What Car? Used Car of the Year - Best sporting car
Subaru Impreza WRX ’03/53, 12k, £14,710
The Subaru Impreza WRX is a performance bargain. At this price, you’ll save thousands on the new cost and pick up a year-old car which someone else has kindly run in for you. Plus you’ll still have two years left on the warranty.
As you’d expect from a car which is known for plying its trade in the World Rally Championship, performance is nothing short of exceptional. The 2.0-litre turbocharged engine puts out 222bhp, and the four-wheel-drive chassis has the grip and composure to make the most of it.
The Subaru is especially impressive in the wet – while other performance cars may slip and slide, the Impreza simply clings on tenaciously to the Tarmac.
The Subaru isn’t just about back-road fun, however. It has a sensible side, too. There’s space inside for four (or five at a pinch) so it’s perfectly possible to use the Impreza as everyday family transport.
The boot is large enough to cope with holiday luggage, and if that’s not big enough there is a five-door version, although this isn’t around in the same numbers as the four-door.
All isn’t quite perfect, however. Running costs, especially insurance and fuel bills, will be steep. If mechanical trouble does strike once the car is outside of its three-year warranty, expect repair bills to be higher than average.
Audi TT 225 Coupé ’01/51, 36k, £17,940
Up to £10,000
Ford Puma 1.7 ’02/52, 24k, £8220
You might not be able to buy the Puma as a new car any more, but the design still looks fresh. The driving experience has aged every bit as well as the appearance. The handling is sharp and the steering well weighted.
In spite of the sports car drive, there’s no need to suffer sports car running costs. The Puma is based on a Ford Fiesta, so if anything does go wrong (and it rarely does), it will be quick and cheap to put right.
Mazda MX-5 1.8i S ’98/S, 61k, £7805
£10,000 to £14,000
Honda Civic Type-R ’01/51, 36k, £10,395
Hot hatch drivers tend to give their cars a hard life, so it pays to buy a car which you know will keep coming back for more.
The Honda Civic Type-R fits that bill. The 2.0-litre engine delivers almost 200bhp, so performance is scintillating. The chassis delivers super-sharp cornering and the grip of a rock-climber. Go for red or black, and make sure the optional air-con is fitted.
VW Golf GT PD TDi 130 5dr ’03/53, 12k, £13,545