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Finance representative example (PCP)

Total cash price £18,799. Borrowing £15,039 with a £3,760 deposit at a representative APR of 9.9%.

49 monthly payments
£273.17
Fixed interest rate
9.9%
Total amount payable
£22,991.21
Cost of credit
£4,192.21
Optional final payment
£6,119.00
Annual mileage limit
6000 miles

Just a decade ago, petrol cars looked to be on the way out – nearly everyone was swapping to diesel thanks to its lower CO2 emissions and higher mpg figures. However, following the 2015 dieselgate scandal, the black pump has fallen out of favour, pushing many buyers back towards petrol models.

What’s more, modern turbochargers and clever fuel injection strategies mean today’s petrols are more efficient and powerful than ever before. Petrol cars also tend to be a little quieter than their diesel counterparts and don’t leave a smelly diesel residue on your hands when you refuel.

All carmakers build petrol engines, apart from those that specialise in EVs such as Tesla. Some brands such as Suzuki, MG and Lexus have entirely abandoned diesel options, instead relying on hybrid systems to help their petrol cars hit high mpg figures.

If you’re on the hunt for a car with strong performance, most options will feature petrol engines. The overwhelming majority of hot hatches use petrol engines including the Volkswagen Golf GTI, Honda Civic Type-R and Toyota GR Yaris. You’ll also find petrol engines under the bonnets of seriously high-performance cars including the Porsche Boxster, BMW M4 and the Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio.

Still unsure which petrol car to buy? We share our favourite petrol-powered cars.

Browse petrol cars by body style

FAQs

Inevitably, the answer here is ‘it depends’. Petrol cars tend to be cheaper to buy and put out fewer harmful NOx emissions than diesel cars, but they can’t quite match the sky-high mpg figures diesel cars can achieve.

In practice, petrol will usually be a better choice if you mostly drive short to medium distances thanks to its greater affordability – you’ll also likely find more choices with petrol engines, as diesel options are becoming more limited over time.

Long-distance drivers may still want to consider a diesel, however. This is because the higher average mpg figure will outweigh the extra purchase price compared to a petrol model. What’s more, long-distance drivers will avoid the DPF issues that afflict diesel cars mainly used for shorter journeys.

There are lots of variables that affect a car’s price but, as a general rule, petrol cars are currently cheaper to buy than electric vehicles. This is because the cost of the batteries used in EVs push their purchase price up substantially compared with an equivalent petrol-powered car.

If you ignore purchase price and solely look at running costs, however, the pendulum swings back in favour of EVs – assuming you can charge at home. Estimates vary wildly but usually place EVs between 30% and 50% cheaper to run than a petrol car. The exact percentage depends on the current cost of fuel and electricity which, as we’re all too familiar, has been extremely volatile.

It’s worth considering how long you’re planning on owning and running your car if you want to know which is the cheaper option. Buying a petrol car will be the most affordable up-front option but, if you keep your EV for several years, the reduced running costs will eventually make up for the higher purchase price.

No, existing petrol cars are not being banned and there are no plans to do so. In the UK, the government has stated it intends to stop the sale of non-hybrid petrol and diesel cars by 2030, and outlaw the sale of fuel-powered cars altogether in 2035.

You will still be allowed to drive your petrol car in the UK beyond this point, but you won’t be able to replace it with a new one.

What might change over time, however, is the cost of entering and parking in cities. Several large urban areas in the UK have already introduced low emissions or clean air zones, which apply a surcharge to older, more polluting vehicles. Over time, the definition of which cars will face this surcharge could change, meaning your currently compliant car might one day incur an extra daily cost if you want to visit the city centre.

The ULEZ, or Ultra-Low Emissions Zone, is an area of London within the North and South Circular Roads where older and more polluting cars face a £12.50 daily surcharge to enter. From August 2023, this will expand to cover the whole of Greater London.

Petrol cars will not have to pay the surcharge if they meet Euro 4 emissions standards or better – generally speaking, this includes most post-2005 petrol cars. For diesels wishing to avoid the charge, they must meet the latest Euro 6 standards introduced in 2015.

Note, that these costs are separate and in addition to the congestion charge, which all non-EVs must pay to enter Central London.

Yes, you can. However, it’s always worth considering your transport plans if you’re only travelling very short distances, regardless of the type of fuel your vehicle uses.

Diesel buyers are typically advised to avoid only doing shorter journeys because their engines use a diesel particulate filter (DPF), which can clog in these circumstances, potentially leading to a costly failure. DPFs need the diesel car to run regular longer journeys to give them a chance to reach high temperatures, allowing them to burn off captured particulates in a process called regeneration.

Petrol cars do not use DPFs so are not at risk from this specific type of failure. However, it’s still important to remember that you cause the most wear to your engine when it’s cold and, if you don’t give it the chance to properly warm up every so often, that can accelerate the rate at which internal components fail. Very modern petrol engines now feature their own GPFs (gasoline particulate filters) but their higher exhaust temperatures and lower overall particulate emissions compared with diesel means they’re much less likely to get clogged.