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Audi – 9 Hot Four-Wheel Drive Rides For Under £5000 – Car Throttle

by Oct 19, 2022Blog0 comments

Want a fast and entertaining car with four-wheel drive grip? Don’t have a lot of cash? Give these a look!
We’ve looked at inexpensive rear-wheel drive cars and cheap front-driving performance cars, but as that bloke from Game of Thrones likes to say, winter is coming. Well, it’s actually here already, so it definitely seems like a good time to look at affordable used motors that are fun to drive and four-wheel drive.
The £2000 budget we used for RWD and FWD round-ups doesn’t allow for much in the way of four-wheel drive performance fun, so we’ve upped the imaginary kitty to a more generous £5000. Take a look at our selections, and feel free to suggest some more in the comments.
It may not be quite the Porsche-bothering brute the current S3 is, but the original Audi hot hatch has a lot going for it. Earlier models have 210bhp from a 20-valve turbocharged four-pot, later rising to 221bhp. 0-62mph takes 6.8 seconds in the less powerful versions, dropping to 6.6 for the later cars. High mileage examples go for as little as £2000.
Clean, standard examples of the fifth-gen Celica-based ‘ST185’ GT-Fours are hard to come by, so if you find one priced under our imaginary budget, snap it up immediately. These rally heroes for the road are powered by 208bhp 2.0-litre four-pots, with big dollops of turbo lag to make the delivery seem even more exciting. The later, sixth-gen-based ST205s are more powerful, but even harder to come by at this price point. But worth keeping an eye out for.
We’re a little sad Mazda doesn’t make cars like the 6 MPS any more; other than the MX-5, the company’s range is looking a bit humdrum these days. However, the good news is these understated 256bhp sports saloons can be picked up reasonably cheaply on the used market. Prices start at around £3500, which for something that’s practical, comfortable and able to do 0-62mph in 6.4 seconds is a bit of a bargain.
If there was ever a car that was too far ahead of its time for its own good, it would have to be the 3000 GT. These are crammed full of gizmos that are common-place these days, like active aerodynamic aids, electronically-adjustable suspension, an electronically-variable exhaust system and sophisticated traction control.
The trouble is, a lot of that gear on the 3000 GT has a habit of breaking. And causing huge bills. Want some examples? You’ll lose £1000 for an ECU replacement, or £2500 if the gearbox ECU fails and damages the transmission in the process.
Buying one of these is a big risk, there’s no doubt about it. But, there is something very tempting about these Mitsus, with those wonderfully 90s coupe looks and a punchy 280bhp 3.0-litre V6 providing the thrust.
Fancy a hot four-wheel drive Audi on this budget, but want a bit more space and double the cylinder count of the S3? We give you the B6 S4. Blessed with a 344bhp 4.2-litre V8, these hot saloons will whisk you from 0-62mph in 5.6 seconds and do 155mph at the top end, without really giving the game away on the outside. Save for those shiny wing mirror covers and discreet badging, you’d struggle to tell one of these apart from a regular A4. Which is half the appeal, we reckon. £5000 is enough for one with decent mileage; we recommend you take the plunge and fit a fruitier exhaust to hear that V8 do its thing.
A B5 S4 would also be possible for this sort of money, but we’d advise caution. The 2.7-litre V6 is a brilliant unit, but also not the most reliable: it’s worryingly common for the turbos to go pop, and they’re not cheap to replace.
You’ll need some patience, but look for long enough and you will be able to get a Lancer Evolution on this budget. It’ll have to be either the Evo I, II, III or IV, although the 276bhp IV would be our preference. Look out for a relatively standard car, keep it that way (stock cars are ridiculously rare in the UK), and enjoy the searing four-wheel drive pace.
This list wouldn’t be complete without some sort of Scooby. A second-generation Impreza WRX STI would be our choice, with prices starting well below £3000. If it was us, we’d spend a little more and get the facelifted version which dropped the much-maligned ‘bug eye’ look, and had a slight increase in power from its boxer-four – 221bhp up from 215.
This being a Volvo, safety is the order of the day, with a very grippy four-wheel drive system and a complex set of electronic driver aids designed to stop you from binning it at all costs. However, don’t let that put you off, as there’s a lot to like here. This very left-field alternative to an E46 BMW M3 packs a 300bhp 2.5-litre inline-five, which makes the S60 R good for 0-62mph in just 5.5 seconds, and a top speed of 155mph. You’ll need at least £4500.
The MkIV Golf wasn’t VW’s finest hour, particularly with some of the more lacklustre versions of the GTI that generation spawned. However, the R32 was a stunning high point, and as prices are starting to dip under the £5k mark, they’re a tempting buy. While the cheaper S3 we mentioned earlier – with which the MkIV Golf shares a platform – is perhaps the car we’d choose over the first R32, it’s hard to look past the draw of that 3.2-litre VR6 under the bonnet. The sonorous six puts out 237bhp to all four wheels.
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