While a second-hand Fiat Panda or a banged-up Hyundai i10 may have served you well during your student days, eventually you’ll be in a position to upgrade. If you’re no longer struggling to stretch your student loan as far as possible, you’ll love our countdown of the best cars for young professionals. Featuring vehicles for every budget, our list is cherry-picked to meet the needs of working Brits aged between 20 and 40.

BMW 1 Series

Launched in 2004, the BMW 1 Series is a luxury small hatchback with sporty lines and high-end features. If you’ve always dreamed of owning a “beamer”, this is a fantastic entry-level model. The latest 2019 edition will delight you with a modern silhouette, sporty suspension and sumptuous interior that feels worlds away from your university days. Under the hood is a powerful engine that will literally leave your dinky student car in the dust. With style and speed on the table, this is one of the best cars for young professionals.

The model is now in its third generation, meaning it’s relatively easy to purchase a BMW 1 Series second-hand. This can be a great option for young professionals who want to get behind the wheel of a BMW without absorbing the showroom price tag. If you’ve just been allocated a dedicated parking space at the office, the BMW 1 Series will do it justice. 

Audi A1 Sportback

Connectivity takes centre stage in the Audi A1 Sportback. If you’re the kind of young professional who loves to get their hands on the latest smartphone the day it drops, you’ll love this slick little hatchback. From the outside it looks deceptively small, with track-inspired lines and a low-sitting grille. Inside, you’ll be amazed by the generous dimensions and feeling of spaciousness.

The next-generation infotainment system is a highlight, with features like an 8.8-inch digital touch screen and high-res digital instrument cluster designed to make you feel in sync with your car. The latest voice control software makes it easy to call the shots in the driver’s seat. Speaking of which, agile handling makes the Audi A1 Sportback one of the best cars for young professionals. If you tend to run into traffic on the daily commute, responsive steering makes it easy to switch lanes, overtake and manoeuvre into tight parking spots.

Volkswagen Golf

The Volkswagen Golf is a beloved classic and one of the best cars for young professionals by a long shot. First launched in the 1970s, the model is now in its 7th generation and going strong. It may not be the snazziest car on our list but if you value reliability, it’s a great pick.

The Golf’s compact size makes it a winner in urban settings. It’s great for darting through traffic and squeezing into parallel parking spaces, with enough power to make motorway driving a pleasure.  

Jaguar XJ 

When it comes to iconic British-made vehicles, it’s hard to look past the Jaguar XJ. Favoured by royals, celebrities and politicians, this flagship model was first launched in 1968 and turned heads with its elegant silhouette, spacious interior and luxe extras like wood trim and leather seats.

The model was completely reimagined in 2010. So, if you’re looking for a second-hand Jaguar XJ, we’d recommend looking for vehicles produced in 2010 or later. Expect to pay around £15,000 or less for a Jaguar XJ manufactured in the early 2010s. The next generation was launched in 2015, meaning you can expect more advanced features and a higher price.

Tesla Model S 

Young Brits are passionate about tackling climate change and minimising their environmental footprints. This wins the all-electric Tesla Model S a place on our countdown of the best cars for young professionals. Luxurious and eco-friendly, this model can take you more than 240 miles on a single charge. If you travel a lot for work, the Tesla Model S brings down your carbon footprint. With zero engine noise to speak of, your daily commute will feel like a dream.

Porsche 718 Boxter

Nothing spells “success” like a Porsche convertible. There’s plenty to love about the 718 Boxter, including a top speed of 170mph and acceleration of 0-62mph in 5.1 seconds. Strapped into the driver’s seat, you’ll feel like you’re flying to the office.

Don’t work too hard though. The Porsche 718 Boxter is made for fun. On the weekends, you’ll love folding down the fully automatic fabric hood, stashing your bags in the spacious luggage compartments and hitting the road. If you’re looking for the best cars for young professionals for work and play, the Porsche 718 Boxter is a discerning choice. Browse the pre-owned market and you can score some incredible deals on models from Porsche and other luxury manufacturers.

Get behind the wheel of the best cars for young professionals

Seen something you like on our countdown of the best cars for young professionals? We don’t blame you. With models like the BMW 1 Series, Tesla Model S and Porsche 718 Boxter, this list is drool-worthy to say the least. Best of all, most models fall well within reach of young professional salaries, especially if you’re willing to consider second-hand vehicles. 

Of course, your budget will depend on the size of your income stream and other factors, including your down deposit, loan amount and preferred repayment terms and credit score. All these factors will help determine what calibre of car loan and Annual Percentage Rate (APR) you’re eligible for.

We make how to work out APR on a car loan easy with a purpose-built calculator. Simply punch in your numbers and let the algorithm do the rest. When you have a better idea of your budget, you can supercharge your career and start shopping for your dream car.

Rates from 9.9% APR. Representative APR 12.4%

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X monthly repayments of

Typical rate

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Total payable




*for illustration purposes only

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Representative Example

Borrowing £7,500 at a representative APR of 12.4%, annual interest rate (fixed) 12.36%, 47 monthly payments of £196.44 followed by 1 payment of £206.44 (incl. estimated £10 option to purchase fee), a deposit of £0.00, total cost of credit is £1,939.12, total amount payable is £9,439.12.

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Please ensure you can afford the repayments for the duration of the loan before entering into a credit agreement.

*Initial application is a soft search. Should you progress, some lenders may perform a hard search on your credit file.

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