5 fun summer cars for less than £5,000

·4-min read

With a few more months of summer remaining, it’s always best to make the most of the warmer and sunnier weather while it’s here.

A great way to do so is with a fun car, whether it be a convertible, coupe or hot hatch. You might expect these to all be vastly expensive – particularly with high used car prices at the moment – but there are still a number of affordable, used examples available on the market. Let’s take a look at five great options.

Mazda MX-5

(Mazda)
(Mazda)

Mazda’s MX-5 has become synonymous with low-cost, fun motoring, with this two-seat roadster being the best-selling car of this type ever. If you’re looking for a convertible to enjoy in summer – and at other times of the year – it’s well worth a look.

It is renowned for its enjoyable driving experience, achieved through being rear-wheel-drive, lightweight and having a superb manual gearbox. Due to its popularity, there are plenty available on the used market, with prices for usable examples starting from as little as £3,000. We’d recommend going for a third-generation MX-5 (called NC), which has a more modern look and feel. For £4,000, you can get a 2006 model with the more desirable 2.0-litre engine, and with around 70,000 miles on the clock.

Mini Cooper S Convertible

(Mini)
(Mini)

Minis are known for being great fun to drive, and the experience is enhanced further by choosing a drop-top version. First introduced in 2004, the Convertible is an ultra-stylish choice that also doesn’t cost as much as you might expect.

Where fun is concerned, we’d recommend looking at the Cooper S model, which gets a livelier 163bhp 2.0-litre petrol engine that allows swift pace and a pleasing soundtrack. Similar to the MX-5, a £4,000 budget can bag you a tidy 2006 example with around 70,000 miles on the odometer.

Volkswagen Golf GTI

(Volkswagen)
(Volkswagen)

A fun summer car doesn’t just have to come in the form of a convertible, though, as it could be worth looking at a hot hatchback instead. One of the best is the legendary Volkswagen Golf GTI, which has been delighting drivers for decades.

GTIs tend to hold their value well, and for this price, you’ll be looking at a fifth-generation car, sold between 2004 and 2009. With a 197bhp 2.0-litre petrol engine under the bonnet, it allows for a 0-60mph time of just over seven seconds. Manual cars with the trademark GTI tartan seats are the most desirable. You’ll pay £5,000 for a tidy, 2005 car with 100,000 miles on the clock. These GTI engines are capable of plenty more miles, if well maintained, however.

Audi TT

(Audi)
(Audi)

Audi’s TT is a car that still seems like remarkably good value for money, with many earmarking it as a ‘future classic’, it might even make you some money if prices continue climbing. Available as a Coupe or Roadster, the TT still looks the part and has a particularly solid-feeling interior.

The versions to go for are the 1.8-litre ‘225’ models, which also come with Audi’s quattro all-wheel-drive system. Used TTs start from as little as £1,500, but if you can stretch a bit further, a £4,500 budget will buy a very clean 2002 car with around 80,000 miles on the clock.

RenaultSport Clio 197

(Renault)
(Renault)

Moving back to the world of hot hatches, it’s pretty hard to beat a Renault if you’re looking for outright fun, with the brand’s Renaultsport division producing some of the best-driving cars over the years.

One such example is the Clio 197, which remains listed as one of the all-time greats, with a fantastic chassis and naturally-aspirated 2.0-litre engine offering a really rewarding driving experience. It’s another one often mentioned as a ‘future classic’, with values already having increased. Look out for cars that haven’t been badly thrashed, and expect to pay around £4,500 for a clean, well-maintained example that’s covered 80,000 miles.

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