This week's round-up of warmed-up and truly hot SUVs kicks off with the Fiat Panda 100HP. It might look like an SUV that's very far away, but the 100HP is purpose-built for the city.
Fiat Panda 100HP, £3000: It was brought into the second-generation Panda line-up in 2006 but didn’t live beyond 2010 and, even more disappointing, wasn’t replaced. When new, the 99bhp 1.4-litre twin-cam engine allowed the 100HP to go from 0-62mph in 9.5sec and head on to 112mph for bite-sized hot hatch thrills. On used models, check the coolant has been changed regularly (head gasket failure can be common) and bear in mind the timing belt tension needs to be checked every 36,000 miles. If there’s any slack, then it needs replacing.
Although you may love its cutesy yobbish stance on 15in wheels, try out its ride on the lowered, firmer suspension it gets before parting with your cash. It manages to be both firm and busy. While you’re at it, check the dampers for any signs of damp because the shocks can rust and leak oil. A full replacement isn’t financially ruinous at all. You might also need to replace the rear bump stops, but they’re also cheap.
If you do find the ride a little firm, the fact that it is an absolute hoot to fling into a corner will help you see beyond that and make you appreciate why this car has achieved left-field automotive stardom. Less exciting but just as important is that it’ll manage more than 40mpg when you aren’t thrashing it around.
There isn’t a huge number of them on the used market, but we’ve found a tidy 2009 example for £3000. For that, you’ll get average mileage and a full service history. Plus, as 100HPs become rarer, they should hold their value pretty well, too.
Suzuki Jimny 1.3 JLX, £5300: If you are after genuine SUV thrills on a budget and get your kicks crawling over rocks rather than hooning around town, the Jimny is for you. Low mileage, 10 years old, manual gearbox, JLX trim with roof rails and electric windows – all for £5300.