The British car industry is booming. A report by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) revealed that UK car production rose by 9% in 2012, with overall output at the highest level since 2008. Many of the UK's top-selling models – including the Honda Civic and Vauxhall Astra – are now built in Britain.
The future looks bright, too – Jaguar Land Rover has announced plans to create 800 jobs at its factory in Solihull, while BMW's new range of three-cylinder engines will be built in the UK.
Nissan produces three popular models – the Juke, Note and Qashqai – in Sunderland, and the Qashqai must sit at the head of British manufacturing success stories. It's been a huge triumph thanks to its blend of SUV looks and affordable prices, and although a (UK-built) replacement isn't too far off, it remains one of the best mid-size SUVs around.
The Qashqai's baby brother – the Juke – is also worth a mention, but we'd recommend the more practical, better-value Note MPV instead. The next-generation Note – due this autumn, and also to be built in Sunderland – will strive to deliver more of the same.
The Nissan Qashqai is built in Sunderland; it's still one of the best mid-size SUVs around
Jaguar Land Rover produces 10 models in the UK, at factories in Birmingham, Coventry and Liverpool, and that number will soon be boosted to 11, when the new F-type sports car is launched.
Pick of the Jaguar range is the Jaguar XF, which remains one of the best executive saloons, thanks to its excellent ride and handling, and generous standard equipment.
The stylish Range Rover Evoque does just enough to justify its high prices, but it's not as impressive as the all-new Range Rover, which is as capable off-road as ever, and so good in every other area that we named it best luxury car in our 2013 Car of the Year Awards.
New Range Rover excels on any surface and has a sumptuous cabin – it's our 2013 Luxury Car of the Year
Honda produces its Civic, CR-V and Jazz models in Swindon, and of the three, the CR-V is our favourite. It's a well-built and practical family car that will tick all the boxes for most SUV buyers.
Toyota's factory at Burnaston, Derbyshire, is home to its Auris and Avensis models. The Auris Hybrid is a cheaper alternative to the closely related Toyota Prius , but the no-nonsense Avensis is our favourite UK-built Toyota. It's hardly exciting, but it's difficult to fault and excellent value for money.
Despite BMW ownership, Mini remains a thoroughly British brand and all of its models – bar the Countryman and Paceman – are assembled in Oxford. None of these sums up the appeal of the Mini brand as well as the Mini Coupe, which is incredibly good fun to drive.
The Mini Roadster is our 2013 Open-Top Car of the Year
Aston Martin, Bentley and Rolls-Royce are no longer British-owned manufacturers, but they produce hugely desirable models that blend cutting-edge technology with old-school British charm.
The Vantage coupe is our pick of the Aston model range, all of which are built in Gaydon, Warwickshire. The Aston Martin V8 Vantage is a credible Porsche 911 rival, with all the style and performance you'd expect.
McLaren MP4-12C Spider is the best British-built sports car on sale
Bentley is now part of the VW Group, but its cars are built using traditional methods in its Crewe factory. For us, the Continental GT sums up what a modern Bentley should be, especially in V8 form.
The Rolls-Royce Phantom saloon, which is hand-built in Goodwood, West Sussex, is BMW’s take on what the quintessential British luxury car should be, and is worth every penny of its near-£300k price.
Britain builds some great sports cars, too, and pick of the bunch is the outstanding McLaren MP4-12C Spider, which is built in Woking, Surrey.
By Leo Wilkinson
Our reviews are based on hard data and thorough testing in the real world.
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