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10 brilliant cars and their bargain alternatives

10 brilliant cars and their bargain alternatives

10 brilliant cars and their bargain alternativesIn the ideal world, we’d all drive brilliant cars – but that’s not always possible. Perhaps a car is financially out of reach or maybe so few were made, you’ve got little chance of actually owning one. With this in mind, we’ve assembled a list of brilliant cars and then presented a cheaper alternative. You can thank us later.

Range Rover Evoque Convertible10 brilliant cars and their bargain alternatives

In the case of the Range Rover Evoque, less is definitely more. Removing the roof to create the Evoque Convertible has transformed one of the most fashionable cars on the planet into something so hot you can barely touch it. You may not like the idea of a topless SUV, but there are thousands of willing punters ready to part with upwards of £47,500.

Land Rover Freelander SoftBack10 brilliant cars and their bargain alternatives

But do you want to spend circa £50,000 on something that resembles Barbie’s chariot, when you can drop a few hundred notes on a Land Rover Freelander SoftBack? Sure, it won’t turn heads quite like the Evoque and it’s only your rear seat passengers who will enjoy the effect of wind-in-the-hair motoring, but it’s cheap.

Mercedes-Benz SLC10 brilliant cars and their bargain alternatives

Don’t be fooled by the name, because the Mercedes-Benz SLC is little more than a facelift of the old SLK. Time has moved on and the Merc roadster no longer feels like the freshest option in the segment, but that’s not to say it doesn’t hold appeal. The simple act of lowering or raising the roof is pure theatre and can even be completed at speeds of up to 25 mph, providing the sequence is initiated below 3 mph.

Renault Megane Cabriolet10 brilliant cars and their bargain alternatives

But if you’re after theatre, the original Renault Megane Cabriolet has it in abundance. Prices start below £500, which is a small price to pay for a roof sequence that could rival a breakdancing Optimus Prime. You’ve just got to ensure the roof still works, otherwise you’re simply splashing out on less practical and probably leaky Renault Megane Coupe.

BMW M210 brilliant cars and their bargain alternatives

Peer through the tyresmoke and you’ll have seen Chris Harris enjoying himself behind the wheel of a BMW M2 whilst filming for Top Gear. It might look like a pumped up M235i — not that this is a bad thing — but it borrows much of its hardware from the M3 and M4. £44,080 might seem like a lot, but spending £13,000 more on an M4 coupe won’t necessarily result in more smiles.

BMW E46 M310 brilliant cars and their bargain alternatives

We think the M2 is the best BMW M-car since the E46 M3. Introduced in 2000, the E46 is recognised as one of the greatest M-cars of all time, boasting a glorious 3.2-litre straight-six engine and one of the finest chassis of the new millennium. The M2 might be a future classic, but the E46 M3 is a cast-iron modern classic.

Ford Fiesta ST10 brilliant cars and their bargain alternatives

Regular readers will know that we, along with the rest of the motoring media, adore the new Ford Fiesta ST. It’s brilliant, so it slots neatly under our title, but it’s also a bargain, so, er… we may need some help here. At £17,395, it’s hard to find a more enjoyable car for so little money…

Ford Fiesta 1.0 EcoBoost 12510 brilliant cars and their bargain alternatives

To be honest, when we look at the prices of other Fiestas in the range, it only serves to cement our feeling that the ST is one of the bargains of 2016. But don’t rule out used examples of the current Fiesta, which are the sweetest handling superminis you can buy. And the 1.0-litre EcoBoost 125 engine is both punchy and economical.

Land Rover Defender10 brilliant cars and their bargain alternatives

The final Land Rover Defender as we know and love it may have rolled off the production line, but don’t run away with the idea that it’s the last of the old-school 4x4s…

Suzuki Jimny10 brilliant cars and their bargain alternatives

On the contrary, the Suzuki Jimny is able to punch well above its weight when it comes to venturing off-road, and you can still buy one new. It may not be great on the road, but it’s terrific fun off it.

Peugeot 205 GTI10 brilliant cars and their bargain alternatives

The Peugeot 205 GTI was recently voted the greatest hot hatch of all time and prices appear to be on the up.

Peugeot 205 XS10 brilliant cars and their bargain alternatives

So you might be better off opting for the 205 XS instead. Think of it as the 205 GTI’s little brother – just as willing on a B-road and very eager to impress. The later cars shared the same 1.4-litre engine found in the Citroen AX GT.

Peugeot 309 GTI10 brilliant cars and their bargain alternatives

Not convinced by the 205 XS? There is an alternative. Don’t be fooled by its relatively frumpy appearance, because the 309 GTI is every bit as good as the 205 GTI, if not better. Best of luck finding a good one.

Bugatti Veyron10 brilliant cars and their bargain alternatives

Let’s face it, only the privileged few can afford to buy and run a Bugatti Veyron. But what if we told you it was possible to get your hands on half a Bugatti Veyron? Better still, you only need to fork out around £2,500.

Volkswagen Passat W810 brilliant cars and their bargain alternatives

Wonderful, isn’t it? The Passat W8 features a 4.0-litre W8 engine, precisely half the 8.0-litre W16 engine you’ll find in the record-breaking Veyron. Go for the wagon version and you can even take the dog.

Citroen C4 Cactus10 brilliant cars and their bargain alternatives

It may have been on sale 18 months, but the Citroen C4 Cactus still manages to turn heads. We suspect you’ll either love or hate the Airbumps, but they certainly help to make the Cactus stand out amongst the crowd of crossovers. Prices start from £12,990.

Rover Streetwise10 brilliant cars and their bargain alternatives

Alternatively, you could opt for the Rover Streetwise and save yourself around £12,000. Believe it or not, this was Rover’s attempt to appeal to a younger audience. Because kids love urban on-roaders.

Volkswagen Golf GTI Mk210 brilliant cars and their bargain alternatives

The Volkswagen Golf GTI, in either Mk1 or Mk2 guise, was one of the greatest hot hatches of the 1980s. But prices are high, so bargains are thin on the ground.

Volkswagen Jetta GTI 16v10 brilliant cars and their bargain alternatives

But there is another way. When it was new, the Jetta GTI 16v was actually cheaper than the equivalent five-door Golf GTI, so it has always been a bit of a bargain. Furthermore, it features a sizeable boot and classic, understated styling. Shame so many have been sacrificed or modified.

BMW M510 brilliant cars and their bargain alternatives

The E39 M5 is arguably the best BMW M5 ever made and up there with the very best four-door saloons of all time. The star of the show is undoubtedly the 400hp 5.0-litre V8 engine, which makes a noise reminiscent of Thor gargling on chilli-flavoured mouthwash. But we don’t want to give you the M5…

BMW 540i10 brilliant cars and their bargain alternatives

Instead, help yourself to the 286hp BMW 540i, complete with a glorious 4.4-litre V8. Oh sure, you don’t get the advantages of the full-fat M badge, but there’s also none of the disadvantages. Find one with a manual gearbox and you’ll be laughing all the way to the bank (on your favourite B-road).

Super saloons: 30 of the world’s fastest four-doors

Super saloons: 10 of the world’s fastest four-doors

Super saloons: 30 of the world’s fastest four-doorsSports cars and supercars are all well and good, but what if you fancy taking somebody along for the ride? Better still, what if you want to do it in full ‘gangsta’ mode? You need a stupidly quick saloon, which is why we’ve assembled 10 of the fastest four-doors you can buy today.

Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio Verde: 191mphSuper saloons: 30 of the world’s fastest four-doors

It warms the cockles of your heart to see an Alfa Romeo listed in the upper echelons of the performance saloon world. The Giulia Quadrifoglio Verde offers proper giant-killing credentials, with 510hp on tap, a 0-62mph time of 3.9 seconds and a top speed of 190mph. Yep, all that from a rear-wheel-drive Alfa costing £55,000. The Giulia QV: because the Italians say ‘no grazie’ to speed limiters.

Maserati Quattroporte GTS: 190mphSuper saloons: 30 of the world’s fastest four-doors

You could order a Maserati Quattroporte S for £81,670 and enjoy a top speed of 177mph. But for maximum Italian underworld effect, you really need the GTS. Its 3.8-litre V8 engine delivers 530hp, enough to provide a top speed of 190mph. Yours for a smidgen over £110,000.

Bentley Flying Spur W12: 199mphSuper saloons: 30 of the world’s fastest four-doors

The Bentley Flying Spur V8 S (pictured) offers a hefty 521hp and 502lb ft of torque to provide a top speed of 190mph. But why settle for ‘just’ 190mph when the Flying Spur W12 can deliver 616hp and 590lb ft of torque to provide a speed knocking on the door of 200mph. It’s all thanks to that mighty 6.0-litre W12 engine.

Cadillac CTS-V: 200mphSuper saloons: 30 of the world’s fastest four-doors

What does $83,995 (£64,684) buy you these days? How about the fastest and most powerful Cadillac in history? The CTS-V is powered by the beating heart of a Corvette Z06 – a 6.3-litre supercharged V8 engine with 640 horses galloping forward to top the magic 200mph. Track-focused yet road-legal… where do we sign?

Aston Martin Lagonda: 200mphSuper saloons: 30 of the world’s fastest four-doors

Although aimed at the Middle East market, the Aston Martin Lagonda Taraf is available in the UK. If a Bentley is too ‘Premier League’ and a Rolls-Royce a bit too obvious, the Lagonda could be the saloon for you. Who needs a Rapide S when you can have a £685,000 Lagonda capable of 200mph?

Aston Martin Rapide S: 203mphSuper saloons: 30 of the world’s fastest four-doors

Because the Rapide S will outpace you, that’s why. As you sit there, gracefully crossing the desert at a leisurely 200mph, don’t be surprised to see a Rapide S edge past you on its way to 203mph…

Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat: 204mphSuper saloons: 30 of the world’s fastest four-doors

Meanwhile, edging even further ahead is the Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat. Forget all that graceful and luxurious nonsense, this American says ‘to Hellcat’ with all that, before taking a sledgehammer approach to performance. Dodge claims it’s the most powerful, quickest and fastest sedan ever built. And with 707hp on tap and a quarter-mile time of 11.0 seconds, who are we to disagree? All this for $64,990 – the equivalent of £50,000.

Alpina B5 Biturbo: 204mphSuper saloons: 30 of the world’s fastest four-doors

In Alpina’s world, speed limiters and the word ‘standard’ are for other people to worry about. We could have featured a number of Alpina-enhanced BMWs, but we’ve chosen to concentrate on two. This is the 600hp Alpina B5 Biturbo, which offers a top speed of 204mph…

Alpina B7 Biturbo: 205mphSuper saloons: 30 of the world’s fastest four-doors

Meanwhile, this is the 608hp Alpina B7 Biturbo, which offers a top speed of 205mph. But anything Alpina can do, Brabus can do… differently.

Brabus 900 Maybach 600: 217mphSuper saloons: 30 of the world’s fastest four-doors

Spend a few moments browsing the Brabus catalogue and you’ll discover all number of bonkers creations. We’ve chosen to showcase just the one: the 900 Maybach 600, complete with a terrifying top speed of 217mph. Darers go first…

Practically great: brilliant used estate cars for £5,000

Practically great: brilliant used estate cars for £5,000

Practically great: brilliant used estate cars for £5,000Given the popularity of crossovers and SUVs, you’d be forgiven for thinking the humble estate car has had its day. But we’re hear to fly the flag for the traditional load-lugger, which is why we’ve assembled a list of great estate cars you can buy for £5,000. All you need is a labrador to go with the car.

Definitive: Volvo 240Practically great: brilliant used estate cars for £5,000

When aliens land on Planet Earth and demand to see an example of the definitive estate car, this is what they’ll be shown. The Volvo 240 is the archetypal wagon – big on space, big on practicality, big on safety. You won’t even need to spend the entire £5k budget, because prices start from a few hundred notes. Our pick: the 240 GLT.

Style: Alfa Romeo 159 SportwagonPractically great: brilliant used estate cars for £5,000

Estate cars have no right to look this good. The Alfa Romeo 159 Sportwagon is the antithesis of the Volvo 240 – achingly beautiful to look at and just as great to drive. On the flip side, it’s not the most spacious estate car in the world, so your dog and rear seat passengers may prefer the big Swede to the pert Italian.

Rural life: Subaru OutbackPractically great: brilliant used estate cars for £5,000

Some folk will tell you, with some justification, that the Subaru Outback is hamstrung by a naff interior and high running costs. But don’t let that put you off, because when it comes to off-roading and withstanding a lifetime of abuse, these things are peerless. Quite simply, if you live in the country, the Subaru Outback has to be on your shortlist.

 

Space: Mercedes-Benz E-Class EstatePractically great: brilliant used estate cars for £5,000

The W211 Mercedes-Benz E-Class Estate is not without its problems, so you’re advised to do your homework before parting with £5,000. But if you’re after a cavernous load area, sumptuous interior and rock-solid image, this makes a great deal of sense. Also available as a seven-seater.

 

Compact: Skoda Fabia EstatePractically great: brilliant used estate cars for £5,000

Not everybody needs to carry a grandfather clock or ferry half a dozen labradors, which is why cars like the Skoda Fabia Estate are so appealing. What it gives up in terms of load capacity, it makes up for in terms of convenience, value for money and low running costs. It’s like a Volkswagen Polo wagon and you’ll be able to afford anything up to a 2010 model. Also available as the rugged-looking Scout.

 

No frills: Dacia Logan MCVPractically great: brilliant used estate cars for £5,000

If you fancy something nearly-new, your best bet is the Dacia Logan MCV. Buy new and you can drive away in a base-spec Logan for £6,995, but we’d suggest opting for a used example with a few bells and whistles. It’s hardly plush, but the Logan MCV offers a huge 573 litres of boot space, extending to 1,518 with the seats folded flat. Quick confession: the cheapest we can find are just over the £5,000 mark. Time to start haggling…

 

Lifestyle: Lexus IS300 SportCrossPractically great: brilliant used estate cars for £5,000

Once upon a time, we all knew where we stood. A spade was a spade and an estate car was an estate car. But then the carmakers started being all fancy dan with their Sport Wagons, Sport Tourers and Tourings. Lexus got in on the act with its IS300 SportCross, which added a touch more practicality over the saloon. It might have a mere 340 litres of luggage space below the parcel shelf, but with the seats folded it can carry up to 2.6m in length. The IS300 SportCross looks superb and drives as well as the saloon.

Performance: Volvo 850 T-5RPractically great: brilliant used estate cars for £5,000

The Volvo 850 T-5R sticks two fingers up at convention. Who says you can’t have a boot the size of Watford yet still have the potential to keep up with a sports car? Volvo turned to Porsche to show a new racier side, with the Stuttgart wizards assisting with the engine tuning, transmission and interior. Top speed was limited to 155mph and 60mph was polished off in under six seconds. A modern classic? We think so.

Rallying: Subaru Impreza WRX Estate

Practically great: brilliant used estate cars for £5,000Perhaps it’s us, but we always found the wagon version of the Subaru Impreza WRX a little less baseball cap and branded rally jacket than the saloon. It presents a more grown-up, sensible personality and yet still retains the same outstanding cross-country pace. It won’t be cheap to run, but it should prove to be reliable.

Classic: Mercedes-Benz W123 TPractically great: brilliant used estate cars for £5,000

It says something about the enduring appeal of the Mercedes-Benz W123 T that you might struggle to find a good one for less than £5,000. They do exist and your search will be rewarded with a cavernous boot, potential for seven seats and what is one of the best-engineered cars of the 20th century. Alternatively, it’s worth considering its successor – the W124.

 

Budget: Citroen ZX EstatePractically great: brilliant used estate cars for £5,000

On a strict budget? Not keen to spend the entire £5,000 on a car? You need something utterly unfashionable, cheap to run and highly practical. The Citroen ZX Estate should fit the bill, especially in super-frugal diesel guise. Spend a few hundred notes buying one and if it dies, simply buy another one. Simple.

 

Wildcard: Chrysler 300C TouringPractically great: brilliant used estate cars for £5,000

You know us, we love to throw a couple of wildcards into the mix and the Chrysler 300C Touring is about as wild as you can get for this money. A Mercedes-sourced 3.0-litre V6 diesel should provide some reassurance and acceptable fuel economy, while the 630 litres of boot space means it’s surprisingly practical. You’ll also find the 300C to be well-equipped.

 

Volvo V70Practically great: brilliant used estate cars for £5,000

Weirdly, the Volvo V70 isn’t as spacious as its German rivals, so if space is your final frontier, you’d be better off with the A6 Avant, E-Class Estate or 5 Series Touring. But nobody does estate cars quite like Volvo and the V70 is one of the most comfortable cars in its class. For a dash of performance, the V70R is worth hunting down. That’s if you can keep up.

 

Veyron wagon: Volkswagen Passat W8Practically great: brilliant used estate cars for £5,000

Could this be the world’s greatest Q-car? Underneath that Colin-from-accounts exterior lies the beating heart of a W8 engine, which makes this a Bugatti Veyron for the family (of sorts). With a mere 275hp on tap and a heavy four-wheel drive system, the performance is best described as brisk, but we can’t help but adore the W8. We just haven’t got the guts to take the plunge. Have you?

If it’s good enough for the Queen: Jaguar X-Type EstatePractically great: brilliant used estate cars for £5,000

If it’s good enough for Her Majesty, it’s good enough for you. For some reason, the X-Type Estate has a far better image than that of the saloon version and we happen to think it is ageing rather well. Opt for the all-wheel drive version and you’ll be equipped for all weathers.

Golf GTI estate: Skoda Octavia vRSPractically great: brilliant used estate cars for £5,000

Fancy a Volkswagen Golf GTI estate? Sadly, this budget won’t stretch to a Golf R Estate, which means the Skoda Octavia vRS is the next best thing. Opt for the Mk1 Octavia vRS with its 1.8-litre turbocharged engine and your budget will ensure you have the pick of the crop. The Mk2 is arguably a better all-rounder, whilst benefiting from the option of a diesel version.

All-rounder: Ford MondeoPractically great: brilliant used estate cars for £5,000

The Ford Mondeo is so good, it’s a wonder why people consider buying anything else. Cliche alert: this thing ticks all of the boxes. The boot is huge, the cabin is spacious, it’s dynamically sorted and it’s also, depending on spec, very well-equipped. A candidate for all the estate car you could ever need? Sorry, that’s two cliches in quick succession.

Reliability: Honda AccordPractically great: brilliant used estate cars for £5,000

But we do accept that not everybody wants to drive a Ford Mondeo, which is why cars like the Honda Accord exist. Why should you be interested? Well, for a start, the Accord is regarded as being one of the most reliable cars in the world. Secondly, it’s packed full of gadgets. Thirdly, the not-so-small matter of 626 litres of boot space.

 

Not a crossover: Audi AllroadPractically great: brilliant used estate cars for £5,000

The Audi Allroad wasn’t the first off-road estate car, but it helped to define the sector. Today, the A4 and A6 Allroad are welcome antidotes to the march of the crossover. Along with the Volvo V70 XC, this is where the whole premium off-road estate car thing began. Good ones aren’t cheap, but the image is rock-solid.

 

Still not a crossover: Skoda Octavia ScoutPractically great: brilliant used estate cars for £5,000

Here’s another car that retains its value surprisingly well. Or is it a surprise, given the Octavia Scout’s reputation for reliability, practicality and off-road capability? Owners love these things.

Not German: Citroen C5 TourerPractically great: brilliant used estate cars for £5,000

Remember the television ads for the Citroen C5? ‘Unmistakably German, made in France’, or words to that effect. We’re not quite sure what Citroen was hoping to achieve with this approach, but the C5 Tourer remains one of the best looking estate cars you can buy. What’s more, the diesel engines are excellent, contributing to what is a terrific long-distance cruiser. They also depreciate like a stone, which is good news if you’re buying used.

 

Club door: MINI ClubmanPractically great: brilliant used estate cars for £5,000

The all-new MINI Clubman might be a better car than its predecessor, but we’ll always have a soft spot for the original. There’s something rather British about the styling, although that ‘club door’ is a nuisance over here. If you’re looking for something more distinctive than the regular MINI and aren’t too fussed about a massive load area, the Clubman holds strong appeal.

 

Swede dreams: Saab 9-5Practically great: brilliant used estate cars for £5,000

Saab’s unfortunate demise has led to plummeting secondhand values, which is good news if you’re looking to buy a 9-5 Estate. There’s a network of Saab specialists to call upon, while original parts are in plentiful supply. The 9-5 is spacious, comfortable, well-equipped and, in Aero guise, properly quick.

 

Space and image: Audi A6 AvantPractically great: brilliant used estate cars for £5,000

We conclude with three estate cars that will probably account for the majority of shortlists up and down the land. Take the Audi A6 Avant, which benefits from a massive load area, an extremely good interior and the kind of image many rivals can only dream of.

 

The home banker: BMW 3 Series TouringPractically great: brilliant used estate cars for £5,000

If, on the other hand, you’re not prepared to sacrifice driving dynamics in favour of practicality, the BMW 3 Series Touring is hard to beat, especially in 330d guise.

Home banker, but larger: BMW 5 Series TouringPractically great: brilliant used estate cars for £5,000

Or, if you’re after a little more space, the BMW 5 Series Touring is great to drive, well screwed together and, if equipped with EfficientDynamics gubbins, super-frugal.

20 awesome BMW M cars to buy on Auto Trader

20 awesome BMW M cars to buy on Auto Trader

20 awesome BMW M cars to buy on Auto TraderBMW M GmbH takes credit for some of the greatest driver’s cars ever made. And while the ‘M’ stands for ‘motorsport’, these are road cars first and foremost, with a focus on accessible, affordable performance. How affordable? Surprisingly so, if you’re willing to buy second-hand. We searched the Auto Trader classifieds for our M cars of choice.

BMW M2

20 awesome BMW M cars to buy on Auto Trader

If the sight of Chris Harris hurling an M2 sideways on Top Gear has whetted your appetite, you’re not alone. BMW’s back-to-basics junior M car has earned a slew of five-star ratings from journalists – including Motoring Research.

This particular M2 has a manual gearbox (the driver’s choice, obvs) and is virtually new, having covered just 175 miles. It’s not cheap, at £52,950, but you can skip the lengthy waiting list.

BMW M3 (E30)

20 awesome BMW M cars to buy on Auto Trader

Here’s the car the M2 has been compared to: the iconic E30 M3. There were no E30 M3 coupes for sale on Auto Trader at the time of writing, so we’ve picked the convertible version. Blistered wheelarches and a dog-leg gearbox mark it out as a bona fide homologation special.

The E30 is one of of the fastest-appreciating classics of recent years, which explains how this 136,000-mile convertible can be advertised for a whopping £69,925. We love the period Hartge alloy wheels, but suspect an M3 coupe would be a better investment.

BMW M3 (E46)

20 awesome BMW M cars to buy on Auto Trader

If the E30 is out of reach, consider what is now the cheapest M3: the 2000-2006 E46. Powered by a 3.2-litre straight-six that revs to 8,000rpm, it offers savage performance and superb handling. Of all the cars here, it’s the biggest bargain.

We deliberately picked an E46 in our favourite Phoenix Yellow colour. However, for the sake of comfort, we’d prefer 17-inch alloy wheels, rather than the optional 18-inchers seen here. With 110,000 miles on the clock and full service history, this car is advertised for £8,989.

BMW M3 CSL

20 awesome BMW M cars to buy on Auto Trader

How about the ultimate E46 M3? Step forward the limited-edition CSL. With 17hp more power, 110kg less weight, a stiffer chassis and retuned suspension, the CSL delivered on BMW’s promise of ‘the ultimate driving machine’.

Today, prices of CSLs far outstrip those of the regular E46 M3. The car seen here, for example, is advertised for £69,990. That said, it’s clearly lived a pampered life, with just 15,355 miles from new. Another fantastic investment – but would you dare drive it?

BMW M5 (E39)

20 awesome BMW M cars to buy on Auto Trader

From perhaps the greatest M3 to what many consider the finest M5. The E39 M5 was sold from 1998-2003 and packed a 400hp V8 inside a subtle saloon body. Despite a limited-slip differential, it isn’t averse to going sideways…

This M5 has covered 131,500 miles, but don’t let that worry you. E39s are generally reliable cars, and this one – advertised at £9,500 – comes with full service history. That’s awful lot of metal, not to mention performance, for your money.

BMW M5 (E60)

20 awesome BMW M cars to buy on Auto Trader

Got a bit more cash to spend? Good, then you’ll want an E60 M5. The successor to the E39 was on sale from 2005-2010 and is a car utterly dominated by its howling 507hp V10 engine. However, maintenance costs are high and many dislike the SMG semi-automatic gearbox.

If you’re going to take the plunge with an E60, you’ll want a reliable one. That means buying one of the best available – like this 36,500-mile car advertised for a not-inconsiderable £23,995. Then again, that’s still less than a new Golf GTI…

BMW M5 Touring

20 awesome BMW M cars to buy on Auto Trader

No, your eyes do not deceive you – this really is an M estate car. The E60 Touring is much rarer than the saloon, with just 1,025 built – versus 19,564 for the four-door. A feral V10 AND the ability to carry an Ikea Billy bookcase? Talk about having your cake…

The Touring’s relative rarity means prices are higher than the equivalent saloon. This 2007 example has covered 67,500 miles and is advertised for £23,995. It’s fully loaded and comes with comprehensive service history, but we’d still recommend a professional inspection before you buy.

BMW M6 Gran Coupe

20 awesome BMW M cars to buy on Auto Trader

The M6 Gran Coupe is another rare-groove M car that offers plenty of pace and space, particularly for passengers. Its beautiful design makes BMW’s flagship 7 series look dull and frumpy, but it’s certainly not cheap – at around £95,000 if you buy new.

Indeed, the ad states this sleek black Gran Coupe cost ‘over £100,000 new’. Which makes its £49,995 asking price, with a modest 22,500 miles on the clock, look rather good value. An equipment list longer than your arm includes carbon fibre interior trim, soft-close doors and a surround-view parking camera.

BMW Z3 M Coupe

20 awesome BMW M cars to buy on Auto TraderThe Z3 M Coupe is the black sheep of the M family, with controversial styling and hooligan handling. It packs a 244hp straight six into a three-door ‘shooting brake’ estate body. Later, post-2001 cars had 325hp. A slow-seller when new, the M Coupe is now a sought-after classic.

This imported, left-hand-drive M Coupe has just over 50,000 miles on the clock and is advertised for £22,990. The Darka Yellow paint won’t be to everyone’s taste, but we think it suits the extrovert character of the hot Z3. Another M car that is appreciating fast.

BMW Z4 M Coupe

20 awesome BMW M cars to buy on Auto Trader

The Z3 M Coupe was followed by this – a car with less divisive looks, but equally punchy performance. A 343hp in-line six gives 0-62mph in 5.0sec and a top speed limited to 155mph. Interestingly, BMW has never made an M version of its successor, the current (E89) Z4.

Rarity and a reputation for being fun to drive mean Z4 M values have stayed strong. This 2006 car has covered 54,000 miles and is advertised on Auto Trader for £17,489. A red leather interior is a nod to German sports cars of old. Or maybe a tribute to TOWIE, depending on your point of view.

BMW Z4 M Roadster

20 awesome BMW M cars to buy on Auto Trader

We haven’t forgotten the open-top version of the Z4 M either. In fact, we think the once-controversial, Chris-Bangle-penned lines of this roadster look better with every passing year. A range of petrol engines was available, from a 150hp 2.0 upwards. But the brawny Z4 M is the one we really want.

This 2006 Z4 looks fantastic on 19-inch alloy wheels, and the vendor promises it ‘sounds superb’, too. It’s offered at £12,495 with 85,000 miles on the clock. This, or a Lotus Elise with less than half the power?

BMW M4 Convertible

20 awesome BMW M cars to buy on Auto Trader

Staying with drop-top M cars, here’s the latest M4 convertible. With 425hp coursing through its rear tyres, it’ll hit 62mph in 4.3sec (4.6sec with a manual ’box) and blow-dry your hair faster than, well, a hairdryer. The M4 isn’t the sharpest tool in the box when it comes to handling, so the convertible version makes sense. It’s a cruiser AND a bruiser…

The M4 was only launched in 2014, so it’s still a relatively pricey used buy. This 2015 car has covered 4,000 miles and is offered for £54,994 – a useful saving after all the extra-cost options, such as memory seats, a reversing camera and BMW Professional navigation, are taken into account. What do you mean you don’t like white with red leather?

BMW M3 Convertible (E36)

20 awesome BMW M cars to buy on Auto Trader

The E36 M3 Convertible is a more affordable way into an open-top M car, particularly as most enthusiasts prefer the coupe or saloon. Like the latest M4, it’s a slightly softer take on the M formula, with a muscular six-cylinder engine and plenty of standard kit.

Many E36 cabrios fell into the wrong hands and the car developed a bit of an image problem. Fortunately, it’s now being recognised as a credible classic. This later Evo model has covered 68,042 miles and is advertised for £12,925 – about a quarter of what you’d pay for a new M4.

BMW 1 Series M Coupe

20 awesome BMW M cars to buy on Auto Trader

Oooof – now we’re talking. The 1 Series M Coupe is another car frequently mentioned in the same breath as the new M2. Launched in 2011, only 6,309 examples of this 340hp turbocharged terror were built. Savage performance and balletic handling meant it immediately took its place among the M car greats.

The 1 Series M Coupe (often referred to simply as the ‘1M’) is famous for being completely depreciation-proof. It cost £40,000 when new and here, five years later and with 18,750 miles on the clock, is a Valencia Orange example for £47,950. Five years of fun and a tidy profit? Sounds like win-win.

BMW M135i

20 awesome BMW M cars to buy on Auto Trader

Officially, the M135i isn’t a ‘proper’ M car. Still, who can argue with the idea of a six-cylinder, rear-wheel-drive hot hatch? Especially when said hatch packs 326hp and hits 62mph in 5.1sec. The latest Ford Focus RS may have stolen its crown, but the BMW still offers plenty of driver appeal.

The M135i is also looking conspicuously good value – as a brief browse of Auto Trader reveals. This 2013 car costs less than half the £32,000 BMW asks for a new M140i – the upgraded, 2016 version of the M135i. It also has a manual gearbox, although we’d be equally happy with the excellent – and more common – paddle-shift automatic.

BMW X5M

20 awesome BMW M cars to buy on Auto TraderBMW purists, look away now: this is about to get controversial. In 2009, M division turned its attention to an SUV for the first time. And while car journalists wrung their hands in distress, many buyers loved the idea of a hot X5 to take on the Porsche Cayenne Turbo. The original X5M seen here had 555hp. The latest version has 575hp.

Described in the ad as a ‘sports activity vehicle’, this X5M certainly looks the part, with bright Monte Carlo Blue paint and 20-inch alloy wheels. Not sure how family-friendly a white leather interior is, though. A 2010 car with 45,440 miles on the clock, it’s listed on Auto Trader at £27,850.

BMW X6M

20 awesome BMW M cars to buy on Auto Trader

If you thought THAT was controversial, prepare to spit out your tea. The X6M is a coupe, SUV and M car rolled into one. Some will question the point of shoehorning a 555hp V8 into something that weighs 2.3 tonnes, but others rate the X6’s high driving position and in-yer-face styling. You pays your money…

How much money are we talking? Well, unlike some M cars, the X6 certainly isn’t depreciation-proof. This car would have cost nearly £90,000 when new in 2011, but is now advertised for a third of that price. The Melbourne Red paint suits it, we think.

Alpina D3 Bi-Turbo

20 awesome BMW M cars to buy on Auto Trader

BMW has never built a diesel M car, so the D3 Bi-Turbo fills that void. It hits 60mph in a brisk 6.9sec, yet returns official fuel economy of 50.4mpg. No petrol-engined M gets close to that. If you cover a lot of motorway miles, the rare and subtly cool Alpina makes a lot of sense.

This D3 looks fab on trad-Alpina multi-spoke alloys, and also features a rare, suede-wrapped Alpina steering wheel. The odometer reads 79,304 miles, but its condition is described as ‘excellent’. If we found £11,950 down the back of the sofa, we’d be tempted.

BMW Z8

20 awesome BMW M cars to buy on Auto Trader

Most famous for its role in James Bond film The World Is Not Enough, the Z8 isn’t an M car either. However, it is one of the fastest and most desirable BMWs ever made, which qualifies it for a place here. It borrows its 400hp V8 from the E39 M5 and cost £80,000 when new.

You’ll struggle to find a Z8 for £80,000 now, though. This lovely 2002 example has covered just 7,200 miles and is priced at £199,995. Welcome to the world of investment-grade classic cars. We love the Z8’s styling, which is heavily influenced by the classic 507 roadster, but its chintzy retro interior is perhaps a step too far.

BMW i8

20 awesome BMW M cars to buy on Auto Trader

Bang-up-to-date with the BMW i8, another car that would almost certainly wear an M badge if it wasn’t the flag-bearer for BMW’s new electric ‘i’ sub-brand. The Z8 sprints to 62mph in 4.4sec and returns an official 134.5mpg. Oh, and it looks like the Batmobile. What’s not to like?

There’s no such thing as a cheap i8 – the cheapest example on Auto Trader at the time of writing was £75,000. That’s still a useful saving over the car’s £105,000 new price, though. And just think how much money you’ll save on fuel…

In or Out: European cars we love – and those we’d send back

01_In_or_OutVote Leave or vote Remain – soon we’ll know which way the UK public has voted in the EU referendum. The crucial vote got us thinking – if we were voting to decide the future of European cars, which ones would we keep and which ones would we send packing? We took a virtual tour of the European plants to find out.

European cars: leave or remain?AUSTRIA: Mercedes-Benz G-Wagen – REMAIN

It might be long in the tooth, but there’s something reassuringly old-school about the Mercedes-Benz G-Wagen. In the absence of the Land Rover Defender, it stands shoulder to shoulder as a last bastion of the traditional full-size SUV. Since 1979, the G-Wagen has been built by Magna Steyr in Graz, Austria.

European cars: leave or remain?AUSTRIA: MINI Paceman – LEAVE

Meanwhile, the Austrians are also responsible for the MINI Paceman. Production started in 2012, two years after the MINI Countryman. MINI describes it as a “VIP lounge on wheels… with a rocket up its backside”. For that reason alone, we’re asking the MINI Paceman to leave.

European cars: leave or remain?BELGIUM: Volvo XC60 – REMAIN

Belgium once had a proud automotive industry, with the Ford plant in Genk responsible for the production of some 14 million vehicles over 50 years. Today, the Volvo XC60 is the best new car to come out of Belgium.

European cars: leave or remain?CROATIA: Rimac Concept One – REMAIN

It might sound like the name of your girlfriend’s hair removal cream, but the Rimac Concept One is the best thing to come out of Croatia since Luka Modric. The Croatian-built all-wheel drive electric hypercar offers in excess of 1,000hp and can sprint from 0-62mph in just 2.6 seconds. This is one European car we love. Still want that Tesla Model S?

European cars: leave or remain?CZECH REPUBLIC: Skoda Superb – REMAIN

Into the Czech Republic and it will come as no surprise to find the Skoda Superb topping our list of cars that should remain. It’s one of the best new cars in Europe and a genuine rival to so-called premium badge rivals.

European cars: leave or remain?CZECH REPUBLIC: SEAT Toledo – LEAVE

SEAT – the supposed fun-loving and sun-drenched part of Volkswagen Group. So why on earth is the Spanish firm lumbered with the instantly forgettable Toledo? It’s built alongside the equally lacklustre Skoda Rapid at Mlada Boleslav, Prague.

European cars: leave or remain?DENMARK: Zenvo ST1 – REMAIN

There are many reasons to love Denmark: Lego, bacon, butter and pastries, to name but four. We could also add the Zenvo ST1 to the list – the 7.0-litre V8 supercar, arguably most famous for bursting into flames during an episode of Top Gear.

European cars: leave or remain?DENMARK: Garia Mansory – LEAVE

Not all golf carts are created equal. Danish firm Garia loads its carts with the kind of features you’d find on an entry-level S-Class. You can spec anything from a refrigerator to a heated windscreen. It’s all very country club and that’s perfectly fine. But the Mansory treatment, complete with clear-coat carbonfibre, is a stretch too far.

European cars: leave or remain?FINLAND: Fisker Karma – REMAIN

While hardly a powerhouse of the European automotive industry, Finland has a history of car production. Various Saab models were produced there between 1969 and 2003, while the Porsche Boxster and Cayman were also built in Finland. Our pick would be the Fisker Karma, which is now available with a V8 engine from the Corvette ZL1.

European cars: leave or remain?FRANCE: Renaultsport Megane 275-S Cup – REMAIN

We’re unable to gaze into our crystal ball to predict whether or not the UK will vote to say goodbye to EU membership, but we can say with some confidence that the Renaultsport Megane is about to face the final curtain. But what a way to say au devoir: the cut-price 275-S Cup. Ooh la la!

European cars: leave or remain?FRANCE: DS 4 – LEAVE

Meanwhile, France can keep the DS 4. There’s nothing particularly wrong with the DS 4, it’s just that it smacks of an ageing product, with a recent refresh doing little to make it any more appealing. The current DS range is just a hor d’oeuvre while we wait for the real DS cars to appear.

European cars: leave or remain?GERMANY: Ford Focus RS – REMAIN

Choosing a German car to represent Remain is a tough, but not because we’re struggling to find anything decent. Quite the opposite, in fact. Our choice is the Ford Focus RS, which just happens to be built in Saarlouis, a town situated within drifting distance of France.

European cars: leave or remain?GERMANY: BMW 2 Series Gran Tourer – LEAVE

It’s hard to criticise the BMW 2 Series Gran Tourer, because it does exactly what it sets out to do. If you’re after a premium seven-seater, it’s hard to beat. But it, along with the Active Tourer, is a radical departure for BMW – we can’t quite get our head round a front-wheel drive people carrier from Bavaria. And ask yourself this: does that driver look good behind the wheel?

European cars: leave or remain?HUNGARY: Audi A3 – REMAIN

Europe’s most popular premium family hatchback wears a German badge, but some A3s are built in Hungary. Audi Hungaria Motor is based in Györ and started series production of the A3 Saloon and A3 Cabriolet in 2013. A year later, the plant also started series production of the TT Coupe and TT Roadster.

European cars: leave or remain?HUNGARY: Mercedes-Benz CLA – LEAVE

Amazing, isn’t it? When the Mercedes-Benz CLA was complete, somebody, somewhere, took a look at the car and said: yes, that looks very smart indeed. The Audi A3 is an example of how to create a good looking medium-size saloon. The CLA, on the other hand, isn’t. Hungary – you can keep it.

European cars: leave or remain?ITALY: Ferrari 488 GTB – REMAIN

There are many Italian cars we love – take your pick from the Ferrari, Lamborghini and Pagani stables for starters. Others include the Fiat Panda, Alfa Romeo Giulia and Abarth 595. Our choice would be the Ferrari 488 GTB, because it encapsulates all that we love about Italian cars.

European cars: leave or remain?ITALY: Fiat Punto – LEAVE

The Fiat Punto is the unfortunate victim here, but that’s only because our first choice, the 500L, is built in Serbia, a nation currently outside of the EU. We like the Punto for its ‘mini Maserati’ styling, but alongside more modern superminis it’s feeling very dated.

European cars: leave or remain?NETHERLANDS: Spyker C8 Preliator – REMAIN

We don’t know what they’ve been smoking at Spyker, but if the C8 Preliator is anything to go by, we suggest they keep puffing. Adding a supercharger to Audi’s 4.2-litre V8 engine creates a 525hp hypercar wrapped in a body said to be inspired by aircraft design. Enough power to take off and leave – which is something the Remain campaigners won’t want to read.

European cars: leave or remain?POLAND: Fiat 500 – REMAIN

The quintessentially Italian small car just happens to be built in Poland. The Fiat Auto Poland plant has a long history of building Fiat cars, dating back to the construction of Polski Fiat 126p.

European cars: leave or remain?POLAND: Lancia Ypsilon – LEAVE

For a short while, the Lancia Ypsilon was available in the UK as the Chrysler Ypsilon. The car was facelifted in 2015 and subsequently subjected to a Euro NCAP safety test. It’s miserable two-star rating suggests it’s time to, er…  call time on the Lancia with the hard-to-spell name.

European cars: leave or remain?PORTUGAL: SEAT Alhambra – REMAIN

The original SEAT Alhambra, Volkswagen Sharan and Ford Galaxy rolled off the same AutoEuropa production line in Portugal. When Ford and Volkswagen went their separate ways, the plant continued to produce the Alhambra and Sharan, along with the Volkswagen EOS and Scirocco.

European cars: leave or remain?ROMANIA: Dacia Duster – REMAIN

The Dacia Duster is a truly global SUV, produced in far away places such as Romania, Brazil, India and Indonesia. It’s our favourite cut-price SUV and therefore wins the right to remain.

European cars: leave or remain?ROMANIA: Ford EcoSport – LEAVE

It’s fair to say we’re not big fans of the Ford EcoSport, but with European sales more than tripling in 2015, not everyone agrees with us. To capitalise on its success, Ford is set to invest 200 million euros in its Craiova plant to build the EcoSport for European markets. To paraphrase Barry Davies: look at its face, just look at its face.

European cars: leave or remain?SLOVAKIA: Volkswagen Up – REMAIN

We’ve run out of superlatives to describe the really-rather-good Volkswagen Up and its SEAT Mii and Skoda Citigo siblings. Bratislava can be rightly proud of its brilliant city car.

European cars: leave or remain?SLOVAKIA: Porsche Cayenne – LEAVE

We have to thank the Cayenne for enabling Porsche to do fun things with the 911, but we find it hard to love the SUV. We’re not sure if it’s the styling, the price or the image. Probably a combination of the three.

European cars: leave or remain?SLOVENIA: Renault Twingo – REMAIN

A rear-engine, rear-wheel drive city car – yes please. We like the Twingo for its different take on the city car recipe and we’re salivating over the prospect of the new GT model. Is this French fancy Slovenia’s finest export?

European cars: leave or remain?SLOVENIA: Smart Forfour – LEAVE

The Smart Forfour rolls off the same production line and adds some extra practicality to the Fortwo/Twingo. But it comes at a price and we’re not sure many passengers will thank you for confining them to the rear seats.

European cars: leave or remain?SPAIN: Citroen C4 Cactus – REMAIN

The Citroen C4 Cactus – so chic, so innovative, so different, so French. Only it isn’t French at all. The C4 Cactus is built in Spain. Sorry Gareth Bale, when it comes to flair and panache, this is the real star of Madrid.

European cars: leave or remain?SPAIN: Citroen C3: LEAVE

Meanwhile, the Citroen C3, which forms the basis of the C4 Cactus, is an ageing supermini that’s well past its sell-by date. Fortunately there’s a new version waiting in the wings, which is expected to land this summer.

European cars: leave or remain?SWEDEN: Volvo XC90 – REMAIN

Sweden has given so much to Europe – Abba, IKEA, meatballs, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Roxette and Saga from The Bridge. Oh, and not forgetting the new Volvo XC90 – a near faultless SUV and contender for the cliched all-the-car-you-could-ever-need award.

European cars: leave or remain?SWEDEN: Volvo S60 Cross Country – LEAVE

For some reason we have a soft spot for the Volvo S60 Cross Country – the high-riding saloon car that answers a question nobody ever asked. But it’s a niche too far, which is why we’re asking it to leave.

European cars: leave or remain?UNITED KINGDOM: McLaren 675LT – REMAIN

It’s only fair that we include the UK in this virtual tour of Europe. The question is: which car should represent the nation teetering on the edge of EU membership? A Nissan Qashqai? Jaguar F-Pace? MINI Hatch? No, it has to be the McLaren 675LT – a charismatic and entertaining example of British engineering.

European cars: leave or remain?UNITED KINGDOM: MINI Coupe – LEAVE

As for the MINI Coupe, we would be quite happy if it packed its bag and headed across the English Channel, never to be seen again. Perhaps it can live on a desert island with only a MINI Paceman and a Wilson volleyball for company.

Future classic cars

The future classic cars you can buy new

Future classic carsAs car enthusiasts, there’s little we enjoy more than scouring the classifieds for classics – daydreaming about what we can (or more likely, can’t) afford. But fast-forward 30 or 40 years and which current cars will be future petrolheads be lusting after? We think the following are dead-cert future classics – do you agree with our choices?

Future classic carsAlfa Romeo 4C

The 4C looks every inch the junior supercar, and its carbon fibre chassis means it won’t rust like classic Alfas of yore. Yes, a Porsche Cayman is sharper to drive, but the 240hp 4C feels more special – and will be a much rarer sight.

Future classic carsBMW M2

A decidedly old-school BMW, the M2 has a 370hp turbocharged six and a chassis that, well, likes to go sideways. It harks back to the original 1985 E30 M3 – now one of the fastest-appreciating classic cars of all.

Future classic carsFord Focus RS

We know somebody who’s just bought a new Focus RS and put it straight into air-conditioned storage – so confident is he of the car’s future value. And while it seems criminal not to drive this epic 350hp hot hatch, we’ve no doubt it’s a cast-iron future classic.

Future classic carsMazda MX-5

The venerable Mazda has, in its earlier iterations, already become a classic. The latest Mk4 MX-5 doesn’t stray from the original formula: modest power, a lightweight roadster body and rear-wheel drive. It’s a car that will make enthusiasts smile – both now and in years to come.

Future classic carsMorgan 3-Wheeler

Back to the future? The Morgan already looks like a car from the 1930s, and its hand-built retro charm will only grow with the passing years. Few cars will make you laugh out loud like a 3-Wheeler – even if you do get a few flies in your teeth in the process.

Future classic carsPorsche 911 R

Nothing screams ‘future classic’ like a limited-run Porsche. And with the same 4.0-litre naturally-aspirated engine as the GT3 RS and a manual gearbox, the 911 R has exactly the right ingredients to get enthusiasts excited.

Future classic carsRenaultsport Megane Cup-S

Visit the Nurburgring and you’ll mostly spot three types of car: Porsche 911s, BMW M3s and Renaultsport Meganes. The latter is one of the finest-handling front-wheel-drive cars ever made, and the run-out Cup-S special pictured here is set to be particularly collectible.

Future classic carsTesla Model S

Even if there’s a huge breakthrough in battery technology, it’s hard to imagine a time when the performance of the Tesla Model S won’t be impressive. This all-electric luxury saloon can seat seven people, yet the quickest P90D version hits 62mph in 2.8 seconds. A genuinely groundbreaker.

Future classic carsVauxhall VXR8

At the other end of the spectrum, here’s a car to use up the world oil supplies – and have a lot of fun doing so. The Vauxhall VXR8 has a supercharged 6.2-litre V8, hits 62mph in 4.2 seconds and can destroy a pair of rear tyres even quicker than that. Just don’t mention the fuel economy.

Future classic carsVolkswagen Golf GTI Clubsport 

The Golf GTI Clubsport is a more hardcore proposition than the luxurious, four-wheel-drive Golf R. In stripped-out S spec, it’s also the fastest front-driven car around the Nurburgring. Such ’Ring records will come and go, but it’s a safe bet the uber-GTI will remain uber-desirable.

Fastest hot hatches

The 10 fastest hot hatches around the Nurburgring

Fastest hot hatcheshe Nurburgring is the world’s most notorious racetrack. Its 13 miles of tortuously twisty tarmac serve as a proving ground for new cars – with manufacturers competing to set the lowest lap times.

As Volkswagen launches its new track-oriented new Golf Clubsport S, we’re celebrating the 10 fastest hot hatchbacks ever to lap the Nurburgring. Let the countdown commence…

Fastest hot hatches10. Volkswagen Golf R32 

Lap time: 8min 53.0sec

Golf GTI not fast enough? In 2003, Volkswagen launched the 240hp Golf R32, with the 250hp Mk5 version seen here following in 2005. It boasted a 3.2-litre VR6 engine and four-wheel drive.

Lapping the Nurburgring in less than nine minutes is no mean feat for a car as comfortable and family-focused as the Golf R32. Interestingly, the car was actually faster to 62mph (6.2sec) when fitted with Volkswagen’s DSG semi-automatic gearbox.

Fastest hot hatches9. Vauxhall Astra VXR Nurburgring

Lap time: 8min 35.0sec

A dedicated Nurburgring special edition? Yep, and Vauxhall built 835 of them to celebrate the car’s 8min 35sec lap time. A Corsa VXR Nurburgring followed in 2011.

For £1,500 more than the standard VXR, you got an extra 15hp, a Remus exhaust, white alloy wheels and lots of stickers. Alternatively, replicate the look yourself with one of those two-quid Nurburgring stickers off eBay…

Fastest hot hatches8. Ford Focus ST (2005)

Lap time: 8min 35.0sec

Fast and (usually) orange, the original Focus ST matched the 8min 35sec time of its arch-rival Astra. Its 225hp five-cylinder engine came from Volvo and is famously thirsty when driven hard.

Today, you can buy estate and diesel versions of the ST, but the 2005 original remains our favourite. Like many fast Fords, it’s a bit rough around the edges, but it’s more characterful than a contemporary Golf GTI.

Fastest hot hatches7. Ford Focus RS

Lap time: 8min 26.0sec

Brightly-coloured fast Fords, you say? Meet the daddy. The Mk2 Focus RS is a modern classic, with in-yer-face styling and a mighty 305hp turbocharged four-pot.

Ford hasn’t attempted the ’Ring in the latest (Mk3) Focus RS yet. However, with 350hp, it’s likely to be even quicker. We reckon the Ultimate Green paint seen here is worth a least 10 seconds off the lap time….

Fastest hot hatches6. Renault Megane RS R26.R

Lap time: 8min 16.90sec

Meet the first in a string of ever-faster Renault Meganes competing for top honours at the Nurburgring. The R26.R was the most extreme version of the ‘shaking that ass’ Mk2 Megane. Only 450 were made.

This isn’t your typical hot hatchback. The stripped-out R26.R has no rear seats, passenger airbags or radio. Crucially, it came shod with super-sticky Michelin or Toyo tyres, which were biased for track (and dry weather) use.

Fastest hot hatches5. Renault Megane RS Trophy

Lap time: 8min 7.97sec

Another Megane, this time the – even faster – third-generation car. The limited-edition RS Trophy boasted 265hp and a top speed of nearly 160mph. Heady stuff for a hot hatch.

More impressive, though, was the Trophy’s ability to go around corners. It lapped the Nurburgring in 8min 7.97sec – without resorting to the extreme weight-loss measures of its R26.R predecessor.

Fastest hot hatches4. SEAT Leon Cupra

Lap time: 7min 58.4sec

Spanish carmaker SEAT is known for breaking ’Ring records – its Leon ST Cupra 280 is currently the fastest estate to lap the track. The hatchback Cupra can’t make that claim, but it still edges under eight minutes.

The record-breaking (at the time) Leon was fitted with beefed-up Brembo brakes and Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tyres – both available as part of SEAT’s Performance Pack option. The Cupra has since gained an extra 10hp, potentially making it even quicker.

Fastest hot hatches3. Renault Megane RS 275 Trophy-R

Lap time: 7min 54.36sec

Our third Megane – and the fastest to date – is the RS 275 Trophy-R. The car was developed in response to SEAT breaking the front-wheel-drive record with the Leon Cupra 280, and it succeeded in taking the title back.

The 2014 Trophy-R was a serious performance machine with race-style Ohlins dampers, bigger front brakes and polycarbonate Recaro seats. With no air conditioning or radio, it’s more suited to track days than trips to Tesco.

Fastest hot hatches2. Honda Civic Type R

Lap time: 7min 50.63sec

As a statement of intent, launching a new hot hatch by setting a 7min 50.63sec Nurburgring lap time takes some beating. The bodykitted Civic really is as fast as its furious styling suggests.

Honda set its lap time with a car ‘in a standard state of tune’. However, it did admit removing ‘equipment such as air conditioning, the front passenger seat and audio equipment’ in order to ‘offset the additional weight of a full roll cage (installed specifically for safety reasons and not to add rigidity)’.

Fastest hot hatches1. Volkswagen Golf GTI Clubsport S

Lap time: 7min 49.21sec

That brings us to the current Nurburgring record-holder: the VW Golf GTI Clubsport S. Built to mark 40 years of the Golf GTI, the 310hp hatchback has been dubbed ‘the GT3 of GTIs’.

The Clubsport S is even quicker than the four-wheel-drive Golf R and only 400 will be made. Thank a strict weight-saving diet, including a smaller battery, less sound deadening and no rear seats. Hey, nobody said giant-killing hot hatches had to practical.

Diesel cars

Economy drive: are these Britain’s best new diesel cars?

Diesel carsBreaking with tradition, Diesel Car magazine has turned its back on the standard awards format and named its best 10 cars of 2016. The self-proclaimed ‘leading magazine for economy motoring’ believes these are the best new cars you can buy. In classic Top of the Pops style, we’ll present the chart in reverse order. Not ‘arf, pop-pickers.

Diesel cars10. Skoda Octavia

Finishing 10th overall, while scooping the Best Medium Estate Car award, this is the Skoda Octavia. It’s a veritable Swiss Army Knife of the sector, with hatchback and estate versions available in everything from efficient GreenLine models to sporty vRS versions. A brilliant all-rounder.

Diesel cars9. Tesla Model S

If we’d asked you to predict Diesel Car’s Best Electric Car, we think you’d have opted for the Tesla Model S. “Think of Tesla as the Apple of the car world,” said Diesel Car, before referencing its “cutting-edge” all-electric drivetrain and “supercar-rivalling” performance.

Diesel cars8. Jaguar F-Pace

“It’s famed for being the first Jaguar SUV ever, but we reckon it’ll be remembered for transforming the British brand into the big time.” Strong words, but not enough to secure a higher position. That said, it’s the current darling of the SUV world.

Diesel cars7. Nissan Qashqai

According to Diesel Car, the Nissan Qashqai is a car Britain can be proud of. It’s certainly the most popular crossover in the country, with owners appreciating its car-like dynamics, practicality and efficient diesel engines. But it’s not the best crossover in the Diesel Car Top 50…

Diesel cars6. Citroen C4 Cactus

Because that accolade falls to the Citroen C4 Cactus. Its BlueHDi 100 engine is super-efficient, while Citroen has stripped the Cactus back to basics to create a light and quirky crossover. The Airbumps remain a ‘Marmite’ feature.

Diesel cars5. Ford Focus

Well, pop-pickers, we’re down to the final five, where we find the ever-popular Ford Focus. It’s a triple-whammy for the Focus, because alongside the top five finish, it also drives off with Best Medium Car and Best Hot Hatch. The Focus ST diesel is a bit like having your cake and eating it.

Diesel cars4. Skoda Superb

We adore the Skoda Superb, so it’s good to see it finishing fourth in the Diesel Car Top 50, while also winning Best Large Car. The magazine said: “The real icing on the cake is an upmarket interior that wouldn’t be out of place in an Audi.”

Diesel cars3. Volvo XC90

Another car we love is the Volvo XC90, which finishes third overall and wins the Best Large SUV category. It’s hard to find fault with the car, with the interior a particular highlight. The XC90 gives us hope that the S90 and V90 will be similarly great.

Diesel cars2. Jaguar XF

Just missing out on the top spot is the Jaguar XF, but it does win the Best Executive Car award. “Classing leading economy and excellent refinement puts this latest British-built car at the top of the class.”

Diesel cars1. Kia Sportage

And, in at number one, it’s the Diesel Car Top of the Pops: the all-new Kia Sportage. We’ll leave the final words to the magazine: “Generous equipment levels, keen prices and excellent road manners mean that this medium SUV leapfrogs the competition to sit at the very top of the class.

For more detailed information, take a look at the June issue of Diesel Car magazine.

Reliable cars

Bargain used cars you can rely on

Reliable carsReliable old motors

To paraphrase rock band Keane, when your car is getting old you need something you can rely on. If you have a minute, why don’t we go in search of used cars that are likely to be reliable? Here are 10 cars to consider.

Reliable carsHonda Jazz

Look up reliability in the dictionary and you will almost certainly find a reference to the Honda Jazz. The last time Warranty Direct updated its Reliability Index, the Jazz sat at the top of the tree, looking down on the other 99 cars. It’s hardly exciting, but owners grow to love its space and practicality.

Reliable carsMercedes-Benz E-Class

Buying a used executive car can be a game of chance. They tend to travel long distances, often at high speed, while parts and servicing can be catastrophically high. In 2012, Warranty Direct revealed the most reliable cars of the previous 15 years and the Mercedes-Benz E-Class finished a respectable 8th. Gold (three-pointed) star.

Reliable carsMazda MX-5

In the same survey, the Mazda MX-5 finished 7th and was the only sports car in the top ten. Owning a Mazda MX-5 is truly a case of having your cake and eating it. Not only is it one of the best and most affordable sports cars you can buy, it’s also one of the most reliable cars of any type. Summer’s coming, so what’s stopping you?

Reliable carsMitsubishi Lancer

You probably won’t like the interior. You almost certainly won’t enjoy the drive. And you might not appreciate its bland styling. But you will revel in the equipment levels, the build quality and the fact that it is unlikely to let you down. In Warranty Direct’s 15-year survey of 2012, this finished top dog.

Reliable carsDaihatsu Sirion

Daihatsu cars always tended to score well in Which? reliability surveys, so it’s a shame the Japanese name has all but disappeared from these shores. The Sirion is based on the Toyota Yaris, so it should be reliable. What’s more, prices start from around £1,000. The only thing to watch is the rising cost of parts and the lack of dealer support.

Reliable carsToyota Prius

If you need evidence of reliability, just look at the number of Toyota Prius taxis you see across Britain. Intergalactic miles are not uncommon, which makes this the pick of the bargain green cars. Think of the strong image, too. You’ll feel like a green-washed Hollywood celeb.

Reliable carsHonda Civic

A decade on from its launch, the British-built eighth generation Honda Civic still looks fresh today. Some will dislike the split rear window, which hampers rearward visibility, but the Civic is one of the most striking family hatchbacks ever built. What’s more, the 2.2-litre diesel engine is a peach.

Reliable carsHonda S2000

Back in the day, the Honda S2000 was a permanent fixture at the top of reliability surveys. This rev-happy roadster was a huge hit in the UK, which just happened to be the biggest market. All of which means there’s plenty of choice, so you can afford to be picky. Buy a late model with full service history and revel in VTEC heaven.

Reliable carsLexus IS200

The thinking man’s BMW 3 Series? Don’t let the Alan Partridge connection put you off, because the Lexus IS200 is a serious contender. The styling has aged beautifully, while the rear-wheel drive handling will please the purists. Could this be the pick of the gallery?

Reliable carsSuzuki Jimny

It’s small, unsophisticated, crude and outdated, but you know what, we still love it. Owners swear by them, often going on to buy a number in quick succession. Cheap to buy, cheap to run and brilliant off road. Oh, and the Suzuki Jimny is also very reliable.

Best used crossovers and SUVs

Best used crossovers and SUVs for £10,000

Best used crossovers and SUVsYou want a crossover or SUV and have £10,000 to spend – what are your options? We’ve selected 10 of our favourites for you to consider, including everything from a much-loved Skoda to a legendary Land Rover.

Best used crossovers and SUVsSkoda Yeti

We make no apology for leading with the Skoda Yeti, because it remains one of our favourite crossovers at any price. It offers a strong blend of economy, driving dynamics and practically and can boast a legion of loyal and satisfied customers. The £10,000 budget should stretch to a good, pre-facelift 2013 Yeti.

Best used crossovers and SUVsNissan Qashqai

The £10,000 budget won’t quite stretch to a second generation Nissan Qashqai, but you shouldn’t rule out the original. Introduced back in 2007, the Qashqai spawned a string of imitators, but it remains Britain’s most popular crossover. There are plenty out there, so you can afford to be choosy. Opt for the diesel engines for the ultimate blend of punch and economy.

Best used crossovers and SUVsSuzuki SX4 S-Cross

Suzuki’s Qashqai rival has been eclipsed by the newer and superior Vitara, but it shouldn’t be overlooked. The SX4 S-Cross is based on the Swift supermini, meaning it’s pretty good to drive. What’s more, we’ve seen 2014 and even 2015 models available within the £10,000 budget.

Best used crossovers and SUVsKia Sportage

The previous generation Kia Sportage is one of the slowest depreciating cars in the UK, largely thanks to its blend of kit, space and seven-year warranty. For our budget, grab yourself a low mileage and well-equipped 2010 or 2011 car and enjoy what’s left of Kia’s acclaimed warranty.

Best used crossovers and SUVsHonda CR-V

The Honda CR-V offers a large boot and a 40:20:40-split rear seat, so if practicality is your thing, this could be the car for you. The 2.2-litre diesel engine manages to combine performance and economy, while the CR-V offers the dynamics that might seem alien to drivers of other SUVs. Also, it’s a Honda, so reliability should be guaranteed.

Best used crossovers and SUVsFord Kuga

The Ford Kuga is based on the Focus, so if good handling tops your list of priorities, this could be the crossover for you. Though the load capacity is smaller than the Focus, the split-tailgate should be useful. The revised Kuga, introduced in 2012, provides an extra 82 litres of boot space.

Best used crossovers and SUVsCitroen C4 Cactus

One-year-old cars are just creeping below the £10,000 mark, so while you might not have the pick of the Cactus crop, you will have one of the freshest faces in the crossover sector. The 1.6-litre BlueHDi diesel engine offers super-frugal running costs and the best compromise if you intend to cover long distances.

Best used crossovers and SUVsSubaru Forester

For years, the Subaru Forester has been the default choice for those looking to combine on-road dynamics and off-road ability. Ignore those who tell you the interior is a tad dated, because these things are built to last and owners swear by them.

Best used crossovers and SUVsVolkswagen Touareg

Sitting somewhere between the likes of the BMW X5 and more mainstream rivals, the Volkswagen Touareg is a full-fat SUV. It was developed alongside the Porsche Cayenne and offers a feeling of quality and refinement. As good off the road as it is on it.

Best used crossovers and SUVs

Nissan Juke

The Juke followed in the footsteps of the Nissan Qashqai to become one of Britain’s favourite crossovers. Though it has been eclipsed by more modern rivals, it remains as popular as ever, largely thanks to its exterior styling, unique interior and excellent value for money.