Best cars for under £300 per month
Many people allot £300 of their monthly outgoings to car repayments, and doing so will secure you an excellent vehicle. We select 10 of the best.
The average value of a new car in the UK is around £21,000, but most people don’t spend that. The popularity, flexibility and availability of car finance packages like Personal Contract Purchase, or PCP means such cars are available for roughly £300 a month and around 80% of buyers choose to spread the load, rather than buying outright.
So what do you get for £300 a month? Well, quite a lot of car, actually. Being such a popular price point means car companies cater for a variety of tastes and requirements for this outlay, offering everything from practical estates and SUVs right through to hot hatchbacks and convertible roadsters. Many dealers have great offers and deals, too, so some of the models on this run-down have a list price closer to £30,000 than £20,000, yet are still available for £300 a month.
Our top 10 covers a broad range of models and also highlights the engine and trim combinations that are available for £300 a month. Of course, this is an arbitrary cut-off point, so if you want to spend slightly more or less than this, specifying a car up or down will alter your monthly expenditure, but not necessarily by enough to have a huge effect.
For the purposes of this list, we’ve tried to keep our selections as close to a hypothetical 36-month deal as possible, with a deposit of no more than £10,000 at the very most (although many require just a fraction of this) and an annual mileage allowance of no less than 9,000 miles (10,000 is more common).
If you’re after even greater savings, meanwhile, head over to our list of the best cars available for £150 a month. One final note: some of the cars and offers we recommend here may depend on attractive dealer or manufacturer deposit contributions or discounts. These are subject to change – prices were correct at time of writing.
Read on for our list of the top 10 best cars for under £300 per month you can buy right now.
The Skoda Octavia Estate is a fantastic all-rounder, making it a smash hit with families over the past two decades. Throughout that time, it has been based on the underpinnings of the Volkswagen Golf, although its larger size often makes that hard to believe. As the Golf has grown and become more advanced, so has the Octavia; it’s now more accommodating than ever. Safety keeps improving, too, with sturdy metalwork and plenty of kit ensuring a five-star Euro NCAP rating. Its broad engine range provides plenty of options, from the surprisingly punchy and fun 1.0-litre TSI petrol to the powerful 2.0-litre TDI diesel, with the option of all-weather four-wheel drive.
You can think of the Audi A3 Sportback as an Octavia wearing a Saville Row suit, because under the four-ringed badges and sharp creases, the two have a lot in common. As you’d expect given its higher price, the A3 Sportback has a classier and more upmarket interior. You pay for this brand image and luxury, though, because its boot measures 380 litres – not a patch on the 610 litres of the boxy Octavia Estate. Still, the A3 Sportback will be practical enough for many and can even be drafted in to tow the family caravan, with the 2.0-litre TDI capable of hauling up to 1,800kg. For maximum fuel economy, the 1.6-litre TDI diesel is the star, but we also like the quiet, smooth 1.5-litre petrol and recommend it if you don’t cover a huge annual mileage.
If you thought a huge seven-seat MPV would be way out of a £300-a-month budget, think again. And, far from being a low-rent model, the Citroen Grand C4 Picasso is one of the best MPVs money can buy. It has a modern and stylish exterior design and the interior is no less futuristic, shunning analogue gauges in favour of digital dashboard displays. With five seats in place, there’s more than enough room in the light and airy interior for a family and 632 litres of luggage. Pop the two rearmost seats out of the boot floor and there’s space for two extra kids, while folding all the rear seats flat provides a van-like 2,181 litres for moving house. All this space doesn’t come with supercar running costs either, thanks to thrifty 1.6-litre BlueHDi diesels that can manage 58mpg.
The Volvo S90 is a premium executive saloon to rival cars like the BMW 5 Series and Mercedes E-Class, so it's a surprise that a car like this can be yours for under the £300 per month threshold. Your neighbours might think you're paying far more than that, especially as all S90s are very well-equipped. Automatic LED headlights, an electric tailgate, a reversing camera and a digitised instrument cluster are all standard, while the interior features plush materials and a large portrait touchscreen. It's practical too, with lots of space in the back seats and a 500-litre boot. Both the D4 and T4 diesel and petrol engines are available for under £300 at the time of writing.
The Mazda CX-5 is one of our favourite mid-size SUVs, with neat styling, low running costs and a sublime driving experience. Indeed, without spending money on an SUV from the likes of Porsche or Jaguar, the CX-5 has the best steering and handling of any high-riding family car. There are only three trim levels and all are highly equipped, with all the features like DAB radio, Bluetooth, alloy wheels and climate control that you’d expect. Safety has clearly been a priority, too, with standard autonomous emergency braking helping secure a five-star Euro NCAP rating.
The Peugeot 3008 was a real surprise when it launched, because not only did it turn an MPV model into an SUV, but its design and road manners were completely transformed. Peugeot has created a truly memorable interior, cleverly using new materials and fabrics on the centre console and dashboard to stunning effect. The instrument cluster is a fully digital affair, too, without costing extra like in many Volkswagen Group models. On the road, the 3008 soaks up bumps nicely, but also entertains in bends, remaining planted and faithful to your inputs. The 1.2-litre PureTech petrol engine with 129bhp is superb, providing plenty of performance in most driving situations and returning up to 55mpg.
SEAT’s first-ever SUV has gone down a storm, selling better than the Spanish manufacturer could have hoped for. With looks inspired by the SEAT Leon and the extra practicality of an SUV, it's a real contender in an oversubscribed class. Because SEAT is the VW Group’s sporty brand, the Ateca offers a crisp driving experience, with suspension that’s a little more driver-focused than its Skoda Karoq and Volkswagen Tiguan sister models. This means the ride is slightly firmer, too, but comfort is still perfectly acceptable. Engines include a 1.4-litre petrol and 1.6-litre diesel, offering a good blend of performance and low running costs.
The Toyota C-HR has shown us a new side of Toyota, where design is given far more emphasis, resulting in bold shapes and a stylish interior. The C-HR is a genuinely arresting SUV that looks smaller than it actually is. Inside, there’s enough space for four adults to sit in comfort, with their luggage in the 377-litre boot. The coupe-like roof means rear visibility is poor, but top Excel trim gets around this by offering autonomous self-parking technology. Toyota doesn’t offer a diesel engine in the C-HR; instead, there’s either a 1.2-litre turbo petrol or a version of the hybrid setup from the Toyota Prius. The 1.2-litre is more fun to drive, but there’s a satisfaction to be had from trying to get the best economy from the hybrid. The latter comes with an automatic gearbox and can officially return up to 58.8mpg.
It's a cliche to say the latest version of any car is the best, but in the case of the Vauxhall Astra, the statement certainly holds up. Clever engineering means it’s far lighter than before, improving everything from handling, to acceleration, braking and fuel economy. With less mass to propel, the 109bhp 1.6-litre CDTi engine can get the Astra from 0-62mph in a very respectable 10.2 seconds, yet return up to 58.9mpg. Emissions of under 100g/km are also sure to make this diesel Astra a favourite of company-car drivers, lowering their monthly bills significantly. It’s good news inside, too, where the Astra looks and feels more upmarket, while doing a really good job of keeping unwanted noise to a minimum.
For under £300 a month, the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV looks like a serious amount of metal for the money. Not only are you getting a large go-anywhere SUV, but it’s also a plug-in hybrid, meaning running costs can be kept to a minimum. Charge the battery pack from your mains supply or a public fast-charger and it’ll drive for up to 30 miles using just its electric motor, with no fuel consumed unless you choose to drive in hybrid mode, or floor the accelerator to pick up the pace for an overtake. Considering its advanced powertrain, the rest of the Outlander PHEV is rather traditional, which is a boon for families. Unlike the diesel, there’s only five seats, but the boot measures a decent 463 litres and you can tow up to 1,500kg.