Aston Martin Lagonda Taraf

The 7 best sports saloons money can buy

The 7 best sports saloons money can buy

If you need to transport multiple people in comfort and at speed, then you need to get your hands on a sports saloon.

Here, we take a money’s-no-object delve into the world of sports saloons, covering everything from one-off concepts to cars you can buy new today. Keep reading for a guide to the best sports saloons money can buy. 

Aston Martin Lagonda Taraf

If you find the Aston Martin Rapide just a little too common for your tastes – they were built in the low thousands after all – then help is at hand in the form of the Lagonda Taraf that was released in the mere hundreds. Or 200 to be exact.

Unlike the Rapide, the Taraf doesn’t look like any other 2000s Aston. It features an extra pair of doors, although ironically it’s built on a stretched Rapide chassis. Its chiselled lines are more concept than road car and you’ll be unsurprised to learn it was originally built for the flamboyant tastes (and large cash reserves) of the Middle Eastern market, although sales were eventually extended to the UK.

And we’re glad they were. Despite being bigger and roomier than the Rapide, the Taraf weighs about the same (just under 2,000kg) thanks to carbon-fibre body panels. Power comes from a proper 6.0-litre V12 that rockets it from 0-62mph in 4.4 seconds. And the price? About £500,000 for an as-new example.

BMW M5 CS

If a BMW M5 is like the bottled essence of a sports saloon, then the CS is its concentrated parfum goodness. Eyebrows were raised when BMW branded its ultimate super saloon the CS – a badge usually reserved for lightweight specials – and whispered that it would cost 50 per cent more than a standard M5.

But then everyone drove it and all was forgotten. Performance is formidable thanks to a lightly tuned version of the standard M5’s 4.4-litre V8 pumping out 635PS (467kW) for 0-62mph in three seconds dead and a 189mph top speed. But it’s the handling that stands out, the CS has expertly judged damping and superb body control that lets you throw it about like a hot hatch.

Factor in its clever selectable four-wheel-drive system and, with prices starting from around £140,000, this could be the best money you’ve ever spent.

Bugatti EB112

If you’re going to buy the ultimate sports saloon, Bugatti – builder of the 305mph Chiron – looks like a solid place to start. The EB112 predates the Chiron and the Veyron, but the DNA in its horseshoe grille design is clear for all to see.

Instead of the W16, under the bonnet you’ll find a 456PS (335kW) 6.0-litre V12 that, with the help of four-wheel drive, gets the big saloon from 0-62mph in 4.3 seconds and onto a 186mph top speed. The motor’s location far behind the front axle means the Bugatti shouldn’t suffer from the nose-heavy antics of other VAG products.

Finding one to buy will be more of an issue – just three cars were ever built and you can expect to pay more than £1million to get your hands on one. 

Mercedes 300SEL 6.3

The Mercedes 300SEL 6.3’s combination of subtle looks and prodigious pace saw it nicknamed the ‘hot rod for bankers’ when it was first revealed in 1972, and its badge would go on to inspire a generation of AMG models years later.

As with the new cars, the SEL’s driving experience was dominated by its engine. With 253PS (186kW) and 500Nm (369lb ft) of torque, it still feels quick all these years on – capable of lighting up its tyres in a way that’s quite at odds with the appearance of this regal classic. Tight body control and a pampering ride were made possible by the innovative air suspension.

Sadly, the SEL’s complex mechanicals can throw up some truly horrifying bills, but a budget of over £100,000 will give you the pick of some of the best examples currently available.  

Tucker 48

You only have to look at the Tucker 48’s torpedo shape and Cyclops headlight design to know that this is one interesting car. Just 50 were ever produced and their hand built nature means no two cars are the same. 

Designed to be fast but also safe, the Tucker offered innovative features like a rollover bar, padded interior and a shatterproof windscreen designed to pop out in an accident. Any doubts that this could claim to be a sports saloon are rebuffed by its rear-mounted helicopter engine. The 5.5-litre flat-six was converted from air to water-cooled and produced up to 150PS (110kW).

Sadly, the Tucker’s rarity, pioneering design and oddball (in a good way) looks mean you can pay well over £1million to add one to your collection. 

Ferrari Pinin 

Built to celebrate the 50th birthday of Pininfarina, Ferrari’s future (which now includes the Purosangue SUV) could have been very different if it had gone ahead and built the Pinin concept car. 

The Pinin has the scrape-your-jaw-off-the-floor styling you would expect of one of the world’s admired styling houses. A flat-12 engine meant its bonnet could be kept as low as possible, while a styling line connected the front to the back, where you found tail lights hidden in the bodywork. 

The Pinin never ran but eventually fell into the hands of Ferrari dealer Gabriele Candrini, who recommissioned it for road use. Ferrari’s reluctance to build a saloon may not have been unfounded as the car failed to sell twice at auction, before being snapped up by an American collector. 

Chevrolet Corvette four-door

The Chevrolet Corvette has never been what you could call practical but, back in 1980, California Custom Coach had an answer with its four-door Corvette C3. But just five were ever built.

CCC’s concept was 762mm longer than the standard Corvette, freeing up all the room needed for a pair of plushly appointed rear seats, complete with their own T-top roof. Power came from the same 200PS (147kW) 5.7-litre V8 in the standard car although, with an extra 225kg to shift, you can expect performance to be blunted.

But, as sports saloon statements go, the four-door Corvette is hard to beat if you’re willing to stump up the £150,000-plus you’ll need to buy one.

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Nissan GT-R rear exterior

The best sportscars you could buy for £50k

The best sportscars you could buy for £50k

Looking for sportscar thrills on a maximum budget of £50,000? Then buckle up because you’re in for a treat.

We’ve cast semantics aside to give you a choice of sportscars covering everything from relatively practical coupes to less than practical mid-engined two-seaters, high-revving V8s and a four-wheel drive technical tour de force. So keep reading this list of the best eight sportscars available on a budget of £50,000.

BMW E92 M3

The E92 BMW M3 is like a Casio watch with Rolex mechanicals because while it’s one of the more unassuming M3’s on the outside, underneath its internals are pure exotica. Top of the list is a 420PS (309kW) 4.0-litre V8 that positively demands to be revved past 8,000rpm. Competitors’ engines at the time seemed mediaeval by comparison. But as much as the performance and sound of the V8 will impress, the way the M3 handles is just as beguiling. An electronically controlled differential gives the M3 agility a 6.2-litre Mercedes C63 of the time could only dream of and – unlike in the Mercedes – you can also have a manual gearbox. Our budget of £50,000 is plenty to get a late facelifted example with sturdier rod bearings – a famously weak spot on earlier M3s.  

Porsche 718 Cayman S

When the Porsche 718 Cayman first went on sale you could have been forgiven for thinking it was a Cayman with its heart cut clean out. Gone was the sonorous flat-six that was so key to the Cayman experience, and in its place was a turbocharged flat-four with, frankly, none of the old engine’s charm. Now though, the unpopular Cayman makes lots of sense. For starters, values have dropped quicker than you’d expect for a depreciation-resistant Porker. Also, while the 718’s turbocharged engine might not drip with character – a simple chip releases north of 430PS (316kW) and a punchy 542Nm (400lb ft). When you consider such a machine would weigh around 150kg less than a GT4 RS and have the fine balance all Cayman’s are famous for, it’s hard to imagine picking up a more accomplished sportscar for less than £40,000.

Jaguar F-Type R

While the Porsche Cayman is like a laser guided missile, the Jaguar F-Type R the nuclear option of the sportscar world thanks to a supercharged 550PS (405kW) 5.0-litre V8 that has more power than you (or indeed the F-Type’s chassis) could ever need. It’ll tail slide at pretty much any speed you care to mention – and some you’d rather not – but there’s a nimbleness to the F-Type that wasn’t present in the XK R that preceded it. Naturally, one of the F-Type’s biggest selling points is long-bonnet-pert-bottom looks that are still fabulous today and make up, in some small part, for an interior that belongs nowhere near a car that could cost north of £100,000 new. At least the 310-litre boot is practical for a two-seater sportscar. What’s more, our £50,000 budget is enough to get you a rear-wheel drive F-Type R in as-new condition.

 

Alpine A110

Beating the Porsche Cayman at its own game is no mean feat so it’s even more impressive that the Alpine A110 did it in its own particular way. Low weight was key. A chassis and body panels made from aluminium gave the A110 a near-1,000kg kerb weight, meaning Alpine could fit soft suspension that breathed with the road surface and allowed the car’s body movements to work with it in corners. Power comes from a rorty 1.8-litre turbocharged petrol engine – as fitted to the Megane RS – which gave the French flyweight a serious turn of speed, when combined with a dual-clutch transmission that could bash through its gears at a serious lick. Our budget is enough to get you a car that still has the balance of Alpine’s three-year warranty that – when combined with 40mpg fuel economy – makes this brilliant sportscar one of the most sensible options on this list.

Ford Mustang Bullitt

The current Ford Mustang proved to be something of a revolution when it touched down on UK soil back in 2015. It was the first Mustang to officially be sold here in right-hand drive configuration and the first to have independent rear suspension. This was a Mustang that was no longer a leftfield choice and – dare we say – it even handled. Yet despite a 435PS (320kW) V8, it didn’t ooze with the character you might expect of a Stateside V8. That was solved with the Bullitt launched in 2018. A new air filter, exhaust and larger throttle bodies brought power to 460PS (338kW), but more importantly gave the Bullitt a V8 rumble that was worth the money alone, although you also got uprated suspension, steering and brakes. Dark green paint finished the job. Now, this four-seat, big-boot coupe can be yours for as little as £40,000.

Nissan GT-R

On sale in 2007, the Nissan GT-R took everything we knew about sportscars and slung it in the bin. This was a near 1,800kg coupe that could give a Porsche 911 Turbo a merciless pasting off the line and on track. But how? Well, power came from a twin-turbocharged 480PS (353kW) V6, which was transmitted to the road via one of the most sophisticated four-wheel drive systems ever fitted to a road car – one that can grip and slide in equal measure. Inside, the GT-R was a tech fest on wheels, with dials for pretty much every readout you could possibly imagine hidden on the centre infotainment screen. Four seats and a useful boot made up for the fact that, in sportscar terms, the GT-R was hefty. Such is Nissan’s legendary status that price remains strong – even now, you’ll need £45,000 to get in a clean ten-year-old-example.

Alfa Romeo 4C

On paper, the Alfa Romeo 4C sounded like the Alfa we’d all been waiting for. Not only was it a lightweight sportscar with a carbon-fibre tub and a mid-engine layout, it also looked great and had a comically loud exhaust hooked up to its punchy 240PS (177kW) 1.7-litre turbocharged engine. Sadly, the reality of the 4C was also comical. Despite its carbon-fibre, the Alfa weighed more than a Lotus with an aluminium chassis. Meanwhile, the much-hyped unassisted steering that promised a telepathic feel of the road turned out to be terrible, hunting and snatching over cambers and surface changes. Unpleasant at best and plain dangerous at worst. So why include it on this list? Well, tweaking from a brand specialist can have the 4C handling as it should and, with prices starting from a little over £40,000, our budget allows for a touch of complimentary tuning.

Toyota GR86

While the Toyota GT86 was a sublime handling sportscar that brought (pardon the pun) a whole new spin to the sportscar world, it was not without its faults – a strangled engine being the main one. In the GR, Toyota solved this by fitting a 235PS (173kW) 2.4-litre petrol that was quicker but also more liveable – it can make swift progress without being thrashed and the engine’s increased torque makes it easier to manipulate the car’s highly adjustable chassis. In fact, at this price point, it’s hard to imagine a sportscar with a more complete handling balance. What’s more, as the only car on this list available brand new on our £50,000 budget (including a ten-year manufacturer warranty), the Toyota makes a lot of sense. If only the 450 examples destined for the UK hadn’t already sold.

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Alfa Romeo 8C Competizione

8 of the best sportscars money can buy

8 of the best sportscars money can buy

Lottery win coming through? Found yourself in the market for a money-no-object sportscar? Excellent.

We’ve pulled together this list of absolute beauties for every taste from a track-prepped Ferrari and a Gordon Murray-designed Mercedes to luxurious GTs, boulevard cruisers and even a car deemed too extreme for the road. Here’s our guide to the eight best money-no-object sportscars.

1. Ferrari F12tdf

Named after the Tour de France road race held in France between 1951-1986, the Ferrari F12tdf is a sportscar that has been custom-built for the track. Ferrari took the standard 740PS (544kW) F12 Berlinetta and improved it in every conceivable way. The 6.3-litre V12’s power increased from 740 to 780PS (574kW), while carbon-fibre bumpers and under trays helped shed 100kg. The result? A top speed of “more than 211mph” (Ferrari never confirmed an exact number) and 0-62mph in 2.9 seconds.

Performance figures were only half story, though. The F12tdf generated 230kg of front-end downforce thanks to a new aero package. When combined with rear-wheel steer (not fitted to the standard F12), meant that – whatever you did – understeer was never a problem. Huge carbon ceramic brakes (nicked straight from the LaFerrari hypercar) provided limitless stopping power. The downsides are few but substantial – Ferrari only built 799 examples, and they command prices of well over £1 million.

2. Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren

You get a sense of Beauty and the Beast to the unlikely partnership between McLaren designer Gordon Murray and Mercedes-Benz. While Murray was famed for building championship-winning racing cars, Mercedes wanted to build a GT that would appeal to glitterati like Paris Hilton. Something had to give and (given Murray’s famous dislike for compromise) unsurprisingly that ‘something’ was Mercedes. Because of this, while the McLaren SLR might look like the Vision SLR Concept shown at 1999’s Detroit motor show, it was all new under the skin, with an engine sitting half a metre further behind the front axle and a fuel tank relocated to sit within the wheelbase, all to satisfy Murray’s need for a near-perfect 49:51 weight distribution.

Sadly, other parts of the SLR – the tacky cabin, its 1,768kg heft and wooden-feeling brakes – were less than perfect. But such criticisms will soon melt away once you bask in the glory of the Merlin-like sound emitted from the 635PS (467kW), 5.5-litre supercharged V8s side exit exhausts.

3. Aston Martin V600 Le Mans

While the Aston Martin V600 Le Mans looked more like a rocket-propelled stately home than a sportscar, its ungainly looks could be deceiving – this GT could keep a Lamborghini Diablo honest. And it could do it while pampering its four occupants in wood and leather-lined luxury. Lifting the Aston’s vented bonnet revealed a 5.3-litre V8 flanked by a pair of superchargers with pumping force to rival a hydroelectric power station.

The V600 Le Mans is particularly cherished. Not only did it bring power up to 608PS (447kW, or 600bhp, hence the name), but it also got some much-needed attention to the suspension and brakes. The Le Mans body kit might be too Max Power from some, but only 40 Le Mans models were ever built, which explains why you’ll need close to half a million pounds to get a good one.

4. Porsche 911 GT3 RS 4.0

If the Porsche 911 is the ultimate sportscar, then the GT3 RS 4.0 litre is the ultimate sportscar in its purest form. To build it, Porsche took the ‘standard’ GT3 RS’ 3.8-litre flat-six, stroked it to 4.0-litres then added exotic mechanicals like titanium conrods and a crankshaft nicked straight from the RSR racing car. Weight, meanwhile, dropped to 1,360kg – 10kg less than the standard GT3 – thanks to parts like a bonnet and wings made from carbon-fibre.

The icing on the cake came in the form of an aero package (including dive plates on the front bumper) that increased downforce by nearly 20 per cent. The result was a 500PS (368kW) 911 with an 8,250rpm redline, mid-range flexibility that would leave a standard RS floundering and handling that still feels contemporary today. No wonder the best examples sell for well over Porsche’s original £130,000 sticker price.

5. BMW Z8

The BMW Z8 is an example of a sportscar that gets better with age. With an engine borrowed from the E39 M5 – but none of the saloon’s structural integrity – back in 1998, it wasn’t the sharp handler road testers expected and fewer than 6,000 examples sold before the car went out of production in 2003. But people got the Z8 wrong. It wasn’t a cornering king but a boulevard cruiser, and it does that very well.

Its retro styling – a throwback to the 507 GT – was pure, shark-nosed BMW (how times have changed), and while it never handled like a Lotus, it had plenty of power on the straights. Anyone looking for a deeply cool, and relatively rare sportscar would be hard-pressed to ignore the Z8, even if clean examples sell for nearly double their original £100,000 asking price. 

6. Alfa Romeo 8C Competizione

If the Alfa Romeo 8C Competizione was a film, it would be Shallow Hal because, for once, this is an Alfa Romeo that has the personality to go with its achingly good looks. A carbon-fibre body means the Alfa is lightweight (1,585kg) for a big GT car, while a near-perfect weight distribution was guaranteed by mounting the engine far behind the front axle and the gearbox ahead of the rear. Double wishbone suspension front and rear guaranteed neat handling, while power came from a Ferrari-sourced 4.7-litre V8 producing 456PS (335kW) at 7,000rpm. Enough to get the Alfa from 0-62mph in just 4.2 seconds on its way to a 181mph top speed.

Contemporary sportscars – like the Ferrari 599 GTB – would give the Alfa a run for its money, but the 8C’s desirability is assured because only 500 were built. No wonder an 8C will now cost you twice its 2007 asking price.

7. Morgan AeroMax

We couldn’t write a guide to the best money’s-no-object sportscars without featuring Morgan – a manufacturer with the essence of ‘sportscar’ coursing through its veins. Such was the reaction to the AeroMax’s swooping Art Deco lines when it was revealed in 2005, Morgan decided to build 100 examples rather than the single car originally planned. The AeroMax blends old and new in true Morgan tradition so while you get traditional looks and a vintage driving position, the chassis is aluminium and the 4.8-litre V8 comes from BMW.

It’s a combination that gives the Morgan a power-to-weight ratio of 316PS (232kW) per tonne and handling that would be outside the abilities of a traditional ash-framed model… And we haven’t even mentioned its race-spec AP brakes and glorious-sounding side-exit exhausts. Sadly, you’ll need close to a quarter of a million pounds to get your hands on one now.

8. TVR Cerbera Speed 12

With a lightweight fibreglass body spirited along by your choice of motorsport-inspired six or eight-cylinder engines, any Peter Wheeler TVR was quick – so let’s pause for a second to consider the 7.7-litre Cerbera Speed 12. With double the power of any other TVR. Its V12 lump was created by welding two Tuscan Speed Six engines together to which TVR bolted the engine to a backbone chassis with carbon-fibre body panels. The finished article was a car that even Wheeler – a man not known for his caution – decided was faintly ridiculous, saying: “I knew within 300 yards that it was a silly idea. Over 900bhp (912PS/671kW) in a car weighing just over a ton is plainly ridiculous on the road”.

Rule changes would soon render the Speed 12 obsolete from the track, too, but not before one lucky owner bought the soul-available road car. And only after the buyer had passed a one-on-one chat with Peter Wheeler, who judged their suitability. As the only example of a TVR turned up to 11, you’d imagine the Speed 12 would be nearly priceless to the right buyer.

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Aston Martin V12 Vantage S

The best sub-£100k investment cars for 2024

The best sub-£100k investment cars for 2024

In the current climate of spiralling interest rates, soon £100,000 won’t get you more than a Mars bar and a packet of crisps so, while you still can, get the money invested in the dream machine you’ve always promised yourself.

We’ve got something for everyone here, from limited-edition hot hatches to big-engined GTs and a history-defining super saloon. Will any of them appreciate it? That remains to be seen but at the very least, you will enjoy owning them.

1. BMW M3 CSL

As sure as the earth is round and what comes up must come down, a BMW M3 CSL must feature on a list of the best investment cars for less than £100,000. Using what is widely accepted to be the best BMW M3 – the E46 M3 – as a base, the CSL stripped it of 136kg weight (and fog lights), stiffened up the chassis and blessed it with a carbon-fibre airbox that produces one of the best induction noises we’ve yet encountered.

Power, meanwhile, went up by 17PS – to 360PS (265kW) – and 0-62mph dropped from 5.2 to 4.9 seconds. The elephant in the room is the BMW’s automatic single-clutch transmission which is, well, slow and not very good. The question is, do you drive around the gearbox’s limitations or save yourself the bother and retrofit a six-speed manual? Jerky auto or not, the CSL seems like one of the safest ways to make money on a car that can still be had for well under £100,000.

2. Aston Martin V12 Vantage S

There’s something delightfully endearing about putting a large engine in a small car and the Aston Martin V12 Vantage S proves that to the full. To create it, Aston took the smallest and lightest chassis available at the time and then fitted it with the 573PS (421kW) 5.9-litre V12 from the DBS. The result? A top speed of 205mph and 0-62mph in just 3.7 seconds.

Thankfully, Aston also sorted out the chassis. The V12’s suspension sits 15mm lower and is 45 per cent stiffer than the standard car’s, giving greater composure without sacrificing comfort. Perhaps the best part of the V12 Vantage is its pumped-up looks courtesy of long bonnet vents, wide sills and aggressive front and rear bumpers. It’s far more striking than the standard car. Yet, manual versions of the V12 can still be scooped up for well under our £100,000 limit. You can wager it won’t stay the same for long. 

3. Lotus Carlton

Few cars define their era quite as well as the Lotus Carlton – the fastest saloon of its day, the Daily Mail launched a campaign to ban it, while smash-and-grab robbers found themselves an ideal getaway vehicle. Law-abiding drivers also loved the Carlton. Lotus got the styling just right adding a subtle body kit and a (slightly less subtle) rear wing in what would become a blueprint for the modern performance saloon.

The performance, meanwhile, is impressive even today. The Lotus’ 382PS (281kW) twin-turbo 3.6-litre V6 is good for 0-62mph in around five seconds and with no nannying speed limiter (ala a contemporary German performance saloon), the Lotus was good for 177mph. Sadly, the delights of the Lotus Carlton have not gone unnoticed and a clean one will set you back close to our £100,000 self-imposed limit. Cheap for such a large slice of motoring history. 

4. Maserati Gransport

As a Maserati that goes as well as it looks, the Gransport brings cause for celebration.

Even without the distinctive ‘boomerang’ tail lights of the original 3200GT, the Gransport cuts an athletic figure that’s enhanced with a subtle body kit and 10mm lowered suspension, giving a sense of menace that was absent on the original. Subtle changes were made beneath the skin, too.

In the Gransport, Maserati’s 4.2-litre V8 produced 400PS (294kW) – ten more than before – you get adjustable suspension and a sports exhaust that gleefully opens its flaps at 4,000rpm. Even the Cambiocorsa automated manual gearbox gives faster shifts.

The result is a car that’s as happy grand touring as it is dissecting your favourite B roads and with prices still low – you can pick up good examples for less than £40,000 – the Gransport makes for a tantalising used buy that’s ripe for appreciation.

5. Porsche 997 911 GTS

If the 997 represents the sweet spot in Porsche 911 production, then the GTS provides the icing to the proverbial oily cake – it’s one of the best road-going 911s ever built. The 997 has the small size of the 996 but without the goofy fried egg headlights, while a slick manual gearbox and hydraulic power steering mean it still feels like an analogue Porsche.

But the engine is the superstar. With no turbos to choke its voice or responses, the GTS’s 408PS (300kW) 3.8-litre flat-six gets from 0-62mph in 4.6 seconds and will hit 190mph flat out. It’s a spine-tingling experience and the fact you have to work for it only makes it better.

By contrast, newer 911s – faster and more accomplished, true – struggle to match the 997’s engagement, which makes the GTS seem like a bargain when good manual examples can be had for less than £80,000. 

6. Ferrari F430 manual

Predicting the next Ferrari that will shoot up in value isn’t easy, but we reckon a manual F430 is a safe bet. Looking like a shrunken Enzo can only be a good thing, but more than that the F430 brings the world of old and new Ferrari together. So, while you get a screaming flat-plane crank V8 mated to an open-gate manual gearbox, you also get a manettino dial on the steering wheel linked to the F430’s electronically controlled limited-slip differential.

The result? This Ferrari can pull your heartstrings like few other cars, but there’s always an electronic safety net to fall back on. Sadly, the delights of a manual F430 have not gone unnoticed and while you’ll get one for under £100,000, you’ll pay a significant premium over an identical automatic.

7. Lotus Elise 240 Final edition

While some investment cars are reaching middle age and will likely require a bit of work, the Lotus Elise 240 Final Edition was only introduced in 2021. As the name hints, the Final Edition is the runout version of Lotus’ bestseller, coming complete with unique paint jobs and badging, and a lovely set of forged alloy wheels.

The Final Edition shows you what 25 years of Lotus Elise development looks like so while it weighs 200kg more than the original it comes packing a 243PS (179kW) supercharged four-cylinder that would make mincemeat of the old Rover K-series. Factor in daily usability that eclipses the abilities of the original Elise and there are plenty of less enjoyable ways to spend a hard-earned £50,000 or so.

8. Honda Civic Type R Limited Edition

The outgoing Honda Civic Type R’s styling (more like a billboard saying “race me” to anyone in visual range) might not have been to everyone’s tastes, but few could argue with the way the explosive Honda drove. Its 320PS (235kW) 2.0-litre engine hunted the redline like any self-respecting VTEC should while turbocharging delivered performance which made the official 0-62mph time of 5.7 seconds seem unduly pessimistic.

The Civic Type R could annihilate A and B roads in a way that would embarrass most supercars, thanks to a stiff chassis and the expertly damped suspension’s ability to absorb any bump or camber you cared to throw at it. A swift glance at the rapidly rising speedo was the only clue to how outrageously fast you were going.

Buying as a long-term investment? Then you best seek out the Type R Limited Edition, barely used examples of which can be scooped up for less than £55,000. As the best example of the best hot hatch of the current era, prices can surely only go up – can’t they?

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Alfa Romeo 156 GTA

The best sports saloons for under £10k

The best sports saloons for under £10k

If for some reason a small two-seater sportscar simply doesn’t fit into your lifestyle, there are other ways of quenching your thirst for exciting driving.

There’s a long list of larger, more practical, but no less exciting sports saloons that are capable of putting a dirty great smile on your face. Here are eight of the best.

W211 Mercedes-Benz E55

The W211 Mercedes E55 comes from a time when AMGs were as much about cosseting as they were about tyre-shredding performance. That said, there’s plenty of the latter. Power comes from a supercharged 5.4-litre V8 that hammers out 476PS (350kW) and a mighty 706Nm (521lb ft) of torque to the rear wheels via a conventional slushbox – factors that make its 4.7-second 0-62mph time all the more impressive.

Standard air suspension ensures it’s very comfortable, giving the E55 a high-speed ride not a million miles away from an S-Class of the period. It’s the ideal mile-crusher. Yet it’s also relatively agile, with neat body control and feelsome hydraulic steering. Having said that, a little more traction in the wet wouldn’t go amiss. Inside, the E55 is starting to show its age but still feels relatively plush. You get comfy armchair-like seats up front – complete with active bolsters that clamp your body in corners – and a back seat with acres of legroom.

The boot is also generously proportioned and there’s an estate version if you need more room. Sadly, you’ll need every one of our £10,000 to get your hands on one.

GD Subaru Impreza WRX

The Subaru Impreza rumbling flat-four could stake an Oasis-like claim to being a sound of the ‘90s and early ‘00s, it’s that recognisable. A delivery of more than 200PS delivered 0-62mph in under six seconds and a top speed of more than 140mph. Permanent four-wheel drive was the secret to the former and it helped the Impreza deal with the UK’s patchy climate.

Sadly, the introduction of cars like the Volkswagen Golf R – with its fancy DSG gearbox and viscous coupling on-demand four-wheel drive – sounded the Impreza’s death knell. But while a WRX wouldn’t see which way a Golf R went on a country road, the Subaru has character a VW can only dream of.

This brings us to this particular GD version of the Impreza. So long as you avoid early ‘bugeye’ versions, it’s a handsome vintage, with a chunky body that earlier models missed out on but without the ugly hatchback rear-end of later offerings. Our £10,000 buys you an exceptionally nice WRX but you could also take a gamble on a leggier (and significantly spicier) STi variant.

X350 Jaguar XJR

While this version of the Jaguar XJR lacks the svelte lines of the models that preceded it, it’s still the one we’d recommend. The X350 XJR is notable for its aluminium body that – larger than the car it replaced – meant the big Jag was capable of surprising fuel economy. Around 30mpg is within reach – not to be sniffed at in a 400PS (294kW) super saloon. That said, it’s the XJR’s performance that’s most notable.

Its supercharged 4.2-litre V8 offers effortless overtaking grunt – even compared to the competition of the time – and a buttery smooth ride makes this a great machine for tackling long distances.

Inside, the XJR misses some of the older model’s character but it’s a lot more spacious, with a usable back seat and a huge boot. Wood and leather are not in short supply, either. The best part about this unloved Jag is the price, with mint examples on offer for well under £10,000.

Saab 95 Aero

In lieu of a Volvo T5 saloon (sorry, fast Volvos need to be estates in our book), it’s the Saab 95 Aero that flies the flag for Sweden on this list. Unlike its countryman, the 95 wears its saloon car body well with a chiselled front end and handsome lines that bring to mind the aeronautical theme Saab loved to play on.

Performance isn’t jet-like but it’s not far off. Turbocharger torque and 250PS (184kW) mean the Saab delivers in-gear performance to humble far more exotic machinery and it is also an exceptionally comfortable cruiser. Unfortunately, it’s no B-road blaster. Traction is limited and the Vauxhall Vectra-derived chassis – although heavily modified by Saab – can feel all at sea if you stray above eight-tenths. But, with your family abroad, you’re unlikely to do that.

Instead, it’s better to marvel at the restrained good looks of the spacious cabin – complete with its Night Panel that reduces distractions by dimming all but the speedo at night. Our £10K budget means you can pick from the best examples.

Audi S4

The Audi S4 takes its place on this list based on its engine alone – a 344PS (253kW) 4.2-litre V8 that produced more thunder than a tropical storm supercharged by global warming (ironically, its replacement would be a supercharged 3.0-litre V6 with little of the older unit’s charm). The V8 started with a characteristic rumble that manifested into an old-school bark before you grabbed another gear in the six-speed manual box, revelling in the throaty splutter as the revs dropped. It’s pure theatre.

Which is just as well, because the S4 was not all ‘that’ in corners. With a large portion of its V8 sitting ahead of the front axle, it tended to understeer, which was exacerbated by the standard quattro four-wheel drive.

That said, there’s still a lot to love. The S4 looks as smart today as it did when it went on sale in 2005 and inside you’ll find an example of peak Audi interior – one that’s beautifully built, easy to use and has plenty of room for a family. Prices start from a mere £7,000.

BMW 335i

The days of the £10,000 M car might be far behind us but that doesn’t mean you’re all out of options. The 335i BMW 3 Series is a sparkling example of the hidden gems lurking below the M-car halo. Its lusty turbocharged 3.0-litre straight-six has the power to worry hot hatches (and a soundtrack they’d kill for), with over 300PS (221kW), 0-62mph takes well under six seconds and you get a 155mph top speed. The rear-wheel drive chassis is a joy to behold and – unlike newer versions – you can also have a (rubbery) manual gearbox.

Adjustable dampers are another option worth looking out for, giving a handling balance that ranges from surprisingly comfortable to deliciously taut. The 335i gets all the sensible stuff right too. It looks ‘right’, the cabin design is blissfully intuitive and you can tickle 40mpg with a light right foot. All in all, the 335i could be one of the best cars – of any type – available for £10,000.

Alfa Romeo 156 GTA

We couldn’t write this list and not include an Italian stallion with room for four. But while the Ferrari-engined Maserati Quattroporte seems like an obvious choice, the DuoSelect automatic is your only option at this price and it is plagued with slow shifts and dismal reliability. The Alfa Romeo 156 GTA has no such problems.

Its six-speed manual will never age the car (we’d avoid the Selespeed auto), while the Alfa’s magnificent-looking Busso 3.2-litre V6 is arguably more characterful even than the Maser’s unit. Delivering a rich growl you’ll not find in anything modern. Sadly, the driving experience isn’t quite such a delight with torque steer and understeer aplenty. But, hey, at least it’s a challenge.

The standard 156, with its hidden rear doors and offset number plate, looks great and the GTA’s extensive body kit only adds to the sense of occasion. Considering their rarity (around 150 are left), £10,000 for a well-used example of this practical saloon seems like money well spent.

Vauxhall Insignia VXR

While the Vectra VXR was a tyre-smoking, understeering mess of a fast saloon, the Insignia VXR was rather good. It was, like the old car, a performance bargain giving you a 325PS (239kW) 2.8-litre turbocharged V6 (0-62mph in 5.7 seconds and a 155mph top speed) for the price of a bog-standard BMW 3 Series. But, unlike the car it replaced, it could also handle. Sure, it doesn’t have the rear-biassed feel of a fast BMW but standard four-wheel drive means it grips hard and is never flustered.

It’s also very comfortable if you’re looking for something to while away the miles in. The Insignia doesn’t have the wide-boy image of VXRs of old, either. Its clean shape and tight shut lines are more Audi than fast Ford – only the lovely ten-spoke alloy wheels hint that this is the performance model.

Inside, it’s more stereotypically ‘Vauxhall’. A sea of black plastic meets your eyes and the scatter of buttons doesn’t look tidy, but it is roomy. With prices starting from £7,000 for a car that is not much more than ten years old, it arguably offers the best value of all the cars here.

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The best sportscars for under £100k

The best sportscars for under £100k

You’re hitting the upper reaches of middle age, the kids are safely dispatched to university and you suddenly find yourself with money to burn – could now be the time to blow £100,000 on the sportscar you always promised yourself?

Of course it is. And, with a healthy 100K budget behind you, you won’t be short of choices. This guide has everything from a mid-engined plug-in hybrid to front-engined GTs, rear-engined track refugees and a Ferrari estate. Here are the eight best sportscars available for no more than £100,000.

Chevrolet Corvette Stingray

The Corvette Stingray marked a turning point for Chevrolet. No longer was the company going to play also-rans to the European competition, this time it would face them head-on. To do it, the Stingray would be the world’s first mid-engined Corvette with more than a passing resemblance to the Ferrari 458, which Chevrolet benchmarked its car against. It’s unsurprising then that the Stingray features a 497PS (366kW) 6.2-litre flat-plane crank V8 that gets it from 0-62mph in under three seconds.

The accompanying howl has more than a hint of Maranello. With its mid-engine setup, the latest Corvette offers turn-in grip and corner-exit traction that the old model could only dream of. Sadly, the attainable pricing that makes the Corvette huge in the US doesn’t survive the UK tax system, but less than £100,000 for a brand-new mid-engined supercar still sounds like a bargain to us. 

Mercedes AMG-GT

The Mercedes-AMG GT was meant to be a more affordable replacement to the SLS – a stunning car that’s price put it out of the reach of most Porsche 911 owners. A sales no man’s land. To keep costs low, the AMG GT lost the SLS’ eye-catching gullwing doors, but the distinctive long-bonnet-stubby-rear shape remained.

Out went the old naturally aspirated 6.2-litre V8 and in came the ubiquitous twin-turbocharged 503PS (370kW) 4.0-litre V8 (that’s powered everything from the C-Class to the G-Class). Straight-line performance was guaranteed – 0-62mph took 3.2 seconds and top speed was 193 mph – but more surprising was the car’s handling balance thanks to a front-mid-engined layout and transaxle. Prices start from around £50,000 but you’ll need closer to £70,000 for a good one.

Lexus LC500

Lexus is no stranger to nosing its way into new markets – the inaugural LS400 beat the Europeans at their own game by being better built and more luxurious – but could it pull off the same trick with a sportscar? Of course it could. The LFA hypercar had already tenderised the market to the idea of a sporty Lexus when the LC500’s shape was revealed to dropped jaws at 2016’s Detroit motor show. Not only did it look gorgeous on the outside, inside it had a beautifully sculpted interior that would have looked at home in cars costing three times as much.

Power came from a Lexus 477PS (351kW) 5.0-litre V8 that rumbled at low speeds and thundered as the needle spun towards the rev limiter. Stiff suspension, meanwhile, prioritised handling, but the LC500 is still a car you can cover lots of miles in. With good LC500s starting from less than £50,000 – and with Lexus’ famous reliability at the top of our minds – it’s hard to imagine another sportscar that blends passion and practicality quite so well.

Aston Martin Vantage

The Aston Martin Vantage represented a new dawn for Aston, one where it borrowed engines and tech from Mercedes. Power came from the same twin-turbocharged 4.0-litre V8 as the AMG GT, producing 510PS (375kW) and giving the Vantage performance that its naturally aspirated predecessors could only dream of – 0-62mph took 3.6 seconds and onto a top speed of 195mph. Handling was also excellent. Matt Becker (former chief engineer of Lotus) ensured the Vantage offered grip and finesse that were unknown to the firm’s road cars up until this point.

Aston didn’t get everything right, though. The Vantage’s odd grille design divided opinion, while the cabin’s ancient Mercedes switchgear was poor for a near £150,000 GT. That’s less of an issue now you can pick up a good example for half the original price. 

Lotus Emira

Lotus fans are used to false dawns – who could forget Dany Bahar’s five-model reveal of the 2010 Geneva Motor Show, none of which came to anything. But the Emira looks like a car that could turn around the company’s fortunes. Mostly because it looks absolutely awesome. Ironically, under the new suit, there’s not much new about the Lotus’ bonded aluminium chassis or supercharged 365PS (269kW) 3.5-litre Toyota V6 – both of which are carried over from the old Evora.

Nevertheless, the Emira blends h serious performance and Lotus’ unerring ability to build a car that feels sharp and agile, but can also filter out the worst the UK’s crumbling road surface can throw at it. Prices start from under £85,000 for an as-new example.

BMW i8

The BMW i8 looked like nothing else on the road when it went on sale in 2014 because – as a plug-in hybrid, mid-engined sportscar – it was like nothing else. A combination of a 1.5-litre three-cylinder Mini engine with two electric motors meant the four-wheel drive i8 produced 374PS (275kW), got from 0-62mph in 4.4 seconds and topped out at 155mph. All while having a pure-electric range of more than 20 miles.

Sadly, while the performance was there, the i8’s handling fell wide of the mark expected of a truly engaging sportscar thanks to unnervingly light steering and a propensity to understeer. But if you’re looking for a sportscar you can use guilt-free during the week, while still enjoying it at the weekends, the i8 could be just the ticket. Good i8s can be picked up for less than £50,000 while Roadster drop-top will set you back closer to £60K.

Ferrari FF

Anyone who thinks a Ferrari sportscar can’t also be practical didn’t bet on the appearance of the Ferrari FF – a four-wheel drive shooting-brake estate, with a 6.3-litre V12 engine borrowed from the Enzo hypercar. With 659PS (485kW) to call on, the FF was predictable rapid – 0-62mph took 3.7 seconds, while top speed was a sky-high 208mph.

The four-wheel drive system was a masterpiece in itself. The FF was essentially rear-wheel drive up until it needed more grip, whereon power was sent directly to the front wheels via a separate gearbox. The result was un-ending traction, mated to razor-sharp steering and a fine-handling chassis that meant the Ferrari felt far smaller than it actually was.

Impressive, given the FF was a genuine four-seater with a 450-litre boot capacity. Sadly, this list of attributes doesn’t come cheap, with good examples costing every pound of our £100,000 budget.

Porsche 997 911 GT3

If you’re going to buy a sportscar on a budget of £100,000 then the Porsche 997 generation 911 GT3 could be the safest place to put your money. Like all Porsche GT cars, the 997 GT3 is a handling masterpiece offering up cornering grip and under-power traction that feels contemporary today. Although, unlike in the current model, the 997 GT3 comes sporting a feelsome hydraulic engine and a high-revving Mezger flat-six that’s become almost as acclaimed as the 911 itself.

The new version simply isn’t quite so spin-tingling. Despite all this, however, the 997 GT3 can still be sold as a sensible choice. It’s not too OTT for road use, while a boot under the bonnet and more storage, where you used to find on the back seat, means it can even claim to be practical…for a two-seater sportscar.

Best of all, it makes financial sense. Rock solid residuals mean the £80,000 you’ll need to buy a well-used-but-cared-for example, is exactly what you’d have paid new back in 2006.

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Mitsubishi 3000GT

The best GT cars for under £10k

The best GT cars for under £10k

There’s something magical about slinging your luggage in the boot of your car, pointing its nose towards the horizon and going wherever the road takes you – no hauling luggage to the airport, no check-in, no delays, no elbow-bashing or knee-crushing and definitely no sweaty connection when you finally arrive in sunnier climes. It’s bliss!

And a Grand Tourer is perfect for the job. GTs come from a world where power and comfort are king in the pursuit of whisking you to your destination as effortlessly as possible. But a good GT should also be fun to drive and practical for a two-door. Keep reading for our rundown of the best GTs available on a budget of £10,000. 

Audi S5

When Audi revealed the S5 in 2007, it hadn’t released a GT-like coupe since the demise of the S2 in 1995. The two cars had similar approaches despite the age gap. Both had practical cabins that featured Audi’s legendary interior quality, Quattro four-wheel drive and engines that were heavy on charisma.

That was about where the similarities ended, though, because while the S2 had a warbling inline-five, the S5 got a throbbing 359PS (264kW) V8 that oozed power and character next to the straight-six BMW 335i of the era. Naturally, the Audi couldn’t match the handling balance of the BMW, but you’d be thankful for its four-wheel-drive grip (and tendency to understeer) when the going got slippy. Now, you can pick up a low-mileage S5 for less than £10,000, something you’ll struggle to resist when you hear the V8’s offbeat rumble. 

R129 Mercedes SL

The Mercedes SL is famed for giving us a glimpse into the future of motoring – ten years ahead of the rest of the pack – in a package that has been engineered to within an inch of its life. The R129 generation (sold from 1989 through to 2001) is perhaps the best example of this. Its USP was a fabric roof that folded away automatically – with all the magic of a Paul Daniels act – to reveal a gorgeous drop-top that looked as at home crawling through London as it was cruising the boulevards of Saint Tropez.

Along with the clever roof, the SL brought innovations like pop-up rollover bars and adjustable dampers. Sadly, the clever kit meant the SL – which stands for Super Light  – was anything but, tipping the scales at a chunky 1,800kg. As a result, it’s no sporty GT but on the plus side, it’s is very built and you’ll get an excellent low-miles example for less than £10,000. 

E63 BMW 6 Series

The BMW 6 Series coupe’s voluptuous lines represent the Chris Bangle years like nothing else. A controversial shape at the time, like many of Bangles’ creations, it has aged exceptionally well – the car’s shark-nosed snout and chunky bottom seem subtle next to the in-your-face looks of BMW’s current crop.

While it’s hard to resist the burble of the 645i petrol V8, it has known valve stem issues that would immediately put us off. Instead, stay strong and seek out the 635d 3.0-litre, six-cylinder diesel. It serves up an irresistible mix of huge torque – 580Nm (428lb ft) from just 1,750rpm – and fuel economy that can top 40mpg at a steady cruise.

Even modern alternatives will struggle to match this continental-crushing ability. Our £10,000 budget is enough to get you a clean example with change to spare for maintenance. 

Renault Avantime

Renault turned our idea of what constitutes a traditional GT on its head when it launched the Avantime in 2001. Out went the idea of sleek lines and sporty drive and in came an Espace-based coupe that offered up luxurious levels of space, which was accentuated by the car’s massive windows. Aside from the looks, curiosities included the huge double-hinged doors and a driving position that was more SUV than GT.

The Avantime was available with a turbocharged four-cylinder and with a manual gearbox, but the automatic coupled to a 210PS (154kW) V6 made for silky progress that suits a car that’s weighted heavily towards comfort.

Unsurprisingly, the Avantime didn’t lure many buyers away from the (admittedly more accomplished) German competition and, as result, it’s a rare sight on our roads. Just £5,000 buys you a nice one. 

Alfa Romeo GT

The Alfa Romeo GT might not have the power to drop jaws quite like its stunning Brera replacement, but the GT’s the Alfa we would choose on a £10,000 budget. It was the last Alfa to come fitted with the firm’s legendary 243PS (179kW) 3.2-litre Busso V6 – an engine that’s strong performance was overshadowed only by the glorious sound emitted from its twin-exit exhaust. It still has one of the best sounds in motoring.

By comparison, the Brera gets a GM lump with none of its compatriot’s spine-tingling qualities. The GT was also decent to drive (another area where the Brera disappointed). It’s got characteristically sharp steering and tight body control, but it also suffers from very little torque steer (the bane of powerful front-wheel-drives of this era) thanks to sophisticated front suspension shared with the 156 GTA.

Mitsubishi 3000GT 

Back in 1990, before anyone in the UK had heard of Nissan Skyline – let alone its ATTESA four-wheel drive system – if you wanted a sporty, Japanese technical tour de force, you bought a Mitsubishi 3000GT.

Its technical innovations included four-wheel drive (rare in a performance car of the time), four-wheel steering, adjustable dampers, an adjustable exhaust and active aero. Even the twin-blower engine (was supposed to) stamp out old-school turbo lag. That was the idea, anyway. The reality was that the 3000GT had turbo lag aplenty while fitting every technological innovation available at the time meant the GT was also very heavy: 1,700kg when the original Honda NSX weighed less than 1,400kg.

Still, nowadays, an NSX could easily cost you £100,000 while Mitsubishi’s little slice of GT history is yours for less than ten. 

Peugeot 406 Coupe

The Peugeot 406 Coupe comes from a time when there were sporty two-door coupes suit all tastes. You could choose from the Fiat Coupe with its Ferrari-like styling, the gorgeous Alfa Romeo GTV, the turbocharged and rear-wheel drive Nissan 200SX, the four-wheel-drive Toyota Celica, the high-revving Honda Prelude, supercharged Mercedes CLK and the straight-six BMW 3 Series.

Back then, choosing the Peugeot 406 Coupe could have been a hard decision, but it wasn’t. You see, the 406 combined beautiful looks penned by Pininfarina with an interior that could accommodate four people.

It was also brilliant to drive, had a silky smooth ride (a Peugeot speciality in the ‘90s) and was available with a lusty 210PS (154kW) 3.0-litre V6 engine that offered 150mph performance. Just £5,000 is all you need for a good one.

X100 Jaguar XKR

To say the Jaguar XKR was an Aston Martin rival when it went on sale in 1996 would be to undersell it – it was significantly better than the pricier DB7. For a kick-off, it was much quicker. Power came from a 4.2-litre V8 producing 370PS (272kW) and 552Nm (407lb ft) of torque. That translated into a surge of overtaking power accompanied by a purposeful supercharger whine that marked the XKR out from the regular XK. It got from 0-62mph in 5.4 seconds and was limited to 155mph.

But while the XKR was quick, it was also very comfortable with the oily-smooth ride that we have come to expect from Jaguar. Even the interior has bags of character. Quite how the cabin was so tight in such a large car is beyond us, but the cocooning effect made it feel very inviting, the tiny rear seats could just about accommodate kids and you got a large boot.

Well under £10,000 will buy you a car with around 50,000 miles on the clock and you’ll find there’s a wealth of specialist knowledge to call on.

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Ford Fiesta ST

The best hot hatches for under £10k

The best hot hatches for under £10k

Need a heady mix of practicality and performance on a budget of £10,000? You should buy a hot hatch.

Since the MK1 Volkswagen Golf GTI set the genre in the ’70s, the formula has been clear – take a roomy hatchback body, fit a powerful engine, uprate the suspension and brakes, add a muscular body kit, sprinkle the interior with go-faster touches to finish and, et voila, you have a hot hatch.

Brought before you today, you’ll find everything from classics to 100 horsepower heroes, giant-killing Clios, track kings and family wagons – there’s something for everyone. So keep reading Goodwood Road & Race’s guide to the best hot hatches on a £10,000 budget. 

VW Golf GTI Mk5

Volkswagen hit the nail on the head with the MK5 Golf GTI representing a return to form after the disappointment of the car that preceded it. The MK5, by contrast, was a checklist of everything you want from your hot hatch. Powerful 2.0-litre turbocharged engine? Check. Burbly exhaust? Check. Agile handling and that’ll cock a wheel under hard cornering? You bet.

The MK5’s USP was its ability to combine all these qualities with everything you would expect of a Volkswagen: superb cabin quality, a practical well-thought-out interior and affordable everyday running costs. Factor in retro nods to the MK1 GTI like tartan seat upholstery and a golf-ball gear knob and there’s not much not to like about the MK5 GTI, even if it does occupy the more conservative end of the hot hatch market. But who’s caring when our £10,000 budget is enough to get you an exceptional example of the breed?

Renaultsport Megane RS250 Cup

To say the Renaultsport Megane RS250 could be mentioned in the same breath as Porsche GT products of the period sounds ludicrous, but it’s true. Fine, so the Megane doesn’t have the exotic mechanicals of a 997 GT3 but the sum of its parts combine to deliver comparable levels of driving pleasure – it’s one of the most compelling hot hatches ever built. You get a punchy 250PS turbocharged engine and a front-wheel drive chassis that is so keen to oversteer, you’d swear it was a rear-wheel-drive trapped in the wrong configuration.

Cup models go one step further by adding a track-ready suspension setup, limited-slip differential and Recaro seats that hold your body with a vice-like grip. Downsides? Well, the Cup’s hard ride and noisy cabin mean this track refugee isn’t the easiest car to live with every day but, for less than £10,0000, such irrelevancies can be pushed to one side.

BMW M135i

The M135i stands in stark contrast to a modern BMW hatchback in that it was good-looking, had rear-wheel drive and came exclusively with six cylinders. It was also something of a bargain at the time. The turbocharged straight-six gives the BMW a creamy soundtrack and performance that will match even its fastest modern rivals.

The rear-wheel-drive setup, meanwhile, meant you could adjust the car mid-corner on the throttle. Sure, the BMW doesn’t feel as nimble as other hot hatches here (we’d call it the long-legged GT of the hot hatch world) and the back seat is cramped, but for less than £10,000 it still looks like a steal.

Peugeot 106 Rallye S2

As modern hot hatches chase ever-increasing power figures, the Peugeot 106 Rallye S2 is hot hatching how it used to be done, with a lightweight body pulled along by a naturally aspirated four-cylinder engine that loves to be abused. The Peugeot’s unassisted steering and nimble chassis only reinforce the fact that the 106 Rallye represents back-to-basics motoring, with a level of driver involvement not replicated by (the stunningly fast but somewhat detached feel) of the current crop of hot hatches.

The 106 Rallye costs buttons to run, is easy to maintain and feels the part from behind the steering wheel thanks to its Rallye sport upholstery and classic three-spoke steering wheel. This £10K hot hatch even holds investment potential, but what it doesn’t offer is modern creature comforts like motorway refinement and, well, any form of safety. But, as a tribute to the hot hatches of yesteryear, it’s impossible to fault.

Fiat Panda 100hp

With cheap running costs and prices starting from around £3,000 for a mint example, the Fiat Panda 100hp is an ideal choice if you’re taking your first tentative step onto the hot hatch ladder. It gets everything right, kicking off with neat handling and a raspy 1.4-litre 16-valve engine that fills the cabin with glorious induction noise as you work your way through the tightly-stacked six-speed gearbox.

Sure, the Fiat doesn’t offer the last word in handling finesse and some will find its suspension a little too firm, but the Panda counters by offering five-door practicality and a surprising amount of space inside its lofty body. The perfect starter hot hatch? It’s definitely in with a shout.

Ford Fiesta ST

The Ford Fiesta ST achieved cult-car status almost the minute it went on sale following its reveal at the 2012 LA motor show. The ST had everything. Its 1.6-litre turbocharged engine felt way quicker than its raw figures suggested, while the uncompromising suspension and fast steering meant it could bound into corners with an enthusiasm few of its contemporary rivals could match.

But the Fiesta’s strength was that it coupled the charisma of an old-school hot hatch with modern safety standards and generous equipment levels, giving you creature comforts like sat-nav and heated seats. Prices start from as little as £5,000 although it’s worth spending closer to £8,000 for a fresher example.

Honda Civic Type R FN2

It’s fair to say the Honda Civic Type R FN2 was not universally loved when it went on sale in 2007 and for good reason – it replaced the legendary EP3 but was no quicker and lost the old model’s sophisticated independent rear suspension. Times change, though, and now there’s a lot to be said for the FN2’s combination of spaceship styling, high-revving naturally aspirated engine and uncompromising body control.

There’s also something to be said for Honda’s excellent reliability record when you’re procuring a hot hatch that went off sale in 2011. What isn’t so good is the bumpy ride and engine roar that’ll quickly prove tiresome on long motorway runs. Still, when £4,000 is enough for a clean example, what’s not to like? 

Skoda Octavia vRS

Combining practicality with performance is the name of the hot hatch game, but the Skoda Octavia vRS Estate (a hatchback is also available) brings practicality to an all-new level thanks to its generous rear legroom and huge boot. It’s a hot hatch that can swallow whatever you and your family throw at it.

The driving experience is more grown-up than your regular hot hatch; the Octavia isn’t rabidly quick nor hugely involving, but if you want to get from A to B quickly and safely, it’s a solid choice. Its 2.0-litre petrol engine (shared with the Golf GTI) delivers its power evenly across the rev range and it can be paired with a twin-clutch DSG gearbox that’ll be ideal if you live in town, and all for less than £10,000.

Renault Clio 182 Trophy

Getting your hands on a genuine piece of hot hatch exotica for under £10,000 might sound like a pipe dream, but the Renault Clio 182 Trophy – which was revealed at the 2005 Monaco GP by none other than Fernando Alonso – makes the impossible a reality. The Trophy is based on the (already excellent) standard 182, adding lightweight wheels, Recaro sports seats and a fetching Capsicum Red paint job.

The highlight of the show, however, is found under the skin, where the Clio got motorsport-grade Sach dampers with remote reservoirs. The result? Body control the likes of which the hot hatch world had never seen before or since. It remains one of the best ever built, although it’s not one of the most practical. With future-classic status all but guaranteed – the Trophy should put you on a safe financial footing.

Peugeot 309 GTi

The times when you could pick up a clean Peugeot 205 GTi for £10,000 have long since passed, but the rarer 309 GTi can still be had on budget if you keep your eyes peeled to the classifieds. The 309 gives you 99% of the 205 experience while making you a significant cost saving. Unlike the 205, the 309 only came with Peugeot’s gutsy 130PS 1.9-litre four-cylinder engine, which gave the 950kg hatchback more than enough performance, plus the 309’s stretched wheelbase meant it handled more predictably than its pirouetting sibling.

Dare we say, period road testers preferred the 309’s driving experience. Factor in the option of five doors and the 309’s big boot and this is one purchase you can justify to yourself as being almost sensible, even if the 205 is the car you really want.

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Jaguar XK8 Convertible

5 classic cars that’ll make the perfect Father’s Day gift

5 classic cars that’ll make the perfect Father’s Day gift

Father’s Day this year is on Sunday 18th June. What are you going to get the old man? Socks? Forget it, he’ll have enough. A classic sportscar that he always dreamed of owning? Now we’re talking.

Shop carefully and you could pick up something similar to one of these dad-friendly but very different machines that we hand-picked from this week’s collector car auction, the H&H Classics sale at the Imperial War Museum, Duxford, Cambridgeshire, on 14th June. He’s bound to love something here.

1980 Triumph TR7 convertible

For the ‘70s dad…

Prices from: £12,000-£14,000

Did any dad lust after a TR7 when it was new in the 1970s? Perhaps not, but half a century later BL’s distinctly wedgy shock-of-the-new sportscar is not without its ’70s charm, especially in (less wedgy) convertible form. And it always was a much better drive than an MGB of the time. If you want the last of the TR line this example has a lot going for it: 21,000 miles, time-warp condition and all original (apart from the wheels shown; the originals come with the car).

2002 Mercedes C32 AMG

For the power-crazy dad…

Prices from: £12,000-£14,000

Is the E46 M3 a bit too obvious a choice in the early noughties super-saloon class? The less shouty, more Q-car answer came from Mercedes in the form of the C32 AMG. The 350PS (261kW) sedan scorcher wasn’t just faster than its BMW rival, but is also a lot rarer. Top speed? Officially 155mph but the first owner of this one had it derestricted for a theoretical 180mph. And the first owner was? Former works Ferrari, BRM and Aston Martin driver and six-time F1 winner Tony Brooks. He kept the car until his death last year.

1997 Jaguar XK8 convertible

For the pipe and slippers dad…

Prices from: £12,000-£14,000

All dads love Jags – it’s the law – and of several in the H&H Duxford sale we have gone for this one: a beautiful metallic blue with beige leather XK8 convertible. Handsome and refined in equal measure, pretty chilled will be the dad able to cruise around with the top down in this. As XK8s go this one ticks boxes: four owners, 46,000 miles, eight Jaguar main dealer service stamps, new MoT with no advisories and complete with roof cover, tools, spare wheel, original book pack and two sets of keys.

1985 Caterham Super Seven 1700 Super Sprint

For the would-be racer dad…

Prices from: £15,000-£18,000

Every dad secretly craves a blast on a favourite road now and then and none better to deliver it than a Seven, the four-wheeled motorcycle built for driving thrills that was Colin Chapman of Lotus’s brainwave and then picked up and run with so brilliantly by Caterham. This one’s definitely a Caterham (built 1985 but registered for 1967) but with classic Lotus 7 Series 3 looks, headlights and wheels aside. Ford’s redoubtable 1,700cc crossflow four-pot sits under that evocative bonnet. The odo shows 17,700 miles and the car has recently been recommissioned and comes with an MoT to May 2024. Nothing to do then – apart from watch out for the oversteer.

 

2003 Smart Crossblade

For the hippy dad…

Prices from £16,000-£18,000

Can you imagine your old man tooling around in this? True, a tiny two-seater without doors, roof, windscreen or any sort of weather protection won’t appeal to all, but as a second/third beach runabout few cars make more of a statement. Power? Courtesy of Brabus but still only 70PS (52kW). Originally the Crossblade was purely a design statement by then Mercedes-owned Smart, but people fell for the show-car in such a way they were persuaded to build 2,000 of them (this is number 1,176). The Crossblade sold out then (famous owner: Robbie Williams) and these days is a sought-after classic. Just make sure your father has somewhere to keep it under cover.

 

Images courtesy of H&H Classics.

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Classic Porsche 911 930 Carrera

How to get your classic car ready for summer

How to get your classic car ready for summer

The sun’s (sometimes) out, the nights are long and the temperatures are rising, which can mean only one thing – it’s time to take your cherished classic out of hibernation, back on the road and onto the car-show scene.

But cool your jets for just a second and read our guide on how to get your classic ready for summer. We’ve got ten tips to help you make sure your pride and joy is primed and ready to perform in the sunshine.

1. Give it a wash

Washing your classic is a brilliant way to get the ball rolling on your car’s annual maintenance. Running a sponge over the bodywork will reveal everything from paint imperfections to dents and corrosion that you can attend to before they get any worse. Plus, applying a protective coating – be it wax or ceramic – will keep your classic looking tip top throughout summer.

2. Check the tyres

Tyres are the only part of your classic in contact with the road, so keeping them pristine is crucial. They’ll likely be going flat after months off the road, but it also makes sense to check for any lumps or cracks that could cause trouble down the line. Uneven tyre wear hints at a bigger problem with wheel alignment or suspension. Finally, check the age of your tyres using the four-digit code on the sidewall – the first two digits represent the week of manufacture (1-51), while the second two denote the year – code 0122, for example, denotes a tyre produced in the first week of 2022. Tyres should be refreshed every ten years.

3. Check the brakes

Having a classic car that stops reliably is even more important than owning one that starts, so checking the condition of your brakes is crucial. Examine brake discs and drums for imperfections and wear – a 1mm lip usually means the former needs replacing – and do the same for pads and shoes. Check your brake fluid is topped up and in good condition, and finally, check brake lines for damage and corrosion.

4. Top up fluids

Brake fluid isn’t all you have to worry about – bad coolant (or a lack thereof) could spell disaster for your classic in sun’s beating heat, so checking its quality and quantity should be a priority. However, fresh transmission and power steering fluids are also key.

5. Check engine oil levels

Classics are well known for leaking oil, so a cursory dipstick check makes sense even if there are no tell-tale puddles at the start of the recommissioning process. Most enthusiasts recommend changing the oil every couple of years, even on lightly used classics that can suffer from moisture build-up in their crankcase.

6. Test the battery

Trickle-charging your battery will stop it going flat over winter but, if that’s not possible, it’ll likely have gone flat. Either way, it makes sense to test and replace your battery if needed. After all, a roadside breakdown will mean paying top dollar for an emergency replacement.

7. Test the lights

Negotiating a long drive home in the pitch dark with inadequate illumination is not fun (safe or legal), so we’d recommend going over your lights with a fine-tooth comb before hitting the road. A powerful set of aftermarket bulbs is one of the easiest and rewards upgrades you can make to your classic.

8. Inspect belts and hoses

An annual inspection of your cars belts and hoses is also highly recommended. Check belts aren’t hardening, cracked or perished and check hoses are in good condition and securely clipped in place.

9. Prepare the fuel

While fuel will last up to six months in average temperatures of 20°C, the likelihood is it’ll last even longer in the UK. Nevertheless, it pays to add a fuel stabiliser before tucking your classic away for winter, and we’d recommend adding a high-detergent fuel additive before starting it again in the summer. Also, avoid E10 – its ethanol will eat your classic’s fuel system – and instead use a high-octane fuel that’s low in ethanol.

10. Get a second opinion

With no legal requirement to put a car of 40 years or older through an MOT, it can be tempting, fun and frugal to do all the maintenance yourself. But it pays to have your handywork looked over once a year by a professional. A second pair of eyes might notice things you’ve missed and the experience of a trusted professional mechanic could mean you can nip problems in the bud before they become a more serious issue.

And with that you’re ready to get up and running for a summer out on the road with your classic car. Be particular with your preparation and you’ll vastly reduce the chances of having problems when the sun is shining and you’re raring to get out and about.

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