Vauxhall Nova 1.4SR

Boxy styling and blistered wheelarches inspired a generation of car fans in the eighties, and the Vauxhall Nova SR was the aspirational warm hatch for young drivers who wanted thrills without the bills.

  • Years: 1989-1993
  • Price new: £7,985
  • Engine: 1.4-litre 4cyl, 71bhp

Boxy styling and blistered wheelarches inspired a generation of car fans in the eighties, and the Vauxhall Nova SR was the aspirational warm hatch for young drivers who wanted thrills without the bills.

In 1989, the original’s 1.3-litre was replaced by a larger 1.4-litre. Pumping out 71bhp and weighing not much more than a shoebox (well, 675kg), the SR was rapid for the time. It will go from 0-62mph in 10.2 seconds, which doesn’t sound so fast now, but the engine revs freely and charges towards the red line with a snort from its tiny tailpipe.

By modern standards the brakes are wooden, the damping is lumpy and the engine is noisy at cruising speed. The steering is heavy at low speed, but there’s also keen turn-in for the time and a surprising amount of grip. It’s easy to forget how far modern cars have come, but this 1.4 SR is still a very special little hatchback.

Click the links below for the other 1,400cc cars that have made our list.

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