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Uncovering Britain’s Automotive Gems

There are few things better than having the first backside in a brand-new car, and you might think that’s the way to go for standing out on the roads, too.

But, if beating the mainstream and pound-for-pound value is what you’re after, the pre-loved market is where the real characters are – like your grandparents say, ‘they don’t make them like they used to’.

To put that to the test, we’ve trawled the government’s latest vehicle licensing data by make and model, and highlighted the best bets for low-cost, standout motoring on British roads.

Save Money, Stand Out

When we think of flashy motors that are few and far between, we generally think of the top end like Rolls-Royce and Aston Martin perhaps. But, while they’re not a frequent sight on the morning commute or weekly trip to Tesco, they’re not the only option for driving something a bit different.

Sifting through reams of DVLA data, we found that envied vehicles don’t always come at a premium. Ranking car manufacturers by the number of models on our roads and their average price on AutoTrader, we’ve come up with the top 20 options for breaking the motoring mould and also saving a bit cash.

In top spot, it’s Japan’s Daihatsu. Despite compatriot carmaker Nissan leading the latest trends in the crossover and EV market, with the Qashqai and Leaf, Daihatsu heads our list with less than 23,000 models on British roads and an average price of £2.5k – the fifth-cheapest figure in our research.

Just making it onto the other end of our table is Alfa Romeo. As a prestige Italian brand, Alfa’s distinct design is often overshadowed by neighbours Ferrari and Lamborghini, but not here. Although the brand’s average price places it 31st in the cost rankings, its lower-than-average number of models on the road balances it out – surprisingly, there are more smart cars than Alfas.

Making Sense of the Top 50

Looking at Britain’s most represented carmakers, three of the top six spots are occupied by some of the most prominent prestige brands – BMW, Audi and Mercedes-Benz – that you’d think would have a quality-over-quantity approach.

Despite their reputation, the German builders have more models on the road than the likes of Nissan and Peugeot – both volume brands. That said, it’s unlikely the majority will be driving the most sought-after models, like BMW’s M models or Audi’s RS range.

At the other end of the table are the poster brands, with the likes of Aston Martin, Ferrari and Maserati. If it’s a supercar you want, but one that doesn’t demand the highest premium, the money’s on Maserati – the Italian supercar maker is the rarest on British roads, with only 10,311 of them knocking about, but also boasts an average saving of £60,000 on the price of a used Ferrari.

Model by Model, What’s the Best Bet?

Over 3,000 Excel rows later, we found Britain’s true automotive gems. And we don’t mean the obvious one-offs and models that were launched so long ago there are only one or two left. Where’s the fun in that?

You might think Ferrari owners get a good deal when it comes to sought-after motoring and exclusivity, but you’d be wrong. Sort of.

Even the Ferrari 812 Superfast – a 6.5-litre, 789bhp grand tourer – isn’t as rare as the Fiat Cinquecento, a cult classic made famous by The Inbetweeners. With only 432 of them on the road, it’s scarcer than one of the most exclusive cars to bear the Prancing Horse, and could be yours for little over £1k – a tad more affordable than the £250k a used 812 demands.

Even more surprising is the smart Crossblade convertible. Although a quirky car, you’d imagine more than 17 of them to be kicking about. That said, even the McLaren Senna is nearly three times as common, despite AutoTrader valuing it as high as £900,000.

More Reading

For more interesting research and automotive features, make sure to bookmark the Car Lease Special Offers blog.

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