The six best used cars we found this week
TG’s ideas for how to spend £1,000 to £20,000 and get a vehicle in return. Some are even approaching sensible
£1k: A trials bike. Yes, really
It’s not often that we admit defeat around these parts... and today is no different. To quote Oliver P Smith, an American four-star general, we’re not retreating – we’re just advancing in another direction.
Because you know it makes sense, don’t you? If the budget doesn’t stretch to four wheels, it could still very well cover two. As for the idea of a cheap motorcycle? Well, there’s a unique benefit – on one condition. Motorbikes will, at some point, end up on their side. So dropping 20 grand on a Ducati might buy you a rolling work of art, but a £1,000 banger is the kind of thing you can pick up, dust off and keep riding. And now for that condition – which is the bike’s condition. Tyres must be in date (yes, they do go off), bolts might be tightened to spec and the chain, brakes, sprockets, bearings, levers and cables must all be in good working condition.
The smart money would probably go to something like a Honda CBF125 if this is your first go at motorcycling. Though we'd suggest a trials bike – they’re cheap to run, easy to maintain and light enough to lift by yourself.Advertisement - Page continues below
£2k: A road-going quad bike. Yes, also really
You know how quadricycles are OK to drive on the road in the UK, EU and so on? Well, it turns out that, at least on our little wet rock, it’s perfectly legal to ride a quad bike. The obvious, enormous caveat being that it has to be one that’s approved to go on the road, it needs to pass an MOT, be registered, taxed and so on.
But a quad bike... on the road. You could live out your Florida Man fantasies without even leaving Farnborough. The one we found is from the proud and storied manufacturer Jinling, and by the look of a few bits, chabuduo was in full effect at the factory, but that kind of helps more than hinder. A well-sorted, quiet and perfectly running quad bike is altogether too upright and forward-thinking to properly embrace the Florida Man mindset.
£5k: Ford Focus ST170
Yes, we know, we’re flirting with actual consumer advice here, but how about something seriously worth considering as a dependable daily driver, ready for pretty much anything?
So, that’ll be a five-door hatch with proven reliability and low running costs. Something that’ll fit down any road and fly under the radar. Something with all the amenities you need and none of the frippery you don’t. So, that’ll be the old ST170, then.Advertisement - Page continues below
£10k: A very special London taxi
From the outside, it’s a regular black cab, complete with TX4 badge, London-spec taxi light on the roof and all the essential sportiness of an episode of Bake Off.
Mechanically, too, it’s a black cab. Which means a grumbly but absolutely proven diesel engine, the turning circle of your average forklift and enough rear legroom to technically qualify as a limousine.
Which, it must be said, this actually is. See, the monied owners in Chelsea (well, there’s a surprise) wanted a car for chauffeur-driven conveyance for around London. And, clearly, they didn’t want to make a show of it, so instead had the passenger cabin retrimmed in a way that’s much more reminiscent of a Nineties Bentley than a late-night trip to Shepherd’s Bush.
£15k: Peugeot 208 GTI
The Peugeot 208 GTI is small, efficient and modern, with a comfy ride and all the comforts your average creature would clamour for. It’ll do more than 40mpg without a single qualm – something even the beloved Fiesta ST will struggle to match. It’s also as refined as Singer sewing machine oil and has more legroom – and a bigger boot – than the Fiesta ST to... er, boot.
And likely because 208 GTIs live in the shadow of the Fiesta ST, you can pick truly good examples up for less than 10 grand.
£20k: Porsche 997 Carrera 2S
If we were actually spending this sort of money on a car, the responsibility really does ratchet up. So we’re going to choose something so sensible that it should come with floss and a first aid kit as standard. We’re going to (hey, you can get a Cerbera for 20 grand) make sure we avoid anything (oh, and an Evo FQ300) that’s little more than a siren song (oh, what about a CL65 AMG from 2005?), calling us to shipwreck (there are so many nice Quattroportes for this money) and get something with space for a family (*cough* Caterhams *cough*) and many miles per gallon and... ah forget it.
If you want sensible and you have £20,000, go get a new car. Kias still have that long warranty thing, don’t they? Maybe a dealer demo Fiesta or Focus, or one of those new-shape Corsas. There. Sensibility sorted. Now, go find what makes you happy.