01_Six for £6kSpeed and style for just £6,000

Six thousand pounds is, give or take a fiver, the price of Britain’s cheapest new car: the Dacia Sandero. But what if we told you that, instead of a back-to-basics supermini, you could have a tyre-smoking super saloon, a four-wheel-drive rally replica or even, yes, a mid-engined Porsche?

All of the used cars we’ve picked will hit 62mph in under six seconds – less than half the time needed by the slothful Sandero. And while running costs, such as fuel, tax and insurance, will undoubtedly exceed those of a brand new supermini, the depreciation bill (loss in value over time) could be much lower. For some of these desirable cars, the only way is up.

02_Six for £6kBMW 545i

When launched in 2003, the 4.4-litre V8-engined 545i was the fastest 5 Series you could buy. The 550i and M5 followed in 2005, but both are beyond our price range. Besides, the 338hp 545i is plenty quick enough, hitting 62mph in 5.8 seconds and an electronically-limited top speed of 155mph. Not bad for a luxury saloon that seats five adults in comfort.

The 545i doesn’t feel out of its depth on a twisty country road either. Its steering offers plenty of feedback and it tackles corners with an agility that belies its bulk. You can find a 545i on Auto Trader for less than £5,000. And, this being the flagship 5 Series when new, it’s likely to be fully-loaded with equipment. Buy a good one and only the now-dated iDrive media system will remind you that this isn’t a new car.

03_Six for £6kNissan 350Z

After years of increasingly bloated Z-cars that were more about show than go, the 350Z marked the Zed’s return to its sporty 1970s roots. In fact, it’s widely considered to be a better driver’s car than its manga-styled successor, the 370Z. Available as a two-seat coupe or roadster, the 350Z followed a familiar recipe: a big, powerful engine up-front driving the rear wheels. The result was 0-62mph in 5.9 seconds and plenty of old-school fun.

The cheapest 350Zs start from just £4,500, but beware of grey-import Japanese cars – usually with square number plates and ‘Fairlady Z’ badges – that may lack service history. They could prove more expensive to insure, too. The Nissan’s 284hp 3.5-litre V6 is reliable, but budget for big fuel bills – quoted economy is just 24.8mpg.

04_Six for £6kJaguar S-type R

You’ll struggle find a decent M-badged BMW or AMG Mercedes for £6,000, but the full-fat version of Jaguar’s unloved S-type is readily available at this price. And make no mistake, with a 406hp 4.2-litre V8 under its curvaceous bonnet, the S-type R has ample firepower to take on the Germans. It roars to 62mph in a scant 5.3 seconds.

That’s verging on supercar performance, particularly for a large saloon launched in 2002. Granted, the Jaguar doesn’t offer the dynamic finesse of a BMW M5, but there’s no doubt it’s a lot of fun. A quick trawl through the classifieds found S-type Rs from just £4,000. Be sure to check any potential purchase carefully, though – rust is a known problem, particularly underneath the doors.

05_Six for £6kLexus GS 450h

If the S-type R is a little too manic for your taste, there is a more civilised (and, dare we say it, more reliable) way to reach 62mph in six seconds. Hybrids like the Lexus GS 450h are always quick off the mark thanks to the instant torque (pulling power) of electric motors. And the GS 450h packs a 3.5-litre V6 petrol engine as well, making it good for 0-62mph in 5.9 seconds.

Let’s be clear, though – the GS isn’t a sports car. Its suspension is set up for comfort rather than cornering prowess. The hybrid drivetrain means you’re stuck with a single-speed CVT gearbox, too. But none of that matters much, because the Lexus is well-equipped and very comfortable. For a car so quick, it’s remarkably easy and stress-free to drive.

06_Six for £6kSubaru Impreza WRX

You don’t have to choose your Impreza WRX in WR Blue with gold wheels. But we’d find it hard to resist. As any rally fan or Playstation gamer knows, those were the colours of Colin McRae’s iconic Impreza rally car and they have been copied by Subaru fanboys (and girls) ever since.

The Impreza’s rumbly 233hp flat-four engine propels it to 62mph in 5.9 seconds. There’s also a 284hp STi version, which is half-a-second quicker still. Four-wheel-drive traction makes the Subaru a match for most sports cars, especially when the roads are wet. Just beware of modified examples that have been thrashed. Oh, and did we mention the park-bench rear wing? Yep, we’d have one of those as well.

07_Six for £6kPorsche Boxster S

We promised you a Porsche, and here it is. The first generation ‘986’ Boxster is now a temptingly cheap way to live the sports car dream. With its flat-six engine in the middle for near-perfect weight distribution, it feels fluid, fast and fun. That said, you’ll need the 256hp 3.2-litre S version if you want to crack 62mph in less than six seconds. The S also boasted a six-speed gearbox.

Like any Porsche, the Boxster can be expensive to repair when it goes wrong. Check all the electrics work – including the electric soft-top – and consider having the car professionally inspected before you buy. Besides being a lot of fun, the Boxster is pretty practical for a sports car. It has two boots, one under the bonnet and one behind the engine. However, unlike in the 911, the two seats mean you’ll have to leave the kids at home.