You don’t always need to spend vast amounts of money to buy a fast, fun car. Some of the most entertaining cars on sale can be yours for the price of a well-equipped family hatchback.
We’ve done some digging to find the best fast cars available for a £20,000 budget. If you’ve picked your favourite from our top 10, check out our car deals page to find the best carwow offers currently available.
- Ford Fiesta ST
- Mazda MX-5
- VW Polo GTI
- Peugeot 208 GTi
- SEAT Ibiza Cupra
- Suzuki Swift Sport
- Mini Cooper
- Vauxhall Corsa VXR
- Renaultsport Clio
- Caterham Seven
Ford Fiesta ST
The Ford Fiesta ST is arguably the best hot hatchback on sale today and, priced from just £17,895, it’s a bit of a bargain to boot. The standard Fiesta is already one of the best handling small cars on sale and the changes Ford has made for the ST version only serve to make it even more exciting. Its 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol engine help it produce exciting 178hp – enough to blast the ST from 0-62mph in just 6.9 seconds.
Its three-door layout and compact size might not make it the most practical vehicle on sale but, as a sporty runabout with room for the occasional family outing, the ST makes a fine choice.
Spec up a Ford Fiesta ST through our deals page to find the best savings on offer.
Mazda’s MX-5 is widely regarded to be one of the best handling cars available at any price – its lightweight body and razor-sharp handling make it an appealing drop-top sports car. Amazingly, it’s priced from just £18,495 and comes with a peppy 1.5-litre engine in basic form. This charismatic unit produces 130hp, enough to launch the MX-5 from 0-62mph in 8.5 seconds – a larger 160hp 2.0-litre engine is also available that cuts the 0-62mph time by a second.
The Mazda’s convertible roof means you’re able to enjoy all of this with the wind in your hair. Unfortunately, practicality certainly isn’t its strong suit – it’s strictly a two-seater and luggage space is barely enough for a couple of overnight bags. However, If you usually travel light or just want a fun second car, it’s tricky to look past the MX-5’s many charms.
Find out how much you could save on the Mazda MX-5 with our deals page.
VW Polo GTI
In terms of outright desirability, it’s hard to ignore with the VW Polo GTI. Not only does its styling subtly ape the legendary Golf GTI but its 1.8-litre turbocharged engine produces an impressive 192hp. Previously, the Polo GTI was only available with a seven-speed DSG automatic gearbox but a recent facelift has given enthusiasts the option of a six-speed manual.
The Polo can reach 62mph from rest in 6.7 seconds – that’s only 0.2 seconds slower than its bigger brother, the Golf GTI. However, it doesn’t offer quite the same thrills and, with basic versions costing £19,125, it’s also more expensive than many rivals. Still, if you want to park a smart-looking and upmarket performance car on your driveway, the Polo GTI is one of the best ways to do it for under £20,000.
Check out our VW Polo GTI deals page to find the latest savings
Peugeot 208 GTi
Peugeot has a strong heritage when it comes to producing affordable performance cars and the 208 GTi is one of the best. Its 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol engine produces 197hp – that’s a lot considering the 208 is smaller and lighter than its predecessor – and can jump from 0-62mph in just 6.8 seconds.
Priced at £18,895, the Peugeot is a little more expensive than its direct rivals. It does, however, makes up for that with a classy cabin and good standard equipment. Its unusually small steering wheel won’t be to all tastes but the 208 does offer a relatively refined driving experience for a hot hatch – you could easily use it for the everyday commute and then let rip on your favourite B-road.
Want to save money on your new car? Then check out our Peugeot 208 GTi deals page to find all the latest offers.
SEAT Ibiza Cupra
The SEAT Ibiza Cupra shares its underpinnings with the Polo GTI and features the same 1.8-litre turbocharged engine under the bonnet. It too produces 192hp and can reach 62mph in an identical 6.7 seconds. Most impressively, it’ll set you back £995 less than its VW-badged sibling.
It might not boast the same badge kudos or feature the same plush cabin, but the SEAT’s sleek styling will certainly help draw some buyers away from the understated VW Polo GTI.
Spec up a SEAT Ibiza Cupra through our deals page to find the best savings on offer.
Suzuki Swift Sport
The Suzuki Swift Sport may lag behind some rivals on power – its 1.6-litre engine produces a modest 134hp – but its lightweight body means the Swift can complete the 0-62mph sprint in 8.7 seconds. The Suzuki’s precise handling and well-engineered chassis make it a great companion for back road blasts, too. As an added bonus, it’s far and away the cheapest car here – basic models cost just £14,149.
Inside, you’ll find the Suzuki is a little more compact than some 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 – its flagship status means you get a tonne of kit as standard.
Check out our Suzuki Swift Sport deals page to find the latest savings.
The Mini Cooper has always been a desirable car thanks to its cheeky retro styling and go-kart-like handling. Even though the Cooper model isn’t the fastest version available, it’s still one of the most entertaining cars here to drive. Its perky three-cylinder 1.5-litre engine is good for 136hp and a 0-62mph time of 7.9 seconds.
Cooper models are priced from just £15,625 – with five-door versions costing an extra £500 – but you may need to raid the options list to get a specification you want. Our £20,000 budget is easily enough to put you behind the wheel of a well-specced car that’ll not only be fun to drive but should prove cheap to run, too.
View our Mini Cooper deals page to see the latest savings.
Vauxhall Corsa VXR
The Vauxhall Corsa VXR is the latest in a long line of Vauxhall hot hatchbacks – it hasn’t quite shaken the boy racer image but it’s still a great car that should put a permanent smile on your face. Under the bonnet, you’ll find a turbocharged 1.6-litre engine that, thanks to its 202hp output, carries a handy power advantage over its main rivals.
Not only is the Corsa VXR the fastest car on our list – it’s capable of sprinting from 0-62mph in just 6.5 seconds – but it can be had for just £17,995. It doesn’t handle with quite as much finesse as the Fiesta ST but the Corsa’s chunky steering wheel and Recaro seats make it feel suitably sporty.
Spec up a Vauxhall Corsa VXR through our deals page to find the best savings on offer.
Even entry-level versions of the new Renaultsport Clio come equipped with a 197hp 1.6-litre petrol engine that can power this French hot hatch from 0-62mph in 6.7 seconds. The more expensive Trophy versions are marginally quicker thanks to more powerful 220hp engines but do sneak slightly above our £20,000 budget. A beefy bodykit and raucous engine note also help the Renaultsport stand out from run-of-the-mill Clios.
Some critics argue this Clio is a little softer than rivals but it’s the only car on our list that’s offered as a five-door model and with a six-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox – these creature comforts may suit some buyers better.
Want to save money on your new car? Then check out our Renaultsport Clio deals page to find all the latest offers.
The Caterham Seven is a bit of a wild card in this company – it’s ruthless back-to-basics approach might not appeal to the majority of drivers. The cheapest model costs £14,995 but you’ll need to assemble it yourself. Spend £19,145 and you’ll get a fully finished and professionally painted example – we’d recommend this option unless you’re very handy with a spanner.
This most basic 160 version comes with a tiny 660cc turbocharged Suzuki engine. It only produces 80hp but, thanks to the Seven’s featherweight chassis, it can reach 62mph from rest in just 6.9 seconds. If you’re looking for something that’ll give you true driving thrills – and don’t mind the lack of doors – give this Caterham a try.
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