We choose the ideal car for you within a budget: this time, a second-hand sportscar for under R200 000...

Know how much you can spend on a car but haven’t made up your mind which one to buy? We recommend two sensible options, plus a left-field choice.

Requirements: our buyer wants a small sportscar and is happy to consider a convertible because it’ll be used mainly as weekend wheels.

Sensible: Mazda MX-5 2,0Porsche Boxster

0-100 km/h: 8,15 sec
Top speed: 224 km/h
Power: 118 kW
Torque: 188 N.m
CO2: n/a
Fuel cons: 10,08 L/100 km

Plugging the gap left by British sportscars in the 1980s, Mazda had this particular market segment nicely sewn up when it launched the first-generation MX-5. As sales grew, so did the engine size, but the perky little roadster retained its front-engine/rear-wheel-drive layout.

With R200 000 to spend, you can find examples younger than 10 years old and, since these are often weekend toys, you should be able to find a good third-generation one with low mileage. This, coupled with Mazda’s proven record for outstanding reliability, should result in low maintenance costs.

This iteration of the MX-5 had a 118 kW 2,0-litre engine (the sole option). Owners could add a removable hard top to the purchase, or opt for the RC model with its integrated tin-top.

While previous versions were quite softly set up and offered middling performance, the 2006 model was decidedly sportier with more power and stiffer Bilstein-shocked suspension.

Due to the space required for the top, there’s just 120 litres of boot space, which is insufficient for a spare wheel so all you get is a puncture-repair kit. The roof is not electrically driven and can be quickly lowered/raised on the move. Make sure the water drain holes are clear of debris as water can pool and even flow into the cabin.

Space: 2 seats, 120 L
Safety and aids: 4 airbags, ABS, stability control
Cost of 4 tyres: R7 324
Road test: January 2006

Sensible: Ford Fiesta STFord Fiesta ST

0-100 km/h: 7,61 sec
Top speed: 220 km/h
Power: 134 kW
Torque: 240 N.m
CO2: 138 g/km
Fuel cons: 7,08 L/100 km

A contender for our favourite small hot hatch of this millennium, the Fiesta ST offers a lot of fun for the money thanks to a potent 1,6-litre turbocharged petrol unit mated with a snickety six-speed manual gearbox. The handling is close to perfect, too.

The four-year-old examples we spotted are out of the factory service plan but maintenance costs should be manageable thanks to mileages generally still well under 100 000 km.

As with the other cars here, the ST has just two doors, which isn’t a concern for our buyer, but the boot is big enough for weekend excursions. We’ll reserve our comments on Ford’s sound symposer, which pipes artificial engine noise into the cockpit...

Despite the punchy power output, the ST is frugal on fuel but only if you do not make frequent use of the turbo boost. The traction control offers three stages so you can decide how much help you desire to keep the car pointed in the right direction.

Maintenance items to keep tabs on include clutches suffering from premature wear. If you experience slip under load, this is a sign. Dual-mass flywheels can also give trouble so listen for rattling especially when starting or stopping the engine (replacement is pricey). Looks for signs of excessive wear courtesy of an exuberant previous owner.

Space: 4/5 seats, 248/896 L
Safety and aids: 7 airbags, ABS, ESC
Cost of 4 tyres: R5 328
Road test: August 2013

Left-field: Porsche 986 Boxster SPorsche Boxster

0-100 km/h: 6,06 sec
Top speed: 261 km/h
Power: 185 kW
Torque: 305 N.m
CO2: n/a
Fuel cons: 12,42 L/100 km

Most of us have, at some stage, dreamt about owning a Porsche. At this price point, it will have to be an early model; about the turn of the century. Fortunately, most owners do not cover huge distances so overall condition should be excellent. The downside is, if you do have to fix things, it’s going to be expensive.

The first Boxster model used a 2,5-litre flat-six but upgraded to a 2,7-litre in 1999, while the “S” version featured a 3,2-litre engine. The six-speed manual gearbox is the best one to buy for true classic value. The soft top is electrically powered so make sure everything operates correctly. The rear window was made from plastic but was replaced in 2002 by a glass panel due to kinking.

Luggage space is good for a sportscar, with identical volumes of 96 litres under the bonnet and behind the rear engine compartment.

Maintenance is expensive mainly because access to the mechanicals is so difficult and therefore you pay for labour. Items to watch out for are oil leaks indicating a failing rear main oil seal. The intermediate shaft bearing sometimes breaks so look out for steel or plastic particles in the oil or trapped in the oil filter.

While 15-year-old Boxsters currently sell at a healthy 50% of original prices, we expect this figure to soon start rising.

Space: 2 seats, 192 L
Safety and aids: 4 airbags, ABS, stability control
Cost of 4 tyres: R13 200
Road test: October 2001 (Boxster S)

Second hand cars for sale