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Want a serious performance car on a €15k budget? Here are 3 to check out

Seeking a seriously mean motor without a millionaire’s money? We’re here to help.

THINK PERFORMANCE cars and you will most likely think expensive purchase prices and high running costs. In reality, if you’re in the market for a sports car today you may be surprised by what you can get within a relatively affordable €15k budget.

You will have to factor in higher rates of motor tax – and considering how much fun some of our selection of potential candidates are to drive, you may need to increase your fuel budget for the extra miles you’ll be tempted to put in.

1. Porsche Boxster

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First-generation Porsche Boxster models often got a hard time from purists who declared it as ‘not being a real Porsche’. but in truth, it was, and remains, an affordable, honest sports car that is fun to drive and can still turn heads today.

Its mid-engine layout gives the car much greater balance and it is far more forgiving when pushed harder compared to the rear-engined 911. It never proved to be as desirable as its bigger brother, and over the years as prices have fallen, many examples haven’t been as well maintained. The second-gen models were even better but the key is to try to find one with a solid service history, and that hasn’t had a hard life cosmetically.

Given Porsche’s fastidious attention to detail on the engineering front, these can make for a suitable everyday driver’s car, but ensuring you get the right one will reduce the chances of getting any unexpectedly large service bills.

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2. Mazda MX-5

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The Mazda MX-5 might seem like an innocent little convertible to anyone that hasn’t driven one, but the reality of it is that remains one of the best handling sports cars that you can buy on a minimal budget.

Sure, it doesn’t have the outright power figures on paper, but most models weigh in around the 1,000kg mark, giving it fantastic balance and real-world performance. The first generation (1987-1997) remains a good looking car today but finding one that hasn’t been butchered from its original state is becoming more difficult. If you can, try to get one with the optional hardtop roof, as this will protect the fabric roof in winter.

Rust is an issue on many of these cars, so make sure you check the sills and arches. Second generation (NB) models weren’t as appealing looking but still drive brilliantly, while you could get a folding hardtop roof with the third generation model as an option.

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3. BMW M3 (2000-2006)

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There have been many versions of the BMW M3, but the E46 model from the early 2000s is widely considered one of the best – while remaining one of the more affordable models.

It was produced in both coupe and convertible body styles and had all the familiar BMW M visual cues, including the power dome bonnet, flared wheel arches and quad exhaust pipes at the rear.

Its 3.2-litre straight-six engine sounds phenomenal and likes to rev, producing 343hp and 365Nm of torque. Its rear-wheel drive transmission and near-perfect weight distribution make it still one of the sweetest handling performance cars that you can buy today. With a 0-100km/h time of 4.8 seconds, it’s also still very fast given its relative affordability.

With prices for this model having levelled out the M3 can make a worthwhile investment, especially if you come across an immaculate example. Correctly serviced, it should continue to deliver driving enjoyment for many more years, by which time values could potentially rise making this a savvy purchase.

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How to buy a serious prestige car on a €12k budget – and 3 to check out first>

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About the author:

Dave Humphreys

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