3 – Ford Focus RS
If you can stretch your budget to £31,000, you can drive away in a Ford Focus RS – one of the best hot hatches ever made. It shares its 2.3-litre Ecoboost petrol engine with the Ford Mustang above, but here making a heady 345bhp. The Focus RS is also loaded with technology , including an all-wheel drive system which, at the push of a button, can divert the power to the rear wheels as part of a so-called Drift mode.
The car: Ford Focus RS
The price: £31,000
2 – Audi TT
The latest Audi TT is a triumph – it's brilliant to drive and effortless to live with. It might not be as cheap as some of the cars on this list, but it feels expensive and is packed with technology – including an all-digital dashboard that places the most relevant information right in front of the driver. Our favourite version uses a turbocharged 2.0-litre petrol engine and is available for a lot less than £30,000 if you haggle with the dealer.
The car: Audi TT 2.0 TFSI Sport
The price: £30,650
1 – Mazda MX-5
Our Convertible of the Year Award winner for 2016 is also one of the best sports cars around, and you can drive away our favourite version, the 2.0-litre petrol model in SE-L trim, for just over £20,000. The MX-5 offers thrilling handling and a level of agility that's perfectly suited to UK roads. It's also got a classy interior that comes with all the tech you'll need. Its best trick, though, is being able to offer the performance of a sports car at a price that represents unbelievable value for money.
The car: Mazda MX-5 160 SE-L
The price: £20,495
And one to avoid:
Fans of Nissan's previous sports car, the 350Z, will be seriously tempted by the 370Z. It looks fantastic, gets its power from a 3.7-litre V6 petrol engine and can sprint from 0-62mph in just 5.5sec. It sounds great on paper, but most sporty cars – including the others listed here – are lighter on their feet and offer a more engaging driving experience. Awful refinement, poor interior quality and high running costs also count against the 370Z.
The car: Nissan 370Z
The price: £27,860
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