Currently reading: Buy them before we do: second-hand picks for 3 January
Hot hatches rule the roost in this week's picks, exemplified by the racy, 200bhp Renault Clio RS

Our round-up of hot hatches begins with the facelifted Renault Clio RS of 2009-12. As such, it’s the Renault 200 rather than the earlier 197, so called because it produces 200bhp, rather than 197bhp. Torque stays the same at 159lb ft, although it and peak power come 150rpm sooner. If these tweaks don’t sound much, their effect is enhanced by first, second and third gears being slightly shorter.

The racier Renault Cup version has 15% stiffer dampers than its predecessor and much stiffer springs than the standard 200. It’s 36kg lighter, too, and has a quicker steering rack. We found a 2010-reg with 62,000 miles and full service history for £4000.

Renault clio rs 0

It threatens to make our featured standard-spec example, also a 2010 but with 85,000 miles, look expensive, but in that car’s favour are its new pads and discs and new handbrake cable. Worryingly, however, it has a new catalytic converter. Did the original fall victim to the tank being filled with the wrong fuel, did unburnt fuel ignite in it or was it submerged in a flood?

The only question surrounding the Cup we found is why its gearbox was reconditioned at 60,000 miles. Some early RS 197s have fragile synchros but the problem was fixed by the time the 200 appeared. Note, too, that the Cup has a firm ride that could become tiresome if you’re surrounded by speed humps.

Otherwise, it and the standard car could be worth a nosey. The cambelt needs changing at five years or 72,000 miles (best the water pump is done at the same time). Check the front swivel hub ball joints, too, by turning the wheel from lock to lock, listening for creaking.

Scirocco mk1 2


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VW Scirocco GTi Mk1, £15,995: This rare 1981-reg Scirocco is a true collectable with only one owner in the log book, 24,000 miles on the clock and a full service history. This rapid GTI version shared its engine with the Volkswagen Golf hatch. Sadly, rust killed off most of them.

Golf gti 2

VW Golf 2.0 TFSI GTI 3dr, £5940: There are quicker and sharper hot hatches but is there one as rounded as the Golf GTI Mk5? Our find is a 2005-reg with 60,000 miles. It has full history and a recent new belt and water pump. It’s fitted with four new Michelin Pilot Sports, too.

Peugeot 309 gti 0

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Peugeot 309 1.9 GTi, £16,995: For £1k more than the Scirocco, how about this much younger classic hot hatch, the 309 GTi? Many reckoned the 309 was sharper than the 205 GTi thanks to its stiffer body. This one-owner, dry-stored, 1990-reg example has done just 15,000 miles.

Seat ibiza 0

Seat Ibiza Cupra 1.8T 20v, £2499: Here’s a 2004 example of the rare Ibiza Cupra 1.8T 20v. Thanks to its turbo 1.8-litre engine that made 177bhp and 181lb ft, it was a better performer than its Polo GTI sister car. More fun, too. This one’s done 89,000 miles and has full history.

Auction watch

Peugeot 205 gti

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Peugeot 205 1.9 GTi: This 1988 1.9 GTi had done 113,000 miles when it arrived in the ring. The pre-cat car (they’re more desirable than those with the emissions device) had a half-leather interior, a sunroof and a good if not full service history. Recent new parts included a starter motor, an alternator and an exhaust – all three to be expected at this age. With no advisories on the MOT and in what appears to be excellent condition, it’s just surprising it didn’t achieve more than its hammer price of £6995, especially when truly mint ones are making £25,000. Too good to be true?

Future classic

Alfa 147 2

Alfa Romeo 147 GTA, £6000: Launched in 2002, the GTA’s 3.2-litre 24-valve V6 made 247bhp at 6200rpm and 220lb ft at 4800rpm. The model could sprint from 0-62mph in 6.1sec. Our find is a 2003-reg with 129,000 miles. The GTA has lowered and stiffened suspension and playful handling. Pumped-up wheel arches housing 17in alloys (whoppers in their day) along with sill skirts and air scoops aplenty complete the package. Interesting Alfas like this always have a following. Buy now before the few bargains vanish.

Clash of the classifieds

Brief: Find me a ‘green’ car for less than £10,000.


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Lexus GS 450h, £8295


Honda CR-Z, £8000

Mark Pearson: If you cast your mind back to 2011, you’ll find that my CR-Z was one of the first green cars to actually offer something in the way of fizz, and it still looks great today. This 2013 car is immaculate and comes with only 50k on the clock. 

Max Adams: I was just finishing college in 2011. Yes, that CR-Z is a cute thing; but did it catch on? Nope. Meanwhile, Lexus continues to produce its hybrid cars, much like my very green 2008 GS 450h, to this very day. Mine is also mint, plus it has impeccable provenance.

MP: Ah, but mine is fun, reliable and nippy. Stick it in Sport and the instruments glow red, and you’ll also heighten the throttle and steering response. There’s a delightfully low-slung driving position, too, and as for the sweet six-speed gearbox… Oh, and don’t forget 56mpg. I tell you this thing is more fun than a weekend in Paris with Lily James.

MA: Why? Is she an excellent Parisian tour guide? Anyway, mine is by far the fastest because it’ll crack 0-62mph in 5.9sec and go on to 155mph.

MP: Very old, yours. Oh wait, is that a CVT gearbox? They’re very popular, aren’t they?

MA: At least mine can drive on electric power alone.

MP: Hmm. John? Beauty or the beast?

Verdict: I'll take the jolly green giant.


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