Mazda3

best looking cheap cars
  • Base price: $17,845

It is often said that good design costs nothing. In the car business, that's not quite true. Designers' jobs would be much simpler if they never had to worry about how much time and effort it takes to stamp out complicated body panels or line up those pieces on the assembly line. It's much easier to design a pretty car that costs a lot of money. That makes it all the more impressive, then, to see really sharp looks on cars that cost relatively little.

Exhibit A is the Mazda3, which very nicely wraps Mazda's "Soul of Motion" design language around a compact car body. It looks uncommonly good in either the sedan or hatchback version. There's a complex but uncluttured interaction of curves and creases which gives the impression that the car's very sheet metal is being blown back in the wind.