The question burns in the mind of every enthusiast who doesn’t want a driver’s car that burns a hole in their back pocket – which hot-hatch should I buy?
For under $20,000, you’re buying used, and you’ll need to play a trading game – getting an older car with more kilometres that is as fast as a newer car that’s smaller or has less badge cachet, for example.
1. 2006 BMW 130i
Two words – BMW six. Actually, let’s add another two – rear drive. The original 1 Series may not be the prettiest little hatchback in the premium lounge, but it brushes vanity with a 195kW/315Nm 3.0-litre six that revs and has great throttle response.
2. 2010 Mini Cooper JCW
If you have a dog that likes to pull you along on its leash then you’ll feel right at home in the gen-two Mini Cooper JCW. No supercharger whine here to hear, but rather a 155kW/260Nm 1.6-litre turbo in a 1205kg little brick that flies to 100km/h in 6.5 seconds.
3. 2010 Volkswagen Golf GTI
The Mark V is fast becoming a classic, but the Mark VI is finally starting to fall under the $20,000 mark. Gen-six GTI may not look as charasmatic as the gen-five, but it refined the breed and still remained the consummate all-rounder and fine driver’s hatch.
4. 2011 Renault Sport Clio 200
It took the brilliant 2005 Clio 182 and made it heavier, slower, but also stronger and more agile. The gen-three Clio 200 gets a close-ratio six-speed manual to keep its absolutely brilliant 2.0-litre on the ball (thankfully because it loves a caning).
5. 2013 Ford Fiesta ST
Hazzah! We’ve just spotted our first Fiesta ST that is selling for $20,000 and as kilometres and age racks up on this 2013-launched hot-hatch more should be popping up.
Simply, with a combination of steering precision, chassis balance, fine grip and 1.6-litre turbo punch, the baby Ford betters many hot-hatches and other driver’s cars of twice and thrice the price. A future classic.