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Finance superheroes: how to get a dream car on a real-world budget

  • Drive a 280hp hot hatch for less than a 105hp alternative
  • Grab a 200hp Ford Fiesta ST for less than a 95hp SEAT Ibiza
  • Shop around to get the best deal: keep reading to find out how

Itching to get an exciting car but don’t think you can afford it? Think again. Rather than resigning yourself to getting a 0.9-litre Nissan Micra on PCP finance, you could finance a convertible Mazda MX-5 sports car AND save money every month.

Or if you’re considering a 1.0-litre 95hp SEAT Ibiza, you could get a 200hp Ford Fiesta ST – the 2019 Parkers Car of the Year – AND have a little change in your pocket every month.

AND if you think all you can stretch to is a 105hp 1.0-litre Vauxhall Astra, stop right there. For less per month you could get a 280hp Renault Megane RS. It’s easy if you know how…keep reading for all the secrets.

In the meantime, if you’re in the market for a new car, why not have a look at the Parkers lease deal search tool to see how much you can get for your money or check out the best PCP finance deals available now, whatever your budget:

Shop around for PCP finance: some cars are much more affordable than you think

How can this be? Well cash prices have little bearing on how much your monthly payments will be with PCP finance; some £30,000 cars cost less per month than other £20,000 cars with matching contract terms.

That’s because it’s not just the cash price that’s important, but how much the car is expected to be worth when you hand back the keys, the interest rate charged and the availability of deposit contribution discounts that affect how much you pay every month.

Car finance superheroes

So this means that it’s crucial you compare costs for different models to make sure you’re getting the best deal. Otherwise you could end up paying much more than you need to for an everyday car – when far better value alternatives are available – or missing out on an exciting alternative for the same money.

That’s because the difference between good and bad car finance deals is enormous. And remember, when comparing car finance costs make sure the contract terms are as similar as possible, with matching contract length, deposit and mileage allowance.

 A car that could cost £450 per month on a two-year contract with no deposit and a 20,000-mile annual allowance could become £150 per month on a four-year contract with a £10,000 deposit and 5,000-mile-per-year allowance.

Drive a Mazda MX-5 sports car for less per month than a Nissan Micra supermini

Car finance is a great way to get a desirable new car for an affordable monthly payment, but sneaky manufacturers can also hide steep overall costs in large deposits, low mileage allowances and lengthy contracts – hoping that drivers won’t shop around.

Mazda MX-5 PCP finance

Get like-for-like quotes, however, and you can see exactly which cars offer you the best value. A 90hp 0.9-litre Nissan Micra might seem like a sensible and good value choice, but it could set you back a hefty £186 per month on a three-year contract – albeit in high-specification Tekna trim (with a £4,200 deposit and a 9,000-mile-per-year limit).*

However, just £180 per month could get you the far more stylish and exciting Mazda MX-5 convertible, complete with folding soft-top and energetic 132hp engine (with identical contract terms). Yes, it’s less practical and lacks some of the Nissan’s kit, but you’re still getting a bespoke sports car for less than a bland supermini.*

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And there’s no need to worry about the Mazda costing far more to fuel, since claimed fuel economy stands at an impressive 44.8mpg, only a little down on the Micra’s 47.1mpg official figure. Bear in mind that the Mazda is capable of sprinting 0-62mph in a brisk 8.3 seconds, while the Nissan requires a lengthy 12.1 seconds and you get to enjoy a whole lot more performance with the Mazda, too.

If you simply want an affordable supermini, however, we’d bypass the Micra completely and go for the Ford Fiesta, as the equivalent model costs just £148 per month (with matching contract terms). The Fiesta is also far faster than the Micra, launching 0-62mph in a far more sprightly 10.5 seconds.

Mazda MX-5 1.5 SE+

  • Engine: 1.5-litre, 132hp
  • Acceleration: 0-62mph 8.3 seconds
  • Monthly cost: £180 (36 payments)
  • Deposit: £4,200 (plus £2,000 manufacturer deposit contribution)
  • Total amount payable by customer if returning car: £10,670
  • Total amount payable by customer to buy car: £18,265
  • Cash price: £18,995
  • Mileage allowance: 9,000 miles per year
  • APR: 4.1%

Nissan Micra 0.9 IG-T 90 Tekna

  • Engine: 0.9-litre, 90hp
  • Acceleration: 0-62mph 12.1 seconds
  • Monthly cost: £186 (36 payments)
  • Deposit: £4,200 (plus £1,900 manufacturer deposit contribution)
  • Total amount payable by customer if returning car: £10,896
  • Total amount payable by customer to buy car: £18,080
  • Cash price: £18,510
  • Mileage allowance: 9,000 miles per year
  • APR: 5.0%

Ford Fiesta ST vs SEAT Ibiza: double your power for the same monthly payment

The Ford Fiesta ST isn’t just the best hot hatch on the market, it’s the overall 2019 Parkers Car of the Year, as it’s so fun, so affordable and still a feasible everyday car. What makes it so appealing right now is that you can finance this exciting 200hp tearaway for the same monthly cost as a 95hp SEAT Ibiza.

Where the Fiesta scampers 0-62mph in a rapid 6.5 seconds and feels like it will keep going forever, the Ibiza meanders to the same speed in a leisurely 10.9 seconds. Yes, the Ibiza is a good car – in fact it’s one of our favourite small cars – but why settle for good when you can have great for the same money?

Ford Fiesta ST PCP finance

Monthly payments for the Fiesta in well kitted-out ST-2 form come in at £186 on a 39-month contract (with a £4,200 deposit and 9,000-mile-per-year contract). That’s the same as the 1.0-litre 95hp SEAT Ibiza XCELLENCE. Yes the SEAT has a few bits of kit that the Ford lacks, but the Ford has others that the SEAT doesn’t. So why wouldn't you go for the Fiesta?*

And all of this is despite interest-free credit on the SEAT that should make it the more affordable option.

Ford Fiesta ST-2

  • Engine: 1.5-litre, 200hp
  • Acceleration: 0-62mph 6.5 seconds
  • Monthly cost: £186 (38 payments)
  • Deposit: £4,200 (plus £1,250 manufacturer deposit contribution)
  • Total amount payable by customer if returning car: £11,261
  • Total amount payable by customer to buy car: £21,081
  • Cash price: £21,145
  • Mileage allowance: 9,000 miles per year
  • APR: 2.9%

SEAT Ibiza 1.0 TSI 95hp XCELLENCE

  • Engine: 1.0-litre, 95hp
  • Acceleration: 0-62mph 10.9 seconds
  • Monthly cost: £186 (38 payments)
  • Deposit: £4,200 (no manufacturer deposit contribution)
  • Total amount payable by customer if returning car: £11,257
  • Total amount payable by customer to buy car: £18,615
  • Cash price: £18,615
  • Mileage allowance: 9,000 miles per year
  • APR: 0%

Exciting 280hp Renault Megane RS for less per month than 105hp Vauxhall Astra

Fancy an agile, exciting and great value medium hot hatch? Look no further than the Renault Megane RS. Thanks to interest-free credit and strong residual values – which help to reduce monthly payments – this Renault is seriously affordable for such a serious car.

Renault Megane RS PCP finance

Monthly payments come in at £254 on a three-year contract (with a £4,200 deposit and 9,000-mile-per-year allowance). That’s less per month than a 105hp Vauxhall Astra 1.0 SRI Nav. While there’s nothing wrong with the Astra, it’s staggeringly expensive for such a mundane, basic car - at £263 per month with identical contract terms.*

So why settle for a relatively basic 1.0-litre model when you can get a rapid hot hatchback AND pay less every month? And if all you want is a comfortable, practical and affordable medium hatchback, we’d save ourselves nearly £60 per month by going for a Kia Ceed 1.0 T-GDI 3 for a mere £205 per month (with the same contract terms).

Renault Megane RS

  • Engine: 1.8-litre, 280hp
  • Acceleration: 0-62mph 5.8 seconds
  • Monthly cost: £254 (36 payments)
  • Deposit: £4,200 (no manufacturer deposit contribution)
  • Total amount payable by customer if returning car: £13,352
  • Total amount payable by customer to buy car: £27,810
  • Cash price: £27,810
  • Mileage allowance: 9,000 miles per year
  • APR: 0%

Vauxhall Astra 1.0 Turbo 105hp SRI Nav

  • Engine: 1.0-litre, 105hp
  • Acceleration: 0-62mph 10.5 seconds
  • Monthly cost: £263 (36 payments)
  • Deposit: £4,200 (plus £3,400 manufacturer deposit contribution)
  • Total amount payable by customer if returning car: £13,685
  • Total amount payable by customer to buy car: £20,413
  • Cash price: £22,745
  • Mileage allowance: 9,000 miles per year
  • APR: 3.2%

How to find the best PCP finance deals

So, don’t just take the first PCP quote you’re given. Chances are, there could be a far better-value alternative or much more exciting option available for less per month.

And even if you’re set on a specific car, you should be able to get a better deal by haggling. Check out the Parkers guide to haggling on car finance for tips on how to get the best finance deal.

This means that whether you’re after the most exciting car for your budget, or the most affordable car that suits your needs, you should be able to get a fantastic deal.

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*Deals are correct at time of publication. Everyone’s financial circumstances are different and credit is not always available – Parkers cannot recommend a deal for you specifically. These deals are indicative examples of some packages available this week. Bauer Consumer Media Limited is an appointed representative of ZenAuto Limited for the broking of regulated hire agreements. ZenAuto Limited is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. ZenAuto Limited's registered office is Number One, Great Exhibition Way, Kirkstall Forge, Leeds LS5 3BF. ZenAuto Limited's company registration number is 10967345. ZenAuto is the trading name of ZenAuto Limited. Terms, conditions and exclusions apply.