Forced induction is cool. There’s just no doubt about it. Whether it’s turbocharged or supercharged, the sound of an engine with boost being wound up to its max is one of the most evocative in the car enthusiast’s world. Fortunately, if that sounds like your bag, these days you don’t have to spend much to get yourself a slice of the big-boost action. £5,000 should be plenty – and with that ample budget in mind, we’ve scoured the used car market for our top 10 forced induction heroes!
1. Audi S4 Biturbo
Why have one turbo when you can have two? It’s certainly possible for our budget, as the Audi S4 proves. Dynamically, the S4 was a bit of a wet blanket, with anodyne steering and a curiously uninvolving chassis – but devastatingly effective it certainly was, and with Quattro four-wheel drive and a whopping 261bhp, it provided massive, gut-wrenching performance whatever the weather. This one would fit the bill nicely – and it even comes in Nogaro Blue, just like the press shot above.
2. Nissan 200SX (S14/S14a)
Doyenne of the drift king, the S14 200SX is one of those cars that speaks softly yet carries a big stick. In standard form, its looks are nothing to write home about, with the possible exception of the S14a’s demonic front end; however, under the skin a delightfully tractable chassis and a 197bhp 2.0-litre turbo allows it to pull big, silly skids with abandon. This one looks like a cracking example.
3. Jaguar XJR (X308)
We’ve mentioned the XJR in the past – it’s one of those Jags that doesn’t quite fit with the old-man image. Not hard to see why, really – a supercharged 4.0-litre V8 engine that pumps out 370bhp should be reason enough. Yes, it’s an auto, and yes, it’s vast and heavy, but really, who cares when it can go sideways in a big silly cloud of tyre smoke while overlaying a V8 snarl with the whine of a supercharger?
If you’re devestated at missing out on Jeremy Clarkson’s old Jaaaag, fret not. A clean example like this represents huge value for money, though make sure it’s had the steel timing chain tensioner upgrade and look out for nikasil-related issues.
4. Ford Focus ST (Mk2)
Fast becoming one of the performance bargains of the moment, the Focus ST’s values have dropped hard recently. Right now, you can pick up a good, early car like this for under £5,000 – not a lot to pay for such a new car with a 222bhp wallop and excellent handling. The ST doesn’t just go well, though – it’s comfortable, practical, and immensely torquey too, making it a fantastic all-rounder that’s usable every day. Bear in mind its prodigious thirst before you buy, though.
5. Volvo 850 R
Everyone thought Volvo might have gone a bit loopy when it unleashed its 850 Estate touring car on the world, but even better things were to follow. The 850 R (at first badged T5-R) was a road-going, fire-breathing monster that put all 249 of its horsepower through its front wheels. It was, in short, a bit of a handful – but immense fun while it was at it. The idea of such a big, boxy estate shifting so rapidly is still appealing today, which is why it’s great news that they’re so accessible. Grab a clean one like this before prices start to skyrocket.
6. Renault 5 GT Turbo
On paper, the mad little 5 is outclassed by everything else here, but in the flesh it’s an absolute hoot. Its tiny 1.4-litre turbo only kicked out 118bhp but it weighed as much as a paperclip. As such, it was immense fun to hoon down a country road, its lack of outright pace made up for by the frantic way it took on corners. Clean, unmodified ones are getting hard to find now, but a great example like this one can still be yours for way below the £5k mark.
7. Saab 900 Turbo
The classic Saab 900 Turbo is an appreciating asset these days, so it’s doubtful that you’ll lose money on this investment – and you’ll also happen to own one of the most iconic turbocharged cars of all. The 900 Turbo was a legend among car enthusiasts, and helped to establish Saab as a foremost producer of turbocharged cars. In this extremely rare Ruby special edition form, it produced as much as 182bhp, and while this particular example is over our budget, we reckon it’d be worth scraping together a few extra pennies (or having a good, hard haggle!)
8. Toyota Celica GT-Four
Only 300 Celica GT-Fours officially made it to the UK, but plenty more got in through grey import channels. Fortunately, for this sort of budget, you can afford one of the genuine UK cars, which is generally to be recommended as they often come with better histories and better provenance. Either way, you’ll be getting a cracker of a car: the GT-Four kicked out 239bhp over here, slightly more in JDM form, and with four-wheel drive and a rally-bred chassis, it went like the clappers. Oh, and it looked pretty purposeful, too!
9. Subaru Impreza WRX
Thanks to hefty fuel consumption, used Imprezas represent fantastic value for money these days – and your £5k will get you a very clean example of a late hawkeye WRX like this one. Or if you fancy a bit more ‘oomph’, and you’re prepared to own something a little older, a bugeye WRX STi can now be had for the same sort of cash. Both will offer the usual devastating Impreza performance and mind-blowing all-weather tenacity, provided of course that you can live with the naff interior and not-so-pleasant looks.
10. VW Corrado G60
Although often forgotten in discussions about forced induction cars, the G60 shouldn’t be underestimated. Many reckoned the Corrado was one of the best-handling front-drive cars of the ’90s, and enthusiasts claim that while the VR6 had more outright power as standard, it was the G60 that was the more hardcore of the two, with a lighter front end and a tauter suspension setup, both of which gave it better turn-in abilities. The G60’s generally more tuneable and cheaper to buy, too, but don’t forget to factor in the cost of a supercharger recon every 100,000 miles or so. Even with that proviso, this one looks like a real gem.