SO, YOU want to turn over a new leaf for 2016? Be healthier, happier and all those things that agony aunt columnists say we should be? Well start with driving, because as the old saying goes, you are what you, er, drive.
The good news is drivers don’t need a supercar-standard, six-figure budget to afford a super car. For £6000, there’s a wide range of cars that are guaranteed to put a smile on even Scrooge’s face.
When choosing which £6000 cars to put in our dream garage we didn’t necessarily seek out massively powerful models – great roadholding and a feeling of the car being agile are much more important. Although admittedly, we did slot one in that’s more about power than poise…
Road tax cap is capped at £290 for cars registered before 23 March 2006
As ever we’ve kept one eye on the running costs, bearing in mind the relatively low purchase prices here. Some of these cars won’t be all that cheap to run but if they’re used occasionally rather than every day, the finances won’t be hammered hard.
Before buying anything it’s worth remembering that road tax cap is capped at £290 for cars registered before 23 March 2006, but after this date you could pay as much as £505 per year you buy something thirsty. So anything newer than an 06-plate could be costly to run even if it’s not that costly to buy…
The stylish coupe: BMW 330 Ci
The chance of buying aBMW M3 for £6,000, which isn’t a liability, are few and far between, sadly. Search hard and you might find an E46 M3 for £6k, but the chances of running it for a year and not being destitute are remote, so we wouldn’t recommend it.
Besides, why expose yourself to that sort of risk when for less than £6,000 you can secure a BMW 330Ci coupé or convertible? You still get a glorious-sounding straight-six engine, but with 231 horses instead of 343. It might not be as exciting but on a slippery road you won’t feel as though you’re handling a grenade.
We’ve opted for the coupé but the convertible is every bit as enticing – you just don’t get quite as much for your money. You can look forward to one of the finest driver’s junior GTs out there. This one comes with an integrated TV, upgraded Harmon Kardon sound system, and with less than 50,000 miles on the clock it’s got years of life left in it.
- What £6000 buys: 50,000-mile BMW 330Ci SE coupé on a 55-plate (2005)
- Tech specs: 2996cc, 6 cylinders, 231bhp
- Performance: 0-62mph: 6.5sec, top speed: 155mph
- Economy: CO2: 218g/km, fuel economy: 31mpg, road tax: £290pa
- Is that car sold? View all BMW 3-series for sale
Four seat drop top: Audi S4 cabriolet
If impressive performance and exposure to the elements constitute fun to you, this drop-top Audi could be just what you’re looking for. But if pin-sharp steering and a finely honed chassis are more your thing, you’ll almost certainly want to look elsewhere.
Something of a blunt instrument, the Audi S4 packs a 4.2-litre V8 that channels its 344 horses to all four wheels. As a result it’s a car you can use whatever the weather, although you might want to put the roof up as the mercury drops to zero.
Naturally you get one of the classiest cabins in the business – swathed in leather, naturally. It’s all a bit sombre in the car we saw for sale, as it’s coal-hole black, but crammed with luxuries and with a roof that’ll keep the elements at bay, this could be just the drop-top for the winter.
- What £6000 buys: 119,000-mile Audi S4 cabriolet on a 04-plate (2004)
- Tech specs: 4163cc, 8 cylinders, 344bhp
- Performance: 0-62mph: 5.9sec, top speed: 155mph
- Economy: CO2: CO2: 334g/km, fuel economy: 20.3mpg, road tax: £290pa
- Is that car sold? View all BMW 3-series for sale
Hot hatch: Ford Fiesta ST
Just the briefest drive in Ford’s giant-slaying pocket rocket will have you wondering what the point is in spending a small fortune on a big-engined car that’s less wieldy and drinks super-unleaded. One of the most fun cars to drive at any price, the Fiesta is light and agile, handles superbly and in this 2.0-litre ST form it’s got plenty of poke too.
At this price, drivers can secure a Fiesta ST with a full service history that’s done a shade under 60,000 miles and comes with enough kit for it to be comfortable without being bloated. That means a heated windscreen, air-con, half-leather trim and a decent sound system. No wonder the sporty hot hatch is the perfect tonic.
- What £6000 buys: 59,000-mile Ford Fiesta ST on a 58-plate (2008)
- Tech specs: 1999cc, 4 cylinders, 148bhp
- Performance: 0-62mph: 0-62mph: 8.6sec, top speed: 125mph
- Economy: CO2: CO2: 177g/km, fuel economy: 38.2mpg, road tax: £225pa
- Is that car sold? View all Ford Fiesta STs for sale
Performance saloon: Subaru Impreza 2.0 WRX
The original Impreza Turbo, offered from 1994 until 2000, is a new-age classic. As a result values are creeping up, not least of all because unmolested examples of this phenomenal four-wheel drive machine are outnumbered by modified versions. As a result you’ll be doing well to find one for £6,000, but if you go for a later car you’ll have your pick.
In this case it’s a car that’s done under 40,000 miles, has had just one owner and comes with a full service history. Claimed to be immaculate inside and out, and seemingly completely standard, this Impreza has the makings of a future classic.
While the Impreza is an incredible machine to drive and reliable despite the performance on offer, maintenance and fuel costs tend to be pretty steep. So if you do lots of miles and you’re on a budget, check what big jobs will next need doing and ask yourself if you can afford them.
- What £6000 buys: 54,000-mile Subaru Impreza 2.0 WRX saloon on a 54-plate (2003)
- Tech specs: 1994cc, 4 cylinders, 225bhp
- Performance: 0-62mph: 5.6sec, top speed: 144mph
- Economy:CO2: 219g/km, fuel economy: 30.7mpg, road tax: £290pa
- Is that car sold? View all Subaru Impreza WRX’s for sale
The badge for posing: Porsche Boxster S
When the original Boxster arrived in 1996 it was welcomed by drivers with open arms. Suddenly they didn’t have to stretch to a 911 to get their kicks at the wheel of a Porsche – for half the money you could have this mid-engined thriller instead.
With the best first-generation Boxsters now worth around £7,000, if you spend a grand less you’re able to buy something that’s still in good order – and it’ll be the ultimate ‘S’ incarnation too.
This particular Boxster is one of the last of the breed, before the second take on the model arrived. In an unusual dark metallic green (with some dubious gold decals emblazoned down the sills) there’s leather trim, heated seats which are electrically adjustable and some rather obvious three-piece alloy wheels. So perhaps a little bit on the tarty side, but you’ll be having way too much fun to care.
- What £6000 buys: 88,000-mile Porsche Boxster S 3.2 on a P-plate (2001)
- Tech specs: 3179cc, 6 cylinders, 260bhp
- Performance: 0-62mph: 5.7sec, top speed: 164mph
- Economy: CO2: 255g/km, fuel economy: 26.9mpg, road tax: £290pa
- Is that car sold? View all Porsche Boxsters for sale
Cheap thrills: Mazda MX-5
No list of cheap fun cars would be complete without including a Mazda MX-5, and thanks to the car’s low list price when new, for £6,000 you can buy something that’s barely run in. In fact, buyers could take their pick of an original model with the pop-up headlamps, a Mk2 edition or the recently discontinued Mk3 – good examples of all are easily within reach.
We’ve opted for the latest edition because rust can be such an issue with the earlier cars that these newest models are less likely to be a liability and they’re arguably the most usable of the breed. This car is the more common roadster-coupé; four out of five Mk3 MX-5s had a folding hard top rather than the cloth alternative.
In fetching metallic red with black leather trim, standard kit includes heated seats, climate control and 17-inch alloys. With less than 60,000 miles clocked up, this is another car that has the makings of a very collectible classic in the long term.
- What £6000 buys: 57,000-mile Mazda MX-5 2.0 Sport on a 57-plate (2007)
- Tech specs: 1999cc, 4 cylinders, 158bhp
- Performance: 8.2sec, top speed: 134mph
- Economy:CO2: 193g/km, fuel economy: 34.5mpg, road tax: £265pa
- Is that car sold? View all Mazda MX-5’s for sale