Even if you’re looking to buy a fast car, you don’t need a huge budget – there are many older models available second-hand at bargain prices, with performance similar to the latest models at a fraction of the cost.
After all, fast cars are not a new thing – they’ve been around for as long as there have been cars in the first place, and fast is just a matter of perspective. However, in the past few decades, newer models haven’t been monumentally faster than their previous-generation versions and that means you can get modern performance for used car money.
We’re going to run through a list of some of the best fast cars on a budget, according to experts at Parkers. Before you buy a used car you’re probably thinking you need to find out how much your current car is worth and therefore what your budget is. Luckily, there are many online services that can help with this, such as the Parkers Value My Car tool. Once you’ve got your starting point, find your perfect bargain below.
Top 10 budget-friendly fast cars
Volkswagen Golf R32
The Volkswagen Golf R32 takes everything that’s great about the Golf GTI and adds even more performance into the mix. It has a big V6 engine under the bonnet and four-wheel drive, so it’s quick off the line and great to drive, yet it’s also practical and usable as an everyday car. There are DSG auto and manual models available.
Ford Focus ST
The Ford Focus ST makes the best noise in older 2.5-litre form because it’s a five-cylinder, but the newer four-cylinder model is a more modern car, better to drive and was even available with a diesel engine if you want to keep fuel bills down. The 2.0-litre petrol model is more fun, though.
Honda Civic Type R
The Honda Civic Type R is best value in its older form with the high-revving 2.0-litre engine. It’s exhilarating to drive and very practical. The interior and exterior looks aren’t for everyone but the Honda is charming, fun and reliable.
Skoda Octavia vRS
The Skoda Octavia vRS is a really practical car and works brilliantly as an everyday transport – but in vRS form it’s got lots of performance as well. The 2.0-litre engine is punchy and 0-62mph takes just 7.2 seconds.
The Nissan 350Z is a proper sports coupe and has a powerful V6 engine, rear-wheel drive and a manual gearbox. It’s a lot of fun to drive, fast and sounds great. Okay, it’s not as practical as the hatchbacks on this list but it looks great and is good value and reliable.
Renault Clio Renaultsport 200
The Renaultsport Clio is a small hatchback and perfect for small local roads and narrow lanes. It doesn’t miss out on performance, because it has a powerful 2.0-litre engine under the bonnet despite its small size, plus brilliant handling that’s loved by car enthusiasts.
The Honda S2000 is your best bet if you want a drop-top sports car that isn’t a Mazda MX-5. It’s also a lot faster than the Mazda because of its high-revving 2.0-litre engine that’s one of the best four-cylinder motors ever built.
If you want a sporty coupe with smart looks, a straight-six engine and an involving driving experience then the BMW Z4 is a top choice. It’s available cheaply despite its upmarket image, and the six-cylinder versions are brilliant to drive and fast.
The Mazda3 MPS is a left-field choice of hot hatchback. It’s known for being a bit unruly and wild because of the huge turbocharger, so it can be a lot of fun in the right situations. It’s great value because it’s forgotten by many.
Vauxhall Astra VXR
The Vauxhall Astra VXR is another slightly unloved hot hatch but it’s very fast in a straight line despite not being as much fun as many of the other hot hatches in this list. It’s available cheaply and relatively cheap to run.
These are the list of top 10 fast cars. Which is your favourite smart car? Mention your answer in comment section.