Brilliant new cars and the bargain used alternatives

We reveal the best new cars in every sector, and the brilliant used alternatives that will save you thousands...


New – Mazda MX-5

Brilliant new cars and the bargain used alternatives

The Mazda MX-5 might be a simple little two-seater, but it proves beyond any shadow of a doubt that less is more. Its lightweight construction makes for handling that’s guaranteed to brighten your day, plus surprisingly good fuel economy. What's more, it’s cheap to buy, and even the well equipped SE-L Nav model we favour costs less than many humdrum hatchbacks.

Read our full Mazda MX-5 review

Find a great Mazda MX-5 deal

Used – Volkswagen Golf Cabriolet

Brilliant new cars and the bargain used alternatives

There’s a Golf Cabriolet for everyone, with a range that encompasses everything from super-efficient diesels right up to the rip-roaring, 261bhp R. What’s more, every Golf Cabriolet offers a decent dose of practicality, with four usable seats, and while none is as exciting as a sports car, all drive tidily and soak up bumps well. Finally, despite being a convertible that’s all things to all people, the Golf Cabriolet doesn’t cost the earth.

We found: 2013 1.6 TDI SE, 19,000 miles, £10,495

Brilliant new cars and the bargain used alternatives

No car has won more What Car? Car of the Year awards than the Audi TT – and it recently became even easier to recommend with the introduction of a new entry-level 1.8-litre engine that lowered the starting price by £3000, yet is still good for a 6.9sec 0-62mph time. The TT is also fun to drive because it's eager to turn in to corners and suffers from little body roll. And the interior is one of the best in any car, thanks to the richness of the materials, the minimalist appeal of its dashboard or the effectiveness of its 12.3in Virtual Cockpit digital display.

Read our full Audi TT review

Find a great Audi TT deal

Used – Volkswagen Scirocco

Brilliant new cars and the bargain used alternatives

The VW Scirocco has been around for ages, and its relative popularity means there are lots of examples to choose from. Not only that, but a huge range of engines means plenty of choice for buyers. It’s also good fun to drive, and as long as you avoid the sporty R-Line with its overly firm suspension, surprisingly comfortable. It can even seat four adults with relative ease, allowing you to buy it with your sensible hat on.

We found: 2014 2.0 TSI GT, 16,000 miles, £15,495

Read our Volkswagen Scirocco review

Find a used Volkswagen Scirocco in the What Car? Classifieds

Sports car

New – Porsche 718 Cayman

Brilliant new cars and the bargain used alternatives

It'd be easy to write the Cayman off as a poor man’s 911. It’s half the price, so it must be half the car, right? Actually, that couldn’t be further from the truth; in some ways, the Cayman is even better to drive than Porsche’s flagship. It's fast enough to thrill, without being intimidating. And this, along with balletic handling and wonderfully accurate steering, is the perfect recipe for having fun on the road, and easily makes up for the slightly tuneless engine note.

Brilliant new cars and the bargain used alternatives

It’s rare that a new car is worse than the model it replaces, but many enthusiasts think that’s the case with the Boxster. The older version, with its six- rather than four-cylinder engine, is widely considered to have a more exciting engine note and therefore a more sporting character than its successor – and you still get sublime handling, a classy interior, and reasonable fuel consumption, making this a true sports car that you can use every day.

We found: 2013 S, 21,500 miles, £40,900