Sporty everyday cars that won’t break the bank

MINI Cooper S HatchDriving enthusiasts love sports cars and many dream of owning one – but often the price tags ensure that they remain just dreams.

However, there are many hot hatches and convertibles that are powerful, lovely and positively affordable, such as these five:

Maxda MX-5 RF
A beautiful looking little roadster that starts at £22,195 for the new Retractable Fastback, although a huge range of optional extras will push up the price. This is new for 2017, with 1.5 litre and 2.0 litre engines that will give a real punch for its price. The two-litre engine can achieve 40.9mpg, so with efficient driving you shouldn’t suffer when it comes to the pumps.

AutoExpress gave it five stars, saying: “The fourth-generation Mazda MX-5 is a classic roadster that has plenty of thrills to offer. It's the planet’s best-selling two-seat sports car, and the MX-5 has earned iconic status in its 25-year history, thanks largely to its legendary fun factor and cost-effective pricing.”

Lotus Elise
This only just qualifies for the list, but hear us out. A new Lotus Elise will set you back near to £30,000, which in itself is a fair price for an outstanding car such as this. However, enthusiasts tend to care a great deal for these petite monsters to an almost reverential degree – buy a second-hand version and you’ll see that they are usually being sold ‘with regrets’ or because of some other similar reason.

Therefore, a second hand model from 2007, which has done less than 50,000 miles and still looks absolutely pristine, could be yours for around £17,000 – and will barely drop in value over the years you drive it. It’s an iconic and beautiful example of a car that is flamboyant and fun, a real head-turner that is almost as much of an investment as a vehicle.

Fiat Abarth
It’s no exaggeration to say that these Fiat cars are not as expensive as they look, particularly in the case of the good looking 124 Spider at £28,000. With aesthetic elements of a Mazda or TVR, it’s another car that has been celebrated by reviewers who praised the ride quality and suspension. An engine capable of 44.1mpg and 0-62mph in 7.5 seconds doesn’t hurt either.

There’s clearly a different expectation of the other Abarths such as the 595 and 695, but these are still tremendously fun and funky – how does dual chromed exhaust tailpipes and satin chrome mirror covers with a 1.4 Turbo T-Jet 165 HP on the 595 Turismo grab you?

Mini Cooper
Nobody dislikes Minis – well, no normal driver anyway. A three-door hatch from £15,775 for cars that barely depreciate seems like a steal, and for that price you’ll get your hands on a true British legend. The ‘new’ Mini is now 16 years old, and all the initial reservations about its size and styling seem a long way away.

Available in various shapes such as the Clubman and Countryman, these pocket rocket hot hatches are more practical than one might assume but just as much fun as one would expect.

Ford Focus ST
Weighing in at £25,095 for the standard, this powerful hatch is stacked with technology such as an 8-inch touchscreen DAB audio and paddleshift and cruise control. The multiple options include a 2.0 EcoBoost six speed gearbox which blends power and efficiency, and a torque vectoring system that helps with cornering. It’s clearly a car that’s as comfortable for loading up up with shopping as it is for zipping along motorways and country lanes, and looks tremendous as it does so.

Of course, for a few more pennies you could step up to the Ford Focus RS with a 2.3 litre engine that has been ‘tested in the searing heat of Arizona, the icy wastes of the Arctic, and on the World’s most demanding test tracks.’ And it also has that prestigious RS badge, of course.

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