10 used cars for £10k we found this week
Got any money after the Christmas break? Us neither. But here’s a few ideas if Santa left you £10,000 instead of 10p and a final warning from Krampus
Let’s say you wanted an MX-5. You’re only human, of course, and we wish you the best of luck with that whole deal. But what if you wanted an MX-5 that offered a better approximation of the original small British roadster experience?
The 124 nails it, thanks to period-correct inclusions like doughy handling, suspect reliability and styling you’ll need to look past, rather than want to look at. Any more authentic and it’d be a Daimler SP250.Advertisement - Page continues below
Yes, the new GR86 has this new thing we’ve heard so much about called ‘torque’, but the old GT86 remains everything we said it was a decade ago – a way to get hammer-down thrills at highway-patrol-friendly speeds.
Just one word of warning: those eco-spec tyres, specifically chosen for their... economy of grip, lose traction. Before trying anything heroic, we suggest taking the time to acquaint yourself with how the GT86 transitions away from traction – ideally out on a skidpan, with lots of run-off.
Audi A4 2.0T quattro
As we constantly attempt (and consistently fail) to explain to our three-year-old, life is very often a case of the things you have to do, not the things you want to. Wash your hands and clean your teeth. Climb into bed at a reasonable hour and emerge again at one that’s arguably unreasonable. Get through a minute of children’s TV without wanting to turn Peppa Pig’s entire family into Carolina-style barbecue.
But at least in the case of the 2.0-litre A4 quattro, there’s enough in the way of entertainment to make sure that addressing the ‘need’ doesn’t entirely exclude the ‘want’. And enough space to bring home as much BBQ pork as you feel like.Advertisement - Page continues below
This is a car we’ll keep recommending, no matter what. Want a tip on a decent plumber? Find one that drives a Megane RS. Want to know if you look good in that jacket? You’d look good in a Megane RS. Want us to be your best man? We’re truly flattered, we won’t let you down, and also have you considered arriving in a Megane RS?
Porsche 911 (996)
With the benefit of hindsight, we can probably all agree that adding water-cooling to a sports car’s engine was not one of the horseman of the apocalypse. We can likely also agree that intermediate shafts require more than sealed bearings, and that remediation of this issue is expensive, but that it’s still less expensive – and indeed much more beneficial – than a made-for-Netflix movie.
After all, the 996 is the last seat on the Rear-Engined Express for anything even approaching regular money. And if it were up to us, we’d be booking a ticket on it at the earliest opportunity. Probably to southern Portugal.
Mini Cooper 1.5T
These days, if someone says ‘Cooper’, most won’t think about the T51, Jack Brabham, or the unending hilarity of an engine company called Coventry-Climax. They’re probably unlikely to think about the people who build wooden casks either, but that might be beside the point. Our point is maybe don’t worry too much about the Cooper name, the racing heritage it invokes and how exactly that relates to a 1.5-litre hatchback.
And in any case, that 1.5-litre is actually a gem of a three-cylinder turbo, full of character and, if the extra 100bhp the same engine made in the BMW i8 is anything to go by, quite a bit of extra potential. And the rest of it is... well, a Mini hatch – everyone involved in making them knows that they muck with the formula at their peril.
Peugeot 208 GTI
Without wanting to arrive at the point too quickly (it’s about the journey too, of course), the 208 GTI is, as we said seven or so years ago, “one of the most fun hot hatchbacks on sale". This was in 2016, by the way, which was not exactly what you’d call a poor year for hot hatchbacks.
In fact, so rich was the seam of hot hatchery that we feel the 208 GTI never got the full credit was due, and would have been showered in – were it not for the small matter of the Focus RS, Civic Type R, Fiesta ST...
In any case, this is Peugeot at its hot hatch finest. And yes, we know what we’re saying there.Advertisement - Page continues below
A little while ago, we found ourselves on the Porsche website. It happens to us more than we’d care to admit, like an ‘all roads lead to Stuttgart’ kind of deal.
Anywho, we came across an article about the ‘transaxle’ Porsches. That’s apparently the catch-all term for the front-engined 924, 944, 968 and 928, neatly sidestepping the fact that the 356 and 911 also had transaxles. But rather than ponder what was wrong with ‘front-engined’ as a catch-all designation, we spent a happy half-hour daydreaming about the 944.
While the 924 was really a case of Porsche making the most of VW’s cold feet, the 944 was a carefully measured sports car made by the masters of continuous development. After all, this is the company that took the 911 from a little sports coupe to an industry benchmark. The 944 is completely of its time, yet was such a standout in its time that it’s not a daunting daily prospect today. Or at least that’s how we sold it to our significant other, but they’re still wary after the ‘Hey, let’s have an Alfa GTA as our only car’ idea we had a while back. Speaking of...
Alfa Romeo 156 GTA
Let’s talk about the concept of ‘the best’. Makes sense to aim for it, no? Do it once, do it properly and all that.
Finding the paragon among the pretenders is surely a just reward for taking your time, weighing up all the pros and cons, judging each contender on its own merits and how it compares to the competition. But is it really? Are you really going to be noticeably less happy and fulfilled by choosing something you like that’s good enough?
The 156 GTA is not the last word in handling, nor will its FWD layout be able to deliver any lairy power oversteer. Parts are expensive, some plastics are cheap. You will struggle to resist the urge to fit even more expensive upgraded parts as (or before) the originals wear out. But it is a small saloon with one of the best V6s ever made, delivering 250bhp and an Oscar-worthy soundtrack. Good enough, no?Advertisement - Page continues below
Things are looking a mite grim at the moment.
Any number of us are being forced to spend more, despite being paid just the same – and we’re getting less in return. So, when so many are doing as they must (tightening their belts, counting every increasingly worthless penny and making sure to avoid wasting energy wondering who the prime minister is this week), it does feel like an apposite moment for something dependable, reliable and durable. Just as a reminder of what that feels like, as much as anything else.
And, given the Hilux can generally saunter over any terrain you feel like tackling, you can sidestep the fallout of whichever strike is currently... er, striking. So you can drive yourself to work, for instance, or hospital, or take the whole family out for a nice cheap day at the park. Or indeed to the ferry to Dublin, where you can head to St James Gate for a nice cold pint of Guinness and wait for this whole thing to blow over. How’s that for a slice of fried gold?