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Saturday 10th December
Top Gear Advice

10 used cars for less than £15k we found this week

And there’s something for everyone! Well, everyone with 15,000 pounds

Alfa 147 GTA
  1. Audi RS3

    Audi RS3

    There’s something of a backlash going on at the moment. More than a few of us are entirely done with hot hatches that favour speed over soul, where everyman value gives way to every-penny-you-have values, and where subtle nods to speed become Slipknot-spec headbanging.  

    And sure, the RS3 is either public enemy number one or two, depending on which year (or indeed which month) you take as an example and whether Audi or AMG were ahead in the power wars at the time. But decrying point and squirt in its entirety does rather undersell just how much squirt something like the RS3 offers, pretty much regardless of what you point it at. 

    Also, five-cylinder warbles and wails beat four-cylinder sounds any day

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  2. Renault Megane RS

    Renault Megane RS

    And after all, if you still choose involvement over point-and-click speed, you only need remember the old Renault Megane RS. 

    Fifteen grand launches you to the mintier end of the market, and even grants you access to the later RS 275. Which we’ve chosen, but you absolutely don’t have to. Your money, and all that. For that sum, you get a hot hatch that feels properly mechanical, but also strangely anthropomorphic as well – it takes a while to loosen up of a morning and get in its stride, doesn’t respond well to the overconfident and undertalented, and seems happier when it’s being entertaining. Now, if only we could remember who that reminds us of...

    Your mileage – and indeed personal experiences with a car – may vary

  3. Mini JCW

    Mini JCW

    There’s an argument that the Mini JCWs of the past decade have as much to do with the works of John Cooper as the Apollo space program. But there’s also an argument that the Earth is carried through the cosmos on the back of a giant turtle, and it applies exactly as much to the Mini John Cooper Works. And besides, it’s the internet – we’re probably all stocked up on arguments for the foreseeable. 

    So perhaps worry less about the name – because, after the initial shock of band names like Dead Kennedys, Slayer and Judas Priest, they just became the name of the band. And, if you’ll permit us to talk about cars for a moment, the Mini JCW is much less a product of its name and much more a happy little hot hatchback. 

    With that said, they’ve hardly gotten prettier, have they?

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  4. Volkswagen Golf GTI Mk7.5

    Volkswagen Golf GTI Mk7.5

    Yes, the days are getting colder, wetter and more likely to throw a double dose of the decidedly unexpected your way, but that still doesn’t mean you need all-wheel drive on the road. 

    Case in point: both the Lancia Fulvia and Mini Cooper both won the Monte Carlo Rally – a route not famed for being particularly warm or indeed snow-free – with 50-year-old tyre technology and front-wheel drive. You’ll manage just fine in something with brand-new tyres and clever computers making silk gloves from your ham hands. 

    Also, all the ‘classless car' guff we always go on with

  5. Subaru Impreza WRX STI

    Subaru Impreza WRX STI

    Yes, it’s about as obvious as your mum asking you to leave the door open when you brought your high school sweetheart home, but – depending on the circles you move in, of course – a WRX STI will be less mortifying. 

    And at least with the STI, you’ll be the one in the power position. In fact, given enough futzing around with various mechanical bits, you’ll rarely find yourself at any kind of power disadvantage ever again. You can even close the doors when you want to! Yeah, take that, Mum, and your concern for our welfare and so on. 

    Would you believe this is actually the good-looking one?

  6. Alpina B3 3.3

    Alpina B3 3.3

    Yeah, you can still get a proper E46 M3 for about this money. The soundness of the idea is starting to come into question a bit, but that’s a topic for another day – especially when the Alpina B3 3.3 exists. Coupe, saloon or estate, each with a 3.3-litre straight six and an easy 275bhp, and none more common than a blue moon. 

    OK, before we go any further – is it just us that’s having a reaction that can only be considered Pavlovian? If not, please let us know how a basically hand-built and utterly gorgeous E46 – in your choice of body style – doesn’t flick every last switch you possess. Go on – we’re listening. 

    The one we found is a coupe, if that sways things at all

  7. Toyota Celica GT-Four

    Toyota Celica GT-Four

    Is this the road-going version of the car that ended the Delta Integrale’s rally dominance? Yes indeed. Was it because Toyota cheated a bit? Erm... possibly, given what happened in 1995. Does this have much of an effect on the GT-Four’s – or indeed its homologation version’s – brilliance? Nope. 

    The one we’ve found does have more miles on it than a businessman’s frequent flyer card, but it’s worth remembering that this is a) Toyota, and b) Toyota during the Japanese Economic Miracle. These are extensively overengineered machines from top to bottom, that shrug off time like a Greenland Shark and distance like a Great White. See? Who needs Shark Week when you have a car website seemingly staffed by writers on a never-ending quest for the most obtuse simile? 

    And if it does all goes wrong, we heard about some blokes in Shropshire who are pretty experienced with tricky Celica GT-Four problems

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  8. Alfa Romeo 147 GTA

    Alfa Romeo 147 GTA

    You know the drill by now. We open with Giuseppe Busso, his engineering prowess, the sonorous sound and full fury of his now-eponymous V6. Maybe we mention how he passed away just days after the last V6 was built. Perhaps we remind everyone of his involvement with the Nord engine as well, to better illustrate his long history of exceptional engine work. 

    We move on to talk about the iffy reliability of the cars it found a home in, making sure to underline the straitened circumstances under Fiat, then wax lyrical about what Alfa managed to achieve in spite of that. We close by framing the last of the Busso V6s – the 3.2-litre found in the 147 GTA – as a genuine swan song in more ways than one. So, did we miss anything? 

    Why yes, we still do miss the one we used to own. Thanks for asking

  9. TVR Chimaera

    TVR Chimaera

    Yes, of course we’re returning to the home of heroic oversteer and hedgerow recovery. Because when it comes to TVRs, how can we stay away?

    Case in point: Top Gear’s own (well, maybe we don’t own him so much as lease) Simon Bond was drawn to the Chimaera, purchasing a well-loved and... well, lovely example just a short while ago and lavishing it with attention. 

    And an even shorter while ago, he sold it again. Officially, that’s because of a “longer commute”, but we’re wondering how much the foot-deep stack of invoices for that lavish attention had to do with it...

    If we were braver, Bondy, we would have bought your old one

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  10. Audi RS4 Avant

    Audi RS4 Avant

    It’s perhaps not the most cerebral recipe – big engine in smallish car – but it’s hard to argue that with the B7 RS4 Avant, Audi wasn’t a shoo-in for star baker. And besides, who wants a recipe with brains in it? 

    Inexpertly mixed metaphors aside, the old 4.2 V8 RS4 Avant remains a perfect example of getting not just the ‘what’ right, but the ‘how’ as well. So yes, there’s 414bhp available, but you won’t get it by mistake, and it’ll feel far from a mistake asking for it. There are lashings of aluminium and carbon fibre, but it stands well back from the precipice of outlandishness. It’s square-stanced and seats five (OK, four in comfort), yet it’s still small enough to fit in parking spaces and along perilously narrow back roads. 

    And yes, we did just intimate that an aging, 4.2-litre V8 Audi is a balanced and measured option. Keep your cerebral recipes – we’ve got cerebral gymnastics.

    No, seriously – this still seems like a good idea in our book

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