If you’re in the market for a new car, the most obvious question to ask of Google or a car specialist magazine is, “what is the best car to buy?”. But best doesn’t always mean cool. And in our book, its cool points we want our new automotive purchase to have.
Of course, running costs and practicality will have to feature somewhere in your thinking before you go ahead and slap down a wad of cash on the desk of the smug salesman, but if you’re getting a motor that will turn heads and put a Cheshire cat smile on your face, it’ll be worth every cent.
Naturally, different cars have different intended uses. SUVs, for example, are great for throwing the kids in the back and setting off on a domestic holiday. But if you’re going through a mid-life crisis or are simply fed up with being the designated taxi for your mates, a two-seater sports car will be on the bill. Fortunately, all cars fall into all price brackets and with technologies improving all the time – both internal and external – securing yourself a capable car for not a lot of money is more realistic than you may think.
We’ve picked out what we deem to be the coolest cars within each price bracket, factoring in various body styles, makes and specific models, to make your next car purchase easier than ever.
Cool Cars Under $100,000
Audi A5 45 Quattro
Fuel Economy: 7.1l/100km
Price: $90,000 Drive Away
If you don’t want to become part of the ‘BMW driver club’ and the connotations that come with it, then you can always settle for an Audi. Not that that’s a bad thing, of course, as the German carmaker produces some of the most luxurious cars on the road. This A5 also comes with the company’s Quattro four-wheel drive technology which has been at the forefront of traction since the 1980s, meaning you needn’t worry about spinning when you’re hurtling down the motorway.
Volvo V60 T8 R-Design
Fuel Economy: 2l/100km
Price: $95,500 Drive Away
Yes, we have included a Volvo in our list of coolest cars. Hear us out. The Swedish manufacturer is making some seriously good cars lately, which are more than capable of holding their own against their German contingent. For the money, we don’t think there’s a cooler wagon out there to cart the whole family around in. A 4.5-second 0-100kph time, trickle-down sports technology from its Polestar subsidiary and unbelievable fuel economy are just a smattering of reasons you need to give this one a test drive.
BMW Z4 sDrive20i M Sport
Fuel Economy: 6.1l/100km
Price: $96,000 Drive Away
If it’s a 2-seater drop-top you’re after but you fancy a little more style and sophistication, then the BMW Z4 will be right up your alley. The latest generation offers gorgeous styling, a number of driver-assistance technologies and a soft-top roof that can be raised or lowered up to speeds of 50kph – if that doesn’t gain you street cred or the respect of your kids at least, then we’re not sure what else will. Of course, if it doesn’t, then they can’t fit inside anyway.
Range Rover Velar R-Dynamic P250
Fuel Economy: 7.6l/100km
Price: $97,000 Drive Away
If wanting to own the road is high up on your goals list, there’s no other option but to buy a Range Rover. Whilst the commanding nature sitting in a Rangey provides is so it can tackle off-road terrain, we all know they’re actually used to run the kids to school instead. The Velar is the latest Range Rover to be released and brings with it a much more sport-orientated design. But it’s the inside that makes the Velar worthy of shouting home about, as it has numerous touchscreens for controlling the majority of interior functions. We don’t know about you, but we think touchscreens are cool as f**k, and the more the merrier. It’s a slightly smaller size than its big brother the Sport model but packs just as good a luxury punch.
Volvo XC60 T6 R-Design
Fuel Economy: 8l/100km
Price: $88,000 Drive Away
If good-looks, high trim specifications and a car that’s tougher than Fort Knox are on your list of must-includes, the XC60 is what you need. Boasting virtually unrivalled safety features, the XC60 T6 frees up that little space in your brain that constantly worries what might happen were you to have a crash. That doesn’t mean it’s slow, either, as it can propel you to 100kph in under 6-seconds and if you want to do your bit for the planet, you can opt for the plug-in hybrid variant. The XC60 has also voted 2018 Wheels Car Of The Year… so even the trusty motoring journalists like it.
Cool Cars Under $80,000
Alfa Romeo Giulia Veloce
Fuel Economy: 6.1L/100km
Price: $77,000 Drive Away
The current generation Giulia was first unveiled way back in 2015 as Alfa Romeo’s badass and rebellious answer to the BMW 3-series, Audi A4 and all manner of other sales rep saloons. This Veloce variant followed in 2016, with rather simple engine options: a 2.0L petrol producing 276hp or a 2.2L diesel producing 207hp. Neither can quite compete with the company’s M3-killing Quadrifoglio variant, but at half the price, we’re certainly not complaining. For the money, you’re still getting what can only be considered as car pornography in terms of design, backed up by an exciting drive. Plus, it’s an Alfa, and you can’t get much cooler than that.
Tesla Model 3
Fuel Economy: N/A
Price: $72,000 Drive Away
Love them or loathe them, electric cars are the future of transportation. Spearheading the charge is Tesla, and with the release of the Model 3, electrical power has been made available to a wider population. Forgetting about oodles of technology packed inside its compact body, being able to tell your friends, family, and co-workers that you drive a Tesla has some serious social clout, (just maybe don’t expect absolutely everyone to mimic your enthusiasm).
BMW 3-Series 320i M Sport
Fuel Economy: 6.3L/100km
Price: $76,000 Drive Away
What if we told you that you could own the best car in Australia for under $80,000? It’s true. Carsales awarded the BMW 3-series with the gong for the year 2019, ticking the boxes for everything “from quality and comfort to driving enjoyment, resale value and running costs.” This 320i M Sport model delivers 135kW of power from its 2.0L engine (the 330i produces an extra 55kW from the same unit, but you’d have to pay more than our $80,000 budget) but you still get the same ride quality and BMW’s comprehensive iDrive infotainment system inside the cabin. As with the previous Audi, BMWs (and their drivers) do often attract their fair share of negativity, but we know that you’re not like them, so you can drive a 320i with pride.
Kia Stinger GT Carbon Edition
Fuel Economy: 10.2L/100km
Price: $69,000 Drive Away
And now for something completely different; the Kia Stinger GT Carbon. The South Korean-based manufacturer is best-known for producing affordable cars with reserved styling and performance. The Stinger GT turns that mantra on its head entirely, boasting a 3.3L engine and 272kW of power, meaning it’s no slouch. The best part for us though is that Kia has packaged it all in a great-looking car, and this limited-run Carbon Edition, various carbon fibre accents on the exterior looks even better.
Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon
Fuel Economy: 7.5L/100km
Price: $72,000 Drive Away
If off-roading is your thing, then you’ll definitely want to consider buying a Jeep. The company’s history can be traced back all the way to World War II, although it wasn’t until 1945 when the first Civilian Jeep branded models were produced. The hero vehicle in the Jeep lineup is the Wrangler, which has been in production since 1986, and today, you can have one in one of seven trim levels. We’ve singled out the Rubicon as it’s the most off-road focused of the range – and that’s what you’re buying it for, right? – thanks to its high ground clearance, large, 33-inch tyres and an adjustable electronic locking differential. You can even hose down the interior when it gets dirty. Genius.
Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class GLA250 4Matic
Fuel Economy: 7.5L/100km
Price: $73,000 Drive Away
Mercedes-Benz first unveiled the GLA-Class crossover SUV at the 2013 Frankfurt Auto Show, with the second, current generation being launched in 2019. For the new model, Mercedes extended the wheelbase but made the overall length of the car shorter at the same time. Ground clearance has been increased, too, and there’s more space inside the cabin for people to sit comfortably. The GLA250 we’ve selected gets a 2.0L engine, delivering 165kW of power, and it further benefits from Mercedes’ 4Matic all-wheel-drive system. As with other cars from the German company, ride quality is smooth and the interior is one of the more luxurious in the sector. It’s the body style, in particular, we deem worthy of cool status, as the crossover design offers something genuinely different to the majority of other cars on the road.
Hyundai Kona Electric Highlander
Fuel Economy: N/A
Price: $71,000 Drive Away
If you’re at one with the Earth, then electric power is for you. Fortunately, you don’t need to break the bank to go green, as demonstrated by this Hyundai Kona. It first launched in 2018 and has accumulated numerous awards since, including the 2020 Drive Car of the Year for the Small SUV segment. UK-based What Car? has found it has the highest real-world driving range among five commercially available cars – up to 279 miles/450km. However, in exchange for greater range, you have to pay a higher price than other entry-level EVs on the market. Fortunately, it’s not just a box with a big battery, as the Kona is well-appointed, although the Highlander variant is the one we’d go for, as it adds LED headlights and parking sensors, a head-up display and a wireless charging pad for your phone. It’s the future of cars, today.
Cool Cars Under $60,000
Fuel Economy: 6.3l/100km
Price: $57,000 Drive Away
French car manufacturer Peugeot has gone through a renaissance of sorts in recent years. What was once considered a cheap and shoddy badge has now become one of the most respected on the road. Design of cars has improved tenfold, to the point where Peugeot cars are easily some of the best looking on the road, and in-car technology is state-of-the-art. The 508 sedan is a model not to be sniffed at, then, with more than enough power to satisfy petrolheads (complete with flappy paddle gearbox) and a plethora of safety features to ensure you remain well-protected inside the cabin. The 508 represents an entirely different, yet still utterly cool alternative to ze Germans.
VW Tiguan 162 TSI Highline
Fuel Economy: 8.1l/100km
Price: $52,000 Drive Away
The VW Tiguan is an absolute gem of an SUV. It looks great, has enough space to bundle in a family (and even more if it’s just you and the better half), performs admirably, it is a Volkswagen after all, and represents one of the best value cars on the market right now. We’ve topped out at the 162 TSI Highline, but you can spend much less if excessive power isn’t something you’re too fussed about, but considering the Highline edition comes with the VW’s complete suite of in-car technologies and styling upgrades, and comes in well under $60,000, we’d say it’s a deal too good to pass up.
Mazda MX-5 Roadster GT
Fuel Economy: 6.8l/100km
Price: $48,500 Drive Away
The Mazda MX-5 has remained the king of convertibles for as long as we can remember. The Japanese carmaker consistently gets things just right with the nippy little convertible, resulting in a driving experience that is enthralling and really tests your skill but not to the point of being a widow maker. We’ve chosen the soft-top model as being the one to go for, as the hard-top, while easier to raise and lower thanks to a button, adds too much weight for our liking. You can also now spec either the standard 1.5-litre or a new 2.0-litre engine for a little more grunt. Pair the latter with a manual gearbox and you have yourself some seriously engaging driving thrills.
Cool Cars Under $50,000
Volkswagen Golf GTI
Fuel Economy: 6.5l/100km
Price: $47,200 Drive Away
There’s a reason the Volkswagen Golf GTI has remained the best-selling hot hatch on the market. It’s incredibly fun to drive, communicates well with the driver and offers a level of refinement not replicated by rival manufacturers. The 2021 Mark 8 GTI will hit Australian shores soon, but the MK 7 is still as tempting a buy as ever. From the images we’ve seen, we’d say the 7 is actually the better-looking car, although we admit this is entirely subjective. Regardless, you’ll still be getting one of the most respected cars on the road that’s usable as a daily driver, yet will happily bring a smile to your face when you have the room to put your foot down.
Peugeot 3008 GT-Line
Fuel Economy: 7.0l/100km
Price: $49,990 Drive Away
Another entry for Peugeot, this time for the 3008. While the quicker, diesel-powered GT variant will take you over our $50,000 threshold, the GT-Line (which receives styling upgrades over the entry-level Allure) sneaks it way in, offering you 10 cents change from your $50,000 investment. It’s worth every one of those dollars too, as the 3008 is a perfectly capable mid-size five-seater that benefits from oodles of tech and gorgeous two-tone design on the exterior that allows it to stand out from the crowd in the most delightful way.
Australian New Car FAQ
The last three months of the year are the best times to buy a car since they have the highest discounts Still, regardless of the time of the year, there are plenty of great deals you can consider all year round. If you can afford it, paying with cash for your new car is always the best option. Leasing is like a long-term rental. You may have lower monthly payments, but you risk losing your vehicle if you stopped paying your dues. A credit score of 700 or higher will allow you to find favorable loan terms for your dream car. However, there are consumers who can get approved for auto loans with a 600 or less credit score. Easy. A good set of wheels and a window tint should do it. Ensure the wheels match the make and model of the car. Avoid lowing the suspension as you'll just look like a peanut on the road. A cooling-off-period of one day applies to all used car sales in some Australian states. You have the right to cancel a contract to purchase a new car from a motor car trader: within 3 clear days after you have signed the contract; unless you have accepted delivery of the car within this time.
When is the best time to buy a car?
Is it better to lease or buy a car?
What credit score is needed to buy a car?
How can I make my car look cool?
Is there a cooling off period when buying a car?
The last three months of the year are the best times to buy a car since they have the highest discounts Still, regardless of the time of the year, there are plenty of great deals you can consider all year round.
If you can afford it, paying with cash for your new car is always the best option. Leasing is like a long-term rental. You may have lower monthly payments, but you risk losing your vehicle if you stopped paying your dues.
A credit score of 700 or higher will allow you to find favorable loan terms for your dream car. However, there are consumers who can get approved for auto loans with a 600 or less credit score.
Easy. A good set of wheels and a window tint should do it. Ensure the wheels match the make and model of the car. Avoid lowing the suspension as you'll just look like a peanut on the road.
A cooling-off-period of one day applies to all used car sales in some Australian states. You have the right to cancel a contract to purchase a new car from a motor car trader: within 3 clear days after you have signed the contract; unless you have accepted delivery of the car within this time.