Best used hot hatches for less than £2000 (and one to avoid)
If you need something practical but want to inject some fun into your everyday motoring, you don't have to spend a fortune, as these used hot hatches prove...
Best used hot hatches for less than £2000 (and one to avoid)
So, you fancy a quick car with the fun factor turned up as high as it’ll go, but you also need something that’s small, reasonably practical and cheap to run? You’ll be after a hot hatch, then - no other class of car mixes pulse-racing fun and day-to-day, real-world ability quite like this one. Here we’ve gathered together 10 of the very best, and all with an upper price limit of just £2000. Read on and see if any of these can tempt you.
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10. Peugeot 207 GTi
Peugeot is a brand linked to hot-hatch history through its iconic 205 GTi, but it’s also a firm that’s churned out a number of other small, agile and tremendously good fun pocket rockets over the years. Opinion is divided on whether this 207 GTi is one of them, but if it’s not one of the great cars in Peugeot's pantheon it’s certainly worth a place in our top 10 here by virtue of its good turn of speed and excellent value for money at this age.
We found: 1.6 GTi, 2007 (07), 76,000 miles, service history, £1995
The regular Panda is a perky enough thing, but stuff a 99bhp 1.4-litre under its diminutive bonnet and it becomes something of a 115mph firecracker. What it does is more entertaining than on-paper figures, though, and on the road this little thing is a hoot, with a willing engine, responsive handling and an eager agility that only the best small cars display. A 10-year-old example for under £2k sounds good to us.
We found: 100HP, 2007 (56), 95,000 miles, service history, £1972
There had to be a Mini Cooper in here somewhere, even if the Cooper we’re talking about is the BMW Mini one and not the agile and rally-winning little brick that took the world by storm so many years ago. This one’s pert enough for us, though, and remarkably good value at this age. The modern Mini may have spread to become many different things but this dinky Coopered-up hatch is still our favourite.
We found: 1.6 S, 2005 (05), 100,000 miles, service history, £2000
We thought this car quite radical when it was new, and we hadn’t said that about a Citroën for some time. Now, the firm is on course and recovering a little of its style, and certainly this three-door VTR lacks for nothing in terms of visual excitement – it’s rather good looking, don’t you think? It goes well and steers and stops reasonably and the interior was considered very futuristic. Find a good one and you’ll grow very fond of it.
We found: 1.6 VTR, 2005 (55), 52,000 miles, full service history, £1995
The Volkswagen Golf GTI started out as a bit of a lightweight belter in Mk1 form before it gradually put on a bit of middle-aged spread, though salvation came in the form of the characterful Mk5 model. This Mk4 isn’t likely to set the Nurburgring on fire, but it’s actually a perfectly serviceable and surprisingly practical hatch with a more than decent turn of speed. As a bonus it was beautifully made with some of the very finest shutlines in the business.
We found: 1.8T, 2003 (53), 101,000 miles, service history, £1900
The Octavia shares much of its underpinnings with the contemporary Golf, so this vRS model leans heavily on the Golf GTI that we’ve just had at number 6. In our opinion it bests it, though, by being more practical and, if anything, slightly more fun to drive. It really does it all, this car, like all Octavias seem to do, and if it’s not quite as light on its toes as the very best hot hatches it’s still resoundingly quick and a surprisingly good buy at this price point.
We found: vRS, 2005 (55), 97,000 miles, service history, £1999
The ST is a compelling mix of affordable fun. Smart alloys, chunky bumpers and sills, a deep front grille and a tail spoiler at the rear, the Fiesta feels like fun before you’ve turned a wheel. There’s some talent there when you do turn a wheel, with precise steering and plenty of grip. It’s quick, too, and sitting there on your sports seats you’ll feel like your in something rather charismatic. On top of that, you’ll get all the virtues that Fiestas of this vintage display. It’s a most appealing car.
We found: ST 2.0, 2006 (56), 98,000 miles, service history, £1999
If you want a riotous hot hatch you can rev to high Heaven and throw in to a corner with abandon the Type R is for you. It’s an 8000rpm bundle of fun, with quick steering, plenty of grip, adjustable handling and an aural sensation that’ll leave you with a rictus grin after every journey. It’s reasonably practical, too, and well made. If we could have found a newer one than a 2003 model for £2k it may well have finished in the top spot here.
We found: Type R 2.0, 2003 (53), 101,000 miles, service history, £1990
This little peach is an infinitely adjustable pleasure, fun to drive on road and track and delightfully delicate in its responses. Under the bonnet is a 182bhp 2.0-litre engine that propels the little Clio from 0 to 60mph in 7secs, and provides enough oomph and noise to excite keen drivers everywhere. Inside it’s decently practical; outside it’s good looking and purposeful. Find a good one and you’ll be grinning from ear to ear on every journey.
We found: RS 2.0, 2005 (55), 67,000 miles, service history, £2000
If what you want from a hot hatch is something that's great fun to drive and tremendous value for money, look no further than the weeny Swift Sport. If cars are growing bigger, no one seems to have told Suzuki; this Swift is so small you could tuck 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.
We found: 1.6 Sport, 2007 (07), 79,000 miles, service history, £1995
Yes it’s quite a sweet old Hector, with its cute shape and iconic badge, but the ZR is no more than a mildly breathed-upon hatch, tepid rather than hot. It’s practical, but for our £2k you’ll only pick up a 2002 model, and that’ll be a bit old and leggy. Best to look elsewhere.