The Skoda Octavia vRS is one of those cars that can probably carry most things you will ever want carried, thanks to its enormous boot, and yet shares most of its oily bits with the iconic Golf GTI, a car with more than adequate speed and amazing agility. Add in a bargain-basement price both new and used and it seems there’s little to dislike. Its 197bhp 2.0-litre engine is smooth and flexible, and it’s enjoyable and competent in the chassis department, if not quite at the Golf’s level. Grab a good 2012 model for our money.
Bulging with intent, the Renaultsport Clio 200’s bodywork is pulled taut over a 197bhp 2.0-litre naturally aspirated engine of rare liveliness and a chassis of exceptional competence. This Cup version is even stiffer and lighter than the standard car, with faster steering. It’s wonderfully adjustable and it’s a great car to punt down a winding road, as well as being a hoot on a track. Check used ones carefully for enthusiastic use but it’s certainly good value.
The trouble with some of these otherwise wonderful hot hatches is that they can actually be a little too large. Of course, we all know cars are growing bigger, but luckily no one seems to have told Suzuki; this Swift feels so small that you could put it in your pocket. The Sport version takes full advantage of its diminutive size; it’s lightweight, agile, energetic, fast and fun. With a modest 1.6-litre engine, it gets along very well indeed and the entertainment factor is sky high. A true pocket rocket and a bargain to boot.
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