Best new cars for under £25,000

Hatchbacks, SUVs, convertibles, and even sports cars. They're all included in this list of the best new cars for under £25,000

James Mills
Feb 6, 2019

Drivers with a budget of around £25,000 to put toward a new car are representative of the UK’s wider car buying public. The average sum paid for a new model is £22,000.

Such an amount of money affords great choice, which can prove daunting for anyone that doesn’t know their Qashqais from their Golfs. There are hatchbacks, family estate cars, SUVs, sun-seeking convertibles, hot hatchbacks and people carriers.

Diesel engines and petrol engines vie for drivers’ attention, while hybrids – be they self-charging or plug-in versions – are slowly spreading through showrooms. At the same time, a new electric car is within reach if your budget is £25,000.

To help steer consumers in the right direction, BuyaCar’s team of reviewers has driven and rated nearly every new car on sale, so they can give consumers impartial advice on which cars are worthy of drivers’ hard-earned money.

Naturally, choosing which cars should be on your shortlist is just the first step. Taking a test drive and working out how to get the best deal are just as important. Happily, browsing BuyaCar and the offers available through franchised dealers can help here.

It’s also important to compare the CO2 emissions of new cars, which impact on the cost of road tax, check the fuel economy of models and get insurance quotes. And finally, put your mind at rest by checking the safety of different models, using the resource at Euro NCAP.

Best new cars for under £25,000

1) Volkswagen Golf

Our pick Volkswagen Golf 1.5 TSI EVO GT DSG auto

List price £23,760 (around £21,609 after discount)

The Golf is the car by which other hatchbacks are judged. Some, like the Mercedes A-Class may have fancier tech. Some, like the Ford Focus, might be a little more fun to drive. But the fact is that the Golf is either very good or excellent in every single area, making it a tough nut for the competition to crack.

It offers plenty of space in the cabin, the quality of the interior is impressive, all the tech is intuitive and safety systems – and its associated crash safety score – are all present and correct.

Equipped with the 1.5-litre petrol engine, it’s smooth on the ear (the diesels are a bit rattly and best suited to anyone driving lots of miles each year) and pulls the Golf along with enthusiasm, while adding the automatic gearbox makes for a thoroughly relaxing experience.
Volkswagen Golf buying guide

2) Audi A1

Our pick Audi A1 Sportback S Line 30 TFSI

List price £23,175 (around £22,194 after discount)

It’s not a small car, it’s a small Audi. At least, that’s the claim from the German car maker. Pleasingly, it lives up to the hype. The A1 really is every inch a distilled version of the Audi experience, thanks to a recently introduced, new generation model that uses design to create a compact hatchback that’s unusually desirable.

We especially like the new look of the interior. It feels as special as an Audi costing four times as much, and packs in a similar level of tech and connectivity. With the ‘35’ engine, which is a 1.0-litre, turbocharged motor, you get 116hp which delivers brisk-enough performance for most small families, while the S Line trim comes with sports suspension to make this a responsive small car to hussle. More affordable versions are available, but we reckon this one strikes a great blend between affordability and put-a-skip-in-your-step.
Audi A1 buying guide

3) Mercedes A-Class

Our pick Mercedes A180 Sport Executive

List price £22,740 (around £23,000 after discount)

Do you like gadgets? Have you waited at an Apple store to be first in line for a new product? Is your home connected and operated using your smartphone? If the answer to any of these questions is yes, then the likelihood is the new Mercedes A-Class is packing the sort of software and hardware that will have you signing on the salesman’s dotted line.

The five-door hatchback is the most technologically sophisticated car in its class. Head and shoulders above any rival system, the ‘MBUX’ uses a pair of 10.25-inch screens to give a widescreen effect. Controlled via voice recognition, or touchscreen or a mousepad-style controller, it’s the stand-out feature of the A-Class.

The interior could be more spacious by class standards, though, and the driving experience feels a bit flat and lacking in energy, but with the entry-level petrol engine and Sport Executive trim, this is a nice package for those who love their gadgets and gizmos.
Mercedes A-Class buying guide

4) Skoda Karoq

Our pick Skoda Karoq SE L 1.0 TSI 150 

List price £25,660 (around £22,669 after discount)

When the Kodiaq, Skoda’s first SUV came out, we were deeply impressed by what a complete package it was. Would it prove to be a one-off, though? Not a bit of it; the smaller Karoq would get our vote over Nissan’s hugely popular Qashqai.

If your budget is strictly £25,000, then plump for the tried and tested 2-litre, 150hp diesel engine in SE trim, which is more than capable of hauling a family round whatever the driving conditions. However, if you can stretch beyond this a little – and haggling may well bring the price back in line with our budget – then consider the SE L version with the 1.5-litre, 150hp petrol engine, which is more pleasant in use than the diesel, and add the smooth shifting automatic gearbox.
Skoda Karoq buying guide

5) Mazda MX-5

Our pick Mazda MX-5 184PS Sport Nav+ 

List price £24,225 (around £23,775 after discount)

If there’s a more endearing everyday sports car than the Mazda MX-5, we’d like to know about it. For less than £25,000, drivers could own a car that’s more rewarding on any stretch of public road than a Ferrari or Porsche.

Not only that, the MX-5 is one of the most well conceived convertibles – well, technically it’s a roadster – to date. The fabric roof can be unlatched and folded back quicker than you can put on a pair of sunglasses. And with the roof down, this petite sports car lets you listen to the birdsong while your toes and backside are toasted by a great heater and heated seats.

A new engine, with 184hp, has given the MX-5 a little more muscle than before. But to be honest, those who wanted to save the money would not be disappointed by the 132hp version; no matter what the power, this car’s a joy to drive.
Mazda MX-5 buying guide

6) Nissan Qashqai

Our pick Nissan Qashqai N-Connecta DIG-T 160

List price £24,595 (around £29,922 after discount)

The Nissan Qashqai is by no means the best car in its class. If we were writing its school report, we’d say it could try harder in all subjects. But it delivers enough for most drivers who, more than anything, demand good value for money. And in that respect, the Qashqai is competitively priced.

Our pick of the range would be the 1.3-litre, turbocharged four-cylinder unit, which returns up to 40mpg and is smoother and quieter than a diesel. Underneath, the suspension gives a smooth ride comfort, and in the car noise levels are low and there’s a good amount of passenger space. The biggest gripe, especially for busy families with shopping, pushchairs and bikes to lug around, is the car’s small boot.
Nissan Qashqai buying guide

7) Seat Arona

Our pick Seat Arona SE Technology 1.0 TSI 115 DSG auto 

List price £19,470 (around £18,285 after discount)

The Arona might be the smallest SUV in Seat’s car range but you won’t feel shortchanged by it. The compact crossover does a good job of eeking out as much space from the cabin as possible, so that a young family can feel comfortable rather than cramped.

Our pick of the range would be the petrol-powered 1.0 TSI engine, in 115hp specification. Pair this with the Volkswagen Group’s dual-clutch automatic gearbox, and you’ll have a relaxing drive whatever the conditions.

Perhaps the greatest surprise is that Seat’s engineers have done such a good job of making this SUV feel responsive to drive. It’s composed in all situations and comfortable, and the front-wheel drive chassis is stable. Throw into the mix good fuel economy – up to 48mpg – and this is a sound, small SUV.
Seat Arona buying guide

8) Renault Zoe

Our pick Renault Zoe S Edition R110 Z.E. 40

List price £19,270 (plus battery hire) (around £16,918 after discount) (plus battery hire)

Many drivers are under the impression that electric cars are expensive to buy. But Renault’s clever little Zoe shows that’s not the case. It’s available from just over £18,000, after the government’s plug-in car grant – although that requires that drivers rent the battery from Renault. (You can buy it outright from more than £25,000.)

The latest battery in the Zoe delivers good performance in all senses. It’s brisk on the road, capable of travelling for up to 180 miles on a single battery charge, and if plugged into a wallbox at home or work the battery goes from empty to full in around five hours.

The car seats four in comfort and the boot’s a fair size, but the fit and finish is a little more basic than a comparably priced Ford Fiesta or VW Polo. But then again, they can’t dramatically reduce your driving costs – or emissions.
Renault Zoe buying guide

9) Hyundai i30 N

Our pick Hyundai i30 N

List price £25,995 (around £23,512 after discount)

The i30N might just fall on the wrong side of £25,000 but with a bit of haggling buyers should be able to bring this acclaimed hot hatch – and its thrilling driving experience – within budget.

More powerful and a shade quicker than a Golf GTI, yet substantially cheaper, the i30 N is for drivers who care more about how a car makes them feel than how it makes the neighbours feel. It can accelerate from standstill to 62mph in 6.4 seconds, the finely tuned suspension matches its potential pace with outstanding control and the brakes are more than up to the job of keeping everything in check. In short, if you want a great value hot hatch that will make you want to get out and drive just for the sake of it, the i30 N is the one to have for £25,000.
Hyundai i30 buying guide

10) Mini Convertible

Our pick Mini Cooper Convertible Sport

List price £22,680 (around £22,000 after discount)

You could blow more than the budget and go for the slightly bonkers Mini John Cooper Works Convertible, but why bother when actually, the humble and hugely popular Cooper is arguably the best model in the range and costs less than £23,000?

The 1.5-litre turbocharged, three-cylinder engine is a gem, packed with energy and sounds great on the move – even more so when the roof is lowered. That happens at the touch of a button, as the fabric roof is powered, and the insulation is impressive for such an affordable convertible, meaning it feels quiet and comfortable at main road speeds.

With four seats and a boot that’s only a little larger than a window box, this isn’t the most practical of cars. But if you want a breath of fresh in more ways than one, it’s well worth a test drive.
Mini Convertible buying guide


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