Right, before you take to the comment section and call me boring, hear me out. We live in the age where we can get supercar beating hot hatchbacks, stupidly powerful SUVs and electric cars that may as well jump into hyperspace with how quick they are. This is great, but in the real world, you don't need a car with a million horsepower or can do 200mph+. It's just so unnecessary.
At the end of the day, bigger isn't always better. Let's face it, most of our daily driving routes include town/city driving, with traffic, pedestrians and an average speed of close to 20mph. Tell me when exactly are you going to need a 400bhp Mercedes hot hatch to do a 5 mile commute in bumper-to-bumper traffic? Nah.
So here's my argument; you just need 200bhp. 200bhp isn't much by today's standards but it's enough to do your commute and have fun with.
Why 200bhp then?
Well, I live in the UK and if you know anything about UK roads, they aren't fast nor fun for the vast majority. My commute isn't exciting as it lasts about 10-15 minutes and I have to navigate a series of roundabouts, stupid road users and the like, while the fastest speed I can realistically go is about 55mph.
As much as I'd like a fast, powerful, sporty car, I don't need one. Even the local countryside roads aren't that fascinating so my options need to be realistic. I came to the conclusion the other day that a Ford Fiesta ST or a VW Polo GTI would be the perfect car for me.
The Polo GTI is the definition of an everyday hero - Image: VW UK
What about motorways?
If you think you can go fast on a UK motorway, you're very wrong. We have a hateful thing in the UK called 'smart motorways' which in reality aren't that smart at all. According to someone in the government, they are designed to ease congestion and pollution and other things. But in reality, you could be doing the speed limit and then at the next gantry, you'll see a new speed limit of 40mph and then chaos ensures.
Maybe 20 years ago, you could have some illegal fun on the motorways by blasting down the M1 at 150mph at 3 in the morning but not anymore.
(Disclaimer: We do not support speeding as it's dangerous and it could result in death)
What if I want to go to a trackday?
Well, you still can but don't expect to beat any proper track cars or supercars. On tracks like Brands Hatch or Silverstone National, you don't need a fast car to make the most out of that track.
Light, fun, fast. Lotus' latest Elise 220 is the perfect car for technical circuits - Image: Lotus
What other benefits do 200bhp cars have then?
Well, first and foremost, you'll be using much less fuel than something with double the power. Take the Polo GTI, that can get 40mpg if you're careful with your right foot. Emissions are also lower too. However, with a car like the Polo GTI, you'll still have lots of fun driving it.
Also, if you're buying a car with about 200bhp, it's going to be a lot cheaper to buy and run too. I know this sounds obvious, because it is.
So, what fun cars can be had with 200bhp?
Well, many if you look for more than five seconds. When it comes to new cars, you have so many things to look at if you want 200bhp or so. However, if you want a fun car with 200bhp, I'd look at the current Fiesta ST or if you don't need that much space, the Toyota GT86/Subaru BRZ fit the bill perfectly.
Even things like the basic Mini Cooper and Audi A3 models are excellent cars. I've been driving the A3 with the 1.5 TFSI engine and it's a fun car. Sure, it only has 150bhp but it's more than enough and is actually enjoyable to drive.
And if you look at the second hand market, your choice is even bigger with the likes of Mk1 Ford Focus RS's, and original E30 M3's pumping out about 200bhp. These are brilliant cars and are tremendously good fun.
I'm still not convinced...
Well, I don't know what else to suggest other than test driving a small hot hatch like a Mini Cooper S, Ford Fiesta ST and realise that they are more fun on a day to day basis than something silly like a Mercedes A45 AMG.