8 best lease cars with surprisingly affordable power - Select Car Leasing
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8 best lease cars with surprisingly affordable power

If you're looking for a surprising amount of bang for your buck, these lease cars unlock affordable performance for those on a budget. 

The term ‘sleeper’ is a motoring word that neatly sums-up an unassuming vehicle that is actually more powerful than it might look. 

Classics of the genre include cars like the Volvo 850 T5 estate, the 4.0 litre, 275bhp Volkswagen Passat W8, or the MG ZT 260, which boasted a whacking-great Ford Mustang-sourced 4.6-litre V8 up front. 


The great news for lease customers is that some of the powertrains available in modern cars are also likely to take you by surprise. 

They might not have performance-infused exterior styling, or the badge to match, but these cars can still get down the road in a hurry while doing it in a much more subtle way. 

And when you compared these modern cars against some of the most iconic hot-hatches of all time - such as the Peugeot 205 GTi or the Mk1 Honda Civic Type R - there’s little between them in terms of horsepower.

Here's a selection of some of the best - which you can lease right now: 

Skoda Fabia Monte Carlo (power of 152 bhp)


When it comes to sporty performance, the ‘vRS’ badge on the back of Skoda typically marks it out as something special. But there is another way to get decent power without a vRS model, and that’s with the recently launched Fabia Monte Carlo.

More of a ‘mild-hatch’ than a proper hot-hatch, a 1.5 litre engine provides power of 150 PS and a 0-62mph acceleration time of 8.0 seconds flat.”

More power than: A Peugeot 205 GTi 1.9 from the late 80s.

Mazda 3 (power of 183 bhp)


When you think ‘sporty Mazda’, you immediately jump to the long-running Mazda MX-5 roadster. But there is an alternative…

It might surprise you to learn that one of the Mazda 3 variants - namely those with the ‘E Skyactiv X’ 2.0 litre, mild-hybrid petrol engine - has power of 183 bhp. That’s a great amount of potency for what’s an understated hatchback, and it’ll cover 0-62mph in just 8.5 seconds.”

More power than: A Renault Clio 182 Cup from 2005.

Kia Ceed GT (power of 201 bhp)


The Ceed was the butt of a fair few jokes when it was the ‘reasonably priced car’ on Top Gear back in the day, but the GT variant boasting the 1.6 T-GDi ISG engine has power to wipe the smile off Clarkson and his mates.

These models sit on chunky 18 inch alloys, can hit 62mph from a standstill in just 7.1 seconds and will still return upwards of 40 miles to the gallon. Yet because it’s a Kia, it’s still subtle enough to be considered a sleeper.

More power than: A Mk1 Honda Civic Type R

Nissan Leaf (power of 217 bhp)


Chances are you don’t associate an all-electric Nissan Leaf with a spirited drive.

But modern electric powertrains are quick across the board, whether you’re in a Tesla or a Nissan. And the Leaf equipped with the 160kW e+ powertrain has considerable power of 217 bhp, which equates to a 0-62mph time of just 6.9 seconds.

More power than: A 2017 Ford Fiesta ST 1.6 Ecoboost.

Toyota Corolla Estate (power of 184 bhp)


Toyota has no shortage of sporty models - take a look at the ‘GR’ Gazoo Racing range and it's got drool-inducing cars like the GR Yaris, the GR Supra and the GR86.

The Toyota Corolla can’t keep pace with those stablemates - but there is a variant with surprising amounts of ‘go’. The one you want is the 2.0 VVT-i self-charging hybrid powertrain offering power of 184 bhp. Acceleration from 0-62mph takes place in just 8.1 seconds.

More power than: A Lancia Delta HF Integrale from the late 80s.

Vauxhall Astra (power of 180 bhp)


The humble, dependable Astra has been part of the Vauxhall family since the 1980s.

And in the past the Astra has worn Vauxhall’s iconic ‘VXR’ badge, which gets affixed to the firm’s sportiest models.

There’s no Astra VXR right now - but there is a model packing the 1.6 litre plug-in hybrid powertrain, which taps into power of 180 bhp. The 0-62 mph time isn’t lightning quick, though it does fall below 10 seconds, and max torque of 360 Nm means there’s plenty of pulling power.

More power than: The new Abarth 695

Ssangyong Tivoli (power of 163 bhp)


The Tivoli might be a quirky, left-field choice of SUV-hatchback crossover, but it garnered strong reviews when first launched in 2015 and has competed well with the Kia Soul, Peugeot 2008 and Nissan Juke.

And the Korean firm’s 1.5 litre petrol engine has power of 163 bhp and can whisk the Tivoli along rapidly.

More power than: the current entry level Mazda MX-5

Mini Cooper Electric (power of 184 bhp)


The Mini Cooper S is one of Britain’s best-loved hot hatches, offering trademark Go-Kart handling and affordable performance.

But the new Mini Electric really takes things up a notch.

The petrol-driven Cooper S has power of 178 bhp and can zip from 0-62mph in just 6.6 seconds.

The ‘Level 2’ Electric, on the other hand, has a greater power output of 184 bhp and goes close to the Cooper S in terms of acceleration, hitting 62mph in 7.1 seconds.

More power than: a petrol-driven Mini Cooper S


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David Hughes

Friday, 17/05/2024