2015 BMW i8 - £49,950/£1,109 per month
It’s probably fair to say the BMW i8’s technology is a little outmoded now, as hybrid and electric technology advances at a rate of knots. But this car is a true moment in time – the point at which electrified sports cars not only became a ‘thing’, but a highly desirable one at that. It’s easy to argue that 50 grand won’t buy anything that looks more exotic or creates more of a talking point than the i8. Especially when you flip up its doors to reveal the carbon structure beneath. A future classic, surely?Find more examples from the experts at cinchAdvertisement - Page continues below
2019 Nissan 370Z - £27,980/£429 per month
Like a refreshing warm shower after a half marathon, the 370Z should bring a feeling of cosiness to anyone affronted by a sports car powered from a socket. The burly Nissan is about as old-school as a performance car gets nowadays – a big V6 engine sits up front, free of turbos and driving the rear wheels through a stick-shift. Nissan isn’t bringing its replacement (named purely Nissan Z) to the UK, so with scant mileage, this is your best shot at a final taste of this passing breed of muscular coupes. Looks mighty in yellow, too…
2020 Renault Megane Trophy-R - £41,950/£597 per month
Behold, the wildest hot hatchback of them all. Renault’s trio of track-special Megane RSs reached its zenith right at the end, when the 300-horsepower Trophy-R sliced yet more seconds from the Nürburgring lap record broken by both of its forebears with a truly extreme diet. Which yes, means there aren’t rear seats. Production was limited and you won’t get many more chances to snap one up – one example on cinch has barely covered 2,500 miles. Driving thrills don’t get much more visceral outside of a fully-fledged supercar; small wonder it was Top Gear’s 2019 Performance Car of the Year.Advertisement - Page continues below
2019 Toyota GT86 - £24,100/£337 per month
You want driving thrills? Unless you’re willing to jettison the roof and stereo and ensconce yourself in a Caterham, they get no purer and simpler than in a GT86. Toyota launched its little rear-drive coupe to great fanfare in 2012 – here was a truly affordable sports car, both to buy and run, that could put a fatter grin on your face than cars costing five times as much. Sadly, its sales were a little modest, some tame performance figures beside turbo hot hatches putting too many people off. All that means now is that you’re buying into something cool, rare, and wholeheartedly the connoisseur’s choice.Find more examples from the experts at cinch
2016 Audi S8 - £28,950/£447 per month
…and now for something completely different. A big limo like the S8 can’t help but look like a colossal bargain beside the deft Toyota above, not least for the sheer amount of extra glass, metal and chintzy carbon fibre trim you’re getting for a similar amount of money. You’re also getting a slice of cinema fantasy. Yep, petrolhead law means you can’t talk S8s without also talking Ronin, the film this car’s forebear starred in. If you’re too young to remember, then know that a) we envy you, and b) this is a wonderful slice of subtly fast car. It won’t deliver an instant hit like the cars we’ve seen so far, but it’ll reward comfily and coolly over long distance like little else.
2017 McLaren 570S - £102,950/£1,650 per month
Someone was truly the lord of the configurator when they specced this 570S pictured, taking the dramatic curves and intakes of McLaren’s familiar design language and softening them wonderfully with a purple-on-tan colour scheme and classy silver wheels. The 570S was very special, too, distilling the sharp, lightweight ethos of Woking’s crazier supercars into a more liveable package. It rides so comfortably, you’ll want to use it every day, yet that somehow doesn’t limit its ability to thrill when you find yourself in a bustling race paddock or on an empty Alpine pass. Y’know, as we all do from time to time…
2018 Porsche 718 Cayman - £45,900/£585 per month
Okay, the McLaren is a flight of fancy for most of us. So here’s a more real-world alternative. For one-third of the 570’s monthly payment you can have a svelte, mid-engined sports car that handles just as well and is even easier to live with, the Cayman’s front and rear boots adding up to more luggage space than a Ford Focus. Try to find one with a PDK paddleshift gearbox – purer thrills come from finding a manual, but with PDK, you’ll be more inclined to take it on the long run to the mountains its chassis truly deserves.Advertisement - Page continues below
2021 Peugeot 508 PSE - £40,480/£637 per month
A plug-in hybrid estate car might not immediately scream ‘driving thrills’, but then the Peugeot Sport Engineered 508 is something truly out of the ordinary. Peugeot ditched the GTi badges of its hot hatchbacks and came up with something completely new; this complex pairing of a dinky 1.6-litre turbo engine with electric motors and batteries will take a little while to get your head around. But a battleship grey wagon that hits 60mph in five seconds will never struggle for attention. Part of the thrill here comes from deliberately shirking the premium German badges that usually rule this particular roost, too. How brave are you feeling?
2017 Seat Leon Cupra - £19,950/£310 per month
Anyone in the market for a sensible, dependable, and still practical hot hatchback probably defaults to a VW Golf GTI. And rightly so – it’s a painless take on the performance car. But its Spanish cousin, the Leon Cupra, is no tougher to live with and comes with more power and bigger thrills. As well as more abundant stick-shift examples to choose from, the typical Seat buyer clearly a little keener to choose their own gears. In a golden era for full-size hot hatches, you could vouch for the Leon getting a little lost in the melee. But this tasteful Cupra ticks almost every box you can feasibly present a daily driver that will also make you giggle.Advertisement - Page continues below
2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio - £39,670/£589 per month
Perhaps this car ticks *every* box, though. Gorgeous Italian styling, a powertrain with Ferrari DNA, hilarious handling, four doors and a big boot, a sonorous soundtrack… and those iconic Cloverleaf badges on each of its front wings. The Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio swept up awards with ease when it arrived six years ago, restoring faith in its maker at the same time. At under £40k it feels like a bit of a bargain, too. Buy it before someone else does.