2 - Volkswagen Beetle (2011-present)
We’re not suggesting you buy a classic Beetle here. Instead, we refer you to the third-generation model, launched in 2011. Gone were the divisive styling cues of its predecessor, such as the flower holder on the dashboard and the bubbly bumpers, and in came a more contemporary, angular Beetle with a flatter roofline and sportier aesthetic.
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It’s available in three petrol variants (105bhp 1.2, 160bhp 1.4 and 200bhp 2.0) and a 1.6 TDI. If you go with the mid-level 1.4, its 160bhp and 177lb ft of torque result in a not-too-bad 0-62mph time of 8.3sec. Depending on the spec you choose, there is enough quality material and technology to be comfortable. Good ones start at about £9000.
3 - Volkswagen Up (2011-present)
The Up broke the rules of what was expected of a city car when it appeared on our roads in 2011, so we’re breaking the rules here by featuring a new example that you can get for a shade under £9k. That money will only buy you the Take Up model, which is the most basic of the range, so you get a 1.0-litre petrol engine, steel wheels, Isofix-compatible rear seats, heating and a radio/CD player… and that’s pretty much it for kit.
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The best you’ll get for £10k is the Move Up, which has an added 15bhp, air-con, alloy wheels, electric windows and bodycoloured door handles and mirrors. Either way, it isn’t bad for a brand new car. Or, as this is still a used buying guide, you can pick one up for half our budget.
4 - Volkswagen Scirocco (2008-2014)
We waited a whopping 16 years for this model after the Scirocco Mk2 went out of production in 1992, so the Mk3 had to be good — and it is. It comes with a choice of three turbocharged engines: 1.4 petrol, 2.0-litre petrol and 2.0-litre diesel. All options are more than sufficient in terms of power.
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The 1.4 TSI engine gets an added supercharger and has an output of 160bhp, which is more than enough for day-to-day running. A cloth or leather interior is available, depending on your chosen spec. Either material clothes good-quality seats. When new, sat-nav was an option and a six-speed manual ’box usually standard. Early models are currently going for around £8000.
5 - Volkswagen Polo GTI (2009
The Polo is basically a Golf that’s been on a hot wash. Engine options include turbocharged and non-turbocharged 1.2-litre and 1.4-litre petrol units and 1.2-litre, 1.4-litre and 1.6-litre diesel engines. However, if you opt for the GTI, its 1.4-litre petrol engine is both turbocharged and supercharged.
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The Polo shares its platform with the Seat Ibiza and Audi A1, and despite being a bit larger than its predecessor, it is 7.5% lighter. The interior is a little more ‘function over form’ in the lower-spec models, but opt for the GTI and you get practically the same interior as the Golf. With the chance to pick up a really good one of these from around £6000, there’s not much to grumble about.