PH 2021 | Best nearly new sports car to buy

You've probably saved a fortune staying indoors – want to invest it wisely?

By PH Staff / Tuesday, December 28, 2021 / Loading comments

Porsche Cayman GTS 4.0

I was torn on this one. In some ways, I wanted to recommend a Porsche Cayman 981, but that probably doesn’t qualify as ‘nearly new’ anymore. Then I thought about the 718 2.0. Oh I know it’s not got the best engine tonally, but the ones I’ve driven this year have felt much improved over the original iterations and I’ve really enjoyed bombing around in them. While the entry-level 718 has its detractors, I do believe that its blend of power delivery and speed are better than the old, flat-six models, and the handling is still sublime. £40k buys you a low-miler but they start from £35k – pretty much new Ford Focus ST money, to throw in some context.

But it’s impossible to ignore the 718 Cayman GTS 4.0. I know it takes us up to the giddier end of the price bands, but you get an awful lot more in return. I’m not pretending the GTS is as good as a GT4, but it has some of its traits, which is good enough. Not least a to-die-for naturally aspirated 4.0-litre flat six that revs out to 7,800rpm. En route to that it’ll take you on a journey of sonorous delight – one you’ll never tire of taking, I guarantee. Then there’s the chassis. We’re used to hearing how good the Cayman is in this respect but it’s only when you drive it back-to-back with someone in its ballpark that you realise how good. In the words of the great Matt Bird, when he put it up against the BMW M2 CS, ‘the 718 GTS 4.0 is a model of chassis dexterity and cohesion that even the best M car in a generation can’t match.’ High praise indeed.

The Porsche Centre Silverstone certainly knows how to spec its demo car (I assume it is, bearing in mind it’s VAT qualifying) because the Agate Grey, which I think it is, with black hide, red stitching and red seatbelts looks slick and it comes with a rack of options like carbon trim, Porsche Dynamic Light System, Bose, power-folding mirrors and a reversing camera. Summer’s a long way off but this will guarantee it’s a good one, whatever the weather. JH

BMW M2 Competition

As an unashamed M fan, this shouldn’t come as any great surprise. But as BMW continues to become, frankly, weirder, so the enormous appeal of an M2 Competition rises. It’s the classic BMW recipe – compact dimensions, straight-six, rear-wheel drive, loadsa attitude – reimagined for right now. Far from being some throwback, however, the 2018 Comp realised the latent potential in BMW’s smallest M car. It was, and remains, fantastic.

The relative simplicity was key, even if subsequent, much more complex M cars – notably the new M3 and M5 CS – have proven the validity of technology, the back-to-basics nature of the Competition was just as memorable. The suspension was passive, the standard gearbox manual (which really suited it) and the rear-wheel drive mode… well, it was permanent. And brilliant. Yes, the supposedly junior M2 was heavy and stiff, but entertainment was guaranteed on any journey. For the price of a Toyota Supra…

Arguably the CS helped the Comp’s cause, too, the £75k M2 shining a light on just how good the £50k M2 was. With everything that’s happened since 2018, including some of BMW’s bolder moves, you’ll still need £40k for a Competition. But some of that can be attributed to the epic result of dropping the M3 engine in a 2 Series. This one is the best you’ll get: a Long Beach Blue, manual Competition, registered last year with fewer than 3,000 miles, for £49,995. I’d very gladly drive it to 103,000. MB

Alpine A110

There are two hurdles to overcome when convincing people of the A110’s claim to greatness. The first is simply assuring them that it is okay to believe the hype. Yes, it really is very lovely to drive, against almost any backdrop – so much so that you will forgive some of its other modest shortcomings. The second is that it is actually worth the Cayman-rivalling money being asked for it. This was an issue when the car was launched, just as it is an issue with the recently announced update. And the same is true of secondhand examples, too.

While the used market’s current buoyancy has obviously played its part, it is comparatively low numbers which have ultimately ensured that prices remain impressively sturdy. In fact, you’ll likely be asked to pay more for a lightly used example than Alpine wants for a new entry-level 2022 model. Of course you won’t see the latter till March next year at the earliest (if you’re lucky), whereas the classifieds will cheerily put you behind the wheel of one next week.

This 2020 white on black wheels example is a case in point. At £55k, it’s priciest on sale at the time of writing, but it’s also the A110 S, which means that it’s both quicker and rarer than the standard car. It’s firmer riding, too, although what you give up in comfort you get back in cornering speed. Granted, the incoming GT trim, blessed with both 300hp and arguably the better balanced chassis, is likely to be the pick of the entire bunch. But that costs nearly £60k. Either way, you’re getting variations on a vanishing theme – a wonderfully lightweight, rear-drive, mid-engine sports car. So if not now, when? NC

  • 2020 Porsche 718 GTS 4.0 | PH Review
  • 2020 BMW M2 Competition | PH Review
  • 2021 Alpina A110 Legende GT | PH Review

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