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The best cars for driving in the countryside 2024

The UK's country roads are a lot of fun to drive on – especially if you're in the right car

a view of the british countryside with a mazda 6 driving through it

Driving on country roads can be challenging if you’re not used to them. But they can also be hugely rewarding if you know what you're doing and are behind the wheel of a vehicle that's well suited to this type of road.

Tips for driving on country roads

The first thing to remember is to be alert to hazards. On a twisting rural road, there can always be something that you want to avoid beyond the next bend (and there are usually lots of bends). It could be a tractor, a flock of sheep, a mud slick, or a huge puddle.

You should always drive defensively, being ready to brake or stop short when you encounter a hazard. 

Overtaking slow-moving traffic is another skill that you need to be on top of on country roads. You’ll often come across tractors, cars towing caravans or horseboxes, or just other drivers going slowly; at the same time, there won’t be many stretches of straight, open road to overtake them.

Patience is a virtue, as is the ability to observe and anticipate. It also helps to have a good understanding of your car and its capabilities. The key is to always have a Plan B, the ability to pull into a space if something suddenly comes out of nowhere.

The most important thing is to drive in a way that's suitable for the conditions. Don’t drive so fast that you can’t stop quickly.

Be conscious of blind bends and blind summits, and ensure you’re on the right side of the road when you encounter them. And look as far ahead as possible, at all times, to give yourself as much reaction time as possible.

If you follow these simple rules, you’ll find country driving huge fun. 

Best cars for country roads

Bargain: Ford Fiesta

Facelifted Ford Fiesta ST in green driving on roadIf you want a car that’s fun to drive on country roads – and is also economical – you want a Ford Fiesta ST.

The regular Fiesta is already a great car to drive, but the ST ups the fun levels to 11.

The engine has been tweaked to give it a little more power, but it's the other mechanical changes that really make the difference.

It feels a little firmer and bumpier on the road, thanks to a stiffer suspension, but this also makes it feel tighter and more controllable in corners. 

And you can now get all this for less than £10K – a bargain.

Popular: Mazda MX-5

a red mazda mx-5 driving on a road in the ukThe MX-5 is a Japanese car based on classic British sports cars, so driving on country roads is practically in its DNA.

Mazda is renowned for reliability, and its older, used cars have lasted well and offer low-cost thrills.

The current generation is more modern and more refined, but it still has the nimble feel that has always been the MX-5’s trademark.

It's not the fastest sports car on the market, but that’s not the point: it hugs the road and goes exactly where you point it. This is fun with a capital F. 

Practical: Volkswagen Golf

A grey VW Golf Estate DSG parked with caravansEveryone loves a good VW Golf – and the GTI is more than just a good Golf. 

The Golf GTI is the original hot hatch – age and a succession of new generations have done nothing do make it any less desirable. It’s a blast to drive on country roads, with a higher-tuned engine increasing its performance compared to a regular Golf.

But then it’s still as practical as a regular Golf. You can use it for the school run or the weekly shop, and it's perfectly usable and easy to drive. A great all-rounder, in fact.

Premium: Porsche Cayman

a crayon 2018 porsche cayman S driving on a countryside road in the UKIf you want fun with a little more sophistication, the Porsche Cayman is just the ticket. 

This is a pure sports car – arguably even more pure than the 911. It's been designed and engineered to offer the ultimate driving experience.

The steering is sharp and accurate, so you feel everything through the wheel. The body is set low and feels really taut at speed through corners, so you get that undiluted sports car experience. 

Coupé: BMW M2

a light blue BMW M2 CS driving around a country roadThe BMW M2 is a little different from our other recommendations. It's a coupé, not a sports car. It has four seats, not two. And it has a usable boot, with room for more than just a small clutch bag.

But the M2 is as much fun to drive as anything else here. Powered by a 3.0-litre engine, it can hit 60mph from a standing start in just over four seconds, which is quick.

It’s also superbly balanced and nimble, and it will grip the road in a way that defies belief. In short, it's a joy to drive.

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