The meteorite is coming; we can see it approaching in the sky. We know exactly when it will land; 31 December 2029. And we know it will be an extinction-level event that will wipe out all new petrol-powered cars in the UK. For internal combustion engines, these really are the last days of the dinosaurs.

This extinction is already underway. Most diesel cars are already gone, apart from lumbering SUVs and fleet cars that regularly cover long distances. Meanwhile, the number of purely petrol-powered cars is starting to dwindle – as last week’s announcement of the imminent end of the Ford Fiesta illustrates. In fact, there are unlikely to be any major new purely petrol cars released in the UK ever again, as the car industry shifts to hybrid and fully-electric models.

But the ultimate drop-dead date for new petrol cars is still seven years away. If you’re looking for a new or near-new car today and you’re not ready to switch to an electric or plug-in hybrid vehicle, there are still a number of excellent petrol-powered cars available to buy.

In the first of a four-part series celebrating the finest of petrol power, we’re looking at the best new and near-new petrol cars on the market that you can buy for £25K.

Whether you’re in the market for a small hatchback, a large family car, or something a bit sportier, this list has you covered. All of our recommendations are backed by our award-winning Expert Rating Index, which tracks and ranks more than 450 different cars from 51 manufacturers, based on 14,000 reviews from 30 of the UK’s top motoring titles.

All fuel consumption and gearbox information relate to the cheapest trim and engine combination on offer. All Expert Rating scores are correct as of November 2022.

SEAT Ibiza

Available brand-new for less than £25K

SEAT Ibiza FR (2021 - present) front view | Expert Rating
SEAT Ibiza FR (2021 - present) front view | Expert Rating

Currently the top-ranked supermini in our Expert Rating index, the SEAT Ibiza is an award-winning value-for-money package that’s more highly regarded than the Volkswagen Polo it’s based on. This is thanks to its lower price point, as well as its comfort and refinement.

This affordable runaround is also the most fuel efficient small car on this list, so it will save you a few more pennies at the petrol pump when compared to the average compact hatchback. The Ibiza holds an Expert Rating of 79%.

  • Fuel consumption: 54 mpg
  • Gearbox: Manual only
  • Warranty: Three years or 60,000 miles

Ford Fiesta

Available brand-new for less than £25K

Ford Fiesta (2021 - present) front view | Expert Rating
Ford Fiesta (2021 - present) front view | Expert Rating

The Fiesta loses out to the Ibiza by the finest of margins in our Expert Rating Index, but it’s still an excellent choice. With a range of tweaks from its mid-life facelift, the Fiesta stands out from the crowded supermini pack thanks to its class-leading driving dynamics. But it has been criticised for some cheap interior plastics and a questionable reliability record.

Ford has recently announced that the Fiesta’s 46-year lifespan will come to an end next year, so if you’re interested in picking up a new model, you’ll need to act fast. It currently holds an Expert Rating of 79%.

  • Fuel consumption: 53 mpg
  • Gearbox: Manual or automatic
  • Warranty: Three years or 60,000 miles

Mini hatch

Available brand-new for less than £25K

The Mini hatch has been selling up a storm in recent years, despite being one of the oldest new cars on sale. Reviewers say it’s fun to drive, but also cramped in the rear. The range also gets expensive when you start looking at the options list, and its heavy-handed patriotic styling flourishes are not for everyone.

Brand-new Cooper models, and more powerful Cooper S models from the used market, are available for under £25k. The Mini hatch currently holds an Expert Rating of 78%.

  • Fuel consumption: 51 mpg
  • Gearbox: Automatic only
  • Warranty: Four years or 50,000 miles

Ford Fiesta ST

Available near-new for less than £25K

Ford Fiesta ST (2022 onwards) rear view | Expert Rating

Known for its nimble handling and punchy performance, motoring journalists unanimously agree that the Ford Fiesta ST offers one of the most exciting driving experiences of any hot hatch on the market, while offering the same practicality as any regular Fiesta.

With an outstanding Expert Rating of 87%, the Fiesta ST is hard to fault, but its firm suspension can be uncomfortable on the road. The recent facelift has unfortunately increased its price above our £25k threshold, but plenty of nearly-new models can be picked up for a relative bargain on the used market.

  • Fuel consumption: 39 mpg
  • Gearbox: Manual only
  • Warranty: Three years or 60,000 miles

Hyundai i20 N

Available near-new for less than £25K

Hyundai i20 N front view | Expert Rating
Hyundai i20 N front view | Expert Rating

The Hyundai i20 N is the entry-level model in Hyundai’s N performance division, but it’s certainly no slouch. Slightly faster and cheaper than the Fiesta ST, it has been widely praised for handling, low running costs, and a long warranty.

That said, its impressive Expert Rating of 86% is hindered by its firm ride, and reviewers are not fans of its clunky infotainment system. The i20 N is available new for a smidge above £25k, but the used market offers up several nearly-new models at a cheaper price.

  • Fuel consumption: 40 mpg
  • Gearbox: Manual only
  • Warranty: Five years, unlimited mileage

Ford Puma

Available brand-new for less than £25K

The pest petrol-powered cars for £25K – Ford Puma

The Puma has been Ford’s best selling model in the UK in 2022, as buyers look for a car that adds a little more ground clearance without breaking the bank. Reviewers agree the Puma is practical, spacious and great to drive, although its exterior looks are not universally admired.

With an Expert Rating of 78%, the Ford Puma is the highest ranked petrol-powered small SUV in our Expert Rating Index available for less than £25k. A few nearly-new examples of the sportier Puma ST are available on the used market for under £25k, too.

  • Fuel consumption: 46 mpg
  • Gearbox: Manual or automatic
  • Warranty: Three years or 60,000 miles

Mazda CX-30

Available brand-new for less than £25K

Mazda CX-30 (2018 onwards) – front view
Mazda CX-30 (2018 onwards) – front view

Praised for its driving dynamics and interior quality, the CX-30 is Mazda’s most affordable SUV option. Based on the slightly cheaper Mazda 3 hatchback, the CX-30 has been commended by the UK motoring media for its economical petrol engine and its stylish looks, although its rivals offer more cabin and boot space.

Sitting in the middle of the medium SUV class in our Expert Rating Index, the Mazda CX-30 currently holds an Expert Rating of 73%.

  • Fuel consumption: 48 mpg
  • Gearbox: Manual or automatic
  • Warranty: Three years or 60,000 miles

Skoda Octavia

Available brand-new for less than £25K

Last days of the dinosaurs: the best petrol cars for less than £25K – Skoda Octavia

If you’re looking for a value-for-money family car that’s easy to drive and cheap to run, the Skoda Octavia needs to be on your shortlist. The saloon has the lowest fuel consumption of any car on this list, which is impressive for such a large petrol car.

A serial award-winner, the Octavia is praised for its practical and polished interior with class-leading legroom, though its infotainment system has drawn criticism, as has its polarising front-end styling. It currently holds an Expert Rating of 76%.

  • Fuel consumption: 55 mpg
  • Gearbox: Manual and automatic
  • Warranty: Three years or 60,000 miles

Peugeot 3008

Available near-new for less than £25K

Peugeot 3008 (2021 facelift) - front view
Peugeot 3008 (2021 facelift) - front view

The Peugeot 3008 is a great choice for those looking to ferry the family from A to B. Reviewers are particularly fond of its styling, as well as its comfort, practicality and driving dynamics. On the other hand, a number of media outlets have expressed their dislike of the car’s infotainment system.

Although not as affordable as the Octavia, you’ll still be able to find plenty of slightly older used models on the second-hand market for under £25k. The 3008 currently holds an Expert Rating of 77%.

  • Fuel consumption: 48 mpg
  • Gearbox: Automatic only
  • Warranty: Two years, unlimited mileage

Mazda MX-5

Available near-new for less than £25K

Last days of the dinosaurs: the best petrol cars for less than £25K – Mazda MX-5

When it comes to convertibles, the MX-5 has reigned supreme for more than 30 years over four generations. The latest MX-5 holds an Expert Rating of 87% – commended for its lightweight driving dynamics, nippy performance and its low running costs. Criticisms are few and far between, but obviously you’re sacrificing a large degree of practicality to enjoy the delights of a two-seat drop-top sports car.

New MX-5 proces start at just over our £25k threshold, but there are plenty of nearly-new MX-5 models on the used market listed for much cheaper.

  • Fuel consumption: 45 mpg
  • Gearbox: Manual only
  • Warranty: Three years or 60,000 miles

Additional reporting and data wrangling by Sean Rees

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For the definitive rankings of the best new cars, check out The Car Expert’s industry-leading Expert Rating Index. The index analyses new car reviews from 30 of the top UK motoring websites, using an advanced algorithm that we have developed specifically to compare review scores.

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