For the maximum amount of bang for the minimum amount of buck, you can’t do better than a nearly new hot hatch.
RenaultSport makes our current favourite hot hatches, but the division’s earlier offerings are getting attractively cheap.
Around £2000 is enough to get into an early, previous-generation Renault Clio 172, but if the budget can stretch then we’d suggest something a bit more recent. How about this mint 55-plate Renault Clio 182. It’s showing 49,000 miles, backed by a full service history, and all with change from £6000.
Values for the first-gen BMW-era Mini Cooper S held solid for years, but now they are starting to slide. The supercharged 1.6-litre engine has a character that the new, turbocharged Cooper S can’t match, and Mini’s ‘tlc’ servicing means there are lots of well looked-after middle-aged cars to choose from. We found this 52,000-mile 03-plater for £7590.
Need something bigger? The Ford Focus ST is becoming compellingly cheap – if you can afford its sub-25mpg fuel habit. We found this 45,000-mile ST2 on a 55-plate for £9995 – a tidy eight grand less than it cost its first owner.
Or, how about something a bit rarer? The Vauxhall Astra VXR is a classic old-school hot hatch, with supremely chuckable handling and rocketship performance from its 237bhp 2.0-litre turbocharged motor. We found this low mileage 06-plater for £11,495. It’s got just 35K on the odometer, plus extras like keyless entry and Bluetooth.
Finally, our current favourite hot hatch – the (deep breath) Renault Megane RenaultSport 230 F1 Team R26. It’s got one of the most sorted front-drive chassis ever, but it’s also shed a king’s ransom in depreciation. We tracked down this 7000 mile ’57 plater for £12,995, complete with two years of manufacturer warranty. That’s £7500 less than it cost new a year ago.