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You may think that because a car isn’t very expensive, it can’t be either interesting or safe. There are thousands of cars that fall into that trap but there are a few safe and interesting cars you can get your hands on for less than £3,000.

We thought we’d have a look through the options and pick out some gems- some sensible and some less so but all a bit interesting and most importantly, safe.

Saab 9-3


Saabs have always been mystical creatures and often admired for their quirky but functional manner. Until the car side went bust, obviously. What Saab became known for was the five-door saloon and one of these offerings came in the form of the Saab 9-3. Launched in 2002, there was a wide range of technology, petrol and diesel engines and of course, classic Saab build quality.

You can pick a 2005 Saab 9-3 2.0T Vector Sport with 55,000 miles on the clock for just under £3,000 now. Saabs aren’t just safe, they are moose tested due to the moose population in Scandinavia- which means they can handle a collision with a 700kg moose, pretty safe then. This particular Saab will take you from 0-60 in 8.5s using the 175bhp from the two-litre petrol engine. You’ll get a leather interior, rims and just under 40mpg. Don’t worry too much about servicing as there are dedicated Saab service centres that will complete a full service for £279.

Volvo XC90


We’re staying in Sweden for the next option. Although Saab was famous for their safety, there is one car with a reputation hard to beat. In the 20 years that the Volvo XC90 has been on sale, no one has ever died in on as a result of an accident. It has been dubbed the death proof car.

You can buy a 2007 death proof car for less than £3,000 with 150,0000 gentle miles on the clock.

For that money you’ll get a leather interior, seven seats and a 182bhp 2.4L diesel engine with an automatic gearbox. It isn’t particularly fast with a 0-60 time of 11.1s and it will only do 31.4mpg overall but if you want to be safe, you can’t get much better. Make sure you don’t spend all of your money on the car though as it is insurance group 41 and road tax is an eyewatering £615 per year.

Volkswagen Golf GTi


You may be thinking, ‘Well what’s interesting about a Golf?!’ Well, this one is quite a good one. There have been a few Golf Gtis over the years and although the first one was heralded as genius, there are a few that VW would rather keep quiet about.

The MK5 though, that was a good’un and you can get your hands on a 2006 model for less than £3,000.

Admittedly it will have done just under 140,000 miles but it scored five stars for safety from Euro NCAP and still has 198bhp under the bonnet.

It will get you from 0-60 in 7.2s but if you keep aiming for that, it’s unlikely you’ll achieve the 35.3mpg average that is quoted. Nice car though and it has tartan seats.

Renault Clio


Again, a Renault Clio might not strike you as an interesting choice but fear not, this one has nearly 200bhp.

The Clio Renaultsport was powered by a 2.0 VVT engine and gives the eager driver 197bhp to play with.

That means a 0-60 time of 6.9s but still managing a respectable 33.6mpg thanks to weighing in at 1.2 tonnes. It won’t be factory fresh for just a touch under £2,700. It’ll be around an 08 plate, have 120,000 miles on the clock and you’ll have to watch out for service history and cambelt servicing but you could get quite a lot of fun for not a lot of money… And five-star safety. Bear in mind that road tax will be £330.

Mercedes Benz E Class


If you were thinking, ‘I wish I could turn this three grand into 4.8 metres of German luxury’, then your wish CAN come true.

For just over £2,500, you can get a 2007 Mercedes Benz E320 CDI with about 150,000 miles on the clock- with a full service history. That’s a three-litre diesel engine producing 221bhp hooked up to a automatic gearbox that will take you from 0-60mph quite briskly. 6.8s to be exact.

It is a rather large engine but thanks to it being diesel, you’ll get an average of 38.7mpg which isn’t bad for a car that size. Insurance could be a tad on the pricey side as it does sit in insurance group 42 and road tax will set you back £360 per year. A five-star safety, leather-clad whoosh mobile for less than £3k though… Come on.

Although we have done some thorough research on these gems, there is always the possibility that they might take your journey onto the side of the road. To make sure you stay safe on the road, make sure you always carry an RAC Breakdown Assistance Kit for the UK and an RAC European Driving Kit for European travel.

Get yours now.

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