You don’t always need to spend vast sums to get a fast car that’ll put a smile on your face. Focusing on lightness and agility means some carmakers need only fit a modestly powerful engine to turn an everyday runaround into something a bit special. We’ve set ourselves a budget of £15,000 to find the best fast cars on sale.
1. Suzuki Swift Sport – £14,149
The Suzuki Swift Sport is one of our favourite hot hatchbacks at any price – its small size combined with a peppy 134hp 1.6-litre engine means it can get from 0-62mph in 8.7 seconds. That’s not lightning quick but it’s certainly enough to lodge a smile on the driver’s face. The Suzuki also handles neatly, meaning it’s a great companion for back road driving, too.
Inside, you’ll find the Suzuki is a little tighter than most supermini rivals, but the back seats are fine for children and there’s still enough space for the weekly shop in the 211-litre boot. The Swift also scores well in terms of value too – the Sport’s flagship status means you get a tonne of kit, in addition to its low running costs.
Check out our Suzuki Swift Sport deals page to find the latest savings.
2. Ford Fiesta EcoBoost 100 – £14,395
Being the UK’s best-selling car is no easy task, and yet the Ford Fiesta has managed it for the past seven years. Part of its continued popularity has been down to its efficient range of turbocharged EcoBoost engines. The popular three-cylinder 1.0-litre unit is available in two versions, with the cheaper 100 falling neatly inside our budget – haggling should get you the 125 version for not much more, however.
It’s a zippy little engine and, while 0-62mph takes an average 10.5 seconds, the pleasant engine note and sharp handling makes the Ford seem quicker than it is. Official fuel economy for both versions of the EcoBoost is 65.7mpg, but expect to see around 40mpg and you won’t be disappointed.
Spec up a Ford Fiesta through our deals page to find the best savings on offer.
3. Hyundai i20 1.0 100 – from £12,975
Hyundai’s i20 is a well-rounded supermini that offers a high quality interior and a refreshingly stylish exterior, especially in three-door guise. Hyundai’s turbocharged 1.0-litre engine is offered with either 99hp or 118hp – the former sits comfortably within our £15,000 budget, but you can choose the more powerful version for a mere £525 more.
Both versions offer impressive refinement and reasonable performance – the lesser engine takes 10.7 seconds to reach 62mph from rest. It may not offer too many outright thrills but, as an everyday driver with enough punch to tackle motorway driving, it feels peppy and keen. The generous five-year warranty will help to keep costs down, too.
Want to save money on your new car? Then check out our Hyundai i20 deals page to find all the latest offers.
4. VW Up 1.0 Turbo – from £11,350
The VW Up has long been crying out for a more powerful engine and the new turbocharged 90 version of the venerable 1.0-litre unit fits the bill. It may not sound very powerful, but the Up’s small size means it gets from 0-62mph in just 10 seconds – around the same as the original Golf GTI.
You can only choose the uprated engine on plusher Up Beats and High Up trim levels, which makes it look a little pricey compared to other city cars. Bear in mind, however, that the VW offers nearly as much space as many larger superminis and a nicer interior than many others. Add in good residual values and low running costs, and you have a warm hatch with plenty of appeal for all sorts of buyers.
Check out our VW Up deals page to find the latest savings.
5. Mini One 1.2 – £14,075
It’s hard to argue with the Mini hatchback’s appeal – the retro looks might not be to all tastes, but its go-kart handling and high quality interior mean it has plenty of appeal. The current car has a new 1.2-litre petrol engine, producing a reasonable 102hp and able to get from 0-62mph in 9.9 seconds – pretty quick for a car that’s nearly the size of many family hatchbacks.
Inside, you’ll find a good amount of space for those in the front, and spending an extra £600 gets you the more practical five-door version. It’s cheap to run too, but all Mini models have long options lists you’ll need to take care with – it wouldn’t be hard to spend more than £20,000 on the One. We’d also be tempted to pick the racier Cooper model costing just more than our budget at £15,625.
Check out the savings on our Mini Hatchback deals page.
6. SEAT Ibiza SC 1.2 TSI 110 – £14,485
If you’re after something a little stylish with some performance, the SEAT Ibiza SC might be the right choice for you. A range of petrol engines are available, but the sweet spot is arguably the turbocharged 1.2-litre with 108hp that can get from 0-62mph in just 9.1 seconds. It’s only available in racy FR trim, but still squeezes into our budget and has good levels of equipment to match the performance.
The three-door SC is by far the most stylish version, but those after more space would do well to check out the hatchback, or even the ST estate – the latter is £1,200 more than the SC but is just as fast and surprisingly roomy inside. There are even quicker versions of all three available, but these can get expensive if you’re not careful.
Spec up a SEAT Ibiza SC through our deals page to find the best savings on offer.
7. Renault Twingo GT – under £15,000
Renault has a long history of making affordable hot hatchbacks, so the upcoming Twingo GT has the potential to be very entertaining indeed. It gains an upgraded version of the standard car’s 0.9-litre turbocharged petrol engine, now offering 110hp and the potential of a sub-10 second 0-62mph time. Official performance figures and prices haven’t been released, but we expect the GT to cost less than our £15,000 budget.
The Twingo is already a pretty unconventional city car, being both rear engined and rear-wheel drive. That means it offers entertaining handling and an exceptionally tight turning circle which, when combined with this new engine, means the GT is likely to put a big smile on your face. There’s plenty of racy detailing and even a dual exhaust, so you’ll look the part, too.
Want to save money on your new car? Then check out our Renault Twingo deals page to find all the latest offers.
8. Audi A1 1.0 TFSI – £14,530
The Audi A1 is a grown up supermini that offers similar strengths to other Audi models – a great interior and a relaxed driving experience – but in a smaller and more affordable package. The turbocharged 1.0-litre petrol is shared with several other VW Group products but, despite being the cheapest A1 you can buy, it still offers a good amount of performance with 94hp and a 0-62mph time of 10.9 seconds.
The A1 is equally at home in the city or the motorway, with refinement and ride comfort missing from some other superminis. Interior quality and design is impressive, but options can get expensive. Top-spec S-Line cars look the sportiest, but cost more and tend to ride less smoothly than base models.
Check out our Audi A1 deals page to find the latest savings.
9. Vauxhall Adam 1.0 115 – £14,310
The Vauxhall Adam is a stylish and high quality city car but, until recently, it lacked an engine choice offering any sort of performance. The 1.0-litre three-cylinder turbo engine is the perfect fit for the Adam and, with 113hp, it’s able to propel the Vauxhall from 0-62mph in 9.9 seconds.
The Adam isn’t quite as fun to drive as certain rivals, but it strikes a decent balance between agility and comfort. However, those tasks won’t include many trips to the furniture store – the boot is very small, even with the rear seats folded.
Spec up a Vauxhall Adam through our deals page to find the best savings on offer.
10. MG3 – £8,399
In terms of bang for your buck, the MG3 is one of the best bargains out there – the standard 1.5-litre petrol engine produces 108hp, and reaches 62mph from rest in 10.9 seconds. It’s by no means the most refined or characterful engine out there, but the sheer value the whole car offers means it’s not something that can be overlooked if you’re hunting for something a little less expensive.
All versions of the MG3 come in under budget, but it’s the cheaper versions that offer the best value for money. MG has also ensured its supermini is one of the most spacious around so, as a viable family runaround with enough pace to keep up with traffic, it’s certainly worth a look.
Want to save money on your new car? Then check out our MG3 deals page to find all the latest offers.
Save money on your new pocket rocket with carwow
If you’re interested in any of our suggestions, the carwow car deals page will find you the best discounts at dealers across the UK. Alternatively, if you’re still struggling to decide what your next car will be, our car chooser is here to help narrow your search.