Feeling the pinch after the festive break?
As a car enthusiast, I am always on the lookout for a bargain and with each new generation of cars released, the older models drop in price.
And you can get an awful lot of car for your money these days, with the way in which vehicles are purchased has changed significantly with the development of vehicle sales on eBay, Facebook selling groups, and sites such as Gumtree there is no better time to get into a budget performance vehicle with fantastic performance and handling.
With a timeless and imposing style, it looks great and produces a very healthy 190bhp. The famous straight-six engine produces a lovely engine note and decent torque level but with a few modifications, the BMW 6 cylinder engines really open up and are used in various types of motorsport across the world. Iconic, Be prepared to fight rust during your time as an owner.
Dependant on the model, Earlier E36 328i models can be purchased for around £1000 with various E46 models available for much the same sort of price.
Mercedes-Benz CLK 3.2 CLK320 Avantgarde 2dr
The prestigious 3.2litre, V6 Mercedes still has an air of elitism about it with comfort and power to match. Like the BMW, is the rear-wheel-drive for that raw driving experience. Whilst a little slow off the lights, once the 320 gets moving it really does shift. Of course, you get the quality associated with the three-point star with some technology that didn’t appear in other vehicles for another 5 years! Expect some hefty fuel costs and repair costs can be costly if it needs to go into a garage, otherwise an awful lot of car for the money.
The understated Renaultsport Clio 182 deserves crediting on this list and may surprise some to see it here. With 182bhp and a super lightweight figure of just a little over 1000kg, the power to weight ratio is very impressive but its most endearing attributes is its handling. Having developed the car over its predecessor, the 172 model it has a 12mm wider front and 16mm wider rear compared to the lesser 172 models, making it incredibly stable around corners despite its relatively high power and low weight – an ideal track toy.
With a 2.0-litre engine, rev limit of 7200 rpm, it gets from 0-60mph in 7.1 seconds and has a top speed of 139mph.
You simply can’t go wrong with a Honda and so our initial mention goes to the EP3 Civic.
Typical to the Honda’s the EP3 Civic is a front-wheel drive, high revving dream for car modders across the UK. With close to 200 BHP and as you’d expect from the Honda engineers a beautifully balanced vehicle with the notorious V-Tec system which really brings any of Honda’s cars to life in the higher rev range.
0-62mph in 6.6 seconds with a top speed of 146mph.
At a touch over £1500 you can purchase the Audi TT, the only car on the list that marginally breaks the rules but well worth enquiring into, being one of the most successful cars ever produced let alone one of Audi’s most popular cars the brand has ever made. With the engine varying between either a 1.8-litre turbo with a four-cylinder engine or the quite incredible 3.2-litre V6 engine with 247bhp. the V6 came with Audi’s infamous Quattro AWD system as standard giving incredible performance and fantastic handling.
Found on Autotrader, 1.8 with 153,000 miles – £1650…a steal!
If this list was produced on an annual basis, the MX5 would comfortably sit in it year in year out. The unmistakable MX5 really is an unsung hero. With relatively low power outputs, the lack of outright pace is balanced by the 50/50 weight distribution combined with wheelbase making for an ideal combination and fantastic driving experience. With associated Japanese reliability, an open modification market and abundance of spare parts dotted around the UK by breakers and old owners the MX5 is the one car I’d take on the track with me pretty much any day of the week – it’ll guarantee to put a smile on your face.
With a 1.6- or 1.8-litre engine those in faster cars will struggle to keep up with you on track or those country roads – and let’s face it, driving fast in a straight line is no way to judge a driving experience. Like the Honda S2000, Those who call it a hairdressers car simply haven’t experienced it – the little MX5 has bags of charm and provides a fantastic driving experience.
Saved the best till last? With their Rally history, the famous boxer burble and Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive system are three very good reasons why the Impreza WRX finds itself on the list. With a four-cylinder, turbocharged engine, the WRX produces around 230bhp with the STI version rising to nearer 270bhp, making it the ultimate rally car adapted for road use and makes a strong case for itself on this list.
I’ve had the pleasure of owning a couple of these, one heavily modified the other standard and, bang for your buck you simply can’t beat it. Be prepared to find modified examples, and you’ll want to be a bit handy with the tools as you’ll want to keep on top of its maintenance to keep it in its peak condition.
*All prices quoted are sourced from www.autotrader.co.uk