10 cars for £10k we’ve found this week
And most are even worth recommending. Yep, we’ve come over all sensible
Ford Fiesta ST
Yeah, we’re starting with something fairly straightforward. In our defence, that’s generally a good idea – you don’t buy a skateboard and immediately try a fakie varial kickflip or head into the kitchen and start with a Bombe Alaska.
And when you can absolutely nail the landing with straightforward ingredients, the result is always going to be more impressive than a close-enough result with something much more complex.Advertisement - Page continues below
Rattling off a spec sheet and calling that a decent appraisal of a car is like listing the actors in a film and calling yourself Roger Ebert, but the S2000 almost begs to put its headline figures in lights.
Its 2.0-litre VTEC had the highest power per litre of any naturally aspirated engine, only beaten eventually by the Ferrari 458. Combine that 237bhp result with a 1,260kg, two-seat, read-drive roadster and it feels like you can already feel the awards buzz surrounding it.
But these headline figures don’t tell you how much that engine also begs to be revved, and how much it rewards you all the way to its 9,000rpm red line for doing so, or how rubbish every other manual gearbox will feel after the S2000’s six-speeder.
VW Scirocco R
Everything has its moment. Pop punk, hair metal, new wave. Also possibly things that don’t involve music. Tamagotchis, or something.
Anywho, we get the feeling that the Scirocco R was really part of a moment – that ‘fast three-door coupe-ish hatchback’ thing that really seemed to hit its stride from 2008 to 2012 and run out of steam by about 2015.
Contemporary reviews were weirdly lukewarm on the Scirocco, despite the fact that it had a Golf R engine and GTI front-drive layout, as well as a lower roof and a wider track than either of them. After one run along a windy bit of road, we realised we’d arrived far sooner than we’d ever thought possible and our heart was beating at about 10 thumps per cooling tick of the engine. In fact, it was probably only because of the Megane RS that poor Sir Rocco ever found himself playing second fiddle.
On that note...Advertisement - Page continues below
Renault Megane RS
Where Rocco played into the lazy stereotype of German cars just dismissing distance, Megan was absolutely insistent that the journey was more important than how quickly you arrived at the destination. Other double entrendres are available.
But the point remains – the Megane RS just seemed to make everything an event. The gearbox needs to warm up to the idea of doing what it’s supposed to, and the whole car feels almost human in the way it wakes up. But once on, it feels like those tourism ads that are shot in POV, where an absolute rocket is leading you by the hand to go have fun. The whole ‘Be right back, going to buy one’ trope is about as overplayed as Baby Shark, but here it’s a more tempting prospect than we were really ready for.
Speaking of tempting, have a listen to Maserati’s 4.7-litre V8 and tell us you don’t want that in your life somehow. These are the engines that’ll make us miss internal combustion the most.
Helpfully, Maserati’s follow-up engines have all the aural interest of ASMR recorded in a public restroom, so it’s like we’re being let down gradually. Going straight from one of the finest-sounding V8s of all time to a little high-pitched whine in one fell swoop... let’s just say our high-pitched whine wouldn’t be little.
VW Golf R32
OK, it was heavy. And thirsty. And not much faster than the Golf GTI. Also, that Golf GTI was the MkV, which was pretty much the high-water mark in GTI history. So why do we still love the R32?
Six reasons, delivered through six gears and four driven wheels. Big power and speed are interesting for the 10 seconds you can deploy them. A wailing V6 is something you can enjoy as soon as you leave city limits and for the entire time you’re out there. Our preferred ‘out there’ being Snowdonia, of course, but that’s beside the point.
Subaru BRZ / Toyota GT 86
As tremendous as a rousing mechanical soundtrack can be on any given drive, the fact of the matter is that just being on wheels is the fun bit. That’s why we’re absolutely unfazed by the EV revolution, after all – driving is entertaining, whether it’s a billy cart or a Bugatti.
But, of course, the road each machine takes to arrive at entertainment is different. Some batter physics until it wishes it had picked an arts degree instead, some cosset, comfort and convey, and others never choose fun – fun is thrust upon them. Like that old Corolla we jumped off a dam wall out at the farm.
And some, like the BRZ and 86, just recognise that controlled oversteer is the single most enjoyable sensation ever achieved in an automobile. Minds out of the gutter, now.Advertisement - Page continues below
Audi C5 RS6 Avant
Do you ever pick a course of action and then imagine the tabloid heading you’d get if... y’know, anyone knew who you were? Oh. Just us then. Well, stuff it – we’re here and we’ve set up the premise, so just go ahead and run with it.
SHOCK as Top Gear caught liking FAST ESTATES with a FAMILY HATCHBACK at home
Top Gear EMBARRASSED as secret KINK for old German estate cars REVEALED
‘I’m SICK of it’: gearheads SLAM author for choosing ANOTHER Audi RS Avant
‘WHAT WERE THEY SMOKING?’: Top Gear readers not on board with TABLOID HEADLINE jokes
But, in any case, if a biturbo, 4.2-litre estate – from the days when an RS6 wasn’t the best part of two metres wide – strikes you as a bad decision... eh, we can still be friends and all. Just maybe not the sort who go to each other’s houses.
VW Passat R36 estate
The R36 was the product of Volkswagen going on a bit of a tear. We had a diesel V10-powered R version of the Touareg, for instance, and, as mentioned earlier, a gigantic V6 wedged in a not particularly gigantic Golf. So, clearly, the thing to do would be some form of V8 in the R36 – maybe a version of the 3.6-litre twin-turbo V8 that was dominating endurance racing at the time.
Which is exactly what Volkswagen didn’t do. After all, that was an Audi engine (until it was bored out and slapped into a Bentley). And Audi was already the home of the Volkswagen Group’s superwagons. So instead the Passat R36 got a bored and stroked version of the 3.2-litre V6 that powered the Golf R32. Still a lovely engine, of course, and the Passat was unassuming enough to make the R36 a bona fide 300bhp Q car.
Doing R versions of otherwise forgettable cars hasn’t gone away, by the way. Just remember that there’s a T-Roc R...Advertisement - Page continues below
BMW 335i coupe
We’re not sure how well-known this is, but it’s been a bit of an unspoken rule with BMWs that the second-best one on paper is generally the best to live with day to day. The E36 328i Sport, for instance, here in the UK, or the toned-down ‘not correct’ version of the M3 that Americans got. Both were easier and cheaper to own, and both would only pale in comparison at speeds you’d need a track (or a huge disregard for civility) to achieve. The E60 M5 was a V10 weapon... when it wasn’t self-immolating like that sword on Game of Thrones. So the 4.8-litre V8 550i was, in effect, a secret weapon. Especially if you got the one with a manual gearbox.
And so it goes with the E90 335i – it may not have had any of the motorsport-derived bits of the (admittedly excellent) E90 M3, but then it didn’t require the solicitude that the M car required to avoid catastrophic failure. Or salary, for that matter.
It was, in essence, a fast BMW without all the faff of a seriously quick one. And let’s not forget that engine’s essential rightness: a BMW straight-six with just as much torque as its M3 older brother (300lb ft or so) and 300bhp to go with it. Oh, and it forms the base of the S55 we got in the later M3, in case you’re doubting its credentials.