Wasting time on Facebook the other day I came across a post from an American fella, who was proudly claiming that the last generation Mustang with a couple of suspension mods can be one of the best performance cars under $10k.

I couldn't help but chuckle a little – don't get me wrong the Mustang is a great car but it's more of a soft GT rather than a serious performance car.

This leads me to this week's Autotrader picks, what are the best new-ish performance cars under £10,000? Here are my picks and some cheapskate alternatives.

The Touge Master Toyota GT86

After my attack on the 'Stang I suspect to get roasted alive by the American side of the audience for this choice. The notoriously under-powered Toyota might seem like a poor choice for a performance car, but as Colin Chapman said 'adding power will make you faster in the straight line, adding lightness will make you faster everywhere'.

So even though the Toyota might not have a great deal of power, its lightweight nature, a near 50/50 weight distribution and great handling chassis make it a good performer. It will also help to develop your driving skills – without a huge amount of power you will be forced to drive it on the limit, and any loss in the already built up momentum will be severely punished.

This particular example is finished in beautiful metallic orange and covered just a touch over 20k miles over the bast six years. The low price for such low mileage is explained by the fact it's been previously written off by the insurer, but for a car that's meant to be used and abused do you really care? At a touch under nine grand it leaves some of the self-imposed budget for your first mods.

Cheapskate alternative: Mid-Ship Toyota MR2

The MR2 is the ultimate poor man's supercar. Thanks to its mid-engine layout and lightweight nature it has gained a reputation for being able to out-handle much more expensive and seemingly sporty cars. Its 1.8 litre straight four delivers 138bhp, this sends the MR2 to 62mph in around 7.5 seconds. But it's not about outright pace, in this car happiness isn't around the corner, it is the corner.

There are many to chose from out there, but I chose this blue 25k mile example for just £3000, as it perfectly illustrates just how affordable these little things are.

FWD Hot-Hatch Hero Renault Megane RS Cup

For under £10,000 the Megane RS Cup is one of the most focused yet still usable performance hatchbacks. Its 250bhp turbo-4 ensures it's right up there with class leaders in terms of sheer power, while the limited-slip-diff ensures you can actually put this power down efficiently.

The chassis and suspension are as good as you can expect from a team that has some 30 years of experience in building hardcore hatchbacks. Perhaps its only flaw is that it isn't its more powerful siblings the Cup 265, which I just needed to include here. Sadly it's slightly out of the budget here but is well worth the price.

Meanwhile, you can pick up this example finished in lovely yellow with just 54,000 miles on the odometer. The price tag might be at the top end of our budget, but just look at how mega it looks with those wheels and centre exhaust.

Cheapskate Alternative Renault Clio RS

If you want the same focused feel and performance but for fraction of the price, look at any generation of the Renault Clio RS and you won't be disappointed.

I've picked the reasonably low mileage post facelift MK3 as it still feels and looks like a new-ish car while delivering amazing bang-for-buck performance. If you want even more bang for the buck, check out the Clio 182 – it just so happens to be that a fellow Drivetriber Blee Carswell recently posted a review of his 182 check it out here.

Clio's 2.0 litre naturally aspirated 4-cylinder develops a very healthy 197hp, this propels it to 62mph in 6.9 seconds and a top end of a 140mph. If you need a proof of how good the chassis and handling is just look at the numerous 'cup' racing series this car had spawned.

This model is finished in a fierce red and sits on pretty gloss black alloy wheels. It's covered just 67,000 miles over the past nine years and comes with FSH. You might want to take off that dreadful black foil off the taillights

The Rally Legend, Subaru Impreza WRX STI

The Impreza has earned its reputation on rally stages across the globe. However, as Subaru moved away from the rally niche and into the general sports car market, it turned out that with lower ride height and slicker tires the Impreza makes a hell of a track car. The second gen Impreza was produced from 1999 to 2007 with two updates carried out during that time.

I picked a late 2006 Type UK model equipped with the Prodrive Performance Pack meaning its 2.5 litre turbocharged flat-4 offers 276hp and one of the best soundtracks this side of a Porsche. It will hit 60mph in five seconds flat and take you up to 150mph at the top end.

It has covered just 63,000 miles, covered in the world rally blue paint and sitting on gold wheels the looks are simply iconic, even if a bit extravagant.

Cheapskate alternative Impreza 2000 Turbo

As a cheap alternative, you might want to take a look at the older Impreza 2000 Turbo, it might look aged and be a down on power as it's 2.0 turbo flat-4 makes do with 208bhp, but it has to haul around a little less weight compared to the new one. You can have this clean example with 99,000 miles on the clock, for a little over 3.5k, you really can't ask for much more at this price tag.

And if you keep it clean, it's likely to go up in value, it certainly can't go much further down in it.

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