One for the Road: A sporty diesel that won't break the bank


Max Hateley wants to sell his first car, a Corsa, to help finance his second. With £5,000 to spend, including his car as part-exchange, he's looking for a small, sporty diesel.

A Car for the Head

I know Max likes the Polo and it has a great reputation for reliability, toughness and excellent build quality. I would not describe the Polo as particularly sporty, although the Sport model comes with a 1.4TDI engine, which produces 100bhp. It's not that exciting, but is responsive, gets to 60mph in just under 11 seconds, and is certainly safe.

More importantly for Max, it will return 58.9 mpg overall, which is impressive. By going for the Sport specification Max will get alloy wheels, front fog lights, front sports seats, leather-trimmed steering wheel, gearknob and handbrake grip, multifunction computer and sports suspension. It would be worth going for the facelifted model from 2005, which looks a bit more contemporary, with larger headlamps. A 2006 example with 90,000 miles is £4,995.

A Car for the Heart

The Alfa Romeo 147 was the best model the company had made for decades, with great styling, engines and specifications. All the engines are plenty powerful enough and equipment levels are high, too. It is certainly stylish, with curves in all the right places. It handles sweetly, too, just like a sports car which will please Max hugely.

There's a pair of diesels, each using a smooth 1.9 engine but offering 115bhp or 140bhp. For insurance purposes he would be better off with the smaller-output engine; it will still be quite quick and deliver a decent 48mpg. Max should choose three doors for looks and a five-door for added practicality. A 2007 1.9 JTDM Turismo with 44,000 miles will be £4,995 with a warranty from an Alfa dealer.

Looking to buy?

Email James Ruppert at, giving your age, address and phone number, details of the type of vehicle in which you are interested, and your budget.