Seat’s newly independent Cupra brand rekindles memories of the sporty Leon 1.8T 20v Cupra of 1999. Its turbo engine made 178bhp, good for 0-62mph in 7.7sec. Today, prices start at about £1000 for honest cars. In 2002, it was upstaged by the Cupra R, still with the same engine but this time producing 207bhp for 0-62mph in 7.2sec. Not a huge gain but what mattered more were its four-pot Brembo brake calipers, 18in wheels, quicker steering, stiffer suspension and deep front splitter.
Then, 12 months later, along came an even hotter version toting 222bhp and 0-62mph in just 6.5sec. This remains the one to have. Fortunately, there are still a few lingering in the classifieds – such as the 2005/05-reg with 94,000 miles that we saw. The one-owner car has full service history. The timing belt was changed at 69,000 miles and it passed its most recent MOT with no advisories.
Just because it’s an old ’un, don't think the best it can manage is windy windows. There are four electric ones, front and rear, plus cupholders (this was a golden period for cupholders), air-con, a centre armrest, electrically powered and folding door mirrors, a USB socket and even Isofix child seat fixings.
Before we sign on the dotted, though, we’ll check the turbo’s not blowing smoke and that all underbonnet hoses and pipes are sound. Misfires are likely to be the coil packs. It’s done 94,000 miles so we’ll check the clutch, suspension top mounts and lower portion of the springs, feel for loose bushes, examine the doors for water ingress and inspect the kick panel behind the pedals for rust.
Audi A1 quattro, £36,950: Just 19 A1 quattros came to the UK in 2012, all of them left-hand drive and costing £41,000 apiece. The 2.0-litre turbo petrol engine produced 252bhp, which was enough to give the car a 0-62mph time of 5.7sec. Our pick has done just 25,000 miles.