Here are 20 pre-2010 models that you should consider:
Ford Focus RS
How hot do you want your hatchback? There’s the Focus ST, of course, but the Focus RS feels quite a bit more special, and it will become even more so as the years roll by. Its whopping wings and gaping air intakes catch the eye, while that grumbling turbocharged five-pot takes care of your ears. It really can’t be missed. Making sure that it hasn’t been chipped to infinity or wrapped around a lamp post are the priorities. Shop carefully to avoid the potential money pits.
One we found: 2010 2.5 3dr, 60k miles, £21,995
The award for the best-value middle-order family car goes not to the Ford Mondeo but this. Whether you want a saloon or an estate, the sheer number in circulation means that there’s not just choice but also very attractive prices. There’s a huge range of engines and trims, topped by the 325bhp V6 VXR, which is deserving of consideration as a niche Audi S4 alternative. Every Insignia benefits from reasonable parts and servicing costs; just beware dual-mass flywheel and blocked EGR filter issues.
One we found 2009 2.8T VXR, 88k miles, £6950
This is a very classy shopping hatchback that has aged remarkably well. Underrated when new and overlooked on the used market, it’s an affordable and attractive alternative to your common or garden Ford Focus and Vauxhall Astra. There are cooking 1.6-litre petrols and diesels as well as middle-order 1.8-litre and 2.0-litre options, but the slightly bonkers five-cylinder T5 is your best bet for future classic potential. Cons? Well, it doesn’t have the biggest boot in the world and its air-con system can go pop – rather expensively.
One we found 2007 2.5 T5 SE, 53k miles, £6790
The Monaro was arguably the best use of the griffin badge after it was glued to the Lotus Carlton, and like that loutish ’loon, it’s not technically a Vauxhall. This obnoxious Aussie was imported for just a couple of years and is worth finding simply for the soundtrack of its Corvette-derived V8. Unsurprisingly, it’s not cheap to run, but it can still be considered affordable in light of same-aged supercars that offer similar performance. It’s also properly rare, too, so you won’t meet many warbling the other way.
One we found 2005 5.7 V8, 72k miles, £14,995