Need for speed: Five fastest cars for under £30,000

Who doesn’t love fast cars? For as long as the automobile has been around, car builders and fans have been trying their damned best to figure out how to make it go even faster.

Regardless of whether it’s a 135,000bhp supersonic vehicle like the Bloodhound SSC or just a particularly souped-up hot hatch, there are few people who don’t appreciate the excitement and sense of awe that surrounds a devilishly fast car.

The problem is that fast cars are usually quite expensive cars. Whether they’re full-blown carbon fibre hypercars, sports cars or even just performance versions of regular production models, higher output usually demands a higher premium price.

You can imagine how we felt, then, when we practically squealed for delight upon hearing the news that the new Ford Mustang will be priced from only £28,995. Eeeep!

That got us thinking, though. Why do fast cars always have to be so pricey, and are there more reasonably-priced alternatives that can still get our pulses racing without emptying our bank accounts?

We’re delighted to say that, in fact, there are. So here’s our top-five list of blistering performance cars on a budget of £30,000 or under.

Ford Mustang

May as well start with one of the most exciting developments in the motoring world for nearly half a century. Fifty years after it first thrilled American audiences, the Ford gods have finally heard the prayers of thousands and decided to bring the Mustang to Britain .

In the interest of full disclosure, we should probably mention that we’re also kind of cheating on this one. Technically, only the entry-level Mustang model costs under £30,000.

Two versions are available, one powered by a 2.3-litre version of Ford’s EcoBoost engine, while the other instead packs a traditional V8 engine. Although the 5.0-litre V8 model has a starting price of £32,995, the EcoBoost version is less than a grand under £30k, with a starting price of £28,995.

As a result, you could buy a bona fide Ford Mustang with your £30,000 budget and still have some change left over to fill it up with.

While it mightn’t be quite as traditional as a V8 engine, the EcoBoost still packs plenty of punch, with output that clocks in at a mighty 310bhp with 422Nm of torque.

In real-world terms, that means that the EcoBoost-powered Mustang will blaze up the road and reach 60mph from a standstill in just 5.2 seconds and covering a quarter mile in just under 14 seconds.

If, however, you can’t bear the thought of owning a Mustang with anything other than a V8, this version will snort out a planet-cracking 412bhp with 542Nm of torque.

The 0-60mph sprint time is reduced to just 4.5 seconds, with a quarter-mile time of 13 seconds dead. Better bring spare pants!

Vauxhall Astra GTC

It mightn’t be quite as hot as some of Vauxhall’s more ridiculous VXR models, but the Astra GTC is in fact the most powerful non-VXR car ever produced by the Luton marque.

Rather than a full-blown performance vehicle, the Astra GTC instead retains at least a little sensibility, aiming to blend the usability of the regular Astra but with a little extra VXR-inspired brawn.

Flatter than the Astra and low-slung in design with huge 20-inch wheels, the GTC looks every part the hot hatch performance car, and also has the figures to back it up.

Four engine choices are available, which include one diesel and three petrols after Vauxhall announced the introduction of a new high-powered unit last January.

This new four-cylinder engine offers a total output of 197bhp with 300Nm of torque. It mightn’t be quite as blunt as the V8 Mustang, but considering that it has half the cylinders, it’s still pretty dang impressive.

Over the previous 1.6-litre turbo petrol, power and torque have seen an increase of 30 per cent, meaning that the Astra GTC can bound from 0-62mph in 7.3 seconds before reaching a top speed of 143mph.

Despite its pretty remarkable performance, the GTC is also 13 per cent more efficient, with the 1.6-litre petrol engine still managing combined fuel consumption of 51mpg, with CO2 emissions of just 154g/km.

Add that to a wide range of in-car mod cons and infotainment features, plus a list price of only £20,995 and the Vauxhall Astra GTC quickly becomes as extremely attractive prospect.

Ford Focus ST

The second performance Ford in our list, like the Mustang, the Focus ST has earned its way into the public consciousness with little else than good old-fashioned muscle.

That isn’t to say that it’s just a mindless monster with little else than four wheels, a massive engine and a steering wheel to hold on to for dear life.

It’s not; in fact, it’s really quite pretty in a sort of dangerous, chew-your-face-off way with body colours including the aptly-named Tangerine Scream.

Available in hatchback and estate formats, for those who want a little extra practicality, the Focus ST also features an aggressively-styled bodykit with more performance tweaks than you could shake a short-throw gearbox at.

Underneath the bonnet lurks the Focus ST’s two engines, which include the first-ever diesel option available on the ST range.

The 2.0-litre diesel whacks out 182bhp, taking the ST from 0-62mph in 8.1 seconds, while the turbocharged 2.0-litre EcoBoost produces a total of 246bhp, lowering the benchmark sprint to just 6.5 seconds.

Swift performance is also matched with relatively decent economy figures too; in fact, the diesel is the most fuel-efficient performance Ford ever, returning 64.2mpg with just 114g/km of CO2.

For the EcoBoost, economy figures are still pretty good for such a high-output engine, returning 41.5mpg with 158g/km of CO2, while both engines are available with optional start-stop technology.

Prices for the new Ford Focus ST stand between £22,195 for the entry-level ST-1 hatchback, and £27,095 for the ST-3 Estate. With an all-new Focus RS just around the corner, it seems as though Ford could be starting to turn up the heat even further.

SEAT Leon Cupra 280

Upon its revealing early last year, SEAT billed the Leon Cupra range as having the most dynamic and high-performance production models they had ever made.

Claiming that each model in the Cupra family would smash the 0-62mph sprint time in less than six seconds, SEAT went one step further in March after the Leon Cupra 280 obliterated the Nurburgring lap record for a front-wheel drive production car.

Smashing the record set by the previous record holder by a full ten seconds, the Leon Cupra 280 is almost unbelievably quick. To put it into context, the Leon Cupra set a faster time on the legendary track than luxury sports cars like the Aston Martin DBS, Audi R8 and Alfa Romeo 4C.

Even the most basic model is still pretty hot with an engine that produces 261bhp, while the rest of the line comes outfitted with 278bhp petrol engines and six-speed manual gearboxes.

The Nurburgring lap record is impressive and all, but how does the Cupra 280’s power translate into real-world usability? Well, it can zip from 0-62mph in just 5.7 seconds, with a top speed of 155mph.

As well as that, all manual versions offer decent combined fuel economy of at least 44.1mpg with 149g/km of CO2.

Not just a hot performer, it’s also pretty nice to look at with sharp performance styling in a range of raucous colours, while standard features include rain-sensing wipers, 19-inch alloy wheels and a rear roof spoiler.

Available to buy now, prices for the SEAT Leon Cupra 280 start from £25,690, while the ST estate version will cost from £28,505 and is due to arrive in March.

Renaultsport Megane 275 Trophy

It’s lean, mean, aggressive as hell and it’s… a Renault Megane? Don’t let preconception cloud your judgement, the Renaultsport Megane 275 Trophy is no regular French hatchback.

A newer and quicker version of the Renaultsport Megane, the 275 Trophy version has been designed with one specific task in mind: blasting the previously-mentioned Leon Cupra 280 off of it’s perch.

Following on from the Renaultsport Megane 265, which was the previous Nurburgring record-holder for fastest production front-wheel drive car, Renault’s latest hot hatch Megane has been built from the ground up as a SEAT-slayer.

Utilising the same chassis that Renault’s racing cars are built on, the 275 features a raft of deliciously evil performance enhancements, including a stiffer frame and a lightweight titanium exhaust system.

Coupled with an upgraded version of the same 2.0-litre turbocharged engine in the standard Renaultsport Megane, the 275 wrings out a total output of 271bhp.

As a result, it can cover the 0-62mph sprint in under five and a half seconds, with official fuel consumption figures of 37.7mpg with CO2 emissions of 174g/km.

If that weren’t enough, Renault also offers an even more insane version, the Renaultsport Megane 275 Trophy-R. Output is the same as the regular 275, but weight has been reduced to drastically improve the power to weight ratio.

Weighing nearly 100kg less than the regular 275, other updates for the Trophy-R include adjustable dampers and Michelin racing tyres.

Prices for the Renaultsport Megane 275 Trophy start from £28,930, while the Trophy-R version is a little over-budget at £36,430, but if track days are your bag, it’s worth forking out a little extra.

For more information about any of these cars, or to see the rest of our range, why not get in touch with your local Perrys dealership today?