Can you recommend a fun, stylish car for under £20,000?

I wrote off my 9-year-old BMW 330i and am trying to decide what to replace it with. My husband is fixated on Mercedes-Benzs or BMWs and so I have considered a CLK. Part of me feels that I don't need something quite as flash (having got it out of my system), but I do want style and reliability. I even thought about a Cinquecento. Whatever I buy it will probably be about two years old. I have a budget of up to about £20,000. Any suggestions?

Asked on 17 August 2013 by JK, Stockport

Answered by Honest John
A MINI convertible or a Fiat 500C TwinAir or Abarth 500C will be good fun. £20,000 also buys a Mazda MX-5 2.0i Sport, either a Roadster or Roadster Sport with an electric folding hard top. A Citroen DS3 1.6THP 156 cabrio is a decent drive (soft-top now available). So is a Peugeot 208GTI, and the stunning looking KIA Pro Cee’d GT at £19,995 with a 7-year warranty. But a new Fiesta ST is cheaper at £16,995 and generally reckoned to be the best of the bunch.
Similar questions
I am a student nurse in need of a good, reliable and reasonably economical car. However I am quite the car snob - having grown up around big brothers who like their cars, I have somewhat acquired the same...
It's time to downsize from my Passat 1.8T, but what should I buy? The Golf GT is too big and the Polo GTI only comes as an automatic. So I'm looking at non-Volkswagen cars such as a nearly-new Citroen...
I currently own a 2005 'old shape' Skoda Octavia Estate vRS. It has been a great car with plenty of performance, and is totally reliable and flexible. I fancy a change and will appreciate your advice on...
Related models
Characterful and charismatic. Funky retro look inside and out. Fun TwinAir engine.
A great sports car. Incredibly nimble. Responsive steering. Easy to live with day to day. Comparatively inexpensive to run. Roof is easy to fold down.
Much better second attempt at CLK. Goes well, handles well and is comfortable. Attractive looks.
Highly desirable and very pretty. Handles well even with the roof down. Lower emissions than previous MINI Convertible. Air conditioning now standard.
Huge fun to drive with great handling, zesty performance from turbocharged 1.4-litre engine, plenty of scope for personalisation.
Outstanding road handling. 1.6 EcoBoost engine has lots of torque. Practical and comfortable cabin. One of the best hot hatches money can buy.
Big improvement on the 207 GTi. Classy interior. Fun to drive.
As enjoyable and as good to drive as the DS3 hatchback. Roof can be folded and unfolded at speeds up to 70mph.
Good-looking and well equipped as standard. GT model is sufficiently sporty to feel fun while 1.6-litre diesel engine is swift and frugal.
 

Ask Honest John

Value my car