10 Performance Cars You Can Actually Afford
Want high-performing four-wheeled fun on a budget?
These 10 second-hand bargains are guaranteed to make you grin.
One hundred grand for a Ford Sierra Cosworth?
How about, um, £30,000 for a Peugeot 205 GTI? As prices for classic cars soar into the stratosphere, can you still afford to have fun?
Well, yes. There are still plenty of affordable performance cars in the classifieds; you just need to know where to look.
From hot hatches to super coupés, we nominate our top 10 second-hand stars.
We have even gone to the trouble of devising a handy beginner’s guide to track days to give you a safe outlet to really test your fun buy.
1. Renaultsport Clio 182 (2004-2009)
Prices from: £1,800
Every motoring journalist has used the ‘go-kart handling’ cliché at some point.
However, the Renaultsport Clio is one of the few cars that actually delivers on that promise.
The second-generation hot Clio started life in 1999 with 172hp, then gained a further 10hp in 2004.
The run-out 182 Trophy (pictured) was rated one of the best hot hatches ever by EVO magazine.
Clios are plentiful and cheap to buy, but not especially robust.
Avoid cars that have been modified or used as track-day toys.
A Trophy is a solid investment, but a regular 182 with the Cup chassis option is very nearly as good.
For budget B-road fun, look no further.
2. Volkswagen Golf GTI (2003-2009)
Prices from: £2,900
After more than a decade in the doldrums, the original hot hatch bounced back in 2003.
The Mk5 Golf GTI harked back to the 1976 original, with red go-faster stripes and tartan seat trim.
More importantly, it was fantastic to drive: a punchy 2.0-litre turbocharged engine, communicative steering and an agile chassis all added up to the best hot hatch on sale.
Volkswagen build quality means the Mk5 GTI has aged well.
We’d have ours with five doors, a manual gearbox (rather than the DSG semi-automatic) and cloth seats – trimmed in tartan, of course.