03/08/2005 00:00 | By By Richard Aucock

Top 10:Used cars under £2,000



Top 10:Used cars under £2,000

Save £40 a week for a year, and one of these cars could be yours. They prove that you don’t have to spend serious bucks to enjoy sporty, classy, refined or good old plain fun motoring.

Then click the links to track them down in the used market!

Citroen Xsara, from around £800

Citroen Xsara, from around £800

Citroen Xsara, from around £800

Here’s a magnificent unsung hero for you. We’ve long sung its praises highly, for it is essentially a Peugeot 306 GTI-6 in drag. And thus one of the best hot hatches ever. The 167bhp 2.0-litre engine thrives on revs, while the agile chassis has entertainment in spades. Precise and chuckable, you must watch the lift-off oversteer but to an enthusiast it’s a dream. The interior seems reasonably tough (if hardly classy) for a French car too. The biggest flaw is how it looks. It’s the most nondescript hot hatch in the world, and thus readily available for under £2k. Even as we write, we cannot believe what a steal it is.

Click here to find used Xsaras, from around £800

VW Corrado, from around £1,200

VW Corrado, from around £1,200

VW Corrado, from around £1,200

VW will soon be showing its Golf-based coupe-cabrio production model. But they have already been there (well, minus the cabrio bit); 1989’s Corrado was based on Golf GTI mechanicals, sported a unique body – and was brilliant. VR6 derivatives transcended greatness, but even the 1.8-litre 16-valve and later 2.0-litre models you’ll get for £2k are fine drives. Engines are thrummy and unburstable (if you avoid the costly-to-fix supercharged G60), mechanicals tough but it’s the handling that always impresses. This is a car of rare finesse and, like all the best VWs, will become eminently collectable in the not-too-distant future. Snap up the minters while you can still afford to.

Click here to find used Corrados, from around £1,200

Volvo 850 Estate, from around £800

Volvo 850 Estate, from around £800

Volvo 850 Estate, from around £800

Everyone now knows Volvos are cool and not solely the domain of antique dealers. This is the car that started the Swedish excitement. It looks pretty boxy now but compared to what went before, it was a revelation. Crucially, it is built just like the old cars – i.e. tank-like – so should still be up for hard work today. Just don’t get a troublesome one, as rectifying problems can be costly. The five-cylinder engines are characterful but the one you want is the 225bhp T5 version. Or, even better, the rare 250bhp T5-R. Apparently there was Porsche input into the suspension, and you suspect as much from the sporty drive and back-road ability. We would go for the estate – a road-going version of the model that entered the 1994 BTCC. Yes, really. A Volvo estate race car and, like the road-going version, a pretty handy one, too.

Click here to find used 850s, from around £800

Ford Ka, from around £900

Ford Ka, from around £900

Ford Ka, from around £900

It’s not hard to find a Ka under £1,000, never mind £2k. But we’d prefer to spend more, as you’ll get so much more. Either a 2000 base model, finished in brighter colours than the dull launch variants, or a 1998 Ka ‘2’ or ‘3’, which boast a much more desirable kit count. Play your cards right and you may even find air con, a real boon. Any Ka is a delight to drive, with Mini-like handling coupled with a smooth ride and surprising motorway manners. It’s far more than the sum of its parts, and even the thrashy, tappety 1.3-litre engine is pretty economical and simple to service. It still looks great too, another future classic, and as brand-new cars are identical to older ones, it won’t even look out of date on your drive.

Click here to find used Kas, from around £900

Mercedes C-Class, from around £1,500

Mercedes C-Class, from around £1,500

Mercedes C-Class, from around £1,500

The three-pointed star for £2k, and a surprisingly recent one at that. You’ll get a 1996/97 C 180 at this level and, while the engine is frankly a bit of a clunker – slow and noisy – it’s acceptable when cruising while the rest of the car oozes enough Germanic solidity to make you feel good. Do try to get an auto, as the manual gearbox is appalling, and note that Mercedes still sold some pretty gruesome colours around this time. Metallic maroon will always be worth more than lemon yellow. High mileages shouldn’t be an issue – and the reason why the cars are so cheap – so snap up an Esprit or Elegance and tell everyone you’ll be bringing the Benz tonight.

Click here to find used C-Classes, from around £1,500

Audi A4, from around £1,000

Audi A4, from around £1,000

Audi A4, from around £1,000

Incredible. If you want what’s still one of the best-looking Audi saloons of all, the world is your oyster for £2k. 1.8-litre models dominate, and are useful enough if a bit gruff, but there are also plenty of thirsty but silky 2.6-litre six-cylinders on offer, as well as particularly leggy 1.9-litre TDIs. We’d be happiest with a 1.8-litre as it means you needn’t see six-figure mileages registering and, so long as air con was fitted, would enjoy a brilliantly well-assembled car. Unlike some of today’s Audis, it is still discreet enough to carry bags of designer cool as well. It’s perhaps the most desirable decade-old car here.

Click here to find used A4s, from around £1,000

Nissan QX, from around £1,100

Nissan QX, from around £1,100

Nissan QX, from around £1,100

If sheer car for your money is key, you can’t beat a Nissan QX. A what? Think of a duller, larger Primera and you’re halfway there. It’s bland enough to have been an American best-seller in its time, though we do find more favour with its 2.0-litre and 3.0-lire V6 engines. They have won ‘engine of the year’ awards in years gone by. The interior is accommodating and very well-equipped, the drive is light, easy and effortless. It’s also more reliable than holiday rain. You’ll struggle to buy a larger, better-equipped, more dependable car for the money, meaning those brilliant engines are just welcome bonuses.

Click here to find used QXs, from around £1,100

Alfa 156, from around £1,700

Alfa 156, from around £1,700

Alfa 156, from around £1,700

Four-cylinder 1.8-itre and 2.0-litre 156s are readily available for £1,995 or less. The thick end of 90k miles means you should be diligent when checking for electrical maladies, worn gearboxes and rattly engines, but good ones have more mechanical integrity than you would think. Even 1.8-litre 156s are fun to drive, with never-ending revs and a tidy, responsive front-drive chassis. The interior is distinctive and fairly practical, though air con should be sought. And the bodywork still looks gorgeous. A modern classic? You bet. And they won’t get much cheaper than this.

Click here to find used 156s, from around £1,700

Subaru Impreza, from around £1,100

Subaru Impreza, from around £1,100

Subaru Impreza, from around £1,100

An Impreza for under £2k? Now that’s a bargain. Just one thing… it won’t be a turbo, but a 1.6-litre, 1.8-litre or (if you’re lucky) 2.0-litre normally-aspirated flat-four. Where’s the fun in that? Try permanent all-wheel-drive dynamics, unburstably revvable and sonorous engines and the build quality of a tank. Many farmers use them as if they were. And besides, the Turbo itself is so anonymous, few will notice anyway – and if you do want to play rally cars, get a set of smart alloys, bonnet scoop and a rear spoiler fitted. Please do not spray it blue and fit ‘555’ decals, though.

Click here to find used Imprezas, from around £1,100

Hyundai Coupe, from around £1,100

Hyundai Coupe, from around £1,100

Hyundai Coupe, from around £1,100

Curvy coupe motoring with a 2.0-litre engine and a ‘97/R registration is easily yours for £2k. Connoisseurs say this is the best one too – the sensual lines were lost when the model was facelifted in 2000. All come well-stocked to make up for an interior that’s plasticky, and if you’re really, really lucky, you’ll discover a rare ‘F2’ model for our budget too. These could be come an underground rarity in years to come. The drive doesn’t match the looks but it’s OK, and few cars in this price range draw so much satisfaction from an afternoon’s polishing.

Click here to find used Coupes, from around £1,100

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Top 5 used sports cars under £3,000
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Top 10 most-expensive used cars!

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