Buying a new car is one of the biggest financial commitments most of us make, so it's natural that the traditional advice has always been to avoid letting your heart rule your head. In other words, go for a sensible motor like an economical family hatchback or a practical SUV. However, it doesn't have to be that way. Depending on your lifestyle, there are still plenty of affordable new cars that will put a smile on your face as you drive. From an iconic sports car to a ridiculously cute 4x4, here are five of our favourite fun new cars for £25,000 or less.
10 OF THE BEST: Family cars with genius storage and seating
Volkswagen up! GTI - from £15,920
The basic VW Up! is a familiar sight on our roads and very good it is too. The hot GTI version is a revelation and we doubt that you can have more fun in a new car costing less than £16,000. Its punchy little 1.0-litre turbo engine can propel it to a top speed of 122mph and its 0-62mph time is 8.8 seconds. But it's the endearing way it delivers that performance that matters too. Not only is it engaging to drive, especially on flowing country roads, but it's surprisingly spacious - so more practical than you might think. With fuel economy of up to 50mpg and CO2 emissions of 120g/km, it's also cheap to run.
BEST OF BRITISH: This motor has been named the best British car, ever!
Mazda MX-5 - from £23,800
The MX-5 isn't the world's most popular roadster for nothing. Starting at £23,800, the latest model is better than ever and excellent value. An exhilarating blend of sleek lines, wind-in-your-hair thrills, superb handling and manageable performance, it's still the perfect sports car. Of course, it's a cosy two-seater and luggage space is limited, but one thing is guaranteed - it will put a big smile on your face. The entry-level Mazda MX-5 comes with a lovely 1.5-litre engine, mated to a slick six-speed gearbox. It can complete the 0-62mph dash in 8.3 seconds and go on to a top speed of 127mph.
Smart EQ fortwo - from £17,530
Fancy a low-cost introduction to the world of electric vehicles? Look no further than the smart EQ fortwo. This dinky car may only have a range of 80 miles, but it's perfect for zipping around the city. Starting at £17,350 (after the Government’s £3,000 Plug-in Car Grant), driving doesn't get easier - just stick it into Drive, plant your right foot and you're away. Whisper quiet and super speedy, it's kind to your pocket and the planet, and its battery pack can be charged up to 80 per cent capacity in as little as 40 minutes. Zero emissions, zero road tax and zero London Congestion Charge. What's not to like?
CORONAVIRUS AND CARS: 5 tips for cleaning your car during lockdown
Suzuki Jimny - from £19,249
Don't let the Jimny's cute looks deceive you. Suzuki's iconic 4x4 is as happy tackling tough off-road challenges as nipping around town. A real mountain goat of a car, it can reach places other SUVs five times the price can only dream about. It's not fast or a sophisticated drive, nor is it plush, but there's no denying its big personality and serious kerb appeal. Powered by a plucky 1.5-litre engine, the very capable Suzuki Jimny is an absolute bargain.
Ford Fiesta ST - from £21,775
The basic Fiesta has been Britain's best-selling car every year since 2009 for good reason. Not only is it the best handling supermini on the market, but it's cheap to run and great value. The sporty ST version turns the Fiesta into a mini hot hatch capable of a 0-62mph time of 6.5 seconds and a top speed of 144mph, yet it can return up to 40.4mpg (158g/km CO2 emissions). This is a car that loves to be driven - and the more spirited the better. Fast and fun, yet practical and packed with the latest safety equipment and connected tech, you won’t be disappointed.
Fancy putting your car knowledge to the test? Take our royal car trivia quiz below to see how much you know...