this year – the lowest output since 1957 – and that over 13,000 jobs have been lost from the sector during the pandemic.
It means buying British-made cars has never been more important. And there are great motors to choose from. Here are our picks in different categories:
Built in: Sunderland, Tyne & Wear
The first thing to note about the latest Nissan Juke is that it’s an all-round much better looking car than the model it replaced. It also has plenty of equipment and a quality cabin
While the original Juke had Marmite looks, the latest example – built in Sunderland – should be attractive to a much wider audience.
It might be considered a crossover, but in terms of dimensions it’s similar to the Micra supermini. That means it’s ideal for motorists who predominantly want a car to drive through towns and cities.
It is in a ultra-competitive market, so there are plenty of rivals to choose from. In fact, there have been more super-compact-SUVs brought to market than any other car type in recent years. Where the Juke trumps the rest is plush interior quality, safety levels you’d expect from a much bigger car and lots of equipment.
Built in: Oxford, Oxfordshire
The Mini hatchback, which is built at Plant Oxford, is one of the top-choice premium superminis you can buy on the market. It comes with an accomplished set of engines and plenty of retro appeal
There are few things more British than the iconic original Mini. And while the brand is now owned by BMW, the hatchback models (and the Clubman estate) are still built on UK shores.
Plant Oxford is the home of these cars, including the all-new Mini Electric, which it has already built 11,000 examples of – 3,000 of which have been produced for UK customers.
If it’s retro looks, a prestige badge and lots of quality you’re after, the Hatch won’t disappoint. The range of potent and frugal engines is impressive, even if interior space and luggage capacity is a little limited.
Built in: Sunderland, Tyne & Wear
Price: from £26,845 (inclusive of £3,000 Gov grant)
The Leaf is proof of the UK’s car manufacturing sector producing the latest-generation vehicles, with the pure-electric Nissan being one of Europe’s best-selling EVs
The Mini Electric isn’t the only zero-emission car produced in the UK. Nissan’s Leaf has also been built in Sunderland since the first-generation car was introduced to market in 2010.
The second-installment of the plug-in model boasts improved driving ranges, with 168 miles from the standard Leaf and a claimed 239 from the Leaf E+. This tech comes at a cost, though, with the latter priced from an eye-watering £33,295, even when you knock off the £3,000 from the Government Plug-in Car Grant.
While it will ultimately be classed as a medium-size family hatchback based on its outer dimensions, most buyers opt for the model with the shorter driving range that’s tailored for city living.
Built in: Burnaston, Derbyshire
Toyota started production of the current-generation Corolla at the Burnaston plant in January 2019. It offers low running costs and great reliability
The Corolla is the UK’s newcomer in this category, having been revealed in 2018 as a replacement for the outgoing Auris. While it might have a new (or returning) name, it shares the same Toyota principles and focus on hybrid powertrains.
Corolla officially went into production in the UK in January 2019 at the Burnaston plant and offers a family-size hatchback with exceptionally low running costs.
While other cars in the segment are more fun to drive – the Ford Focus, for instance – comfort levels in the Corolla are almost unmatched in the small family car segment. And the reliability record is bulletproof.
Built in: Ellesmere Port, Cheshire
While the Astra doesn’t exceed in any particular area, it’s a good all-rounder for anyone looking for a medium-size family hatchback
With the Volkswagen Golf, Ford Focus and Mercedes-Benz A-Class soaking up most sales in this segment, the Astra has started to fall down the pecking order among Britons.
That’s a little unfair on the stalwart Vauxhall. It’s good to drive, has plenty of space and you can haggle a serious bargain with dealers right now. Low benefit-in-kind tax makes it an attractive option for company car drivers, too..
Production at the Ellesmere Port facility restarts this month, having been closed since the middle of March.
Built in: Swindon, Wiltshire
Honda has confirmed that it will close its Swindon plant in July 2021, meaning a loss of 3,500 jobs as production of the Civic returns to Japan
It’s a sad story for Honda in the UK, with the Swindon plant due to close in July 2021. The factory employs around 3,500 staff and produced 109,000 cars last year, making its loss a huge blow for British car making.
But it does mean that for the next 11 months or so you will be able to get your hands on a Swindon-made Civic. And you won’t be disappointed if you do.
The latest generation car is responsive to drive, has a big boot and comes with lots of standard kit. Reliability is impressive too, so the futuristic-looking Honda hatchback should endure the test of time.
LARGE CARS/SMALL SUVS
Built in: Sunderland, Tyne & Wear
The Qashqai has been the mot popular SUV in the UK for over a decade. Britons don’t need to be persuaded to buy them, but there are newcomers – some of them very good indeed – looking to steal sales
Britons don’t need much encouragement to buy a Qashqai. It’s been the best-selling SUV in the UK for over a decade, with motorists taken by the looks and practicality.
Produced at Nissan Sunderland – the biggest single motor manufacturing facility in the country – it is facing tougher and tougher competition as the market expands, with models like the Seat Ateca and Skoda Karoq giving it a good run for its money.
The 1.3-litre DIG-T 140 petrol engine is impressive, and means you don’t need to have a diesel in an SUV. It’s one of the cars that Britain’s motor industry hinges on.
Built in: Castle Bromwich, West Midlands
When Jaguar launched the XE in 2015 it knew it had some serious competition to face. Taking on BMW’s 3 Series is no small task
The BMW 3 Series, Mercedes-Benz C-Class and Audi A4 have dominated the compact saloon segment for decades, but Jaguar threw its hat into the ring with the XE in 2015, produced at the firm’s Castle Bromwich factory.
While it might not have the practicality and interior glam of the competition – and small executive saloons have fallen deeply out of fashion – it’s brilliant to drive and comes with plenty of kit if you choose the right specification.
It’s availability in the US has increased demand, but in the UK it’s still relatively underappreciated. It might be one of the cars to become more appealing when Brexit takes shape.
Range Rover Evoque
Built in: Halewood, Merseyside
The current Range Rover Evoque is an impressive compact SUV. It might be more expensive than most in the sector but it depreciates slower than any rival
The Evoque was Range Rover’s first proper punt at a luxurious compact SUV. Most will remember the original model (built from 2011) being partly designed by Victoria Beckham and about as dependable as her husband in a World Cup quarter final against Argentina.
But the second-gen Evoque – made in Halewood – is vastly improved. It drives well, has a gorgeous cabin and – despite the flashy looks – is as practical as the best-in-class models.
With a starting price of almost £32,000, it’s one of the most expensive compact SUVs. However, it depreciates comparatively slowly, so you have a better chance of getting more of your money back when it comes time to sell than you would with a VW or BMW.
Built in: Crewe, Cheshire
The Bentayga is definitely the pricey option in this line-up, but we wanted to include it in the list as it just misses the cut for the next category – luxury SUVs
The Bentayga could quite easily feature in the next list (luxury SUVs), but we’ve given it a slot here as it’s based on Audi’s own large SUV (the Q7) and is extremely practical. It has been refreshed in the last month and the range could expand to include less expensive versions in the coming months.
It is the footballer’s car of choice – and you can see why. It blends quality materials – the cabin being especially opulent – with supreme comfort and a high-riding driving position for the first time in the British marque’s history.
Performance and luxury are definitely the strong points here, but you’ll need deep pockets to afford the Crewe-built 4X4.
Built in: Solihull, West Midlands
The F-Pace was Jaguar’s first SUV model. It’s since been joined by the smaller E-Pace and electric I-Pace, but these are not manufactured in the UK
It might not seem it by the Bentley Bentayga’s standards, but Jaguar’s F-Pace SUV is still a pricey family 4X4. That said, you get a lot of quality and stunning looks for the money – and very slow depreciation.
Launched to the market in 2017 and produced at JLR’s Solihull plant, it’s been a roaring success. Proper petrolheads even have the choice of an outrageously fast SVR version, if they want a super SUV to race around in.
The F-Pace is brilliant to drive across the entire range. Choose a model with smaller wheels and it’s very comfortable too. And while you might think practicality would have been overlooked when there’s so much style, it’s a surprisingly roomy and versatile vehicle.
Range Rover Velar
Built it: Solihull, West Midlands
The Velar is our favourite large Land Rover model on the market right now. With such huge demand for coupe-like SUVs, it’s our choice of the bunch – mainly because it’s still very practical despite the svelte design
With so many Land Rover products in the sector to choose from (all built at the same Solihull plant), we’ve opted for the one we like most – the Velar.
It’s stylish, refined and offers the appeal of a coupe SUV, which seems to be a popular choice with motorists right now.
If you don’t mind buying diesel, the D180 is a wonderfully competent powerplant and has won awards in the past. Just be careful when it comes to options, as prices can start spiraling beyond the £45,710 mark if you get carried away with the extras list.
Aston Martin DBX
Built in: St Athan, South Wales
The £158,000 Aston Martin DBX is the new kid on the block. The SUV is fitted with the brand’s most potent V8 engine yet
The new kid on the block in the luxury SUV world is the Aston Martin DBX – and it’s built in the UK. James Bond’s favourite car maker is producing the stunning vehicle at its new St Athan factory in South Wales, with the first example coming off the production line just last month.
The five-door, five-seater, all-wheel-drive crossover has been designed from the ground up with input from a female advisory board and a panel of children, both enlisted to make sure it’s as family-friendly as possible.
Fitted with the brand’s most potent V8 motor yet with 550bhp, it’s capable of propelling the family car from 0-to-62mph in 4.5 seconds. It will be a hoot on the road. We’ve already driven it, but can’t tell you want it’s like until tomorrow. Stay tuned for our first drive report…
Range Rover SVAutobiography
Built in: Ryton-on-Dunsmore, Warwickshire
The SVAutobiography is the £130,000+ SUV for those who don’t think a standard Range Rover is quite fancy enough
If a standard Range Rover isn’t luxurious enough for you, you can ask the guys at Jaguar Land Rover Special Vehicle Operations in Ryton-on-Dunsmore, Coventry to make you an even fancier version of the SUV.
Called the SVAutobiography, it’s JLR’s take on a 4X4 limousine. Out goes the rear bench of the conventional model and drafted in are a pair of adjustable private-jet chairs. It’s available as a short or long-wheel-base version, with the latter offering enough leg room for professional basketball players.
It’s no slouch either. The 565hp V8 engine is the same used in the Range Rover Sport SVR and will take you to red-carpet events in no time, with a 0-to-62mph sprint taking just 5.4 seconds and a limited top speed of 155mph. For £380,000, they’ll even make you an armour-plated version, called the ‘Sentinel‘.
Built in: Goodwood, Chichester
Nothing says luxury like a Rolls-Royce, and the Cullinan is the first SUV to be adorned with Spirit of Ecstasy on the bonnet
When Rolls-Royce announced it would built an SUV, it was clear this would be the pinnacle for premium 4X4 cars. And it hasn’t disappointed.
If you want an glorious interior and boundless options to bespoke your SUV, then this is the model for you. The 6.7-litre V12 engine is effortlessly smooth and the levels of refinement are unmatched. Never has an SUV been as hushed as this.
Not a single version will leave the factory costing a customer the £264,000 retail price, with most featuring options that will push the total fee well beyond half a million quid. The vast majority built at Godwood are ordered by customers in the US and Middle East. Outputs might be small but it’s a car that generates plenty of cash for the historic brand.
Built in: Castle Bromwich, West Midlands
A new Jaguar XJ is due to arrive next year, with an electric version on the way. It will continue to be built at the Castle Bromwich factory
The XJ is the longest-running model in the Jaguar line-up, and the current generation has been around for a decade now. Production has ceased, though examples are still in showrooms and you can haggle sizable discounts if you want one.
It will make way for an all-new XJ, which was due to launch this year. However, Covid-19-enforced delays and an extended period to setup the Castle Bromwich assembly line for an electrified version has seen the launch date pushed back to 2021.
The car you can get your hands on now is among the best to drive in class. However, in terms of space, running costs and overall luxuriousness it does fall a little short against the German competition.
Built in: Goodwood, Chichester
With endless options to bespoke the latest Phantom VIII, it’s no surprise that most leaving the Goodwood factory cost over £1million
The latest Phantom is the epitome of limousine – a car you will want to be driven in but also enjoy driving yourself.
The V12 engine is, like the one in the Cullinan, silky smooth. The ride quality is supremely supple and the feeling of grandeur is unrivalled. With endless bespoke options – such as choosing a paint colour to exactly match your dog’s hair or a favourite lip stick – you can easily see why most Phantom’s leave the Goodwood assembly line costing over £1million.
It’s undoubtedly the most luxurious car in the world and Phantom VIII is almost impossible to fault. Look no further for one of the UK’s finest products.
Bentley Flying Spur
Built in: Crewe, Cheshire
The latest Flying Spur has one of the most glorious interiors you’ll find in any motor. Bentley’s potent 6-litre W12 motor isn’t bad either
Bentley and Rolls-Royce have always been at battle in the premium limo market. The former’s latest offering is the new Flying Spur, which looks like an extended Continental GT (more about this later).
If you’re looking for something to make an entrance, ooze sophistication and provide a sense of occasion, it does a very good job of that. The interior is a sight to behold and the 6.0-litre W12 engine, developing 626bhp and driving all four wheels, is monumentally good.
The biggest downside is the lack of all-round visibility. Not that this will be an issue for most Flying Spur buyers – though will be for their chauffeurs.
Built in: Hethel, Norfolk
Compact, lightweight and a hoot to drive – the Lotus Elise (pictured, the 220 Sport) is a hair-raising sports car for enthusiastic drivers
The iconic British sports car maker and former F1 team continues to churn out its range of road cars in Norfolk, which next year will be joined by the stunning £2million Evija.
For those looking for cheaper thrills, the Elise is the one to consider. Compact, light and relatively basic by modern-day standards, it is a distraction-free sports car through and through – and one that’s full of sensation.
It is quite brilliant to drive, turns on a sixpence and has more grip than an Olympic weightlifter. It’s probably not one you’d want to use daily, but for a fun toy to have in the garage there are few cars that are better for less than £50,000.
Built in: Castle Bromwich, West Midlands
The Jaguar F-Type isn’t just gorgeous to look at, it’s a refined and capable cruiser. While it’s a little heavy and understeers too much by sports car standards (in our opinion), you can use it everyday
While the Lotus Elise is a toy for special occasions and track sessions, the F-Type is definitely a sports car you can daily without any issues. There’s a choice of Coupe or Convertible (the latter coming at a premium) and either a 2.0-litre four-cylinder powerplant or the more raucous V8 engines in two power outputs and the option of rear- or all-wheel-drive.
While the smaller motor won’t provide as much drama, it is a relatively affordable sportster to run. But if you want a sense theatre the V8s are superb.
Being front-engined, the F-Type isn’t the most responsive of sports cars, but few look as good and offer as much comfort as the Castle Bromwich-built Jag.
The Seven has been around since the 1970s, and in the last four decades the looks – and level of equipment – have barely changed. That said, nothing comes close if you’re in search of the purest form of driving
If you want to get your hands on a sports car that’s developed a cult following, the Caterham Seven – built in Dartford, Kent – is right up your street.
Outboard wheels, no doors, and a fully detachable roof; it’s not what you’d call a modern-day vehicle. But for many, that’s the appeal. It’s super basic, incredibly involving and a blast if you’re a regular trackday goer.
It’s not going to excel in any crash tests, you get next to nothing in refinement and prices are pretty high for a cramped car you won’t drive too often. But if you’re looking for the purest form of driving, very little comes close.
LUXURY SPORTS CARS/SUPERCARS
Built in: Woking, Surrey
Priced at just over £150,000, the 570S is our pick of the McLaren range. Though there are models to suit all supercar tastes – with price tags to match
We could have included any of the British firm’s cars in this list because every single one of them is produced at the brand’s Technology Centre in Woking.
We chose the 570S because it’s one of the most affordable – as part of the Sports Series – and also one of its best products yet. As well as being staggeringly quick, it’s also super-involving to drive at normal speeds that won’t see you handing your licence back to the DVLA. The 570GT has the same twin-turbo V8 engine as the ‘S’ but adds a small rear luggage compartment and softer suspension, if you want added practicality.
All of this, for a fraction of the price of an equivalently-fast Ferrari.
Aston Martin Vantage
Built in: Gaydon, Warwickshire
The Aston Martin Vantage is a arguably the best supercar in the brand’s range right now. It’s also the cheapest, fortunately
It wouldn’t be a list of supercars if we didn’t include an Aston Martin. Our pick of the selection for this list is the most affordable of the range – the Vantage – that’s built at the brand’s spiritual home of Gaydon. Though we could have opted for the DB11 or DBS Superleggera, both of which are also produced in Britain.
The V8 Vantage uses a twin-turbo 4.0-litre V8 producing a whopping 503hp – good for a 0-to-62mph sprint in 3.6 seconds and top speed of 195mph.
But it’s the looks that are the most stunning aspect; it’s arguably the best-looking model you can buy on the market today at this price point.
Bentley Continental GT
Built in: Crewe, Cheshire
If you want to go on a tour of Europe in something fast and luxurious, the Bentley Continental GT should be high on the list. With a W12 motor up front, there more than enough potency on tap
The latest Continental GT comes with the choice of powerplants: a raucous V8 or a thunderous W12 motor.
No matter which one you opt for, neither will keep up with the aforementioned McLaren and Aston Martin.
That’s because the Continental is a true GT model rather than a uncompromising supercar. Built to cruise on long-distance journeys, it manages to find a great balance between sports car and luxury car and is a worthy rival to the British-built Aston Martin DB11. The Crewe factory produces them in relatively big numbers, with strong demand for the classy tourer at home and overseas.
Built in: Crewkerne, Somerset
The Ariel Nomad is like nothing else that’s legal to drive on the road. It has no roof and no doors, but what it lacks in panels it makes up for in pure unadulterated four-wheel fun
Founded in 2001, Ariel created the world’s first ‘road-going exoskeletal car’ – the Atom. It’s a high-performance vehicle with little to no bodywork, roof or windows. That means it’s feathery light, but also ridiculously quick.
But the model to make it into our range is the off-road Nomad. It shares the same characteristics with the Atom, is made in Crewkerne, Somerset, and is also road legal, we should point out.
It uses a 2.4-litre, naturally-aspirated, Honda engine that – when you taking into account the lightness of the body – produces 351bhp per tonne. Fun is the agenda for this car, and it delivers in droves.
Morgan 3 Wheeler
Built in: Malvern, Worcestershire
If you’re looking for something that’s like nothing else on the road today, the Morgan 3 Wheeler will be right up your street. It’s not a car you’d use daily (especially not during the winter) but will guarantee smiles every time you take it out of the garage
If you thought the Ariel Nomad was like nothing you’d ever seen before, wait until you clap your eyes on the Malvern-built Morgan 3 Wheeler. No roof, no windscreen, no…fourth wheel.
The Worcestershire-based car maker describes it as a ‘rebellion against sanitised, modern motoring’ – and it’s impossible to disagree. Powering the vehicle is a motorcycle-derived 2.0-litre S&S V-Twin engine linked to an engaging five-speed manual gearbox, which takes it from 0-to-62mph in an impressive 6 seconds.
Incredibly, it weighs just over 500kg, making it extremely light and nimble despite lacking a wheel. Of all the British built models in this list it’s the one that will ultimately put the biggest smile on your face each time you take it out of the garage.
Eagle GB’s range of modernised E-Types are a thing to behold. They each take 6,000 man hours to built and will set owners back a hefty £650,000-plus. But just look at it…
So expensive are reborn E-Types built Eagle GB that they don’t even reveal the whereabouts of their factory for security reasons. Each car takes 18 months and 6,000 man hours to produce – so it’s worth the company protecting its assets.
The firm has reinvented the classic Jaguar with a range of drop-dead-gorgeous iterations. And if those looks don’t floor you, the hefty chunk missing from your bank balance might.
They aren’t the heavy-steering, poor-braking, oil-leaking cars to own like an original E-Type. Instead, Eagle GB uses a supercharged 4.7-litre, 345bhp engine, strips the weight to a mere 1038kg (less than a Ford Fiesta) and fits modern components and electronics to make them handle infinitely better than the 1960s silhouette suggests. Not many will be able to afford one, but what a machine if you do have the required funds.
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