£50k Sports Cars (Part Two) – The Practical Choices
Back in November I wrote a somewhat lengthy review of what I think are the two best sports cars at around £50,000; the Alpine A110 and Porsche 718 Cayman. But whereas they might be the most focused of the coupes in that price range there are quite a few other options that weren’t present on the day of the test and might be of more interest if you require more practicality in your coupe.
There are four cars I’m going to focus on in this article – the Toyota GR Supra, the Ford Mustang GT, the Audi TT-RS and the BMW M2 Competition – all of which retail for around the £50,000 mark. Let’s get the Japanese contingent out of the way first:
There is a cheaper Supra than the Pro here, in fact there’s now a 2.0 litre model instead of the 3.0 litre straight-six turbo that’s even cheaper, but to mix with the big boys it has to be the top rung model which comes in at £54,340. The non-Pro model is a few grand less, but on the monthly payments you won’t be paying much more for the Pro and it’s well worth the extra. What you get with this Supra is truly impressive, traffic-stopping styling. Most know that Toyota made a fantastic concept car called the FT-1 and the new Supra carries most of the styling cues over into production.
When you look at the Supra from certain angles, particularly the rear three-quarter, you could honestly think it’s an exotic supercar. It’s an absolute riot of curves and bulges. But thankfully the Supra has the mechanical bits to back up the looks – 335bhp may not sound like much in a sports car when hot hatches have similar, but the Supra feels much stronger, sounds great and more importantly feels like a sports car. The handling is another highlight with a firm, controlled ride and a playful nature. Certainly not one to be ruled out, even if the 2-seat cabin is rather tight.
You couldn’t really get a more different proposition to the Supra with the TT-RS. Sure it’s a 2-door coupe, but this has a turbo 5-cylinder engine, all-wheel drive, two perfectly usable rear seats and a decent sized hatchback boot. Practicality-wise, this is on another level – the rear seats fold leaving a really usable, well-shaped boot. Should that drive your purchasing desire for a sports car? No, but that 400hp 5-pot engine should as it’s an absolute masterpiece. Linked to a lightning-fast dual clutch gearbox it blasts through the revs giving genuinely surprising performance all while emitting a wonderful off-beat warble that builds to an angry rally-car wail before the next gear bangs home.
With the typical Audi quattro AWD system the TT-RS is never going to be the last word in dynamic handling finesse, but you just have to adjust your driving style slightly (slow in, fast out) and you’ll have a fun, practical sports car that you can use all year round without worrying that it’ll spit you off the road into a hedge. And we have to mention the interior – this is one of Audi’s best yet, with a clear, stylish and high-quality dash. There’s no big screen in the centre console, just some amazing vents that house the AC controls in them, and a big screen ahead of the driver. It makes for a refreshingly clean interior when most manufacturers (Audi included) seem to be added bigger and more screens all the time.
Though the Mustang may lag behind the rivals in the tech stakes – it’s unreservedly old school – it makes up for it by being the only car here with no turbos, as it’s got cylinders and displacement on its side. Under that long bonnet sits a 5.0 litre naturally aspirated V8 that puts out 460hp, which sounds like a lot but the Mustang is a big car and weighs a lot so performance isn’t electrifying. But you get a soundtrack to rival that of the TT-RS – a glorious angry deep V8 woofle and rumble which turns into an angry growl. The Mach-1 comes in at £55,185 versus the £10k cheaper standard GT, but you get so much more bespoke kit that it should be a no-brainer. There’s the Magnaride suspension, specially tuned exhaust, unique bumper and graphics, in fact it looks part-way between the GT and the US-only Shelby GT350, with which is shares some engine and suspension components.
What surprises about the Mustang most though, is that it drives far better than most would imagine – this is a powerful, RWD car with a big V8 up front and yet it’s almost nimble when you’re pressing on and you can steer the car with the rear wheels if you have the room. Add in the fact that it has big rear seats and a huge boot and this is a sports car that doesn’t require many sacrifices, apart from needing to visit a petrol station with alarming regularity.
When BMW launched the M2, it was seen as a bit of a half-job by a lot of people. Sure it had a bespoke, bulging wheelarched body, but the engine wasn’t very special and it was mass produced which seemed less special than the 1M it effectively replaced. But over time it evolved, picking up the M4’s engine in the M2 Competition along with a load of handling improvements and hey presto we now have what is regarded by many as the best M/// car currently on sale (though the M2 Comp is technically not sold any more there are plenty of delivery mile examples out there). The top-rung limited edition M2 CS even won Evo magazine’s eCoty in 2020, though at over £20k more than the Comp you would hope it’s good! The standard M2 Competition is the perfect combination of aggressive yet pretty looks, deft RWD handling balance, acceptable ride, great noise and the biggest rear seats of any car here, making it a very usable sports car for those with children. It’s even got a big boot.
Given the way BMW’s styling is going currently, I doubt that the replacement coming later this year is going to be anywhere near as pretty, so many think the M2 Comp may become a fairly sought-after M/// car in years to come. So find a manual in a good colour and keep it well – you might be onto a winner!