The best cars you can buy for £50 per week

It isn’t a huge amount, £50 per week, but it could buy you a sports-coupé with a 5.0-litre V8.

On the other hand, it might only afford a 1.0-litre hatchback. Consider a used car, meanwhile, and a whole world of engine sizes and body styles opens up before you.

It all depends, of course, on how much you’re willing to put down as a deposit and what duration of agreement you sign up to. Over the next few pages, we’ll look at the most tempting personal contract purchase (PCP) deals out there, from the humblest of city cars to luxury saloons, with a few SUVs, sports cars and electric vehicles thrown in for good measure.

Along the way, we’ll include some buying advice to help you find the PCP deal that’s right for you. We’ll also cast an eye over the classifieds to determine whether you could be better off buying a second-hand car.

This being Autocar, the models we recommend throughout this guide are not simply the most affordable cars in their class or the cheapest to run. In their own ways, they are desirable, fun to drive or a pleasure to own. Don’t believe us? Consider this: £50 per week, or around £200 per month, could be enough to put a Jaguar F-Type with a supercharged V6 engine on your driveway (although we’d suggest you consider the size ofthe deposit you’ll have to pay upfront before you commit).

PCP agreements, which account for around 80% of new cars sales today, tend to work well for people who want to change their car every few years. On a monthly basis, they’re more affordable than hire-purchase arrangements too. At the end of the deal, your options include handing the car back and walking away with nothing, paying off a final ‘balloon’ payment so that you own the car outright, or signing up to a new PCP.

It’s worth remembering, finally, that the deals we’ve highlighted here, while all genuine PCPs, are only offered as examples. These deals work on sliding scales and, by tweaking the duration of the agreement or the size of the deposit, you’ll be able to set the monthly payments to a level that suits your budget.

The best cars you can buy for £50 per week© Autocar The best cars you can buy for £50 per weekThe hatchback sector is so well served by PCP deals that, whatever your needs and budget, you’re likely to find an agreement to suit. The new fifth-generation Micra might not be the very best supermini out there, but it is a huge step forward compared with its predecessor thanks to improved dynamics and modern styling. This PCP offer includes a £1400 dealer deposit contribution, which means you’ll only put down £189 up front and then pay the same again each month for four years. Just be mindful of the mileage allowance: 8000 per year is too few for frequent motorway drivers.

The BMW 118d is a much more suitable long-distance car, although you’ll quickly hit the 10,000-mile annual limit if you spend your working life on the M4. The £4312 deposit is sensible, meanwhile, thanks to a dealer contribution of £5205. The torquey four-cylinder diesel engine offers a good combination of performance and economy but, despite its unique rear-wheel-drive layout, the 118d sadly isn’t anything other than an average steer.

The Ford Focus RS, however, is a blinding car to drive. You’ll need to put down a lumpy £10,000 deposit to secure one for £50 a week, but this PCP agreement shows it can be done. At 24 months, this is as short as PCP arrangements get, which makes that £10,000 deposit seem heftier still, but at least you’ll have the option to upgrade after just two years. Interestingly, we found a number of 24-month PCP deals on the lesser Focus ST for similar monthly outlay, just with a slightly smaller deposit.

Perhaps this RS deal is good value after all.

The best cars you can buy for £50 per week© Autocar The best cars you can buy for £50 per week

Is a PCP deal right for you? 

PROS

– Lower monthly payments than personal loan or hire purchase

– Trade in value is guaranteed at the start of the PCP

– At the end of the agreement, you have several options: hand the car back and walk away, buy the car outright or sign up to another PCP on a new car

– Servicing, maintenance and warranty will be included This deal allows you to buy a car you might not otherwise be able to afford

CONS

You will have to pay a sizeable balloon payment at the end of the agreement to own the car

– If you don’t pay the balloon payment, you walk away with nothing and lose your deposit

– Excess mileage charges: you could have to pay as much as 10p per mile if you exceed the mileage limit

– You could be charged for any remedial work the car needs when you hand it back

Hatchbacks

New

NISSAN MICRA 1.0 £189 per month, £189 deposit, 48 months

The best cars you can buy for £50 per week© Autocar The best cars you can buy for £50 per week

BMW 118D£200 per month, £4312 deposit, 48 months

The best cars you can buy for £50 per week© Autocar The best cars you can buy for £50 per week

FORD FOCUS RS £194 per month, £10,000 deposit, 24 months

The best cars you can buy for £50 per week© Autocar The best cars you can buy for £50 per week

Used

2014 VOLKSWAGEN GOLF GTD: £198 per month, £4200 deposit, 40 months

We found a 2014 Golf GTD with 44k miles for about the same cost as the BMW 118d below. You might not be getting a new car, but you will be getting more performance. In fact, you’ll have to search long and hard to find another hatchback that offers 64mpg and genuinely entertaining hot- hatch dynamics. Be mindful of the 14.8% interest rate on your monthly payments, though; that’s how dealers make their money on used-car PCPs.

Executive cars

BMW 320D: £200 per month, £9358 deposit, 48 months

The best cars you can buy for £50 per week© Autocar The best cars you can buy for £50 per week

JAGUAR XF 20D: £182 per month, £12,500 deposit, 48 months

The best cars you can buy for £50 per week© Autocar The best cars you can buy for £50 per week

RANGE ROVER VELAR D180: £184 per month, £17,000 deposit, 48 months

Your £50 a week will get you into some very smart metal indeed, but you should expect to put down a sizeable deposit if you’re to keep the monthly payments that low. The BMW 320d remains one of the very best small executive saloons with handsome styling, a very good cabin and sophisticated dynamics. The £9358 deposit does look quite steep, even with a £5648 dealer contribution, however, and a limit of 10,000 miles per year isn’t terribly generous for a car that’s designed to hack up and down motorways.

Still, that PCP deal looks suitable for an intergalactic space traveller compared with the offer we found on a Jaguar XF. A scant 6000 miles per year on a car like the XF doesn’t appear much use at all, but this offer (to say nothing of the Jag…) might well suit a retiree.

The best cars you can buy for £50 per week© Autocar The best cars you can buy for £50 per week

The monthly payments of £182 are among the lowest you’ll find in this entire guide, although £12,500 up front isn’t quite so affordable. We rate the XF as one of the best executive saloons on sale, second only to the brilliant BMW 5 Series, but this four-cylinder diesel model is let down by its noisy, rattly engine.

You’ll find the same unit in the new Range Rover Velar, where it is, once again, the weak link in the chain. Otherwise, though, the Velar is a very desirable executive SUV with a great cabin and sleek, modern styling. Again, though, this PCP deal is soured somewhat by a 6000-mile annual limit. The most difficult thing to get over, though, is the £17,000 deposit; you would have to be unusually cash rich and income poor for this offer to work for you. Nonetheless, it is possible to get into the SUV of the moment for less than £50 a week.

USED

2013 MERCEDES CLS 350 CDI: £194 per month, £9000 deposit, 48 months

The advantage of choosing used over new in the executive sector is that you can start to consider six-cylinder cars rather than being limited to four-pots. That’s more significant than it might sound: cars like the Jaguar XF are vastly improved by bigger, quieter and less stressed engines.

The best cars you can buy for £50 per week© Autocar The best cars you can buy for £50 per week

The Mercedes CLS Shooting Brake is one of the more distinctive premium estates of recent years and has a sumptuous cabin too. The offer we found will allow you 12,000 miles per year before charging an excessive mileage fee, which is much more reasonable than the mileage limits imposed on certain new cars.

Buying used with £50 per week

Most manufacturers offer PCP plans on used cars, but not if they’re more than a few years old. Every used car we’ve highlighted in this guide is offered on a PCP because that’s the easiest way to compare new versus used, but there are a number of other ways you could buy a second-hand car with £50 a week.

Of course, the most cost-effective method would be to stick that money into a savings account each week and wait until you’ve squirrelled enough away to buy the car you want.

If you aren’t patient enough to do that, the alternative is a personal loan. At a typical 6% rate of interest, you could borrow £9000 – enough to buy a perfectly decent used car – over 48 months for £211 each month.

You’ll be looking at much cheaper cars than you would with a PCP, but at least you’ll own the car outright.

Sports cars

It almost seems daft to suggest you could get your hands on a brand new sports car for just £50 a week, but the deals we’ve picked out here show it is possible. And although in one case you will be putting down a monstrous deposit, the other two examples are actually very affordable.

The Fiat 124 Spider isn’t quite as brilliant to drive as the more focused Abarth version, but it’s a quick and entertaining roadster nonetheless.

The model offered here is the entry-level Classica. It may sit at the bottom of the line-up but it gets exactly the same 1.4-litre turbo engine as the top-of-the-range Lusso Plus. The most appealing thing about this particular deal is the very modest deposit of just £1944. It’s a 23-month arrangement, too, so you’ll have the option of upgrading after a couple of years.

The best cars you can buy for £50 per week© Autocar The best cars you can buy for £50 per week

If a two-seater sports car isn’t for you, perhaps the 2+2 Audi TT is. Now, Audi’s stylish coupé doesn’t have the underpinnings of a true sports car, sharing its platform with the very humble Volkswagen Golf, but it’s still a decent car to thread along a winding road. The £6500 deposit you’ll have to stump up isn’t too steep, either.

What if you want a really high-performance, bespoke sports car? Not a dressed-up hatchback or a modestly powered little roadster, but a genuine sports car with proper straight-line pace? You could get your hands on a 335bhp Jaguar F-Type 3.0 V6 for £50 a week, but only if you put down a hefty £28,000 deposit. You’ll also have to use it as a weekend car only, because the mileage limit is just 6000 per year.

It is possible to get a proper sports car for £50 a week, then, but not entirely sensible.

Hot hatches for £50 per week

If you want a sporty car but need some degree of practicality, a hot hatch could just be the answer. Audi’s punchy little S1 is deceptively fast, thanks to its pint-sized dimensions and 252bhp turbo engine. You’ll put one on your drive for £191 per month over four years if you stump up an £8000 deposit.

The Renaultsport Clio 200 is a little more affordable, Renault asking for £5559 up front. That’s also on a four-year agreement, with payments of £189. The limit of 6000 miles per year is rather mean, though. With its turbo engine and paddle-shift-operated gearbox, the latest Clio RS has lost the intensity of its forebears, but it remains a fun car to hustle along an open road.

The Peugeot 308 GTi 270, meanwhile, is an unexpected gem with a sparkling chassis. Put down £9099 and you’ll bag one for £50 a week.

Crossovers for £50 per week

Crossover or SUV? It isn’t an exact science but SUVs tend to be four-wheel drive, perhaps with some off-road capability, while crossovers are normally front-wheel drive only. Crossovers are often cheaper than SUVs, too, but they still have the cabin space and lofty seating positions that are so sought after among buyers.

Audi’s Q2 is available with four-wheel drive, but most buyers won’t bother. Put down £12,000 and you’ll get a 1.4 TFSI Edition 1 for £185 a month. Coming from the Audi stable, the Q2 hits certain ‘want one’ notes that many crossovers miss.

The best cars you can buy for £50 per week© Autocar The best cars you can buy for £50 per week

The Nissan Juke, meanwhile, is perhaps the definitive crossover, topping sales charts month after month. The styling is divisive, but there’s no arguing with a £4536 deposit and monthly payments of just £169.

Renault’s impressive Kadjar, finally, is only a little costlier. You’ll pay £6237 up front and £191 per month over four years.

USED

2009 BMW M3 – £220 per month, £10,000 deposit, 48 months:

The E92 BMW M3 is powered by one of the great performance-car engines of the past 10 years. Its normally aspirated 4.0-litre V8 has got character, a spine-tingling soundtrack and, with 414bhp, it delivers plenty of performance too.

The best cars you can buy for £50 per week© Autocar The best cars you can buy for £50 per week

The £10,000 deposit isn’t prohibitive, while the 48 monthly payments of £220 mean it just about qualifies for our guide…The car we found is an early 2009 example with 40,000 miles on the clock. It also has a manual gearbox, rather than the dual-clutch transmission, and is an approved BMW used car, which means it comes with a warranty.

SUVs

NEW

KIA SPORTAGE 1.6 T GDi: £194 per month, £8500 deposit, 36 months

The best cars you can buy for £50 per week© Autocar The best cars you can buy for £50 per week

BMW X3 20D XDRIVE: £200 per month, £15,483 deposit, 48 months

The best cars you can buy for £50 per week© Autocar The best cars you can buy for £50 per week

JAGUAR F-PACE 25T: £188 per month, £19,000 deposit, 48 months

The best cars you can buy for £50 per week© Autocar The best cars you can buy for £50 per week

USED

2013 AUDI Q3 1.4 TFSI: £207 per month, £5000 deposit, 48 months

If the size of the deposit is the limiting factor, you’ll have to look to the second-hand market. We found a four-year-old Audi Q3 – which, like the BMW X3, is due to be replaced soon – being offered for £207 per month and £5000 up front.

The Q3 trades on its premium build quality and the badge appeal, although a fidgety ride and lifeless steering mean it’s far from being the best small SUV to drive. This 2013 two-wheel-drive car has covered 32,000 miles and is powered by the 148bhp 1.4-litre petrol engine.

The best cars you can buy for £50 per week© Autocar The best cars you can buy for £50 per week

Kia’s Sportage is a spacious and practical SUV that feels solidly built inside. It even manages to handle with the sort of precision and agility that a tall ride height would normally preclude. The offer we picked out asks for an £8500 deposit (after a £1000 dealer contribution) and 36 payments of £194. The 10,000-mile annual limit is pretty reasonable too.

SUV buyers are often drawn to such cars because of their perceived prestige, though, and for many such people a Kia badge simply will not do. BMW’s blue-and-white roundel is much more like it. The all-new X3 is right around the corner, which means there are useful deals to be had on the outgoing model. The 2.0-litre diesel models falls within our £50-a-week budget, although you will have to put down a sizeable £15,483 deposit.

The X3 is one of the best-handling SUVs of recent years, although the trade-off is a ride quality that can edge into ‘too firm’ territory on certain road surfaces.

Jaguar’s F-Pace is another fine-handling and prestigious SUV that’s proving extremely popular among buyers. Offered here in mid-range Prestige trim with a 247bhp petrol engine, the F-Pace looks to be a PCP winner – until you notice the £19,000 deposit and 6000-mile annual limit. The 178bhp diesel R-Sport model is fractionally more realistic with an £18,000 deposit and 7000-mile limit.

Electric cars

New

NISSAN LEAF: £189 per month, £6624 deposit, 25 months

The best cars you can buy for £50 per week© Autocar The best cars you can buy for £50 per week

BMW i3S: £203 per month, £6773 deposit, 48 months

Renault Zoe: £199 per month, £6067 deposit, 36 months

Range anxiety will be enough to put many buyers off a battery-powered electric car but, if you drive only short journeys and can easily fit a recharger at home or make use of one at work, running out of juice and being stranded by the side of the road simply needn’t be a concern.

Nissan offers its outgoing first-generation Leaf EV for £189 per month over 25 months with an affordable £6624 deposit, which demonstrates that going electric doesn’t have to be an expensive business. The Leaf will manage around 120 miles between charges, which will be adequate for most urban commutes but not much use atall if you have to take to the motorway forlongerjourneysfromtimetotime. Around town, though, the Leaf is whisper-quiet and comfortable. Nissan’s electric hatchback doesn’t exactly ooze character and charm, though, which is precisely what BMW’s i3 does do.

The best cars you can buy for £50 per week© Autocar The best cars you can buy for £50 per weekIn i3S spec, it’s also very brisk, clocking 62mph in a hot-hatch-baiting 6.9sec. The S model even gets a reworked chassis that, BMW says, makes it more fun to drive than the standard i3. We drive it later this month. With a £6773 deposit and monthly payments of £203, the BMW isn’t much more expensive than the Nissan, although you will be signing up to a four-year agreement.

The appeal of Nissan’s Leaf is limited somewhat by its modest 120-mile driving range from a fully charged battery, which means the Renault Zoe – which should cover 250 miles on a single charge, according to its maker – could make much more sense. You can pick up one of the French machines on a three-year contract with a deposit of £6067 for £199 per month. The Zoe is an attractively styled little hatchback with a well-appointed cabin, although the ride is a touch leaden.

USED

2014 BMW i3: £198 per month, £4706 deposit, 49 months

The BMW i3 is perhaps the most desirable small EV on the market, but if the near-£7000 deposit BMW asks for a brand new i3S is too rich, you might be drawn to a used example. We found a 2014 car being offered for £198 per month and £4706 up front. The car has covered 33,000 miles and although it isn’t the higher-powered S version – it predates that model by three years – it will still feel brisk enough around town, thanks to its instant electric torque delivery. The 10,000- mile yearly limit is also fair for a car of this type.

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To encourage drivers to make the switch to low-emissions vehicles, the government offers financial grants on plug-in hybrids and EVs. Eligible vehicles fall into one of six categories, depending on CO2 emissions. Category one is for cars that emit less than 50g/km of CO2 and can travel 70 miles with no emissions at all – in essence, this means pure electric vehicles. The grant will cover 35% of the purchase price, up to a maximum of £4500. Category two includes hybrids that can run for 10 miles with no emissions and emit less than 50g/km of CO2. The government will pay 35% of the purchase price up to a maximum of £2500.

autocar.co.uk

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Panos Sfaelos

Journalist - Chief Editor

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