If you feel adventurous or you simply want to stand out from the rest, glance over our round-up of often overlooked cars.
When we talk about cars, brands like Audi, BMW and Ford always come to mind. Mainstream brands can be easily recognised, and we can all name at least a few different models of each make.
But there are car manufacturers out there who deserve more recognition, as they produce cars which can be compared to their more popular counterparts.
5. Dacia Sandero
The Renault-owned Dacia was originally founded in 1966 and it’s currently one of Europe’s biggest car manufacturers, but it represents only about 1% of the UK car market.
When the first Sandero was introduced in 2008 it didn’t really make an impact, but it has consistently been getting better and better. In 2013, What Car? awarded the Sandero the title of “Best supermini for less than £12,000”.
The 2015 iteration of the model is the best one yet. It remains one of the best choices if you’re on a budget and you want good value for money. Especially if you don’t really care about the badge, as the Sandero shares a lot of internals with other already widely-popular Renault cars.
The base 1.2-litre petrol trim is the cheapest to buy with an estimated 47.9mpg. It isn’t the “greenest” motor, and falls into tax band E.
On the other hand, the diesel engine delivers great fuel efficiency – over 74mpg and really low CO2 emissions of 99g/km, meaning you won’t have to splash on vehicle excise duty.
The main caveat is that although the diesel Dacia is cheaper to run, it’s more expensive to buy.
Inside, just like its arch enemy – the Focus – the Sandero is well kitted out. But if you drive along pothole-ridden roads, you may feel every single shake.
The Romanian manufactured supermini offers just enough space for four passengers and a 320-litre boot.
Overall the Sandero is an excellent buy, as both new and used are very affordable.
4. Isuzu D-Max
The Japanese company has been in the motoring business since 1916. Isuzu is perhaps most popular for the fact that it manufactures diesel engines for Toyota, Honda, Mazda, Renault, GM and Nissan. With so much expertise in their portfolio, Isuzu-made cars don’t disappoint.
The D-Max delivers an incredible raw power and robustness. Just glancing at its huge exterior is enough to give you an idea of what lies beneath the bonnet.
It shares many of its internals with GM pick-up trucks, meaning that it packs a lot of punch and eagerness.
The D-Max achieves nearly 40mpg which is very good for a motor of this size. It’s not an environmentally friendly pick-up per se, but it returns 194g/km of CO2.
What’s more, the 2.5-litre engine comes with a 3.5 tonne towing capacity, which will help you transport just about everything you can think of without breaking a sweat.
The Isuzu is also a very reliable truck, but even if you run into any issue and the pickup develops a fault, the Japanese manufacturer offers five year warranty, or a cover for 125,000 miles, whichever comes first.
Inside, the huge pickup doesn’t compromise on features and cabin comfort. The luggage capacity is 540 litres which expands to a total of 1,700 litres with the seats down. All passengers benefit from room and comfortable high seats.
Feature-wise the D-Max comes with plenty of kit, including Bluetooth, electronic stability control, keyless entry and start, reverse-view camera, and touch-screen navigation.
It’s also one of the safest trucks, with a 4-star rating awarded by the experts at Euro NCAP.
3. Saab 9-3
Saab is one of most recognised Swedish car manufacturers, only outdone by the well-known Volvo. The company has seen financial troubles over the past decade, but this doesn’t mean the quality of the produced cars has been affected.
It’s pretty much exactly the opposite.
Saab’s models leave the production line with almost no negative connotations.
One of the most recent models is the Saab 9-3 Aero which is undeniably a good alternative to the more premium BMW and Audi cars.
The Swedish car maker initially focused on exporting to Asian countries only, but now many 9-3s have made it to British roads.
If fuel efficiency is your top priority, go for a Saab with a diesel 1.9-litre engine. They promise over 45mpg and 159g/km of CO2 for this one.
The interior of the car is also very promising. Some say that it closely resembles the Vauxhall Astra, but the 9-3 clearly has its own character. It’s jam-packed with features and comfort – something you’d expect from a premium brand.
These include climate control, autonomous windscreen wipers, heated seats, Bluetooth connectivity, cruise control, parking assistance, and child seat ISOFIX fittings.
2. Infiniti Q50
Infiniti is Nissan’s posh car brand and it’s been around since 1989. The cars were first introduced to the North American market, expanding later on to Japan. Since then many have found their way to Europe and the UK.
Infiniti is also expected to start producing a Q30 model in Sunderland, meaning we’re bound to see more and more of its cars on our roads.
The Q50 is probably one of the most exotic picks on our list.
At first sight, it’s hard to dismiss its curvy lines and stern exterior. Considering that the model isn’t very common and rarely seen, it does make a memorable impression.
Q50 comes with a few different engine sizes (all supplied by Mercedes Benz), but perhaps the most efficient one is the 2.1-litre diesel engine which achieves a fuel economy of over 57mpg.
It’s also relatively kind to the environment with 144g/km of CO2 emissions.
Does the inside match the outside? Yes, it’s roomy, and five adults can be seated quite comfortably. It’s also very comfortable, packing leather seats and premium robust dash.
This luxurious car comes with collision-warning system, active lane control, blind-spot assist, keyless entry and 360 camera parking assist. Many of these features are available in the cheapest model too.
But if the Infiniti Q50 sounds like a car you’d like to own, it might be tad difficult to find one.
1. SsangYong Tivoli
Since 1986, SsangYong has been in the consumer market producing a wide range of cars – from luxury cars and vans to estates and SUVs. In 2010 the company was acquired by Mahindra & Mahindra, an Indian multinational car manufacturer, and five years later the Tivoli was born.
The SsangYong Tivoli is the company’s latest ambitious attempt to establish itself in the UK and European car market. The rigid-looking compact crossover offers a lot of kit for the money. But this comes as no surprise as SsangYong is known for undercutting the competition.
The sparing 1.6 diesel engine returns a promising 65mpg, and it only emits 113g/km of CO2 – which is very close to its rival, the Nissan Juke, for fuel efficiency.
Inside, the car is “modern and ergonomic, yet luxurious”, which is a bold claim for a car of that price range.
Despite that, Tivoli comes with premium features, such as a rear-view camera, integrated Tom Tom navigation, keyless system, cruise control, rain-sensing wipers and plenty of safety features.
All this makes the Tivoli quite irresistible.