Great cars from the 1990s to buy now

Great cars from the 1990s to buy now

Great cars from the 1990s to buy now

The 1990s. The era of the Spice Girls, Mr Blobby and the Tamagotchi, plus a lot of great cars were also produced in this decade.

If you want to rewind the clock 20 years, check out some of these 90s greats we found on Auto Trader.


More retro cars on Motoring Research


Honda Integra Type R

Reputed to be one of the best handling front-wheel-drive cars ever sold, the Honda Integra Type R was a raspy, stripped-out coupe adored by 1990s boy racers. As such, finding a tidy one might be a challenge, but there are plenty to choose from. We’d budget around £10,000 for one that hasn’t been abused.

Lotus Elise

Lotus Elise

You wouldn’t want to buy an S1 Elise to use every day, but there’s little that beats it as a weekend toy. Launched in 1996, early examples can be picked up for less than £10,000 – and they’re unlikely to depreciate. Most will have low miles, but make sure they’ve been serviced regularly and look out for poorly-repaired crash damage.

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Porsche 928

Introduced in 1978, the 928 was more than showing a few grey hairs by the 90s. But a late GTS variant is still a desirable purchase, with its 5.4-litre V8 engine producing 350hp, and available from around £30,000 on Auto Trader.

Subaru Impreza Turbo

Subaru Impreza Turbo

It’s the car every rally fan lusted after throughout the 90s: the Subaru Impreza. You can pick up a Turbo (well, you wouldn’t want a naturally-aspirated version, would you?) for as little as £2,000 on Auto Trader.

Lexus LS400

Launched in 1989, the Lexus LS400 was genuinely a car good enough to take on the Mercedes-Benz S-Class. Bulletproof mechanicals mean, despite not selling in huge numbers when new, there are still plenty on the road – and they’re often overlooked on the secondhand market. Buy one cheap, but don’t expect it to sip fuel.

Mazda MX-5

Mazda MX-5

The Mazda MX-5 went on sale in the UK in 1990, and very quickly became a huge hit for the manufacturer. It’s the best selling sports car ever, and Japanese reliability means they still make for a sensible (but fun) used car purchase today. We’d opt for the first-generation model for its simplicity (and pop-up lights), but watch out for rust. It’s worth paying more for a rust-free example.

TVR Chimaera

Based on the same platform as the Griffith, the TVR Chimaera was one of the more successful models to come out of Blackpool during the 90s. Despite being slightly softer than the Griffith – which used the same Rover V8 engines – it could still prove to be a handful, so be sure to do a history check if you’re thinking about buying one.

Ford Escort RS Cosworth

Ford Escort RS Cosworth

A genuine 90s pin-up to rival ‘tennis girl’, the Escort RS Cossie featured a whale-tail rear spoiler and a 2.0-litre turbocharged engine producing 220hp. A 6.1-second 0-62mph time and 140mph top speed meant it was much faster than hot hatches at the time, and still proves to be competitive today.

BMW 8 Series

We contemplated excluding the BMW 8 Series from this feature. When it was new, some looked down on the 8 Series, comparing it to the 6 Series that went before it and complaining about its rather 90s appearance – as well as slow automatic transmission that meant it wasn’t that fun to drive. But it’s aged well, in our opinion, and who doesn’t love a coupe with a range of engines kicking off with a 4.0-litre V8?

Volkswagen Corrado

Volkswagen Corrado

‘Scene tax’ means the Volkswagen Corrado will never be cheap, but you can buy a range-topping VR6 for around £5,000 – or £7,000 for a really tidy one. Based on the Mk2 Golf, the 2.9-litre VR6 could hit 62mph in 6.9 seconds.

Honda NSX

The 1990 NSX was a bold move for Honda. It wanted to offer Ferrari levels of performance, with Honda reliability (and a Honda price tag). The result was the 2.0-litre V6 NSX, producing 274hp and capable of hitting 62mph in 6.0 seconds flat. Not only was it quick, it looked like a Ferrari, too – and, despite having a strong following, it still offers good value for money today. Pick up a used one for around £35,000.

Fiat Coupe Turbo

Fiat Coupe Turbo

You’ll love or hate the Fiat Coupe’s Chris Bangle-designed exterior, but there’s no denying the Fiat Coupe Turbo is one of the fastest front-wheel-drive cars to come out of the 90s. Based on the Fiat Tipo, the Vauxhall Calibra rival produced 220hp in Turbo form, and could hit 62mph in 6.5 seconds. Sure, reliability wasn’t its strong point, but they make for a cool used car purchase today.

Aston Martin DB7

The Ian Callum-penned DB7 is one of the most attractive Astons ever, as well as one of the most successful. Its popularity means they’re actually very affordable today – with good examples starting as low as £21,000.

Porsche 911 996

Porsche 911 996

Porsche 911 prices are always interesting to watch – dropping down to a certain level before soaring beyond all expectations. The 996 shape 911 has bottomed out and is now on its way back up, but you can still get one for around £10,000. Just because it’s a cheap Porsche doesn’t mean it’s a bad one – just as long as you don’t mind it being of the water-cooled variety.

BMW Z3 M Coupe

The BMW Z3 M Coupe could be the very definition of ‘modern classic’, despite being launched as recently as 1998. Don’t expect to get any change from £30,000 for a good one, and its lairy rear-wheel-drive handling means there are a few category D write-offs in the classifieds.

Jaguar XK8

Jaguar XK8

Launched in 1996, the stunning XK8 was available as a coupe or convertible with a naturally-aspirated 4.0-litre V8 engine. Not everyone will be a fan of its slightly geriatric interior, but it offers exceptional value for money, with prices starting below £4,000.

Mercedes-Benz SL

Launched in 1989, the ‘R129’ Mercedes-Benz SL was way ahead of its time. It featured a nifty electro-hydraulic folding soft-top as well as a hidden roll-over bar that would extend in the case of a crash. Its design has aged exceptionally well, in our opinion – and a tidy one could be yours for around £5,000.

Ferrari F40

Ferrari F40

Yes, the Ferrari F40 was launched in 1987 (ahead of Enzo’s death in 1988), but production continued as late as 1992 (and even later for the LM and GTE). The turbocharged F40 was a controversial car when it was new, but time has seen it become one of the most iconic supercars Ferrari’s ever produced. You’ll be looking at around £800,000 for one of the F40s currently advertised on Auto Trader.

Lotus Esprit

Again, the Lotus Esprit is another car that was around long before the 90s. But production actually lasted for 28 years – finally ending in 2004, after 10,675 were sold. One of the most desirable versions, the Esprit V8, powered by a twin-turbo V8, was introduced in 1996. You can buy one of these for £30,000.

Ford Racing Puma

Ford Racing Puma

Launched in 1999, just 500 Ford Racing Pumas were produced – with only half of them actually finding homes when new with private customers. The rest were flogged through the firm’s management scheme after demand failed to live up to expectations. That means prices are high today – you might struggle to find one, but if you do, expect to pay in excess of £7,000.

Lotus Carlton

Production of the controversial Lotus Carlton began in 1990, making it a 90s hero. Capable of hitting 176mph, the Lotus-tuned family saloon proved to be a hit with criminals, who used them to carry out ram-raids and outrun police. Their iconic status means you’ll have to shell out if you want one – with one on Auto Trader currently advertised for an incredible (and perhaps slightly optimistic) £69,995.

Rover Mini

Rover Mini

Ah, who doesn’t love the original Mini? Amazingly, it was still in production throughout the 90s, with late examples being particularly desirable to collectors. Prices range from around £3,000 for a well-used model, to more than £15,000 for a potential museum piece.

Bentley Turbo R

Introduced in 1985, but on sale as late as 1997, the Turbo R was powered by a 6.75-litre V8 attached to a huge turbocharger that increased power by as much as 50%. Its running costs could make your eyes water, but you can buy a 90s Bentley Turbo R for as little as £10,000. You’ll look the business.

Lamborghini Diablo

Lamborghini Diablo

The first Lamborghini capable of exceeding 200mph, the Diablo was sold between 1990 and 2001 before being replaced by the Murcielago. Criticised for looking a bit bland when it was new (compared to its Countach predecessor), the V12 Diablo was well-specced, with electric windows, power steering and an Alpine stereo system.

Toyota Celica GT-Four

A true 90s homologation hero, the four-wheel-drive Celica GT-Four was powered by a 2.0-litre turbocharged engine and went on sale as the ST165 in 1986. We’re interested in the later ST185 (pictured here) and its 1994 successor, the ST205. These can be picked up from as little as £5,000 – the biggest difficulty will be finding an unmodified and unabused example.

Fiat Barchetta

Fiat Barchetta

Only sold in left-hand-drive, the front-wheel-drive Punto-based Barchetta was launched in 1995 as a successor to the X1/9 and rival to the ever-popular Mazda MX-5. Despite its front-drive layout, the Barchetta was a lot of fun to drive, and makes for an unusual used purchase today. They cost a little more than the equivalent MX-5, however, with prices starting at £2,000.

Nissan Skyline

For the Gran Turismo generation, there are few cars more desirable than a Nissan Skyline. They were never officially sold in the UK, so buy carefully, but many were imported from Japan by specialist companies. Spend at least £7,000, and be wary of any signs of crash damage – it might not show up on history checks if it happened pre-import.

Lancia Delta Integrale

Lancia Delta Integrale

Another homologation special, the Lancia Delta is arguably the ultimate hot hatch. It doesn’t come cheap, however, with prices from specialist dealers starting at around £30,000 – that’s bordering on new Focus RS territory.

Alfa Romeo GTV

The 1993 Alfa Romeo GTV is one of the firm’s most attractive models of recent years, as well as the best handling front-wheel-drive cars money can buy. It might not prove to be the most bulletproof of secondhand car purchases, but at least the Pininfarina-designed GTV looks great on the hard shoulder.

Police chief fined £586 for driving police car with bald tyres

Police chief fined £586 for driving police car with bald tyres

Police chief fined £586 for driving police car with bald tyres

Company car drivers be warned – you could be held responsible for driving an unroadworthy vehicle on the roads, as ex-Dyfed Powys police and crime commissioner Christopher Salmon has discovered.

Salmon, who was defeated at the polls earlier this month, has been hit with a £586 fine after his own force reported him to the Independent Police Complaints Commission.

He was caught in October after suffering a blow-out while using a BMW pool car which was found to have two illegal tyres.

In a statement, Salmon said: “On 1 October 2015 I collected a shared pool car owned and maintained by Dyfed-Powys Police from the Force’s Headquarters. Before driving the car I did not check the condition of the tyres. The next day whilst I was driving the car there was a blow-out of a tyre.

“On subsequent examination the car was found to have two tyres that did not have sufficient tread to comply with the requirements of the Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations.

“I’m judged by the same laws as everyone else. I should have checked the tyres before using this shared car. I committed two offences of using a motor vehicle with defective tyres and I will accept the penalties imposed.”

Swansea magistrates fined Salmon £586, with £114 costs and three penalty points on his licence.

Ferrari creates a one-off 458 MM Speciale for wealthy Brit customer

Ferrari creates one-off 458 MM Speciale for wealthy Brit customer

Ferrari creates a one-off 458 MM Speciale for wealthy Brit customer

Want to show the world you’re so rich a ‘regular’ Ferrari 458 Speciale just won’t do? Commission the boys at Maranello to create a one-off just for you – that’s what one wealthy British customer has done.

Designed by Ferrari’s in-house styling team, the 458 MM Speciale features a ‘visor’ effect for the windscreen and a number of nods to the firm’s heritage. These include a black-painted A-pillar in the style of the 1984 Ferrari GTO and Italian flag livery.

The bodywork is all new, says Ferrari, handcrafted in aluminium with composite carbonfibre bumpers front and rear. Its radiators are more upright and closer together than those on the regular 458 Speciale, meaning side intakes have been designed to allow direct cooling of the engine bay.

Ferrari creates a one-off 458 MM Speciale for wealthy Brit customer

To finish off the bespoke look, the 458 MM Speciale sits on unique alloy wheels, while cockpit upgrades include a better sound system and Cioccolato leather upholstery with white stitching.

The Ferrari, pictured here during its first shakedown on the legendary Fiorano test track, is powered by the same mid-mounted, naturally-aspirated 4.5-litre V8 engine as the Speciale, producing 605hp and zero to 62mph in 3.0 seconds flat.

Prices for the one-off have not been (and probably will never be) revealed, but it’s safe to say it’ll be sufficiently more than the regular £208,000 for the outgoing 458 Speciale.

2016 Renault Megane

New Renault Megane prices to start from £16,600

2016 Renault MeganeThe new Renault Megane costs from £16,600 and buyers can register their interest for the new family hatch now, ahead of its UK dealer launch this summer.

The press, including Motoring Research, first drove the new Megane way back in December 2015, but Renault was not then ready to confirm prices: it simply hinted they would be competitive with the Ford Focus and Vauxhall Astra

2016 Renault Megane review: first drive

The firm has exceeded expectations with a punchy £16,600 starting price though, particularly as it’s for a 130hp 1.2-litre TCe turbo model rather than a downrated low-power motor: a Vauxhall Astra 1.0T Design may cost £600 less, but it is also down 25hp.

Ford Focus prices start at £16,245 – for a base-spec 85hp 1.6 Studio.

A diesel Megane Expression+, the 1.5 dCi 110, costs £1,300 more at £17,900, but this model is not the one Renault will sell most of: the Dynamic Nav and Dynamic S Nav will be the most popular new Megane models.

The 1.2 TCe 130 Dynamic Nav costs £18,100, with the 1.5 dCi alternative costing £19,400. Renault also offers the more powerful 1.6 dCi 130 in Dynamic Nav guise, for £20,600. This doesn’t offer sub-100g/km CO2 emissions though, emitting 104g/km rather than the cheaper motor’s 96g/km.

Renault will also offer the new Megane in posh Signature Nav guise, as well as a 205hp 1.6-litre turbo petrol EDC auto range-topper: the GT Nav 205 costs £25,500. At 0-62mph in 7.1 seconds, it’s warm rather than hot: the new Renault Sport Meganes are still to come.

Generous specification

All new Megane will have a decent haul of standard equipment, including alloy wheels, LED daytime running lights, air con, cruise control, Bluetooth and electric front and rear windows.

Dynamique Nav versions include, as the name suggests, sat nav, plus rear parking sensors, auto lights and wipers, lane departure warning, speed limit sign camera, climate control and a 3D sound stereo. This trim line also brings a 7-inch central touchscreen to the new Megane’s centre console.

Dynamique S Nav, priced from £19,100 for a TCe 130, adds 17-inch alloys, rear parking camera and tinted rear glass, while Signature Nav has 18-inch alloys, full LED headlights and full leather interior. Both of these trims also have the full 8.7-inch Tesla-style central touchscreen that’s such a feature of the new Megane: given the £1,000 price difference between the two Dynamique models, we thus wouldn’t be surprised if the ‘S’ becomes the most popular variant of all…

The GT Nav tops the range at £25,500, with a sporty-focused haul of kit in line with Signature Nav trim. For those who want sporty looks without the expense, Renault also offers the GT Line Nav, based on the Dynamic Nav but with more of a ‘Renault Sport lite’ look: it costs from £19,600.

Number of average speed cameras doubles in three years

Number of average speed cameras doubles in three years

Number of average speed cameras doubles in three years

The coverage of permanent average speed cameras along the UK road network has more than doubled since 2013, figures obtained by the BBC have revealed.

More than 263 miles of UK roads are now covered by the average speed cameras – with Scotland being the hardest hit.

Cameras were installed along 100 miles of the A9, running from Perth to Inverness, in 2014 – helping to reduce casualties on the roads, says Transport Scotland.

The data counts all cameras which measures a vehicle’s average speed between two points, but excludes temporary average speed cameras – such as those through motorway roadworks.

In the UK, there are a total of 2,300 miles of motorway and 5,300 miles of trunk A-roads.

The longest stretch in England covered by average speed cameras, according to the research carried out by the RAC Foundation, is on the A614 in Nottinghamshire. Before the cameras were installed, this 12-mile stretch claimed 289 deaths and injuries in a five-year period.

The rise in popularity of the average speed cameras is partly being attributed to decreasing costs. They now cost typically around £100,000 per mile, according to Richard Owen from Road Safety Analytics, compared to £1.5 million per mile in the early 2000s.

He told the BBC: “Some of the old fixed speed cameras have been around for 25 years and they are based on 35mm film.

“They are coming to the end of their life so as they are replaced, they’re sometimes getting replaced with average speed camera systems.”

Earlier this year, the House of Commons’ Transport Committee recommended increasing the number of average speed cameras on British roads as they’re “generally better received by motorists than traditional fixed speed cameras”.

Fastest selling cars by region

Britain’s fastest selling used cars by region

Regional car-buying habits revealed

Fastest selling cars by region

We may be the United Kingdom, but the latest sales stats from Auto Trader show we’re anything but united when it comes to buying cars.

The figures show the fastest selling used cars across the 13 regions of the UK, from Scotland to South West England.

One car, the Nissan Qashqai, is the most wanted in several regions. Others, such as the Citroen DS3, are particularly popular in a certain area. Read on to find out which cars are most popular where you live.

BMW 1 Series

Fastest selling cars by region

Fastest selling car in: South of England

Car buyers in the South of England are clearly keen drivers; they snap up the BMW 1 Series more quickly than any other car. The most popular models date from 2012, and come with a diesel engine and automatic gearbox. They typically take 22 days to sell, with an average retail price of £13,886.

The current 1 Series was launched in 2011, then facelifted in early 2015. Its rear-wheel-drive chassis offers sporty handling, although it’s rather small for a family car. We’d opt for one of the efficient diesel engines, mated to BMW’s excellent eight-speed automatic gearbox. Alternatively, if funds permit, the M135i is one of the finest hot hatchbacks available.

Research a new BMW 1 Series

Find a used BMW 1 Series on Auto Trader

Citroen DS3

Fastest selling cars by region

Fastest selling car in: Yorkshire

Amazingly, the 2012 Citroen DS3 is the fastest selling car in Yorkshire, but only manages 178th place nationally. A petrol-engined DS3 with a manual gearbox takes just 18 days to sell in ‘God’s own county’, at an average price of £8,900.

Citroen recently launched DS as a standalone brand, so it will be hoping its larger models can replicate the success of the DS3. The Citroen – sorry, DS – is fun to drive and a credible rival for the Mini Cooper when fitted with the turbocharged THP petrol engine. There are lots of Mini-style customisation options, too – plus a (not very practical) Cabrio version.

Research a new Citroen DS3

Find a used Citroen DS3 on Auto Trader

Ford Fiesta

Fastest selling cars by region

Fastest selling car in: Wales

Most of us know the Ford Fiesta is Britain’s bestselling car – and has been since 2009. But only in Wales is the Fiesta the fastest-seller, where a 2014 petrol model with a manual gearbox typically takes 30 days to find a buyer. The average sale price for such a car is £10,354.

The evergreen Fiesta has been on sale since 2008, yet remains a firm favourite with owners and critics alike. Much of the car’s appeal stems from its perfectly poised handling – no supermini is more enjoyable to drive. Ford’s 1.0-litre Ecoboost petrol engine is the one we’d pick; it’s eager to rev and impressively efficient.

Research a new Ford Fiesta

Find a used Ford Fiesta on Auto Trader

Ford Focus

Fastest selling cars by region

Fastest selling car in: London

Certain parts of London may be populated by Range Rovers and Porsche 911s, but the capital’s fastest selling car is actually the humble Ford Focus. Advertise your 2012 Focus with a petrol and engine and manual gearbox on Auto Trader, and chances are it will be snapped up in just 16 days – at an average price of £8,895.

The original 1998 Focus replaced the awful Escort and turned around Ford’s fortunes. This third-generation car builds on that success, with a good blend of comfort, practicality and affordable running costs. A recent 2015 facelift has brought sharper styling and a much-improved media system.

Research a new Ford Focus

Find a used Ford Focus on Auto Trader

Mercedes-Benz A-Class

Fastest selling cars by region

Fastest selling car in: South East England

If you think everybody in the Home Counties swans around in a new Mercedes… you are almost right. The nearly-new 2014 Mercedes A-class is the fastest seller in South East England, at an average price of £21,522. That’s for a diesel version with automatic gearbox, which takes an average of 23 days to sell.

The current A-class, launched in 2012, is a big departure from the cars that went before it. The baby Mercedes is now more conventional hatchback than compact MPV, taking on the Audi A3 and BMW 1 Series at their own game. Test-drive an A-class before you buy, as the suspension is too firm for some tastes. Its boot is small for a family car, too.

Research a new Mercedes-Benz A-class

Find a used Mercedes-Benz A-class on Auto Trader

Nissan Qashqai

Fastest selling cars by region

Fastest selling car in: East of England, Scotland, South West England

The ubiquitous Qashqai is the only car to sell fastest in more than one region. In fact, it tops the list in three areas: the East of England, Scotland and South West England. In each case, models dating from 2012 are most popular, but while East Englanders and Scots prefer a diesel engine, buyers in the West Midlands prefer petrol.

By combining a hatchback and a 4×4, the Qashqai arguably created the ‘crossover’ – a concept since copied by countless others. The first-generation Qashqai seen here first arrived in showrooms in 2006 and is best sampled with the 1.6 dCi diesel engine. A seven-seat Qashqai+2 was also available. The current Qashqai followed in 2013.

Research a new Nissan Qashqai

Find a used Nissan Qashqai on Auto Trader

Peugeot 208

Fastest selling cars by region

Fastest selling car in: North West England

Car buyers in North West England have a penchant for the Peugeot’s stylish 208 supermini. A 2012 example of the French Fiesta-rival typically takes 18 days to sell if fitted with a petrol engine and manual gearbox. And the average price paid is a relatively affordable £7,465.

When Peugeot unveiled the 208 in 2012, it drew comparisons with the classic – and much-loved – 205 of the 1980s. That’s particularly true of the GTI version, which is fast and fun to drive. All diesel versions emit less than 100g/km of CO2, meaning free car tax (VED), but the 82hp 1.2 petrol is our top choice.

Research a new Peugeot 208

Find a used Peugeot 208 on Auto Trader

Seat Leon

Fastest selling cars by region

Fastest selling car in: Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland can’t boast the same weather as Spain, but its residents do enjoy a Spanish car – a 2014 Seat Leon with a diesel engine and manual gearbox, to be specific. The current Leon is the fastest seller in the region, taking 37 days to find a buyer, at an average price of £13,115.

Like the Mercedes A-class, the Leon has got sleeker with age. It’s now less like an MPV and more like a Volkswagen Golf – the car it shares a platform and engines with. The Leon’s USP is that it’s markedly cheaper to buy than a Golf, and better looking as well. We recommend the turbocharged TSI petrol engines, particularly the 1.4 TSI ACT, which switches from four to two cylinders to save fuel.

Research a new Seat Leon

Find a used Seat Leon on Auto Trader

Vauxhall Corsa

Fastest selling cars by region

Fastest selling car in: North East England

People in North East England clearly appreciate value for money. The fastest selling car in that region is a 2007 Vauxhall Corsa, with an average sale price of a modest £3,437 – less than half as much as the fastest seller in any other region. A petrol Corsa with manual gearbox typically finds a buyer in just 17 days.

There’s nothing especially exciting about the old Corsa, but it is cheap to buy and run. It’s also spacious inside, with ample headroom for two adults in the back and a decent boot. Engines range from a 60hp 1.0 to the 192hp 1.6 VXR hot hatch. Being sensible sorts, we’d go for the 80hp 1.2 with five doors and a manual gearbox.

Research a new Vauxhall Corsa

Find a used Vauxhall Corsa on Auto Trader

Vauxhall Astra

Fastest selling cars by region

Fastest selling car in: East Midlands

Last on our list is the Vauxhall Astra, which is the fastest selling car in the East Midlands. This hard-working hatchback is most popular in a 2012 vintage, with a diesel engine and manual gearbox. Thus equipped, an Astra takes 24 days to sell via the Auto Trader website, at an average price of £9,533.

Most new Astras are sold to company fleets, so they appear on the second-hand market in large numbers. That’s good news for buyers, as prices tend to be lower than many rival cars. And a new Astra is due in December 2015, so the current model will only get cheaper. The 1.4-litre petrol engine is perfectly adequate around town, while the 1.6 diesel is best suited to motorway miles.

Research a new Vauxhall Astra

Find a used Vauxhall Astra on Auto Trader

Fastest selling cars by region

Britain's fastest selling used cars by region

Regional car-buying habits revealed

Fastest selling cars by region

We may be the United Kingdom, but the latest sales stats from Auto Trader show we’re anything but united when it comes to buying cars.

The figures show the fastest selling used cars across the 13 regions of the UK, from Scotland to South West England.

One car, the Nissan Qashqai, is the most wanted in several regions. Others, such as the Citroen DS3, are particularly popular in a certain area. Read on to find out which cars are most popular where you live.

BMW 1 Series

Fastest selling cars by region

Fastest selling car in: South of England

Car buyers in the South of England are clearly keen drivers; they snap up the BMW 1 Series more quickly than any other car. The most popular models date from 2012, and come with a diesel engine and automatic gearbox. They typically take 22 days to sell, with an average retail price of £13,886.

The current 1 Series was launched in 2011, then facelifted in early 2015. Its rear-wheel-drive chassis offers sporty handling, although it’s rather small for a family car. We’d opt for one of the efficient diesel engines, mated to BMW’s excellent eight-speed automatic gearbox. Alternatively, if funds permit, the M135i is one of the finest hot hatchbacks available.

Research a new BMW 1 Series

Find a used BMW 1 Series on Auto Trader

Citroen DS3

Fastest selling cars by region

Fastest selling car in: Yorkshire

Amazingly, the 2012 Citroen DS3 is the fastest selling car in Yorkshire, but only manages 178th place nationally. A petrol-engined DS3 with a manual gearbox takes just 18 days to sell in ‘God’s own county’, at an average price of £8,900.

Citroen recently launched DS as a standalone brand, so it will be hoping its larger models can replicate the success of the DS3. The Citroen – sorry, DS – is fun to drive and a credible rival for the Mini Cooper when fitted with the turbocharged THP petrol engine. There are lots of Mini-style customisation options, too – plus a (not very practical) Cabrio version.

Research a new Citroen DS3

Find a used Citroen DS3 on Auto Trader

Ford Fiesta

Fastest selling cars by region

Fastest selling car in: Wales

Most of us know the Ford Fiesta is Britain’s bestselling car – and has been since 2009. But only in Wales is the Fiesta the fastest-seller, where a 2014 petrol model with a manual gearbox typically takes 30 days to find a buyer. The average sale price for such a car is £10,354.

The evergreen Fiesta has been on sale since 2008, yet remains a firm favourite with owners and critics alike. Much of the car’s appeal stems from its perfectly poised handling – no supermini is more enjoyable to drive. Ford’s 1.0-litre Ecoboost petrol engine is the one we’d pick; it’s eager to rev and impressively efficient.

Research a new Ford Fiesta

Find a used Ford Fiesta on Auto Trader

Ford Focus

Fastest selling cars by region

Fastest selling car in: London

Certain parts of London may be populated by Range Rovers and Porsche 911s, but the capital’s fastest selling car is actually the humble Ford Focus. Advertise your 2012 Focus with a petrol and engine and manual gearbox on Auto Trader, and chances are it will be snapped up in just 16 days – at an average price of £8,895.

The original 1998 Focus replaced the awful Escort and turned around Ford’s fortunes. This third-generation car builds on that success, with a good blend of comfort, practicality and affordable running costs. A recent 2015 facelift has brought sharper styling and a much-improved media system.

Research a new Ford Focus

Find a used Ford Focus on Auto Trader

Mercedes-Benz A-Class

Fastest selling cars by region

Fastest selling car in: South East England

If you think everybody in the Home Counties swans around in a new Mercedes… you are almost right. The nearly-new 2014 Mercedes A-class is the fastest seller in South East England, at an average price of £21,522. That’s for a diesel version with automatic gearbox, which takes an average of 23 days to sell.

The current A-class, launched in 2012, is a big departure from the cars that went before it. The baby Mercedes is now more conventional hatchback than compact MPV, taking on the Audi A3 and BMW 1 Series at their own game. Test-drive an A-class before you buy, as the suspension is too firm for some tastes. Its boot is small for a family car, too.

Research a new Mercedes-Benz A-class

Find a used Mercedes-Benz A-class on Auto Trader

Nissan Qashqai

Fastest selling cars by region

Fastest selling car in: East of England, Scotland, South West England

The ubiquitous Qashqai is the only car to sell fastest in more than one region. In fact, it tops the list in three areas: the East of England, Scotland and South West England. In each case, models dating from 2012 are most popular, but while East Englanders and Scots prefer a diesel engine, buyers in the West Midlands prefer petrol.

By combining a hatchback and a 4×4, the Qashqai arguably created the ‘crossover’ – a concept since copied by countless others. The first-generation Qashqai seen here first arrived in showrooms in 2006 and is best sampled with the 1.6 dCi diesel engine. A seven-seat Qashqai+2 was also available. The current Qashqai followed in 2013.

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Peugeot 208

Fastest selling cars by region

Fastest selling car in: North West England

Car buyers in North West England have a penchant for the Peugeot’s stylish 208 supermini. A 2012 example of the French Fiesta-rival typically takes 18 days to sell if fitted with a petrol engine and manual gearbox. And the average price paid is a relatively affordable £7,465.

When Peugeot unveiled the 208 in 2012, it drew comparisons with the classic – and much-loved – 205 of the 1980s. That’s particularly true of the GTI version, which is fast and fun to drive. All diesel versions emit less than 100g/km of CO2, meaning free car tax (VED), but the 82hp 1.2 petrol is our top choice.

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Seat Leon

Fastest selling cars by region

Fastest selling car in: Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland can’t boast the same weather as Spain, but its residents do enjoy a Spanish car – a 2014 Seat Leon with a diesel engine and manual gearbox, to be specific. The current Leon is the fastest seller in the region, taking 37 days to find a buyer, at an average price of £13,115.

Like the Mercedes A-class, the Leon has got sleeker with age. It’s now less like an MPV and more like a Volkswagen Golf – the car it shares a platform and engines with. The Leon’s USP is that it’s markedly cheaper to buy than a Golf, and better looking as well. We recommend the turbocharged TSI petrol engines, particularly the 1.4 TSI ACT, which switches from four to two cylinders to save fuel.

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Vauxhall Corsa

Fastest selling cars by region

Fastest selling car in: North East England

People in North East England clearly appreciate value for money. The fastest selling car in that region is a 2007 Vauxhall Corsa, with an average sale price of a modest £3,437 – less than half as much as the fastest seller in any other region. A petrol Corsa with manual gearbox typically finds a buyer in just 17 days.

There’s nothing especially exciting about the old Corsa, but it is cheap to buy and run. It’s also spacious inside, with ample headroom for two adults in the back and a decent boot. Engines range from a 60hp 1.0 to the 192hp 1.6 VXR hot hatch. Being sensible sorts, we’d go for the 80hp 1.2 with five doors and a manual gearbox.

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Vauxhall Astra

Fastest selling cars by region

Fastest selling car in: East Midlands

Last on our list is the Vauxhall Astra, which is the fastest selling car in the East Midlands. This hard-working hatchback is most popular in a 2012 vintage, with a diesel engine and manual gearbox. Thus equipped, an Astra takes 24 days to sell via the Auto Trader website, at an average price of £9,533.

Most new Astras are sold to company fleets, so they appear on the second-hand market in large numbers. That’s good news for buyers, as prices tend to be lower than many rival cars. And a new Astra is due in December 2015, so the current model will only get cheaper. The 1.4-litre petrol engine is perfectly adequate around town, while the 1.6 diesel is best suited to motorway miles.

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Nissan GT-R

2017 Nissan GT-R track-test review: Godzilla bites back

Nissan GT-REau Rouge, Raidillon, Les Combes, La Source… The list of Spa-Francorchamps’ corners reads like a motorsport greatest hits. Nestled among the lush green hills of the Ardennes, Spa is widely regarded as one of the best circuits in the world. Legends have been born here, and lives have been lost here. Today, I’ll be driving it flat-out in the new Nissan GT-R.

If the car in these photos doesn’t look entirely ‘new’, that’s because it isn’t. The current (R35) GT-R was launched way back in 2007, but – like smartphone technology or the common cold – it has evolved constantly, with annual updates to keep it competitive.

This 2017 version, known as the ‘MY17’ by GT-R geeks, is the most comprehensive update in the car’s history. And frankly, with rivals like the Audi R8, Mercedes-AMG GT and Porsche 911 Turbo, it needs to be.

We can pore over spec details later, though. Right now, the electronic gates have swung open and, with sweaty palms and 570hp under my right foot, I’m about to unleash the GT-R on an empty racetrack…

Nissan GT-RA relaxing Spa break? Not exactly

Entering the circuit at La Source, I dive downhill and straight into Spa’s most famous corner: Eau Rouge. This tight left-right-left kink bottoms out and then climbs sharply, making the front end of the car go light as I surge forward into the Kemmel Straight.

Along here, the GT-R accelerates relentlessly, its twin-turbo V6 blasting us beyond 150mph before you can say “Les Combes”. Braking hard, you can really feel the car’s 1,752kg weight, but it tracks straight and feels stable. Thank mammoth cast-iron discs (there’s no carbon-ceramic option) and Brembo six-pot calipers.

Turning in, the car feels planted and precise, but I overcook this tricky series of three bends at the first attempt and it bumps uncomfortably over the rumble strips. The rear-biased four-wheel-drive catapults us away again without even a chirrup of wheelspin, but it’s clear the GT-R isn’t averse to understeer (running wide) if you push too hard in slower corners.

As I’ll discover, taking faster bends too quickly has the opposite effect…

Nissan GT-RHolding on for a hero

As Spa’s rollercoaster ribbon of asphalt plunges downwards, I enter the more open corners at Pouhon and Blanchimont. The GT-R is so fast, and throttle response so instant, that it’s easy to carry far too much speed here. And being a reckless amateur, that’s exactly what I do.

As your velocity increases, so the Nissan’s cornering attitude shifts from understeer to tail-twitching oversteer. Being a higher, heavier car than many of its rivals means this transition happens more slowly and predictably. Nonetheless, the slight wriggle from the rear end as we approach Blanchimont at over 100mph is enough to make me wish I’d packed my brave pants.

Of course, even a car with as much traction and grip as the GT-R can be provoked into going sideways if you so wish. But we didn’t come to Spa for showboating. As as racing driver will tell you, smoothness is the key to speed. Well, that and the small matter of 570hp.

Nissan GT-R‘The ultimate performance super-sports car’

Yes, ‘the ultimate performance super-sports car’ is the modest claim Nissan makes for the GT-R. But you know what, they might just have a point.

With 570 hp from its 3.8-litre V6 up 20hp on the MY16 car the GT-R will explode to 62mph in “about 2.7 seconds” (it hasn’t been officially timed yet, apparently) and keep going to 196mph. The standard car last set an official Nurburgring lap time in 2013, a 7min 18sec result making it one of the fastest production cars ever. Unless you enter the rarified world of six-figure supercars, there’s little to match it.

That said, the GT-R isn’t the bargain at once was. When first launched, it was barely more expensive than a BMW M3. But prices have crept up over the past decade, with the cheapest version now starting at £79,995. The ‘engineered by Nismo’ Track Edition will be £91,995, and the forthcoming full-fat GT-R Nismo is likely to be north of £100k.

For that kind of money, Nissan’s flagship needs to offer premium-feel as well as performance. That’s why the biggest changes are inside the car.

Nissan GT-RMore premium, less Playstation

When the R35 was born, Tony Blair was still prime minister and nobody knew what a ‘credit crunch’ was. At the time, its tech-heavy cabin including a media system designed by Polyphony, makers of the Gran Turismo games – was futuristic and impressive.

However all those buttons look dated in the iPad era, so Nissan has fitted a new eight-inch touchscreen that de-clutters the dashboard (a bit). There’s also a rotary controller on the centre console, so you can keep your eyes on the road – rather than on your G-force meter, gearbox oil temperature gauge or real-time braking pressure graph. Yes, this is still a car to delight data nerds.

Whether its upgraded cabin will delight the rest of us is debatable. Nissan has swathed the dashboard in hand-stitched leather and fitted plusher, more comfortable seats (electric Recaros are a £2,000 option). Yet there’s still an awful lot of hard plastic, plus a random scattering of switchgear that will be familiar to anyone who’s driven a Note or Qashqai.  

On the plus side, the GT-R remains quite practical. Its two rear seats are fine for kids – albeit hopelessly cramped for adults – and its deep boot is big enough for a week away.

Nissan GT-RIron fist in a boxing glove

The changes on the outside of the car are less obvious. Only dedicated GT-R spotters – and plenty of such folk exist – are likely to notice the V-shaped front grille and new front bumper with LED daytime running lights.

At the rear, the Ferrari-aping round taillights are still the car’s most distinctive feature, although a closer look reveals a new silver-finished diffuser, plus side air vents next to the titanium-tipped exhaust pipes. You wouldn’t call the GT-R beautiful, but it’s brawny and utterly purposeful.

As we leave Spa through the local town of Francorchamps, it’s time for the acid test. A group of school children is being marched along the pavement by a flustered-looking teacher. The boys at the head of the queue stop suddenly as they point and stare at our rumbling, growling GT-R. The teacher shouts and gesticulates. Our work here is done.

Nissan GT-RGran Turismo for the road

It’s ironic the GT-R found fame through the Gran Turismo racing game, because it’s brilliantly capable GT. And we mean that in the old-fashioned sense: a car that could whisk you to the south of France without breaking sweat.

If anything, the uber-Nissan is even more impressive on the road than on the track. Through the tight turns of Spa, it feels heavier and less agile than some similarly-powerful sports cars. Yet on the road, it’s crushingly competent, with acceleration, braking and cornering abilities so far beyond what you can safely – or legally – achieve that you never want for more.

Unlike many rivals, the GT-R is also very easy to drive. You don’t have to clamber in and out, the seating position is upright, ride comfort is better than you might expect and the control weights won’t scare somebody more used to a Micra. With the six-speed dual-clutch gearbox in auto mode, its a refined and relaxing way to travel. The sheer size of the car is the only potential stumbling-block.

Nissan GT-RGodzilla still has teeth

One comment you’ll occasionally hear about the GT-R is that it lacks character, or that it doesn’t have the soul of a sports car.

I don’t buy that, though. The car the Japanese call ‘Godzilla’ may not be as fast as a Ferrari, or as head-turning as a Lamborghini. Its interior may still look a bit downmarket and its V6 doesn’t sound special enough. But Nissan’s fast and furious flagship has a depth of ability that trancends virtually anything else on sale – especially if you’re just an ‘average’ driver like me.

It takes time to fully appreciate the GT-R’s talents (a track session at Spa helps, admittedly) but it will confound expectations and, ultimately, get under your skin. As I handed the – cheap, plasticky – key back at Dusseldorf airport, all I wanted to do was carry on driving. And what better testimonial is there for ‘the ultimate performance super-sports car’ than that?

Nissan GT-R2017 Nissan GT-R: Early verdict

For:

Gobsmackingly quick

Formidable traction and grip

Practical for a supercar

Cheaper than its rivals

Against:

Interior not worthy of an £80k car

Engine doesn’t sound special enough

2017 Nissan GT-R: Specification

Price: £79,995

Engine: 3.8-litre V6 twin turbo

Gearbox: six-speed semi-automatic

Power: 570hp

Torque: 470lb ft

0-62mph: 2.7 seconds (est.)

Top speed: 196mph

Fuel economy: 23.9mpg

CO2 emissions: 275g/km

 

Best sports cars

Sporty spice: these sports cars could be yours for £10,000

Best sports cars

What is a sports car? Opinions vary, but we believe a sports car should have no more than two seats, feature a retractable roof and, ideally, offer rear-wheel fun. With this in mind we’ve selected 20 of our favourites that can be yours for £10,000. Choose your B-road weapon.

Porsche Boxster S

Could this be the ultimate £10,000 sports car? Launched in 1996, the Boxster was designed to give Porsche a global seller to sit alongside its global icon: the 911. If the BMW Z3 and Mercedes-Benz SLK were soft focus, the Boxster was seriously hardcore. We’d opt for either the 2.7-litre or the 3.2-litre S, both of which were introduced in 2000.

Lotus Elise S1

Lotus Elise S1

Drive a Lotus Elise and it’s as though you’re at one with the car. Small, light and perfectly formed, the original Elise was a revelation when it was launched back in 1996. The on-paper performance figures of the original car’s K-series engine are hardly headline grabbing, but the 731kg kerb weight tells you all you need to know. It’s becoming increasingly tricky to find an Elise below the £10k mark.

Honda S2000

The turn of the millennium was a golden era for affordable two-seater sports cars and the S2000 was the high-revving weapon of choice. And when we say high-revving, we mean 9,000rpm. Many loved the fast and frenetic nature of the beast, but others preferred the broader appeal of say the Z3 or Boxster. The most reliable sports car to make our shortlist?

Mazda MX-5

Mazda MX-5

There’s an unwritten rule that says you must mention the Mazda MX-5 in any feature focused on sports cars. Across four generations, the MX-5 has cemented its reputation as the best affordable sports car you can buy. For the ultimate in cheap thrills, opt for a first or second generation car, but the Mk3 MX-5 offers great all-round abilities.

Toyota MR2

If you want somewhere to store your overnight luggage, walk away. But if you’re after brilliant roadster, the Toyota MR2 could be for you. At 975kg, it weighs about the same as a first generation Mazda MX-5, which – when combined with a 140hp 1.8-litre engine – gave it the best power to weight ratio in its class.

MG TF

MG TF

Often unfairly overlooked by those who should know better, the MG TF offers an interesting alternative to the MX-5 or MR2. Admittedly, it’s a little more soft-focus than the Japanese pair, but the MG is more practical and is also supported by a network of specialists and a strong supply of parts. The 160hp 1.8-litre engine is the pick of the bunch.

Vauxhall VX220

It was based on the Lotus Elise and built alongside its sister car in Hethel, but to some, that wasn’t enough. Against the Lotus, the Vauxhall always struggled to sell in big numbers and that’s despite a more durable 2.2-litre engine. The 2.0-litre VX220 Turbo offers supercar-taming levels of performance, but for this budget we’d stick to a well-sorted 2.2-litre NA.

Alfa Romeo Spider

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The Fiat Tipo-based Alfa Romeo Spider was a huge hit for the Italian firm, with buyers attracted by its gorgeous styling, affordability and dynamics. It’s an Alfa Romeo that will be at least 10 years old and possibly up to 20 years vintage, so be prepared for a few mechanical and electrical gremlins. But try finding a more attractive topless sports car for this budget.

Fiat Barchetta

The signs aren’t great. While the Mazda MX-5 took its inspiration from the classic Lotus Elan, the Fiat Barchetta was based on the Fiat Punto. Yes, the front-wheel drive Punto. But don’t let that put you off, because not only does the Barchetta handle surprisingly well, it is dripping in Italian style. Just a shame the Barchetta is left-hand drive only.

BMW Z4

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If the BMW Z3 was a disappointment, the Z4 was a huge step in the right direction. Finally, BMW had a sports car that could at least take the fight to the all-conquering Porsche Boxster. The 3.0-litre straight-six engine is an absolute peach and the ‘flame surfacing’ styling has aged beautifully.

Nissan 350Z Roadster

There’s something delightfully old-school about the Nissan 350Z Roadster. It’s a hairy-chested alternative to the Boxster and Z4, with a pair of exhausts emitting the ‘great’ smell of Brut. The 3.5-litre V6 engine provides plenty of poke, but don’t expect it to be cheap to run. That said, dare we say it’s more exclusive than its German rivals?

Mazda RX-7 Convertible

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The second generation FC RX-7 was Mazda’s answer to the Porsche 924/944. It was also the only RX-7 to be offered without a roof. You’ll have to be patient, because you’re not exactly spoilt for choice, but you’ll grow to love that free-revving rotary engine. Just make sure you’ve got a specialist close to hand.

Mercedes-Benz SLK

OK, we admit this isn’t the sharpest tool in the box, but the second generation R171 SLK is far superior to the original R170. Roll into town in one of these and you’ll look like a million doors. Lower the Vario roof and your stock will rise quicker than you can say ‘deployable in 22 seconds’. The optional Airscarf is almost essential equipment in Britain.

TVR S1-S3

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Do ya feel lucky? Well, do ya? Finding a sub-£10,000 TVR won’t be easy and we don’t deny there are risks attached. But there’s just something so wonderfully British about the S series of cars. The Ford-sourced V6 engines should also ensure maintenance is relatively simple.

Suzuki Cappuccino

The Suzuki Cappuccino was designed to meet Japan’s strict kei car specifications and there were no plans to export it to other markets. Fortunately, Suzuki GB negotiated a deal to import a relatively small number into the UK. With a launch price of £11,995, Suzuki sold 1,110 cars in the UK, the majority of which were red.

Lotus Elan

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The M100 Elan was guaranteed to upset the Lotus purists. The mere thought of a front-wheel drive Lotus was enough for some to choke on their warm beer. The M100 is very much of its time, not that Lotus will want to be reminded of the early 90s. The Norfolk firm reportedly lost money on every Elan it sold.

Daihatsu Copen

Fancy a pint-sized Mercedes-Benz SLK? The tiny Daihatsu Copen could be for you. Did we mention how tiny it is? Tall drivers need not apply, unless they appreciate peering over the top of the windscreen. The folding metal roof is almost guaranteed to get you noticed. A future classic in the making?

Jaguar XK Convertible

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Hasn’t this aged well? We’re not saying a Jaguar XK will be cheap to run, but just think of the image. As good looking as a new F-Type and as much presence as an Aston Martin DB7? We think so.

Fiat X1/9

The Fiat X1/9 remains, relatively speaking, a cheap classic. Think of it as a fun-sized Ferrari and you won’t be too far wide of the mark. As with the Jaguar above, the Bertone styling has aged beautifully, but you might want to check for rust. Something this lady is clearly doing.

Audi TT Roadster

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Like the aforementioned SLK, the TT Roadster is more style over substance, but we acknowledge that not everybody expects their sports car to kiss the apex on a Sunday morning. For Sunday afternoon drives, the TT Roadster is a fine choice. And that interior is one of the best in the business.

Dealer group to teach footballers how to drive

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When it comes to driving supercars, it pays not to bend it like Beckham. But the internet is awash with stories of Premier League footballers for whom their control let them down. Which is why H.R Owen is ‘giving it 110%’ to ensure accidents don’t happen.

The luxury car dealer is partnering with Premier Sports Network to offer bespoke driver training to any football player who buys a car from one of its showrooms. You know, your Rooneys, your Vardys, your Kanes and your Harts. All being well, this should avoid any footballers getting an unwanted six-pointer (on their driving licence).

The offers applies to all models from Ferrari, Lamborghini, Rolls-Royce, Bentley, Aston Martin, Maserati and Bugatti, which means Wayne Rooney would have missed out when he bought his first car – a Ford SportKa.

According to H.R. Owen, many footballers rush out to buy an expensive motor when they sign their first lucrative contract. It’s fair to say that while some might have a cultured left foot, they can be a little heavy with their right. This driver training should ensure they know how to use that extra yard of pace.

The training – which extends to the road and track – will involve a two-stage driver-training programme at a location convenient to them. H.R Owen’s driver tuition truly is a game of two halves, Clive.

Five key areas will be approached: team sessions, individual coaching, off-road masterclass, dynamic handling masterclass and a safety-focused session to help develop driver skills. ‘Fergie time’ will be offered to those who require additional training. Probably.

Sharon Wright, H.R. Owen’s special projects director, said: “We noticed that many young sports professionals are in a position to buy some of the most powerful cars on sale today. We felt we had a duty of care to ensure these buyers were trained to the highest level before taking delivery of their vehicles.”

39900-c-fer

In 2009, Cristiano Ronaldo crashed his Ferrari 599 GTB in a tunnel beneath Manchester Airport between Wilmslow and Hale. A year later, Mario Balotelli quite literally made a big impact at Manchester City by colliding with a BMW in his Audi R8.

Other incidents and accidents include Cesc Fabregas wrecking his Mercedes-Benz SL55 AMG, Ian Wright making a mess of his Ferrari 360 Spider, while more recently, Diafra Sakho smashed his Lamborghini into a front garden.

Quite clearly, the West Ham player realised he wasn’t in acres of space.