Porsche Boxster 2.7
A real sports car should have a roof that folds down and an engine behind the driver, or so goes the fondly held view of men with string-backed driving gloves. Take the Porsche Boxster for a spin and there’s every chance you’ll agree with them.
With the roof thrown back, the Boxster opens your eyes to the world and your ears to the distinct howl of its six-cylinder boxer engine. Through your fingertips and the seat of your pants there’s a feeling of being connected with the road. Some argue the Boxster is the best-handling Porsche, full stop.
Porsche ownership doesn’t come cheap. But the satisfaction that derives from the superb quality of the car’s construction and the thrill of stretching its legs on the open road is enough to take your mind off matters as tiresome as money.
Engine 2706cc, 6 cylinders
Acceleration 0-62mph: 5.8sec
Fuel / CO2 34.4mpg / 192g/km
Road tax J (first year £475; then £260)
Payments £466.21 x 35 months
Optional final payment £18,652.27
Interest rate 7.5%
Total payable £44,528.62
Ford Fiesta ST-2
It would be wrong to describe £19,000 as a shoestring budget, but there isn’t a new car that’ll put as big a smile on your face for less money than that. The Fiesta ST is a cracker. For the first time in living memory Ford has created a hot hatch that is subtly sporty rather than Asbo angry. In both looks and feel it’s a far cry from the days of the XR2i and the white-socks brigade.
The cabin is smartly appointed and has all the creature comforts you could want, as well as the obligatory sport seats, flashy aluminium pedals and short-throw gearlever.
And then you drive it, and it rapidly becomes clear that there is no better way to spend £229 a month on a car — provided you like your driving served spicy. Its turbocharged engine is punchy, and the chassis is alert and responsive. It all adds up to a brilliant little car that will blow away the cobwebs like a cold shower first thing in the morning.
Engine 1596cc, 4 cylinders, turbo
Acceleration 0-62mph: 6.9sec
Fuel / CO2 47.9mpg / 138g/km
Road tax E (first year £125; then £125)
Payments £219 x 24 months
Optional final payment £9,654
Interest rate 4.2%
Total payable £19,249.08
If you have fond memories of cars skidding wildly for the camera in The Sweeney, you’ll love Toyota’s GT86. With a rev-happy engine in its nose, power sent to the back wheels and the same skinny tyres as the Prius, it skids around with abandon. This makes the Japanese coupé one of the most entertaining cars on the road.
It’s also a bargain — not many cars costing less than £25,000 can make you laugh with joy on your way to work. Toyota adopts a take-it-or-leave-it approach with the GT86: the choice boils down to manual or automatic — though there is a pricy, tarted-up TRD variant. We say: keep it simple, stick to the standard GT86 and enjoy the ride.
Engine 1998cc, 4 cylinders
Acceleration 0-62mph: 7.6sec
Fuel / CO2 36.2mpg / 181g/km
Road tax I (first year £335; then £220)
Payments £219 x 35 months
Optional final payment £10,762.20
Interest rate 4.9%
Total payable £26,458.41