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The Old Vs New debate - what can £11.5k get you?

A new Fiesta, but what else?...

According to the SMMT the bestselling car in the UK in 2011 was the Ford Fiesta. That’s a pretty broad scope, so by looking at the nearly new models available in Ford dealers, we reckon that the bestselling Fiesta model is the 1.2 Zetec which costs £11,345 new.

A pretty good price, we’re sure you’ll agree, and it comes with Ford’s 3yr Warranty and your choice of spec. But it also only comes with a rather limp 1.2 litre engine with 82bhp and isn’t exactly the most exciting vehicle in the world. So we wondered – what else could you buy for the same price as Britain’s most popular car?

We’re going to break the rules a little here just for entertainment purposes – we’re going purely on price and fun factor – as we understand that someone buying a 3dr 1.2 Fiesta wouldn’t really be looking at a 250bhp Coupe or Convertible, but if we can turn just one buyer onto something more interesting, our work here is done. And yes, they all have fairly high mileages but we are long past the days of 50k cars being ready for the scrapheap. So onto the contenders…

1. The Supersaloon


That’s right, for the same price as a Fiesta you could buy one of the most highly rated sports saloons ever – the E39 BMW M5. A motorsport-bred 5.0 litre V8 engine putting out 400bhp powering the rear wheels and one of the most timeless shapes ever to have graced the designer’s pad. Okay, so the running costs may be absurd, but you would be driving the car that every motoring Journo in the country rates as their favourite Supersaloon. To hell with MPG and emissions, bring on the V8 noise and admiring glances from those ‘in the know’.

2. The rakish Coupe


This one surprised us. We guessed that for £11.5k you could get a TT, but we never guessed you’d be able to buy the newer shape Audi TT 3.2 V6 Quattro. Such a stylish shape and an interior that you could spend days in, the TT Mk2 is the kind of car you could stick a private plate on and most people would think you were driving a £35k car. This particular example has the 250bhp V6 engine linked to their Quattro 4WD system, so you’ll be able to enjoy it all year round. A sumptuous cream interior sets off the outside nicely and there are some nice options too. We don’t think you can buy more class for the money.

3. The all-rounder


What most people need is a car that can do everything, but they’re pretty rare. What we think fits that bill very well is this BMW 330d Touring M-Sport. You get great looks with the 18” alloy wheels and M-Sport bodykit, there’s a very practical estate body which can handle most loads with ease, and a 3.0 litre turbodiesel engine which puts out 231bhp yet returns a very impressive 42mpg. Add in the fantastic handling from BMW’s renowned RWD chassis and you have a car that does everything you could ever want.

4. The stylish Convertible


Assume that you don’t need 5 seats just for a second – or a roof. Summer is on its way and a convertible seems like a nice idea doesn’t it? Well then, you definitely don’t want some tin-top Fiesta to drive around in. You want a Porsche Boxster. We could have chosen a 986-model 3.2 litre Boxster S, but we sacrificed power for modernity in this case and found a 987-model 2.7 litre Boxster with just 54k on the clock. You get the much improved looks, an interior better than most £90k cars and of course, a 240bhp flat-6 2.7 litre engine in the amazing mid-engined RWD chassis. There aren’t many better handling cars for the money, nor many that look as good. Amazing value.

5. The Barge


Sometimes in life you just want to get from A to B with the minimum of fuss, totally relaxed and stress free. For that you need a Barge. A large saloon that was designed with the sole purpose of executive travel, in as near silence as possible, preferably as under the radar as possible as well. In our view few cars do this better than the VW Phaeton, though many think it’s just an oversized Passat the Phaeton shares its underpinnings with the Bentley Continental GT and is just as luxurious inside. Take a look at this 60k mile Phaeton 5.0 V10 TDi 4Motion – every conceivable extra, leather adorning every surface, copious amounts of wood and a 313 bhp 5.0 litre V10 diesel powerplant for wafting up to speed with ease, cruising on the amazing 553 lb/ft of torque. It’ll go forever and probably won’t even squeak or rattle at 200,000 miles.

6. The ridiculous option


Okay, so all the choices above may cost a bit more to run than a Fiesta, so to put them in context how about a truly absurd vehicle? We give you the Bentley Turbo R LWB – resplendent in royal blue with a magnolia hide interior, that long bonnet hiding a magnificent 6.75 litre Turbocharged V8 engine with around 300bhp. This particular example has done a barely-run-in 37,000 miles and looks as good as new. Everyone will think you’re related to the Queen, or wealthy enough to buy Wales, one of the two. Which of course you won’t be as you’ll be bankrupt after the first service. But if nobody took these chances the world would be a very boring place.

7. The sensible option


After all that silliness, we present what we feel to be the most sensible option. If buyers must have a Fiesta 1.2 Zetec, why not buy one that is 2yrs old, like this one? That way you save £3355 and you still have a year’s warranty left which you can extend if you want. Same car, same practicality, economy and cheap servicing with only 1000 miles on the clock. But you have £3355 in your pocket, which you could then happily spend on something fun to brighten up your weekends. We nominate the default fun car – the Mazda MX-5. Let’s say you’d have to pay an out a further £500 to insure it so you have £2855 to spend which would get you this Mk.2 1999 MX-5 1.8iS with change for fuel. 140bhp, weight just over a tonne and the arguably the sweetest handling chassis to grace a sportscar ever.

So there you have it, seven options on how you can spend your money other than the default Ford Fiesta. They might not be as reliable, frugal or sensible as the Eurobox, but they’ll deliver more smiles per mile than it for certain. And if you’re still set on that Fiesta – go for option 7. Happy motoring.

Images courtesy of Auto Trader

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About Tim Oldland

Contributing Editor - Long time petrolhead, automotive design engineer and journalist. Also Social Media Manager for the ecurie25 Group - www.ecurie25.com Tim has worked in the automotive sector for many years, but has been a fan of anything with 2 or 4... read more