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Last days of the dinosaurs: the best petrol cars under £50K

The second entry in our series celebrating the finest of petrol power - these are the best new and near-new petrol cars you can buy for £50K

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An extinction-level event is on the horizon – one that will, in just seven years’ time, 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-level event has already started. Most new diesel cars are already gone, apart from lumbering SUVs or fleet cars that regularly cover long distances. Meanwhile, the number of purely petrol-powered cars is starting to dwindle as car companies switch their investments to new electrified vehicles. 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, so there’s still time to enjoy a new petrol car. If you’re looking for a new or near-new vehicle today and you’re not ready to switch to an electric or plug-in hybrid model, there are still a number of excellent petrol-powered cars available to buy.

In the second 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 £50K.

Whether you’re in the market for a family-sized hatchback, a lavish SUV, 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 more than 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.

Family hatchbacks

Ford Focus

Available brand-new for less than £50K

Ford Focus (2022-present) front view | Expert Rating
Ford Focus (2022-present) front view | Expert Rating

Fun to drive and dependable, the current Ford Focus has been a popular choice for UK buyers since its launch in 2018. With consistently favourable review scores before and after its recent facelift, the hatchback is as comfortable and spacious as it is engaging. Its demise is already on the horizon, however, following its smaller sibling, the Fiesta, into extinction by 2025 at the latest.

With prices starting at £27k, the Ford Focus comfortably slides under our £50K threshold and currently holds an Expert Rating of 75%.

  • Fuel consumption: 52 mpg
  • Gearbox: Manual and automatic
  • Warranty: Three years or 60,000 miles

Volkswagen Golf

Available brand-new for less than £50K

Volkswagen Golf (2020 onward) - front view
Volkswagen Golf (2020 onward) - front view

The eighth-generation Volkswagen Golf is another desirable family car option in the UK, praised for its efficient engines, comfortable cabin and excellent safety standards. The current model was launched in 2020, so it’s likely to survive almost right up to the petrol deadline of 31 December 2029.

Alternatives are more spacious however, and its fiddly infotainment is sure to annoy you on a regular basis. The last petrol-powered generation in the Golf’s lineage, the Golf Mk 8 currently holds an Expert Rating of 75%.

  • Fuel consumption: 52 mpg
  • Gearbox: Manual or automatic
  • Warranty: Three years or 60,000 miles

Family saloons/estates

BMW 4 Series Gran Coupé

Available brand-new for less than £50K

BMW 4 Series Gran Coupé front view | Expert Rating
BMW 4 Series Gran Coupé front view | Expert Rating

The BMW 3 Series is a fine car, but a bit common. If you’re looking for something more distincitive, BMW has an alternative. Retaining most of the practicality of its saloon sibling with sleeker styling, the BMW 4 Series Gran Coupé has been highlighted by journalists for its refinement, comfort and agile driving dynamics.

That said, the oversized kidney grilles certainly split opinion and, if you’re tall, the rear seats might be a bit cramped. As of November 2022, the 4 Series Gran Coupé holds an Expert Rating of 76%.

  • Fuel consumption: 44 mpg
  • Gearbox: Automatic only
  • Warranty: Three years, unlimited mileage

Volvo V60

Available brand-new for less than £50K

Volvo V60 Bursting Blue
Volvo V60 Bursting Blue

Volvo’s current line-up is full of spacious and stylish cars, and the V60 is no exception. The estate has received widespread praise for its design, both inside and out, as well as its overall comfort.

While it is practical, well-built and spacious, the V60 isn’t the best choice if you are looking for driving thrills. Several outlets report that alternatives are more rewarding to drive, particularly rivals from the BMW range. The V60 currently holds an Expert Rating of 75%.

  • Fuel consumption: 46 mpg
  • Gearbox: Automatic only
  • Warranty: Three years or 60,000 miles

BMW 5 Series

Available brand-new for less than £50K

BMW 5 Series saloon (2017) - front
BMW 5 Series saloon (2017) - front

The seven-generation BMW 5 Series has been considered the benchmark model in the combustion-powered executive saloon class since its UK arrival in 2017. An accomplished all-rounder with tidy handling, a luxurious interior and class-leading infotainment, this BMW currently holds an outstanding Expert Rating of 86%.

While both saloon and Touring (estate) models are available new for under £50k, some features on the options list should really be included as standard, and no manual gearbox models are available.

  • Fuel consumption: 59 mpg
  • Gearbox: Automatic only
  • Warranty: Three years, unlimited mileage

Skoda Superb

Available brand-new for less than £50K

Skoda took a rather risky decision when it named its flagship family car the ‘Superb’, but that is actually the perfect descriptor for this impressive saloon and estate. The Superb has received considerable praise for its practicality, design and value for money.

This Skoda is genuinely hard to criticise. That said, its rather bland exterior styling won’t be for everyone. It currently holds a ‘superb’ Expert Rating of 82%.

  • Fuel consumption: 47 mpg
  • Gearbox: Manual only
  • Warranty: Three years or 60,000 miles

SUVs

Range Rover Evoque

Available brand-new for less than £50K

Range Rover Evoque (2019) road test - front | The Car Expert
Range Rover Evoque (2019) road test - front | The Car Expert

The smallest model in Land Rover’s line-up, the Range Rover Evoque is a capable off-roader that is regarded as one of the most luxurious small SUVs on the market. Its handling is surprisingly nimble too, and it comes with plenty of on-board safety tech as standard.

However, its Expert Rating of 74% is hindered by its rather cramped rear seating, and – like all Land Rovers – its long-term reliability is questionable.

  • Fuel consumption: 46 mpg
  • Gearbox: Manual only
  • Warranty: Three years, unlimited mileage

Volvo XC60

Available brand-new for less than £50K

Volvo XC60 dynamic front | The Car Expert
Volvo XC60 dynamic front | The Car Expert

2018’s World Car of the Year, the Volvo XC60 has received plenty of acclaim – widely commended for its exterior and interior design, as well as its class-leading safety tech. Like the V60 estate however, the XC60 is not exactly known for its performance – alternatives are more fun on the road.

Despite coming with mild hybrid assistance as standard, the SUV’s entry-level model also has a rather thirsty petrol-powered engine. The XC60 currently holds an Expert Rating of 75%.

  • Fuel consumption: 36 mpg
  • Gearbox: Automatic only
  • Warranty: Three years or 60,000 miles

Hot hatches

Toyota GR Yaris

Available brand-new for less than £50K

Toyota GR Yaris (2020 onwards) – front view
Toyota GR Yaris (2020 onwards) – front view

If you’re on the lookout for the ultimate hot hatch, the compact Toyota GR Yaris needs to be on your shortlist. Originally developed for Toyota’s world rally team, this serial award-winner uses the world’s most powerful three-cylinder engine. Combined with sharp four-wheel drive handling, it offers up a seriously fun driving experience.

Available new for comfortably under £50k, the GR Yaris currently holds an outstanding Expert Rating of 90%. The only problem is that UK supply is incredibly scarce…

  • Fuel consumption: 34 mpg
  • Gearbox: Manual and automatic
  • Warranty: Five years or 100,000 miles

Honda Civic Type R

Available near-new for less than £50K

Honda Civic Type R (2017 onwards) – front view
Honda Civic Type R (2017 onwards) – front view

Highlighted for its impressive driving dynamics, performance and comfort, the fifth-generation Honda Civic Type R was considered to be a class-leader in the hot hatch class. Its dramatic styling also means that you’re unlikely to lose it in the car park either.

Honda no longer sells this generation of the Type R, with an all-new model set to arrive in the UK in 2023. However, there are plenty of nearly-new models on the used market listed for much less than £50k. It currently holds an Expert Rating of 87%.

  • Fuel consumption: 33 mpg
  • Gearbox: Manual only
  • Warranty: Three years or 36,000 miles

Mercedes-AMG A 45

Available near-new for less than £50K

Mercedes-AMG A 45 front view | Expert Rating
Mercedes-AMG A 45 front view | Expert Rating

When it comes to brute-force power and straight-line speed, no hot hatch can match the Mercedes-AMG A 45. Currently holding an Expert Rating of 82%, the A 45 is also one of the most practical performance-enhanced options on the market, although the steep pricing will rule out plenty of people.

You won’t be able to pick up a new A 45 on a £50k budget, but there are several vehicles available under that threshold on the near-new market.

  • Fuel consumption: 32 mpg
  • Gearbox: Automatic only
  • Warranty: Three years, unlimited mileage

Sports cars

Alpine A110

Available brand-new for less than £50K

Alpine A110 road test | The Car Expert
Alpine A110 road test | The Car Expert

Renault’s performance-focused sub-brand Alpine only sells one model, but it’s a corker. Currently holding an excellent Expert Rating of 87%, the A110 coupé has been unanimously praised for its driving dynamics, with only mild criticisms concerning its obvious lack of practicality and the questionable quality of some interior fixtures.

At the time of writing, this sports car just sneaks in under our £50k budget, with £10 spare to spend on your way home from the dealership.

  • Fuel consumption: 35 mpg
  • Gearbox: Automatic only
  • Warranty: Three years or 60,000 miles

Porsche 718

Available brand-new for less than £50K

Porsche 718 Cayman GTS 4.0 (2016 onwards) - front view
Porsche 718 Cayman GTS 4.0 (2016 onwards) - front view

Consisting of the Boxster (convertible) and Cayman (coupé) models, the Porsche 718 twins have been highly praised by UK reviewers for their classic style, bank-vault build quality and potent performance.

That said, owners regularly have to deal with mechanical reliability issues, and the standard specification is underdone for the money. Both Porsche 718 models currently hold an Expert Rating of 86%.

  • Fuel consumption: 32 mpg
  • Gearbox: Manual only
  • Warranty: Three years, unlimited mileage

Read more:

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.

Latest features and advice at The Car Expert

Sean Rees
Sean Rees
Sean is the Deputy Editor at The Car Expert. A enthusiastic fan of motorsport and all things automotive, he is accredited by the Professional Publishers Association, and is now focused on helping those in car-buying need with independent and impartial advice.