What Car? Personal Shopper: best automatic saloon for less than £25,000

Want a new car but don't know where to start? Just send us your criteria and we'll give you our recommended choice, plus the best new and used alternatives, and tell you how much we can save you...

BMW 5 Series

Buying used

  • Our recommended choice: 2017 BMW 5 Series 520d SE auto
  • Price: £24,947
  • Mileage: 5321
BMW 5 Series

Let’s not mess around here. For the same money as a new Audi A3 Saloon or Volkswagen Passat, you could have a full-fat luxury car like this BMW 5 Series, in 2.0-litre diesel SE guise, no less.

Not only is it well equipped, with sat-nav, heated seats, ultra-bright full LED headlights and a smooth automatic gearbox, but it’s also relaxing to drive and gets exceptional fuel economy. It was crowned as our 2017 Car of the Year with a price tag that was getting close to £40,000, making this one-year-old, 6000-mile example a steal at just £24,947.

View this car in the What Car? classifieds

Read our used BMW 5 Series review


  • Also consider: 2017 Mercedes-Benz E-Class E220d SE Premium
  • Price: £24,890
  • Mileage: 12,414
Mercedes-Benz E-Class

Running very close to the BMW 5 Series is the current Mercedes-Benz E-Class, which errs more towards comfort than sporty handling but is none the worse for it. This example comes with the larger 12.3in infotainment screen and the Premium Pack, which includes electrically adjustable front seats and keyless entry.

View this car in the What Car? classifieds

Read our used Mercedes E-Class review

  • Also consider: 2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia 2.2 JDTM-2 180 Super auto
  • Price: £24,240
  • Mileage: 6000
Alfa Romeo Giulia

If the rest of this list seems a bit too obvious, you can also find a barely used version of the wilfully stylish and surprisingly good Alfa Romeo Giulia. Its diesel engine quietens down nicely on the motorway and the eight-speed automatic gearbox shifts swiftly through the gears. Plus, Alfa Romeo really went to town on how it drives, making the Giulia one of the most entertaining cars you can buy.

View this car in the What Car? classifieds

Read our Alfa Romeo Giulia review

Next: Our verdict >