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Cape Town - Petrolheads come in all shapes and sizes and so do their wallets. It's no secret most people can't afford forking out over R500 000 on what your average drive might call an expensive 'toy'. 

We've come to the rescue and found five vehicles that are exciting to drive but won't break the bank.

From small practical 'luke-warm' hatches to proper driving machines, you need to consider these performance panthers. 

Chevrolet Sonic RS

Why we think it's a good choice: The Sonic RS is sadly forgotten among the myriad of hatches on sale in South Africa. A big part of its lack of popularity is that it lacks the badge-snobbery induced by traditional rivals Volkswagen and Ford. 

The proof is in the pudding though; a sublime ride, sufficient torque and a lovely, crisp six-speed manual box makes it a definite contender in our books. The Sonic RS is worth considering as a luke-warm hatch and can be purchased at bargain.

Price - From R159 000

Power: 103kW/200Nm

What we like about it: Comfortable, fast (enough), well-built, good resale.

Rating: 7/10 

2 Ford Fiesta ST

Why we think it's a good choice: Widely considered to be the best super-mini hot hatch in the world, and with good reason; its quick ratio steering, powerful engine and sublime chassis make it an enthusiasts dream. 

The Fiesta ST makes for a great hot hatch choice.

Price: From R200 000

Power: 134kW/240Nm (290Nm on overboost)

What we like about it: Rapid, brilliant handling and affordable.

Rating: 8/10 

Kia Cerato Koup 1.6T  

Why we think it's a good choice: Perhaps it's a bit of a 'left-field' choice considering its rivals but the Cerato Koup has a lot going for it.

More than 150kW makes it one of the better options in this line-up. Also, have you looked at it? It's absolutely stunning, with a silhouette that could rival Salma Hayek in Desperado

Price: - From R224 000

Power: 152kW/265Nm

What we like about it: Cheap, unique and looks damn good considering it was launched in SA in January 2014.

Rating: 6/10 

Renault Clio Gordini RS

Why we think it's a good choice: The Clio RS epitomises a bare-knuckle, no-frills hot hatch. Yes, the ride quality is harder than getting Jacob Zuma to pay back all of the money, but that's what makes it a great experience.

You feel connected to the road in the RS and there aren't many cars that can do that.

Price: From R89 000

Power: 148kW/215Nm

What we like about it: One of the best analog hot hatches ever made, it has a high-revving engine while the sparse cabin limits broken items!

Rating: 9/10  

Mini GP 

Why we think it's a good choice: It's a car that's perhaps more at home on a race track than a public road. The Mini JCW GP turns the wick up to 12 with a roll-cage and minimal weight in a tiny car.

It's a vehicle that can be driven hard and you'll feel a tingling sensation behind your neck. It's a proper track toy than can serve as a daily ride.

Price: From R300 000

Power: 157kW/260Nm

What we like about it: Track-day special for the road, only 2000 were made - with only 30 marked for SA - and well, it's a Mini.

Rating: 9/10  



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