I have to buy a new car in 2017, the question is what do I buy next. Whatever I buy has to suit a variety of needs, reliability, 12,000 to 15,000 miles per year and of course it has to fit in with my budget. At least four seats is a must, whilst I say to myself I’m not too bothered about mpg or emissions I’m guessing if a car does less than 20mpg it's going to be a slight issue, same goes for repairs, some cars on my prospective list cost £1,000 to £2,000 for a simple item like a clutch and flywheel which can be a tough pill to swallow.
Also as you may have gathered from my writing, I am a car guy, I love driving and cars, hence why I do this otherwise people would think I’m crazy. Lastly, now, as I get to drive some great cars I do want something quick, there is no another way, I’ve had a little over three years with a car that was not a performance car, but it’s not a hypermiler either, many issues have arisen over that time such as a broken gearbox/engine mount which caused a whole host of replacement parts including a new steering rack, new fuel, and water pumps, a new intercooler and pipework, all under warranty but getting the garage to confess and fix the car was an outright mission at times.
My budget is pretty wide for this new car, either I drop £18,000 to £20,000 on a new or nearly new car, or use that as a deposit and take the remainder on finance, my last option is a plain and simple lease, money down, monthly payment and a warranty, service it, hand it back in three years, simple.
The first option is outright purchase for my budget, my two choices for this option are in my view two of the best hot hatches you can buy right now.
How about a new hot hatch......
Abarth 595 Competizione
The tiny Abarth is an 180hp stormer, running from 0-62 in 6.7 seconds. Prices start at £19,565 here in the UK and it even gets mpg in the 45’s in a test environment. It also comes equipped with Brembo brakes and one of the best exhaust notes you will ever hear from a car in this price range that is still factory spec. The car has also had a recent 2016 model refresh, the interior is now a nicer place to be and the slight redesign brings the car more up to date.
Providing you head to the north of England you can find a 596 Competizione for around £17/£18k with some options fitted, these cars are listed as nearly new with around 1-3k miles on the clock and come with the balance of the Abarth warranty. You can even buy roof bars for the 595, with which you can carry things such as my mountain bike or a roof box or both if you're being precise.
The downsides of this car are obvious, the size for one, I am pretty tall but have driven them before so I know I can fit it comfortably, the back seats, however, are terrible and not very good for long journeys, also the 595 Competizione comes with the standard fuel tank from the Fiat 500, totalling 35 litres which are not a lot at all, drive this car like you’re supposed to and you will be lucky to make it 250 miles between fuel stops.
WILL I BUY RATING - 7/10 – A 2016 MODEL REFRESH, THAT NOISE, THE PRICE AS WELL, DOWNSIZE IS NO SPACE
Ford Fiesta ST
The Ford Fiesta ST has been with us a while now, when I drove an ST200 at Goodwood this past summer I loved it, the steering is direct and positive, the engine is a gem, boasting 178bhp and a 0-62 time of 6.9 seconds it’s one of the great hot hatches to drive.
If you shop around you can pick up an ST-3 model with such additional extras as parking sensors for around £16-£17k, again the fuel usage is on a par with the Abarth, expect around 40mpg combined when not driving like a lunatic.
The downsides of the ST, it has been with us for a while now, even with the introduction of the five-door model, I for one suspect that a replacement will be announced at some point in early 2017, as to when it will arrive is anyone’s guess. Another downside of this ageing is that the current generation ST misses out on some of the updates to Ford’s infotainment system, as in the one you get is positively ancient, the Sync system is perfectly good for everyday use, but you know the current version is a vast improvement. Lastly, that dashboard is festooned with buttons which have now been thankfully corrected in Ford’s of late.
WILL I BUY RATING - 6.5/10 – FAST, GOOD LOOKS, RIGHT PRICE BUT SLIGHTY DATED TECH
Buying a used performance car.......
Next up is the cars that I couldn’t afford when they were new, but as I have aged so have they, I am talking about the cars that were £50,000 or more when new, now they are well within my price range for an outright purchase. The dangers, however, are obvious, my choices need quality servicing and repairs, hence that is going to be costly, also, they are all out of warranty which means that if anything goes wrong it’s down to me which could result in it being off the road until the car can be repaired.
BMW M3 E92
The BMW M3 E92 was the only M3 ever to feature a V8 motor, the S65 V8 is a high revving pure normally aspirated motor producing 414bhp allowing it to get from 0-62mph in 4.7 seconds.
When the E92 M3 was rolled out of the factory it would have cost you in the region of £50k, here and now in 2016, you can pick up a 2007-2009 model with reasonable miles for around £20k, well within my budget. The biggest issue for me personally is finding one with a manual gearbox, this is, of course, my personal preference, that and the fact that I don’t dress, act or live the life of a BMW M car driver, I am not a douche bag, I don’t play golf and I don’t believe that I own the roads.
Also, unlike some M Division cars the E92 M3,seems, for the most part, to be pretty reliable with reasonable repair costs, an example of this is the ‘service II’ which at BMW would cost close to £1k cost for all this work, the cost at my local BMW specialist, £470 including genuine BMW parts. This means that thanks to the passages of time and a specialist garage the M3 E92 become a very viable option for me.
WILL I BUY RATING - 8/10 – THAT V8, THAT NOISE, COULD BE COSTLY, MANUALS DIFFICULT TO LOCATE
BMW M5 E39
The BMW M5 E39 was the first M5 to feature a V8 motor, and what a motor it was, producing 400hp from its 4.9 litres of V8 goodness.
In 2016 you don’t see many E39 M5’s on the street, oddly enough I live near two owners who daily drive them, heroes is what I like to call them.
At all of the cars and coffee events I have attended in recent months a number of E39’s turn up, whenever I see one, I cannot believe how good it looks all these years later, yes, the interior is dated somewhat, the sat-nav is straight out of the Commodore era, but it still looks just magnificent.
The fact that the M5 E39 comes with a manual gearbox, awesome, where do I sign, this and the V8 factor has me sold. The main reason I want an M5 E39 is the price, £10-£14k gets you a decent car so far as I can tell from my research, I predict that in within the next 2-3 years these prices will escalate to the price point where entry to the M5 club is simply out of my reach, so either I act in early 2017 or I regret it for the rest of my days.
The issues with this car could be many, parts are expensive, the famed Vanos repairs, for instance, this can cost from between £500 to £8,000 if your shit out of luck, I don’t care about this, I still want one.
WILL I BUY RATING - 8.5/10 – ONE OF THE GREAT M CARS, THE RIGHT PRICE, BUY NOW OR NEVER OWN ONE, COULD BE A MONEYPIT IF I BUY BADLY
In the next part of ‘What Car Should I buy Next’ I go through the pitfalls of leasing some new metal with a potential unicorn that I should not ever be tempted by unless I want to starve to death from being poor, I will also be listing the so-called sensible options.