The best supercars to buy in 2020

A used supercar for any budget is a tall order. We've risen to the challenge…

By Matt Bird / Thursday, November 26, 2020

While there are those who get excited about classic people carriers and diesel superminis, most of lust after cars that conform to some fairly rigid criteria. This is not the time to define the supercar – you'll see the list has interpreted it pretty creatively – but instead celebrate those vehicles that can turn even the steeliest of adults into the giddiest of children. Those cars that drive along impossibly low and close to the ground, which sound like no other and are capable of tremendous speeds; the cars you would tear the magazine open to read about, and run down the street to see – the supercars.

To appropriately rank the contenders, we've had to throw out the regular price categories. We adore a bargain as much as the next PHer, but in 2020 it's virtually impossible to shop here for less than £25k. To make up for that, we've gone for heady mix of old and new, with some at the very top of their appreciation curve, some with a bit of climbing to do and some that will lose money by dint of being so new. All of them, though, push our buttons like only supercars can, and are easily recommendable for one reason or another as first supercars, new supercars or supercars your collection simply must contain. Enjoy!


Up to £25,000…

  • TVR Cerbera

2021 marks 25 years since the Cerbera arrived and redefined expectations of a TVR, which is almost reason enough to include it here. More than that, though, the Cerbera was a genuine supercar botherer from Blackpool for not much money: it was hugely powerful, lighter than a summer's breeze and looked extraordinary. Remember the Clarkson video, where it monstered the contemporary exotica crop? Here it is if not…

And while the Cerbera wasn't without its well-known problems, we're now at the point where those will have been sorted, leaving behind a car that can be properly enjoyed for all its good bits. Which, of course, you'll know all about as a PH reader. TVR's current predicament and the significance of the Cerbera in the back catalogue means values have been climbing over recent years, but £25k can still get a decent one. For the performance, excitement and sense of occasion, you still can't do better.

Up to £35,000…

  • Audi R8

This is what you picture when the word 'supercar' crops up: low, mid-engined, with concept car styling and an atmospheric engine that revs to the high heavens. The Audi R8 still ticks a lot of the obvious boxes even if, with the V8 this budget limits you to, it's more of a Porsche 911 alternative than bonafide supercar. That's where the V10 comes in, and for not a great deal more money either.

Both of those early R8 variants deserve mention, too, for combining so much of the good supercar drama – it still gets plenty of attention today – without seemingly any of the bad. It's simple to drive, not so massive that it can't be parked and, despite engines that rev beyond 8,000rpm, not absurdly high maintenance, either. The R8 is everything you'd hope for from an Audi supercar, basically.

But, of course, it's also all those things we never expected it to be – i.e. lithe and engaging and thrilling to drive. If the current R8 isn't replaced – as is now looking likely – then don't be surprised to see the reverence around these originals increase further. This one has 50,000 miles, a decent service history and is for sale at £34,000 – bargain.

Up to £45,000…

  • Nissan GT-R

An unconventional one perhaps, but it's hard to argue against the GT-R's inclusion. Maybe it isn't Italian and mid-engined and knee high to a grasshopper. But the big Nissan is also capable of almost 200mph, needs concentration to drive fast and still seizes attention like little else. If you really had to keep going, the R35 may even throw up a few terrifying bills like a proper old supercar…

The relative affordability of a GT-R makes it look enticing, though. At this money one of the first R35 facelifts is available, meaning more power, bigger brakes and a slight redesign. Or even a Track Pack perhaps, which brought some NISMO goodies to the experience. Either way, £45k most certainly buys supercar-grade performance, which is what the GT-R is all about. Moreover, even if you accept crazy speed as a given, the R35 is memorable for the challenge it presents a driver as well. Those who say they're like PlayStations haven't driven one. In 2020 there really hasn't been a better time – this is another car threatened with extinction, don't forget.

Up to £55,000…

  • Lotus Esprit

Here's where things start becoming tricky. Because £55k opens a up a few modern options – the Mercedes-AMG GT is almost in reach – as well as some classic contenders like the Honda NSX. And as the car that showed up Ferrari 30 years ago, the car that proved mid-engined and high revving needn't be recalcitrant and intimidating, the NSX makes a strong case for itself here. But the Lotus Esprit couldn't be ignored, could it?

Decades before McLaren Automotive stunned supercardom with a twin-turbo V8 and deft dynamics, Lotus was doing much the same. Before that, the Esprit arguably also showed that a low cylinder count was no barrier to inclusion, the four-cylinder cars delivering all the performance, panache and allure that the genre demands.

This is strong money for an Esprit, granted, securing something like a wild Sport 350 or a Bond homage S1. And it's unlikely to be an entirely drama-free ownership proposition. But the Esprit is here because it was Norfolk's supercar, and a fine one at that, there to keep Porsche and Ferrari on their toes for almost 30 years. Good enough for us.

Up to £65,000…

  • Ferrari 360 Modena

No list of supercars would be complete without a Ferrari mention, and it'll be no surprise to learn that this isn't its only appearance here. Because Ferrari is the most famous supercar maker of them all, no question. And in amongst a few clunkers, there are some truly exceptional automobiles in the back catalogue.

Time has been kind to the 360 Modena, to the extent that it may well now rank as a Ferrari great. 20 years ago, it was less attractive than the F355 it replaced, not as powerful as a DB7 Vantage and not as everyday usable as a 911 Turbo. Now, however, the 360 is the car that launched the Ferrari V8 berlinetta into a new millenium with a new platform and new engine, a car less prohibitive to run yet still as intoxicating to drive. Perfect first classic supercar, then.

Like so many contemporaries of the era, 360 prices have risen of late, the appeal of open gated Ferrari manuals plain for all to see. This one is perfect: Rosso Corsa, Challenge grille, manual, 34,000 miles and a fairly recent cambelt. It isn't hard to see the appeal, especially for this money…

Up to £75,000…

  • Porsche 911 Turbo (991.1)

With the same sort of predictably as the Ferrari appearances, there couldn't possibly be a best supercars list published without mention somewhere of the 911 Turbo. And then, of course, loud objections about how the 911 Turbo isn't a supercar. You know how it goes.

So you'll also know that, despite not having scissor doors or an enormous engine or an engine in the middle, the 911 flagship has made a habit of scaring 'proper' supercars for 40 years now. Combine that with excellent value for the performance on offer and we hardly need to make a stronger case for it appearing on this list.

Especially not when £75k bags you a first generation 991 a car that will hit 60mph in three seconds and hit as-near-as-makes-no-difference 200mph – and do both things while being more taxing to drive than a Carrera. Some will suggest that means it lacks the sort of drama a true supercar needs; but people who want histrionics don't buy a 911 Turbo. Those who want to go ballistically fast whenever the mood takes them buy one – in its most recent iteration, the Turbo has known no equal.

Up to £100,000…

  • McLaren 570S

It speaks to the firm's remarkable success that no current list of superlative supercars would be complete – or indeed credible – without at least one McLaren in it. For this amount you can have a 650S, a car which did perhaps more than any other to establish the manufacturer's incontrovertible place among the fraternity. But we've plumped instead for the 570S; the newer, slightly slower model. Why? Well, because it might just be the most complete car McLaren has yet produced.

True enough, by its maker's own definition, the 570S is a Sports Series product. But don't let the label fool you; the V8-powered, carbon-fibre tub'd, rear-drive model is a supercar through and through – it just happens to be a slightly simpler version of the Super Series lineup. This, it turned out, was to the 570S's benefit. Instead of taking something away from the experience, the car felt honed to near perfection: it was fast and comfortable and drivable in just the right quantities.

Not unusually for McLaren, it has been overshadowed by a racier version – the admittedly lovable 600LT – but that just means it's now pleasingly affordable to buy (relatively speaking). Here's one at a franchise dealer for handsomely less than six figures. You wouldn't bet the house on it depreciating further – but it's worth remembering that McLaren is about to introduce a hybrid model that will eventually replace the 570S as its stock offering. That ought to make its hydraulically steered, purely combustion pocket supercar even more attractive to some…

Up to £150,000…

  • Ferrari 488 GTB

Just three generations on from the 360 Modena mentioned earlier and we're here, where the entry level mid-engined Ferrari has 670hp and the sort of chassis electronics unimaginable in a road car not long ago. When the 488 GTB was announced, many worried about the switch to turbocharging after the 458's stupendous V8; those concerns were swept aside after about 10 minutes of driving.

There hasn't yet been a better installation of turbocharging in supercars, the GTB torquey, revvy and almost devoid of lag. The 3.9-litre twin-turbo is so good that it's won International Engine of the Year. Not just once, either, but four times on the trot. No other engine has achieved that feat in more than 20 years of competition.

That such an exceptional powerplant is complemented by a sublime chassis, stunning design and the badge that ranks above all others makes the 488 a formidable package. Now superseded by the F8 Tributo, early GTBs are now available for £140k; spend a little more than that and Ferrari approved cars like this one are on offer, showing just a few thousand miles. They're still a lot of money, of course, but seldom will £150,000 have felt better spent – even on a Ferrari.

Up to £200,000…

  • Lamborghini Huracan Evo

Another brand that simply had to feature in a supercar showdown, Lamborghini typifies for many what the genre should be all about. They're loud, a little brash, best suit bright colours and always come equipped with stupendous engines. And they look superb on bedroom walls. Or homescreens…

With such a healthy budget, there's all manner of Sant'Agata supercar available: those feeling brave might fancy an Aventador, anyone wanting more of a challenge could get a Murcielago and there are still Diablos in budget for those hellbent on mayhem. We've gone for something a little more modest (all things being relative), though, in this selection: the new Huracan Evo. Combining Performante speed with the latest technology, it's everything a modern Lamborghini should be: gorgeous to look at, brilliant to drive, magnificent to behold.

This one just sneaks in under budget, and is as close to brand new as it's possible to get. You might not get to choose the spec, but then you also won't have to wait years for it – and driving right now sounds preferable to holding on for bespoke stitching…

Sky's the limit…

  • Porsche Carrera GT

Let's face facts: you're never, ever going to get consensus amongst car fans on a money-no-object supercar. There are too many icons out there, too many valid schools of thought on where super and hypercars collide, and simply too much history in everyone's favourite category of car to single one out. But we have to. And while there are dozens of eligible contenders – think F40, F50, Enzo, Zonda, XJ220, Countach, LFA and more – our selection isn't any of those. It's the Porsche Carrera GT.

Why? Well, how long do you have? There's the Le Mans history to the project, the sublime V10, the manual gearbox (!), the carbon construction and the gorgeous styling just for starters. If our supercar template is low, wide, mid-engined and dramatic, the Porsche has it nailed; if it ought to have a naturally aspirated engine, a manual and rear-wheel drive in addition, then the Porsche's case looks even more compelling. You want challenge and intimidation in a modern supercar, too? Try a hill start in one…

And it's a supercar bargain, all things considered. The days of sub-£300k Carrera GTs have long since passed, but £650,000 is hard to argue against for a car of such quality when an Enzo is two million quid. Porsche hadn't made a car like the Carrera GT before the 980 and it hasn't done since, the subsequent 918 Spyder a very different prospect. The Porsche doesn't enjoy the lineage of something like the V12 Ferraris, but no bother – we wouldn't change a thing.


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