Even though I offered to go halves on one with him, I get the feeling that a £40,000, previously £80,000-plus motor isn’t realistically the cost-effective or sensible way to buy a performance used car that isn’t going to cost a gazillion to run.
Let’s celebrate, then, some good old-fashioned working-class supercars that we can buy for less.
What is an R8 in essence? I would controversially argue that it’s a rather less practical and rather less subtle Volkswagen Golf R. That’s the very best, so go and find yourself one. There are plenty of quite high-mileage examples around, which I always find strangely reassuring, for around £7500. It would be better to sort out a clean 2015 hatchback with 50,000 miles for £17,450. It will be at a dealer, so you will get decent protection – and what a great way to responsibly enjoy 300bhp.
I don’t think many people really get the latest Alfa Romeo Giulietta, especially the Quadrifoglio Verde version, which shares its power source with the 4C but not the price. It’s not as pretty as that sports car, but never mind: you will be getting an interesting five-door hatchback that’s a fairly rare sight. There was a 2015 example 20 miles away from me, with one previous owner and just over 60,000 miles for £12,999.
Getting away from hot hatches and back to what we’re trying to replace, then spiritually the Audi TT coupé is the people’s R8. Stylish, still turning heads and fun to drive, what more do you want? Well, a TTS would be nice. It has 355bhp that it can deliver to the Tarmac with its quattro system, just like an R8. A 2010 example at a dealer with fewer than 80,000 miles is up for £17,500. It will be easier to park than an R8 as well.
Finally, you will need to hurry while stocks last of new Subaru BRZs. Everyone agreed that, along with its Toyota GT86 sibling, it’s pretty much the best affordable sports coupé you can buy in recent history. They are well built and practical and seem to be bought by responsible enthusiasts like us.
Being a ton of fun to drive and easy to own, these rarities remain popular and prices quite firm. They start at around £11,000 now. For instance, a 91,000-mile BRZ from 2016 with just the one owner and a full history and in tidy condition wants only £11,500. That would be a jolly good place to start and to finish.
Tales from Ruppert’s garage
BMW 320, mileage: 85,401
The queue for an MOT test at our place is getting longer, and until the Baby Shark gets its ticket, we can’t move onto the next one. Just at the moment, it could be given a clean bill of health, with some suspension arm cover replacement. My local garage sort of dropped me in it by suddenly saying that they couldn’t source a new exhaust for the old girl. That’s now down to me. More updates are hopefully coming soon once the postman delivers some boxes (middle and back) from Europe. Meanwhile, I’ve dug out my Innocenti Mini, and the slow puncture it had seems to have fixed itself. I had a close look at all of the tyres and took sample pressures. What fun.
Thanks to Tim, who has relayed some rather important news: “I’m still driving my 2005 Ford Mondeo, bought at 16 months old for £7000. That’s less than £500 per year in depreciation. Indeed, it has gone up in value this year: when I thought about changing it last year, one online car buying service offered me £43, but this year said £80. Isn’t an old car that goes up in value a classic?
“More seriously, it has never broken down or failed to start, except for when its idiot owner flattened the battery (although it has done only 80,000 miles), and the heated front window and air-con no longer work. “The only non-consumables that I’ve had replaced are the reversing-lights switch and both front springs, costing £280 from a mobile mechanic. I’ve never given it a full service, so it might even have the original spark plugs. I like my motoring cheap, as you know…”
Question: I own a Mitsubishi L200 for towing my rally car on a trailer and a Jaguar F-Pace 3.0 S for towing my caravan. Which EVs could do these jobs and let me get to places without needing hours of charging? Alan Stark, via email
Answer: There are a few electric cars that can do both of those jobs, notably the Tesla Model X, which can tow up to 2268kg and generates instant torque of 800lb ft. Its range will take a hit, of course, but Tesla’s Supercharger network is the best. A 2017-reg 100D with 50,000 miles costs around £60,000. Too much and too precious for rally duties? Try that halfway house, the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV. This hybrid’s towing limit is a reasonable 1500kg and its pure-electric range 28 miles. JE