A budget of £20,000 - £25,000 will buy you some great brand new cars - everything from the exciting new Hyundai i30 N hot hatch and VW Polo GTI, to stylish SUVs such as the Peugeot 3008, Skoda Karoq, VW Tiguan and Seat Ateca.
If you're looking for something a little different, then you can go electric with a brand new Hyundai Ioniq or Renault Zoe, enjoy the joy of open-top motoring with a Mazda MX-5 or go for spacious people carriers like the Renault Scenic and Citroen C4 Grand Picasso.
However, if you're prepared to buy used or nearly-new, you can move up into the premium sector, or start to consider some great drivers' cars, plus critically-acclaimed vehicles usually way out of budget.
We've scanned the second-hand market to find 10 of the best cars for between £20,000 - £25,000. We looked at used vehicles with a low mileage (less than 10,000 miles per year), aged up to three years and available at main dealers and independent garages.
Priced £34,805 - £46,055 new, the game-changing Outlander PHEV would normally be out of range with a £25,000 budget. A spacious SUV that can run on electric only for up to 30 miles, it also has a petrol engine for that extra peace of mind. In other words, it’s a great halfway house between conventional cars and electric vehicles (EVs).
Look hard enough and it's possible to buy a face-lifted 2015/2016 model for under £25,000 with low mileage.
Arguably the best hot hatch on the road, £21,000 - £25,000 should buy you a low mileage 2015/2016 example. With all-wheel drive, top build quality, stunning driving dynamics and blistering performance, you won't be disappointed.
Of course, it's also an everyday, practical hatchback. Also available as an estate, a new Golf R will set you back at least £32,850.
The TT is quite simply one of the best coupes on the market, boasting serious badge appeal, a superb interior and it’s beautifully built. A new one would set you back £28,850 - £44,270, but low mileage examples are available from 2015 for around £20,000, while £25,000 will bag you one from as recent as 2017.
There's a great set of petrol and diesel engines available, plus convertible and quattro 4x4 versions.
Stylish and blessed with Land Rover's legendary off-road capability, the Evoque is a premium SUV choice that costs £30,760 - £55,585 new. Buy used, and low mileage examples from 2015/2016 can be found from £20,000. If possible, go for the 2.0-litre turbo diesel.
Probably the coolest-looking electric car on the market, the i3 is available as a pure EV or as a petrol-electric hybrid range-extender. Fun to drive with premium badge appeal, a new one will cost £34,070 - £40,125, but if you're prepared to buy used, they can be bought for as little as £20,000.
Smooth, quiet, classy and comfortable, the Lexus IS 300h has a 2.5-litre four-cylinder petrol engine, boosted by an electric motor, giving it a total output of 220bhp.
A class act, it costs from £32,895 new, but it's possible to buy a pre-owned car from as recent as 2016 for £20,000, while £5,000 more will buy you a 17-reg.
Need a big estate, but want a premium driving experience? Also available as a saloon and coupe, the C-Class might be just the ticket. There's 485 litres of luggage capacity (1,500 with the back seats down) and it's beautifully built.
A new one costs £30,235 - £47,030, but pre-owned 2017 cars can be bought for £25,000, while low mileage examples from 2015 are available from £20,000.
One of the most stylish, comfortable and classy executive saloons on the market, the S90 was launched in 2016 and is priced at £35,620 - £58,055 new. But here's the thing - nearly-new examples from 2017 with very low mileage are now appearing for as little as £23,500.
That's a lot of car for the money - and it's one of the safest vehicles you can buy.
With head-turning looks and a classy, comfortable interior, the updated Mazda CX-5 gets top marks for refinement and driving engagement, making it one of the best SUV packages on the market. Priced £23,995 - £33,395 new, £25,000 will buy you the pick of the range - an AWD version with a 2.2-litre diesel from as recent as 2017.
The XF is one of the best sporting saloons on the market, offering real competition to the likes of the BMW 5 Series and Audi A6. Launched in 2015, it's handsome, spacious and is engaging to drive, but it's £32,490 - £51,100 new. Consider buying a pre-owned XF, and £20,000 gets a 2015 car, while £25,000 could net a 17-reg.
If you've fallen in love with one of these cars you might want to learn more about car finance, too. Take a look at Admiral's Car Finance and find a plan to suit you.
08 Nov 2018
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