Say pocket rocket and everyone thinks the Mini Cooper S, which is all very well, but if you fancy something really characterful, pick a Fiat 500 with a ton of attitude. There are plenty of Abarth 595s around (695s, too, but they’re more than you need). The Competizione has an edge to it with lowered suspension and a limited-slip differential. You might not need all that, but find a one-owner, often privately sold example that hasn’t been thrashed and you won’t be disappointed.
Kia Stinger 2018 2.0 T-GDi GT-Line ISG, 38,000 miles, £22,000
Usually super-saloons need performance and a fancy badge, but here’s a great big exception. The 2.0-litre petrol has just about enough power to be interesting, while the 3.3-litre V6 GT S offers much more and the 2.2-litre diesel some proper range. The Stinger is a huge and handsome thing that’s still quite fresh, so used examples aren’t cheap or high mileage, with most available from dealers with one previous owner. Its slightly shallow hatchback boot shouldn’t be a deal-breaker.
MG TF 2003 1.8, 55,000 miles, £3000