Everyone has to get to work, right? And while we’d love to be able to walk or cycle, that’s not often feasible and we need commuter cars. Before Covid-19, using public transport was often a better solution but now many of us simply have to drive to and from work every day.
In fact, we Brits do a lot of commuting so, if you’re stuck in the car for a long time every day, you’re going to want something seriously pleasant.
But not all of us can afford the latest tech-laden SUV, so here are a few commuter cars that won’t break the bank and should be great for the daily grind. Our budget should secure a very sound example, too.
The Mondeo really is an institution – so much so, that when Tony Blair’s Labour party took aim at the top office, they did it by appealing to ‘Mondeo Man’.
The Mondeo’s ubiquity means prices are as low as they go, but that’s no reflection on the car – which is utterly brilliant. Ford’s greatest talent has always been in making ordinary cars drive like well-sorted sporting saloons, and the Mondeo is one of the best.
It’s also efficient on the motorway, cheap to maintain and absolutely cavernous inside. If you’re after something to while away the miles in, you can’t do much better than this.
Not all of us commute exclusively on motorways – in fact, many people commute entirely within a city, or perhaps drive into or out of one every morning and evening. Provided you’ve somewhere to charge it, an electric car could be an ideal companion.
£5,000 is very cheap for an electric car, and with good reason – Renault gave new buyers the option of leasing the batteries for a monthly cost, so you’ll want to check whether that’s the case for the car you’re looking at. Even with that, if you rack up the miles quickly enough this car almost guarantees you a big saving.
Peugeot 208 diesel
As one of Britain’s most economical non-electrified cars, the Peugeot 208 is a penny-pincher’s dream – theoretically capable of over 70mpg.
The 1.4-litre diesel engine isn’t the most refined, smooth or powerful, but it’s an excellent display of how efficient motoring can be if you try hard enough. As a bonus, it’s wrapped up in a stylish hatchback body that’s actually fairly good to drive. You’ll find one of these for a long way under our budget, too.
The Toyota Prius is the darling of thousands of private hire drivers across the country for two main reasons – they’re efficient, and they never ever break down. You can find ex-taxi Priuses happily wearing over 500,000 miles on the clock, and some even more than that. Nobody, not even Toyota, expected Prius models to have this sort of longevity.
The hybrid powertrain gives good efficiency, especially around town, and though the Prius isn’t the most relaxed motorway cruiser, it’s ideal for inner-city work.
The ‘original’ family crossover, the Nissan Qashqai offered motorists a high driving position and rugged looks without the compromises traditionally associated with SUVs. The end result is a crossover that’s about as easy to drive as it can get – and one that you won’t feel the miles in.
Opt for the excellent 1.5-litre dCi diesel and your fuel bills will be impressively small, while the Qashqai’s practical body means it’s equally accomplished ferrying the kids around at weekends.
You will have to look around a fair bit to find a good Jaguar XF for this price, but if you can you’ll be rewarded with a rather wonderful slice of the British motoring scene. Signalling the rebirth of Jaguar as a truly modern, premium brand, the XF is great to drive, good to look at and has actually proven to be pretty reliable.
Running costs will obviously be higher than a Ford or a Vauxhall of this size, and you will pay some extra for the privilege of that desirable badge. But we think it’s worth it.
A Smart car might be the obvious choice for tight inner-city work, but Toyota’s answer to the two-seater city car is worth a look too. This dinky car is as manoeuvrable as they come, with a tiny turning circle and small enough dimensions to squeeze into any parking space.
Despite this, there’s an amazing amount of room on the inside, and enough space to accommodate three adults and a bit of luggage too. It’s a really surprising car, and one you might not consider over the more eye-catching Smart.
As far as ability goes, the BMW 520d is on a par with the Range Rover for sheer breadth. This is a car that’s super-efficient, brilliant fun on a back road, massively comfortable when cruising, spacious enough for four adults and all their luggage and with a premium badge to satisfy even the snobbiest of motorists. It’ll look at home everywhere from the supermarket to the country club.
For our budget you’ll find a wide selection of cars, allowing you more choice than you can shake a stick at. Definitely worth a look.