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Affordable Sports Cars 2009 Review

So you, the driver, can choose who sits in the remaining seat. No kids in the back jabbing each other with their elbows, staring at the floor so they turn green with car sickness or whine about not being "there yet".

Just you and your partner. That's a perfect recipe for getting away for the weekend, with a small — I will repeat that, small — bag of clothes and toiletries.

But what to drive? You want something affordable, safe, economical and durable, comfortable, feature-packed and something that is a pleasure to drive.

You want a car that takes on the rolling hills with precise handling, enjoyment and a sense of security. Basically, you want Fun.

But Fun costs. Sports cars are built in low volumes to meet a discerning and modest market. They are generally the second car in the garage and manufacturers know that desire conquers the contents of a wallet.

But there are some sports cars that have heaps of the magic Fun word and are, in relative terms, quite affordable. Though quite frugal, all need the expensive premium unleaded fuel.

Here's six cars to get you started:

 

VOLKSWAGEN GOLF GTI (from $38,990)

One of the original hot hatches matures into a brilliant performance car with crisp styling.

It comes in three and five-door versions for excellent versatility (yes, unfortunately it has seats in the back), has the choice of manual and the superb DSG dual-clutch transmissions and has the zing of a peppy turbocharged engine.

This is one hatchback that defies its shopping trolley profile.

Engine: 147kW/280Nm 2-litre 4-cyl turbo

Fuel economy: 8.2 l/100km

Seats: 5

Safety: 6 airbags, ESC, ABS

Crash rating: 5/5

Warranty: 3yr/100,000km, roadside assist

VW Golf GTi for sale

 

SUBARU IMPREZA WRX ($39,990)

Though never the prettiest small car on the road, the WRX is impressive in its purposeful stance.

Clearly, if the burble of the exhaust doesn't tell the tale, the sports body kit will yell "sports car". The acceleration alone is quite intoxicating.

This is available as a sedan or hatch (no cost option) with all-wheel drive for maximum safety, a turbocharged engine, high quality and lots of features. It's also one of Australia's safest cars.

Engine: 195kW/343Nm 2.5-litre 4-cyl turbo Fuel economy: 10.4 l/100km

Seats: 5

Safety: 6 airbags, ESC, ABS

Crash rating: 5/5

Warranty: 3yr/100,000km, roadside assist

Subaru Impreza WRX for sale

 

HONDA CIVIC TYPE R ($41,990)

Edgy styling give this hot hatch instant appeal. Fortunately, the performance matches its hot looks.

The front-drive Civic is made in the UK using a beautifully-made, high-revving four-cylinder engine that really turns it on both in the music of the exhaust and the oomph under acceleration.

The three-door body has excellent flexibility and, at a pinch, will seat two people in the back. If you let them.

Engine: 148kW/193Nm 2-litre 4-cyl

Fuel economy: 9.3 l/100km

Seats: 4

Safety: 6 airbags, ESC, ABS

Crash rating: n/a

Warranty: 3yr/100,000km

Honda Civic Type R for sale

 

MAZDA MX-5 (from $43,850)

These have been around for more than 20 years and are still the best convertible bang for your buck.

New for 2009 is refinement and some beefier styling but the essence of a sportscar remains. The folding-metal hardtop version offers practicallity and safety yet the base ragtop appeals for its lightness and raw appeal.

Only seats two, has no spare wheel, is tiny and jiggles a bit on uneven bitumen. Who cares?

Engine: 118kW/188Nm 2-litre 4-cyl

Fuel economy: 8.5 l/100km

Seats: 2

Safety: 4 airbags, ABS, ESC

Crash rating: 4/5

Warranty: 3yr/100,000km, roadside assist

Mazda MX-5 for sale

 

ALFA ROMEO GT 2.0 ($53,990)

This stunning piece of metal lures passersby with its fluid styling and purposeful exhaust growl.

The 2-litre engine is quite docile — more power from a V6 version comes at more expense — but suits city living and the voracity of speed camera detection.

It's comfortable, can seat four, is quite economical and better built than previous Alfas. Plus it has exclusivity.

Engine: 121kW/206Nm 2-litre 4-cyl

Fuel economy: 8.7 l/100km

Seats: 4

Safety: 6 airbags, ABS, ESC

Crash rating: n/a

Warranty: 3yr/100,000km, roadside assist

Alfa Romeo GT for sale

 

BMW 125i COUPE ($54,401)

One of the new breed of BMWs that targets singles and coupes, or even as a second garage filler.

Its pleasing shape is traditional coupe styling yet can possibly seat four and has a decent — if a tad shallow — boot.

The engine is a 3-litre six that is silky smooth and revs like there's no tomorrow. It's even quite economical. Runflat tyres means there's no spare but makes the ride a bit firm.

Engine: 160kW/270Nm 3-litre 6-cyl

Fuel economy: 8.7 l/100km

Seats: 4

Safety: 6 airbags, ABS, ESC

Crash rating: n/a

Warranty: 3yr/unlimited km, roadside assist

BMW 125i coupe for sale

Pricing guides

$8,999
Based on 125 cars listed for sale in the last 6 months
Lowest Price
$4,999
Highest Price
$14,900

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
1.6 Edition 1.6L, PULP, 5 SP MAN $3,850 – 5,720 2009 Volkswagen Golf 2009 1.6 Edition Pricing and Specs
1.9 TDI Edition 1.9L, Diesel, 6 SP AUTO $4,999 – 6,999 2009 Volkswagen Golf 2009 1.9 TDI Edition Pricing and Specs
103 TDI Comfortline 2.0L, Diesel, 6 SP AUTO $7,913 – 10,995 2009 Volkswagen Golf 2009 103 TDI Comfortline Pricing and Specs
118 TSI Comfortline 1.4L, PULP, 6 SP MAN $5,990 – 11,800 2009 Volkswagen Golf 2009 118 TSI Comfortline Pricing and Specs
Neil Dowling
Contributing Journalist

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