We have all been there before. We, the car enthusiast, wants something fast and dynamic. Your partner, a lesser lover (of cars that is) wants something sensible and modern. So, best take this as a guide how not to spend $15,000 on a new Toyota Yaris.
Everyone knows the hot hatchback is a go-to for a blend of performance and practicality, but the broad spectrum of three-to-five-year-old models currently available for between $10,000 and $20,000 is incredible … and incredibly different. What were bunched up around the same price bracket when brand new have – as expected – depreciated in different ways.
For those shopping at the lower part of that bracket, a saving of $2000 amounts to 20 per cent, and that presents a nice segue to the Peugeot 208 GTi. Although not the best hot hatch on the light car sizing spectrum, it has become the cheapest – and that throws it into contention.
A 2013 with 147,000km was spotted for $8250, or with 70,000km for $13,888. The 6.8-second 0-100km/h Frenchie is still a ball of fun, owing to its 147kW/275Nm 1.6-litre turbo-four and six-speed manual (especially at a time when the Clio sadly went auto only).
Speaking of the Renault Sport, you need $14K-plus to get one from the same year, and with over 100,000km showing. Likewise, the Ford Fiesta ST, which is dipping just below that mark but still well above the 20 per cent-cheaper 208 GTi.
In the next-size-up small hot hatch class, the Golf GTI remains the resale winner for its first owners, with nothing five years old for less than $20K. But Renault Sport steps back in here with the 2013 Megane RS265 Trophy, 79,000km showing, all from $16,500 for one example, and not much more for others. That really is Toyota Yaris Ascent automatic coin for a 195kW/360Nm 2.0-litre turbo with an LSD, Brembos, Recaros, plus utterly superb steering.
With a bit less power (190kW) but more torque (380Nm), the Mazda3 MPS also sneaks in for around the same price in 2013, its final year of production. But it is slower (6.1- versus 6.0sec 0-100km/h) and isn’t as good overall, despite the promise of reliability. And its Japanese foe that has since been famously revived, the Civic Type-R, was toast by 2013.
However, we’ve left the newest, and possibly most partner-approved, until last.
Where the 208 GTi, Fiesta ST and Megane RS265 are three-door-only complete with fairly dated infotainment systems, the new-for-2015 Volkswagen Polo GTI with five doors, 1.8-litre turbo and six-speed manual has dropped to as low as $16,990 with 72,000km showing.
MOTOR comparison: 208 GTi v Fiesta ST v Polo GTi v Clio RS
MOTOR has clocked a 6.55sec 0-100km/h, making it about the quickest of its light car-sized hot hatch type, and the 147kW/320Nm engine is a belter when tied with a sweet manual. Ultimately you want an MY16 with adaptive suspension, which improved the little Volkswagen significantly, but even those from the following year are falling below $20K.
Five doors, Apple CarPlay on a bright touchscreen, even potentially still with some warranty left – it should make anybody and everybody happy, in more ways than just one.