The ten best niche cars

When car manufacturers release new models, some of their older ones can be left collecting dust in the showroom.

With electric, hybrid and highly fashion focussed vehicles being released left right and centre, new car media craze can sometimes overshadow some of the classic models on offer by a manufacturer.

For example, when Range Rover released the Evoque crossover back in September last year, it seems enthusiasts forgot about the Range Rover Sport – which is a terrible shame.

Below is a list of ten great models you may have forgotten about.

Chevrolet Spark

The Spark is a small city car that sits at the bottom of Chevrolet’s range with a considerably low price of under £9,000.

As well as offering a frugal 1.0-litre petrol engine that emits sub 120g/km of CO2 emissions, the Spark offers the same muscular trademark appeal to the rest of the Chevy range. This includes bulged headlights, distinctive wheel arches and a highly sculptured front bumper.

The Spark is also unique to the city car segment as it is one of the only city cars that is available in a five-door variant. Its rear doors also feature a stylish hidden handle.

Chevrolet Spark prices start from just £8,475.

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Fiat Panda (4WD coming soon)

As the 500 and Punto are two of Fiat’s most lucrative and popular models, the Panda city car can sometimes go overlooked.

Even though it is labelled as a city car the Panda is more like a compact 4×4 as it offers a large box like rear end and a sloped nose. Although it is compact, the Panda can accommodate up to 870-litres of luggage with its rear seats folded down, which can be convenient both in and out of the city.

To match its 4×4 appeal, the Panda will soon be available in an all-wheel-drive version near the end of 2012.

Fiat Panda prices start from £8,900.

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Peugeot 508 RXH

The 508 RXH, based on the 508 saloon, went on sale in May 2012, but it went relatively un-noticed as a very similar model in its sister brands range, the Citroen DS5, was released near enough around the same time.

Like the DS5, the 508 RXH offers an extended estate body style with strong sporty contour lines on its bonnet and flanks.

The 508 RXH also offers a frugal 200bhp Hybrid4 powertrain that emits just 107g/km. The luxurious estate features a high quality interior, which includes a panoramic glass roof and a colour head up display.

Peugeot 508 RXH prices start from £33,695.

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Mazda6 (offers a business line)

The Mazda6 is the executive saloon model in the Mazda range and alongside its standard high quality kit; it also features a specific business trim called Business Line.

In terms of being a business car, the Business Line trim offers TomTom satellite navigation, dual-zone climate control, steering wheel mounted controls and 17-inch alloy wheels.

Alongside its stylishly comfortable interior is a frugal 2.2-litre diesel engine that emits just 133g/km and returns up to 55.4mpg.

With these low emissions the Mazda6 Business Line model has a 20 per cent benefit-in-kind (BIK) bracket.

Mazda6 prices start from just £17,810.

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Citroen C4 Picasso

The C4 Picasso, and the seven-seat Grand Picasso, have been shunned aside slightly by the massive media storm of the Citroen DS5 estate.

The C4 Picasso features a spacious and easily to navigate interior as it offers an almost aircraft like central walkway, which is particularly useful when attending to the kids in the back.

If more space is what you are after, then go for the Grand Picasso, as it offers up to 576 litres of storage space, even with all of its seats in their upright position. The C4 Picasso range is also available with a wide range of trim levels.

Citroen C4 Picasso Prices start from £17,950.

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Ford S-Max

The S-Max offers a sporty people carrier appeal that is akin to the C-Max model.

However, the S-Max offers a kind of ‘cool people carrier’ image that gives drivers an added bit of style with strong contour lines and a sloped front end, which can help when you have got to trade in your sports car or fancy saloon for a family vehicle.

The seven seat S-Max features 16-inch alloy wheels, front fog lights, a trip computer and air conditioning as standard.

Even though it is an ageing model it still offers a wide range of engines, including a 175bhp 2.2 TDCi diesel engine and a 2.0-litre EcoBoost petrol.

Ford S-Max prices start from just £22,600.

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Seat Alhambra

The Alhambra falls into the seven seat people carrier segment, but is sometime overlooked as Seat is quite a niche brand in this sector of the market.

The Alhambra has earned a reputation for itself in terms of versatile handling, as well as overall family qualities as it has earned a vast collection of trophies, including What Car?’s MPV of the year award for 2011 and 2012.

Inside the Alhambra there is up to 267 litres of boot space, which can be extended to a further 2,297-litres with the seats folded down. The Alhambra also comes with an entry level 148bhp 1.4-litre TSI petrol engine.

Seat Alhambra prices start from £23,535 on the road.

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Vauxhall Meriva

The Meriva offers a similar size to the Astra hatchback but with a bulky body. The release of the new Vauxhall Zafira Tourer has slightly pushed the Meriva aside.

With a compact MPV body the Meriva is both practical and spaciously capable, with up to 400 litres of boot space, even with all five seats in place.

Standard kit on the Meriva includes daytime running lights, electric front mirrors and a CD stereo with auxiliary input.

However, it’s most enticing feature are the rear-opening doors, which create a ‘safe-loading’ area for children between the front and rear doors.

Its entry level engine is a 100bhp 1.4-litre petrol.

Vauxhall Meriva prices start from £12,500.

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Range Rover Sport

The Range Rover Sport is now unfortunately in the Evoque’s shadow as the compact SUV seemed to come out of nowhere and blow Range Rover enthusiasts away.

However, this should not deter anyone from the Range Rover Sport as it still offers a luxurious interior and near unbeatable off-road credentials.

The Range Rover Sport has become somewhat synonymous with the ‘footballer image’, but that would be ignoring the luxurious interior, off-road ability and generous equipment levels of the Range Rover Sport.

Along with its adaptable 4×4 and leather upholstery included as standard, the Range Rover Sport is one of the leading models for style, luxury and off-road performance.

Range Rover Sport prices start from £49,795.

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Alfa Romeo 4C

As Alfa Romeo only offers two mainstream models in its range – the Mito and Giulietta, many are unaware that the 4C even exists.

The 4C is a two-seat coupe with a chiselled exterior design and an arrow like front end, of which it has been awarded a concept and prototype design award for.

The 4C packs quite a punch with a 1.8-litre petrol engine producing 230bhp, which can propel it from 0-62mph in less than five seconds.

Although it houses meaty engine, the 4C is expected to cost around £40,000.

The 4C is expected to be released in the UK in 2013.

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