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What used sporty car should I buy?

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Finding a roomy car with a bit of grunt for under $25,000 that isn’t an SUV can be challenging, but our expertise is up for the challenge.

THE QUESTION

I drive a Ford Focus RS but am looking for something comfier with a bit of punch as I’m relocating to a country town. I’m 6ft 5in, so I need room, but I don’t want an SUV. I have about $25,000 to spend on something used; how about a Toyota Camry V6? Alternatives?

ANSWER

Comfier than a Focus RS? Luckily for you, that’s any other car ever made. A shame you can’t take the Focus with you for the tree change. It may have a stiff ride, but what a brilliant backroad plaything. A medium or large sedan will give you comfort and space, although without the rawness or dynamics of your hot Ford. But driving joy can still be found. Here’s how.

CHOICES

2015/16 SKODA OCTAVIA RS 162TSI, FROM $22,000

An oft-overlooked performance sedan and wagon. The Skoda badge puts off some buyers, but more fool them. Resale values used to count against them, but no longer as more become wise to the brand’s quality and, in particular, the Octavia RS’s talents. It shares the VW Golf GTI’s platform and 162kW/350Nm turbo engine, so in a wagon, guise combines cracking performance with a mighty 588L boot space. Goodies include partial leather seats, auto emergency braking, radar cruise control, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, and adaptive suspension. Manual or DSG auto gearboxes are available (both have their merits) – while the car’s RS model reveals superb steering and handling talents. Revert to Normal mode, and it’s a comfy everyday cruiser. Very optimistic 6.6L/100km economy, it demands pricey 98 fuel and Skodas of this age are out of factory warranty. Expect services to cost about $500 per visit.

2017/18 HOLDEN ZB COMMODORE 2.0T, FROM $20,000

There is no ‘Made in Australia’ sticker on these Commodores, so die-hards reject these rebadged Opels without considering their merits. Spacious, comfy, and Holden-tuned for our conditions, it’s a solid if not thrilling package. The 2.0-liter turbo engine’s a decent unit with 191kW and 350Nm, so that it would serve you well on long highway trips and the backroads. I’d pick it over the Commodore’s V6. Your budget buys a higher-spec RS model with a sports body kit, power sports seats, ambient lighting, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, and active solid safety. It’s practical as a liftback sedan (490L boot) or the wagon version for even more (560L) space. Holden capped price services are good value at either $259 or $359 for the first seven years, while fuel use (95 RON) is 7.6L/100km. A cheap way into a car designed and made in Germany.

2018 TOYOTA CAMRY ASCENT SPORT, FROM $25,000

Sellers want $30,000 for V6 Camrys, but your $25k can about buy a Camry Ascent Sport with 133kW/231Nm 2.5-litre four-cylinder. There is nothing to get excited about, but the Camry’s style, comfort, and all-around excellence make it worthy of consideration. Forget Camry preconceptions; this is a surprisingly satisfying and talented thing through corners or cruising highways. Active safety and niceties such as a sports body kit, 8-inch screen, sat-nav, and power seat are included. You’ll still have a three-years warranty remaining; servicing is a mere $200 per visit (although it’s $763 after six years), and fuel use is a thirsty 8.3L/100km. You could consider a Hybrid version, but they’re a few grand more and work best in urban environments.

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About author
Tristan McCue is a 26-year-old junior programmer who enjoys reading, binge-watching boxed sets, and appearing in the background on TV. He is smart and friendly, but can also be very evil and a bit lazy.He is an Australian Christian. He has a post-graduate degree in computing.
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