Speedmonkey has driven and written about an absolute ton of sports and performance cars. I thought it was high time I sorted out the best sports and performance cars to buy for a given budget.
From £100k to £10k in £10k intervals I've listed the best performance car you can buy in each price band.
£100k - Porsche 911 GT3
The Porsche 911 range starts at £70,000 for the Carrera and goes all the way up to £150,000 for the Turbo S cabriolet. It would be easy to fill every price band in this article from £70k upwards with a 911 but that'd be boring so I've opted for the sweet spot in the 911 range, which is handily priced at £100,000 - the GT3. Yes it's an automatic (well, double clutch PDK) and has electric power steering but now the spontaneous combustion issue is sorted the 911 GT3 is simply the best sports car you can buy for a hundred grand.
At nearly 1,900kg the Maserati isn't exactly nimble but it is fast and it's powered by a naturally aspirated Ferrari-built 4.8 litre V8. Oh, and it looks sensational and seats four in comfort and with lots of legroom. Speedbumps have to be taken gingerly and the doors are so long you can't park in a normal space and expect to get out of it but who cares. It's a fabulous car.
For £80,000 you get the convertible F-Type V8 S. If you want the coupe you'll need to spend an extra £5k on the V8 R. Either way you're getting the most beautiful sports car on the planet, with a superb chassis, an interior bedecked in leather and Alcantara and 500bhp (550bhp in the coupe) of V8 that sounds downright awesome and could pull the roof off a rice pudding factory.
The E63 AMG is here so we can squeeze a fast saloon into the list. The C63 AMG is arguably the better performance car but Mercedes hasn't added the C63 to the new C-Class line-up yet. The E63 AMG is powered by AMG's phenomenal 5.5-litre twin-turbo V8 and does 0-62mph in 4.2 seconds. That'll do.
This is tough territory for Lotus. At this price you could buy a well specced F-Type or Cayman but the Evora S offers something different. It's super quick and has the best steering, handling and chassis of any sports car but some parts of it feel a little bolt on (because Lotus doesn't have the resources to make its own satnav, stereo, air vents, engines etc). Having said that nothing else comes close in terms of rawness of driving experience combined with a superbly appointed interior.
For this price you could have either a hard or soft top 3.4-litre, flat-6, mid-engined Porsche sports car. Which way you go is down to personal preference but I'd opt for the Boxster S which takes little away from the driving experience but adds plenty on a summer's day. Perhaps the definitive performance car(s) at the price and which threatens its £30,000 more expensive big brother, the 911, in terms of everything except a set of rear seats and image.
An M4 costs £57,000 and has 431bhp. The 435i M Sport costs a shade over £40,000 and has 306bhp. The 435i looks great, has the sweet 6-cylinder engine is practical and spacious inside and drives as a performance BMW should. It's a cracking car.
This was the hardest price band in which to choose a car. £30k buys a lot of different cars - the Golf GTi, Toyota GT86 and Seat Leon Cupra are all outstanding but the Audi S1 wins by virtue of its sheer fizz. The S1 has the VW/Audi turbocharged 2-litre engine stuffed into its tiny engine bay and with 230bhp, a sweet 6-speed manual gearbox, four wheel drive and an actual handbrake it's far and away the most fun hot hatch on the market. The interior is great too.
The interior design might be a bit plain and the looks aren't exactly sexy but the Fiesta ST is the best sub-£20k hot hatch on the market. Ford has concentrated on making the ride and handling of its cars the best in class for some time. Add in a sweet 4-pot engine, great gearbox and torque vectoring and the ST has the beating of the Clio 200 and Peugeot 208 GTi by a long margin.
£10k - Fiat Panda TwinAir
This was the hardest category simply because I've only tested two cars that cost less than £10,000 and they were hardly performance cars. The Dacia Sandero is simple, spacious, super cheap and very slow. The MG3 understeered worse than a supermarket trolley. Speedmonkey's Colin Hubbard drove a Fiat Panda TwinAir on holiday and loved it, which is why it's our top recommendation for under 10 grand.
Speedmonkey has five pairs of tickets to give away to the Wilton Classic Supercar event on Sunday 10 August - courtesy of Castrol Edge. Find out here how to win.
We've got five pairs of tickets from our friends at Castrol for the Wilton Classic & Supercar event on Sunday 10 August.
Held in the grounds of Wilton House, Salisbury, Wiltshire the event is a family friendly classic and supercar show.
Castrol EDGE is the headline sponsor and has organised various attractions, including:
World Speed Record Challenger the Bloodhound SSC will be on display and Richard Noble, project leader, will be on hand to chat and sign autographs.
The Race2Recovery team of injured soldiers and civilian volunteers with their fleet of branded Land Rovers
Elfyn Evans - WRTC Ford M-Sport driver
Social competition on the day – tweet or Instagram a photo that best captures your day at Wilton with #CastrolWiltonComp for the chance to win a ‘money can’t buy’ driving experience with Lamborghini at Imola in Italy – including a visit to their factory!
Volvo's stated aim is that by 2020 no-one will be killed or injured in a new Volvo car. The new XC90 should set the company on the path to achieving that aim.
We're only seeing the XC90 piece by piece - the full reveal will be in August - and Volvo has just released the latest batch of info - which concerns safety.
Volvo reckons the XC90 will be a safe car by virtue of its construction and its electronic systems.
Run off road protection is a combination of both, and it's a world first. If the car detects that it's headed off road in an uncontrolled manner the seat belts are tightened all the while it is in motion. The seats are designed to protect the spine when the car encounters a hard landing. Finally Lane Keeping Aid steers the car to try and prevent an accident in the first place.
Auto brake at junctions is another world first and prevents the driver from pulling out of a junction into the path of another car.
On top of these the XC90 will come equipped with rollover prevention (in which it tries to prevent a roll over by using the brakes and steering), City Safe (which automatically prevents collisions with cyclists and pedestrians), Extended Road Sign Information (where road signs are read by the car and displayed in the dash), Queue Assist (slow speed adaptive cruise control) and various other systems.
The car itself is constructed using boron steel (the strongest steel used in the car industry) to protect the occupants. 40% of the total body weight is boron steel.
The XC90 will also get parking assist which will be able to park the car in a supermarket car park spot as well as parallel park.
The driver will also get a 360 degree bird's eye view of the car so he or she can judge how close other objects are.