Having a fun and fast car doesn’t have to break the bank – or the environment. Here are some great options
Typically when it comes to cars you need to make a choice – do you want a car that’s fast, powerful and fun to drive, or do you want one that’s efficient, economical and eco-friendly?
Well, that doesn’t have to be the case. In fact, thanks to the choice of powerful diesel engines, cleaner turbocharged petrols and accessible hybrid technology, speed and economy are becoming ever more coexistent.
We’ve rounded up some of our favourite used examples right here, all capable of doing 0-60mph in less than seven seconds but promising more than 40mpg if driven carefully. And best of all, they shouldn’t break the bank to buy, either. Why not see what your own vehicle is worth and think about taking the plunge and trading up for something fast yet efficient? You can check this free online using tools like the Parkers car valuation tool – once you know what you’ve got to play with, you can narrow down some of our top picks below!
BMW 335d Touring
You’d struggle to find a better subtle sleeper car than the 3 Series Touring. Powerful yet subtly styled, when it’s fitted with BMW’s 3.0-litre, six-cylinder diesel engine it’s properly rapid – combine that with four-wheel drive and it’ll crack 0-62mph in less than five seconds, which is barely any slower than the range-topping M3 saloon of the time.
Despite this, it’ll easily do 49mpg if driven carefully and the boot’s big enough to cope with any family holiday. The true consummate all-rounder.
Ford Fiesta ST
Hot hatchbacks have always trod the line between thrilling and responsible, and the Ford Fiesta ST – particularly this Mk7 version – is one of the absolute finest of the breed. With handling that’s more fun than just about anything else at this price point, a compact and practical body and up to 47mpg from its peppy 1.6-litre engine.
Mid-spec models are a very reasonable price and come with all the equipment you could need. It’s a fantastically fun car and one we rate incredibly highly.
Mercedes-Benz SLC 250d
A convertible Mercedes remains an unbeatable status symbol in some circles. The SLC was Merc’s smallest cabriolet, a two-seater with a folding hard-top for excellent refinement and security.
And when fitted with a diesel engine, the SLC will still cover 0-62mph in 6.4 seconds yet easily tops 50mpg, getting close to 60mpg on a longer run.
Peugeot 208 GTI
The hottest hatchback that Peugeot had made in years, and possibly the last truly petrol-powered hot hatchback the brand will ever make. The 208 GTI not only looks amazing with sleek lines, sharp styling and lovely detailing, but it’ll go like the clappers with a 0-62mph time of just 6.3 seconds.
Claimed economy of over 50mpg and great handling are other perks to this excellent hot hatchback.
The SQ5 is a surprising car for several reasons. It was the first Audi ‘S’ model to have a diesel engine, which gives it economy of over 40mpg and excellent pace. But thanks to the diesel, it’s also an excellent motorway cruiser.
That bulky SUV body endows the SQ5 with excellent interior space for day-to-day family duties, too, and the raised ride height (though it doesn’t do much for handling) means driving in town is reassuring, as you’re high up above the rest of the traffic.
Lotus Elise Sport
Definitely a left-field choice but by any standards the Lotus Elise fits into this list. Thanks to its incredibly low weight, the Elise’s dinky 1.8-litre engine gives it supercar pace – 0-62mph in just 4.2 seconds and handling that’s truly some of the finest in any car you can buy today.
But again, thanks to that light weight, it treads lightly not just on the road but on the planet, with fuel economy of over 40mpg easily achievable. These factors make the Elise an absolutely superb weekend B-road weapon or track day car.