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Used Car of the Year Awards contenders: performance cars
You’ll have to wait until 30 September for the winner of the 2021 What Car? Used Car of the Year to be announced, but you can get a preview of the top contenders here...
Less than £25,000
Alfa Romeo Giulia Veloce
As an entry-level performance car, the Giulia Veloce works well because you get an agile handling rear-wheel drive saloon car with quick steering that helps you place the car on the road accurately, plus the 276bhp 2.0-litre engine makes it deceptively fast in the real world.
Mercedes C43 AMG
While the bigger engine C63 would be the more desirable choice, it's worth taking a look at the C43 because it isn't that much slower and you have four-wheel drive traction in slippery conditions.
Jaguar XE S
Prices for the often overlooked Jaguar XE S haven't remained quite as robust as its BMW M-car counterparts, making this fine handling and well-equipped sports saloon a tempting second-hand buy.
Less than £45,000
The M3, despite what you might think, is so outrageously capable on the road that few will be able to keep up with it. There is a huge amount of front end grip to keep you heading in the right direction and with the lack of body lean in corners to indicate how fast you're going, you can sometimes end up driving far faster than you initially realised.
Mercedes C63 AMG
As with the bigger E63, the engine is the major part in the experience of the C63, but if you dig a little deeper you'll notice the nice steering and delightful chassis balance that aims to raise a smile with progressive powerslides being comically easy to induce.
Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio
A two-year-old Giulia Quadrifoglio comes across as a bit of a performance car bargain having lost around a third of its value. We like its charismatic turbocharged 2.9-litre V6 engine, its responsive steering and wonderfully balanced handling that lets you enjoy yourself without having to drive it flat out.
Less than £70,000
Mercedes E63 AMG
The sound and mind-blowing performance of the turbocharged 4.0 V8 in the E63 dominates the driving experience. It may not be quite as adroit as an M5 through the corners, but you can forgive it that once the road straightens up again and you can hit the accelerator again.
The latest M5 has benefitted from having a clever four-wheel drive system fitted that gives excellent all-weather traction when needed, but still lets you have some fun when you take it on a track. It's a terrific all-rounder.
Aston Martin Vantage
With £70,000 to spend you might as well throw caution to the wind and go for something a bit more exclusive than an M5 or E63. Yes, the Vantage is older and doesn't get the latest in infotainment gadgetry, but the handling is sublime and it has an engine note that's highly intoxicating.
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