The British car industry is booming. More major brands than ever are building cars here and strong demand for UK-built models is great news for the economy and job market.
A recent report by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) showed that UK car production levels are higher than they have been for eight years and many of the UK's top-selling models – including the Vauxhall Astra and Honda Civic – are now built in Britain.
The future looks bright, too – Vauxhall has confirmed that the next Astra hatchback will be built at Ellesmere Port, while BMW has announced that its new three-cylinder engines will be built in the UK. Land Rover is recruiting 1000 new workers thanks to the success of the Range Rover Evoque, while Nissan has revealed plans for an all-new UK-built VW Golf rival.
Nissan produces three popular models – the Juke, Note and Qashqai – in Sunderland. Top of any list of UK-built cars has to be the Nissan Qashqai, which has been a huge success thanks to its blend of SUV looks and affordable prices.
The Qashqai's baby brother – the Juke – is worth a mention, but it's the more practical, better-value Note supermini that gets our vote here.
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 what we'd recommend. It's hardly exciting, but it's also hard to fault and excellent value for money.
Despite BMW ownership, Mini remains a thoroughly British brand and all of its models – bar the Countryman – 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.
Jaguar Land Rover produces 10 models in the UK, at factories in Birmingham, Coventry and Liverpool. The Jaguar XF remains one of our favourite executive saloons, thanks to its excellent ride and handling and generous standard equipment. After a series of clever updates, the Jaguar XK remains one of our favourite big coupes – there's much more to it than just drop-dead looks.
Our pick of the Land Rover and Range Rover ranges is the Land Rover Discovery, which is an outstanding family car that mixes executive saloon refinement with MPV practicality and 4x4 ruggedness.
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 Vantage is a credible Porsche 911 rival, with all the style and performance you'd expect.
Bentley is now part of the VW Group empire, 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.
Last but not least, there's the Rolls-Royce Phantom saloon. Hand-built in Goodwood, West Sussex, it is BMW’s take on what the quintessential British luxury car should be, and is worth every penny of its near-£300k price.
Our reviews are based on hard data and thorough testing in the real world.
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