Pocket rockets for under £2k? That’s the beauty of wee cars, you get a lot for your money when it comes to fun factor! They also offer better economy and are more accessible fat a younger age than a super saloon.
Because they are so small and light, they don’t nessacarily need huge power to be a real pocket rocket. With low weight and a small wheel base also comes the beauty of being nimble.
We have searched high and low to bring you our selection of small cars that we think make the perfect pocket rocket for less than £2000.
Mini Cooper S R53
Now if you didn’t see this one coming, you haven’t been paying enough attention!
Powered by a 1.6 supercharged petrol engine, the earliest of the lot were only a smidge over 160bhp. However, bide your time and you can bag the facelift for less than £2k easily.
The facelift (late 2004 onwards usually) features the better gearbox ratios and also the teflon coated supercharger blades. This resulted in a little more oomph. To the tune of just shy of 170bhp.
Along with respectable power, small dimensions and low weight, they are also renowned for their track capability. Ever heard of the Mini challenge?
We believed in this so much that we invested in one ourselves for our very own documented track build.
Project TCS will be also heavily supported by JWS Developments and everything broadcast a long the way.
Please be sure to subscribe to our youtube channel for regular updates and comparisons! Aswell as track day antics.
0-60 in less than 7sec and superb handling, especially if you find a late one with a factory LSD. I’ll take a bit of that!
Ford Fiesta ST150
Another contender for a capable little starter track car.
The Fiesta ST150 is a feisty little hot hatch on even more of a budget than the Mini. However as the name suggests, it’s not as powerful.
Available from around £1000-£1500, it still makes for some very cheap fun from the little hot hatch!
With a 0-60 of 7.9 at least you can still say it’s in the 7s! However that’s not what the Fiesta is all about.
The steering is sharper than the standard Fiesta as you can imagine and also better brakes. In fact Autocar originally said “so friendly that inexperienced drivers can approach its limits without fear”
The ST170 is also worth a look for not much money but just depends how pocket you want your rocket.
Citroen C2 VTS
At 125bhp, this is a warm hatch at best really. However we simply can’t ignore how cheap these cars are now, which is why its gained a spot on this list. Not to mention it’s a great, sporty looking thing.
Unfortunately if you are expecting the feel of a Saxo VTS, you may be disappointed. The C2, tiny as it is, actually weighs a good 100kg more than the Saxo!
At prices of less than a grand though, this car simply can’t be ignored if you are wanting a little fun car.
The Twingo is a great alternative, however it’s generally 3 times the price. Hence not making it on the list!
Renault Clio 172
This is such an obvious choice. The holy grail of pocket rockets is the Clio Renaultsport. No pocket rocket list would be complete without it.
I almost didn’t include this car However purely based on the fact that I could only find one online for the budget. Goes to show how sort after these are becoming.
The Cup version weighs in at very slightly over a ton, which makes for a 0-60 of only 6.8s! Couple that with a fantastic chassis capable of lifting a back wheel when pushed around a corner. It becomes obvious why people like these little pocket rockets.
If you can find a decent example for less than the £2k budget, then it’s the obvious choice! However don’t be surprised if there isn’t any.
Skoda Fabia vRS mk1
Total curve ball this one. A diesel hot hatch?
Ok so diesel isn’t traditionally associated with performance, let alone hot hatches. However its not the 9.2 0-60 times, nor the 130bhp we are interested in here.
No, instead we are interested in the 180bhp garnered from a simple remap! That and a huge dollop of torque for such a wee car.
The 130 PD engine has a cult following, and for good reason.
It’s never going to be a rocket ship, but at 180bhp in such a little car, whilst still returning 50mpg+ is certainly impressive. Being a diesel too, does give a decent shove when prompted due to the torque.
Potentially a very good car for younger enthusiasts wanting a hot hatch due to reasonable insurance, tax and economy.
£2k should bag you the choice of 3 or 4 on ebay.
VW Golf GTi Mk4
The only turbo on the list. And yes it is the turbo you want if you want real performance.
The 180bhp version comes from the same engine shared by the Audi TT.
Performance is on the upper end to begin with compared to some on our list. A remap should push well over 200bhp.
Attach the K04 turbo and bolt ons from the 225 BAM TT and you naturally have a good chunk more. Another map etc and you should see over 250bhp.
Much more and you should start thinking of forging the engine. Although I think 250bhp in a small hatch will likely make you smile, so hopefully that would be good enough for a while.
A turbo car will always offer the best tuning potential so it could be the best option performance wise. It is however another thing that could go wrong, so worth bearing in mind if you’re on a budget.
The ones that missed the net
There are many other pocket rockets out there. It just seems that the market in general is going upwards in price.
The days of a budget, cheap and cheerful, hot hatch may be drawing to a close.
Cars such as the Civic Type R, Clio 182 and Leon Cupra all used to be cheap, but yet now ask for a handsome price.
Cars such as the MG ZR 160, Peugeot 206 GTi and Saxo VTS all seem to have vanished.
Is it that the old Pearl’s are dying out and rotting away? Or is it simply that people are seeing more and more the appeal, pushing the prices up or hiding them away?
Either way I think now is the time to take advantage whilst you still can. Get a real bargain car by searching for the perfect pocket rocket
Enjoy them for what they are. A hoot!
Written and edited by Richard Goosall
Got a suggestion for the list? Please leave a comment!