Some drivers just like to go fast for nix. We don’t mean Porsche 911 GT3 speed, but rather the enjoyment of a brisk chopping and changing between lanes in traffic in a relatively new car for not a whole lot of coin.
Here we’ve gathered cars that were fleet of foot, but perhaps not dynamically fantastic. The marketplace forgot about these sub-decade-old hatchbacks and sometimes with good reason. The upside is if you like to plant your foot to grab that fast-closing lane gap, these rapidly depreciating orphans may do nicely.
1. HSV Astra VXR
The Astra hatchback suddenly becomes relevant again – perhaps for HSV – when the locally built Commodore dies next year.
Bang-on $10K buys a 2008 model with 130,000km and a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder good for 177kW/320Nm resulting in a 6.4sec 0-100km/h claim.
They torque-steered a bit, but were grippy and composed, and generally fun. Not bad grunt either, considering a Golf GTI of the day had 147kW/280Nm.
2. Opel Corsa OPC
Next-generation smaller sibling to the VXR very briefly wore Opel Performance Centre (OPC) badges in Australia before the GM German brand sunk without a trace.
A pre-bargaining $13K buys a 2013 model with 60,000km that may still have Holden-backed warranty, with a 1.6-litre turbo four delivering 141kW/260Nm and a 7.2sec 0-100km/h. A fun, good jigger that was never quite Clio RS sharp.
3. Volvo C30 T5 R-Design
Call it the Focus XR5 Turbo’s swanky Swedish cousin. With more funk than an Ikea showroom, Volvo wanted an absurdly high price for the 2.5-litre turbo five-cylinder three-door hatch new.
Thankfully the market has levelled them out and $15K buys a 2008 model with 76,000km, offering 169kW/320Nm and 6.7sec 0-100km/h. Unlike the Ford of the same era, you won’t feel like you’re sitting in a rubbish bin.
4. Kia Pro_Cee’d GT
Probably the greatest driver’s car from a South Korean brand (via Slovakia in this case) and that’s no faint praise. The IRS-equipped Pro_Cee’d GT was an engaging steer, but lack of badge cache and auto availability crippled it.
The 1.6-litre turbo four made 150kW/265Nm and this Kia felt faster than its 7.7sec 0-100km/h claim. Sub-$20K buys a 2014 model with 25,000km and the seven-year warranty remaining.
5. Nissan Pulsar ST-S/SSS
The marketplace has dumped the Pulsar ST-S and SSS out on the cheap heap. For under $15K you get a 2014 build with 30,000km, a six-speed manual and the same superbly energetic 1.6-litre turbo four with 140kW/240Nm in either the boggo ST-S or try-hard SSS.
We clocked a 7.8sec 0-100km/h but, although it has zero dynamics, the mid-range in this relatively light (1284kg) hatch is perfect for the city.