Last month, Aaron gave us his choices of rear-wheel drive ‘fun cars’ that you can buy for less than £5,000. I heartily agree with Aaron’s choices, all were excellent and worthy bargains for the money. But, what if rear wheel drive is not for you? If you’re a younger driver for example, insurance can be very expensive or unavailable for most rear-wheel drive cars. You also get more choice for your money with a front-wheel drive setup.
Here I give you my thoughts on some of the best front-wheel drive cars you buy on a budget.
Vauxhall Astra VXR (2005-2011)
The fifth generation Astra was given the VXR treatment. This resulted in a huge 237 bhp being pushed through the front wheels from its turbocharged 2.0-litre engine.
All this power may result in some tyre smoking understeer on occasions, but there is no denying how the VXR goes. 0-62 mph comes round in 6.2 seconds, which is still a quick time by todays standards.
Then the number that gives the VXR it’s Achilles heel, that huge 236 lb-ft of torque can lead to torque steer. With all that power and speed on tap though, the Astra VXR is still a hugely capable hot hatch even by 2017 standards.
Alfa Romeo GTV/Spider (1995-2006)
This list wouldn’t be complete without an Alfa Romeo. As someone once said: “You cannot be a proper petrolhead until you’ve owned an Alfa”. The car to choose for under five grand, the GTV/Spider model.
Featuring Pininfarina design, which resulted in the stunning looks, the GTV/Spider features a range of engines. The pick for the budget is the 217 hp 3.0 24V V6 engine, capable of the 0-62 mph dash in 6.7 seconds it’s no slouch. The only choice is to decide if you want the Spider version, or the fixed roof GTV model.
Ford Fiesta ST 2.0 (2005-2008)
Ford finally decided to give it’s Fiesta the ST treatment in 2005, featuring a 2.0-litre engine producing 147 bhp. This propelled the little Fiesta to 60 mph in 7.9 seconds, going on to a top speed of 129 mph.
Add to this the pinpointed driving dynamics and the eager engine, the whole package comes together to deliver a fun drive.
At the time this was the fastest Fiesta ever produced by the company since the RS Turbo. Being a Ford, they sold by the shedload. This means that there is now plenty of choice for £5,000 or under. Just maybe avoid a car with the stripe option, it hasn’t aged very well.
Renault Clio RenaultSport 2.0 VVT (2006-2012)
This little Renault was the French carmakers attempt to give the world a hardcore version of it’s runaround Clio model. Featuring a 2.0 engine producing 195bhp, this was channelled to the road via a close-ratio gearbox.
Weighing in at 1,240 kg dry, the Clio was light meaning nimble precise handling and a 0-62 run of 6.9 seconds. All of this speed came without any turbo trickery, as the RenaultSport’s normally aspirated engine would red-line at a screaming 7,500 rpm.
For £5,000 you get the pick of low mileage original cars. The downsides to this model are mainly that the interior was a bit rubbish in places and that close-ratio box does mean it drones at motorway speeds. These small issues aside, the Renaultsport Clio remains a pure drivers hot-hatch.
Toyota Celica 1.8 VVT-i (1999-2006)
Now the final choice, the seventh generation Toyota Celica. The slowest car here clocking in at 8.7 seconds to 60 miles an hour from its 140 bhp 1.8-litre motor. Most will overlook it because of this, but I beg to differ.
The Celica has always been an iconic car for Toyota, featuring a strong rally heritage and build quality to make it a contender. The seventh-gen model was no exception, made at a time when Toyota was still building good sports cars.
For under £5,000 you will be able to find yourself an almost mint, low mileage example. Combine this with sports orientated handling and it’s an attractive proposition all in.
Do you agree with the cars on this list as the best budget cars you can get for under £5,000? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.