14 October 2008

Credit crunch: sports cars

Part two of our money-savin’ buyers guide, and it’s the turn of the performance cars

Audi TT

Welcome to the second instalment of our inflation bustin’, rising-cost-of-living defeatin’ Credit Crunch Special, our almost-topical attempt to save you some cash but prove that you don’t need to buy a Prius and eat hemp to survive the next few straitened years.

Yesterday we brought you a bunch of cheap thrill hot hatches, and today it’s the turn of the sports cars. Yes, a two-seater might seem profligate in today’s economic climate, but there are some proper performance cars that won’t break the bank. The banks are breaking of their own accord at the moment, y’see…

Audi TT TD: A diesel TT that’ll hit 60mph just a second slower than the two-litre petrol but give you 50mpg into the bargain? Don’t forget you’ll save a bunch of cash on the road tax… and get more torque than the 3.2-litre V6. Tempted yet?

Lotus Elise: Forget hybrid drivetrains and stop-start technology, losing weight is the answer to this whole expensive fuel problem. You’ll get 40mpg out of an Elise S if you drive it carefully – which you obviously won’t, but it’s nice to know.

Ariel Atom: As with the Elise, but even more so. The Atom will hit 60mph in about three seconds, and manage 30-something miles to the gallon. Which is the same as a two-litre petrol Mondeo. Surely there’s no contest?

Tesla Roadster: OK, OK, so it’ll cost you £90,000 or so, and there’s a waiting list as long as, er, a hospital waiting list to get one, but if you do somehow get your hands on a Tesla, you’re guaranteed running costs of just a couple of pence per mile. And free road tax. And the certainty of being mistaken for a Hollywood A-lister.

Nissan 350Z: There’s a replacement on the way, the 370Z, which is good news for those of you looking to pick up a 350Z on the cheap. Yes, the big V6 is thirsty, but it’s built like a brick wotsit and you’ll look far cooler than in a Porsche Boxster.

Mazda MX-5: It had to be on the list somewhere, didn’t it? Sensible running costs, good economy and masses of rear drive thrills from the Car That Every Motoring Publication Has To Recommend At Some Point During Any List. So there we go.

Mercedes SL 55: OK, a huge V8-ed roadster might not seem like a natural credit crunch choice, but with the SL 63 just arrived, this is an eminently sensible used buy. OK, not eminently sensible. Really quite silly. But it is a fraction more economical than the 63, and maybe just a bit purer to drive.

Lamborghini LP560-4: Yes, we’re getting a bit silly now. But the new Gallardo is more economical and cleaner than the old one. And destined to be a future classic, so crate it up in the garage and you’ll be laughing in 20 years time. (Top Gear accepts no responsibility for unwise investments made on our recommendation.)

Aston Martin One-77: And now we’re in the realms of really silly. But think about it – if you can stump up the million-quid list price and lock it away for a couple of decades, is there really any chance of it going down in price? Yes. Yes there is.

And, finally, at the risk of sounding a bit Classic Smoking Jacket Monthly, don’t forget that cars registered before 1973 are road tax exempt. So follow JC’s advice and get yourself something old and extravagant. 1966 Porsche 911S? Aston DB4? Ferrari Dino 246? More sensible buying advice brought to you by Top Gear…

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