Fast for £15k | Pledge reversal special!

Still flip-flopping over how much money to spend on speed? We make the case for fifteen big ones…

By PH Staff / Saturday, 15 October 2022 / Loading comments

Audi RS6 saloon (C5), 2003, 79k, £13,195

Even when the fast Audis haven’t been great to drive, they’ve always been tremendously quick. It’s impossible to say ‘Audi RS2’ without mentioning ‘McLaren F1’ and ‘0-30mph’ in the same sentence, for example. And the first RS6 is a perfect example of the breed: an E39 M5 is the better car to drive every day of the week, but it’s the twin-turbo, 450hp, four-wheel-drive Audi that’s going to be fastest, any place, anytime. That’s before thinking about tweaks; perhaps sacrilege on something teetering close to classic status, but another 60hp and 60lb ft from a mere ECU tickle is hard to ignore. This RS6, despite the paint, is arguably more discreet than the Avant, as most people will have forgotten it ever existed. With just 270 ever produced, it might even be a safe place for £13k – if the bills don’t get you. MB

Porsche 944 Turbo, 1986, 89k, £15,990

Obviously, we needed a proper two-seat sports car, even if it’s very slightly over budget (red lines be damned!). Pleasingly, there are options out there – S2000, 370Z, lots of TVRs – but it’s always hard to ignore a Porsche. In this company, 250hp and about the same again in torque doesn’t look all that much, but it’s old-school turbo power – the experience will make up for any shortfall in on-paper performance. Old cars that feel fast going relatively slowly must be preferable in 2022 to quick cars that don’t feel it. This 944 looks pretty good, too, even with many more previous owners than it has valves. Perhaps that’s just the Can Can Red leather doing its thing, but the mileage is low, the telephone dial wheels are fab and the paint seems good as well. Fast for £15k is one thing; fast and cool for £15k is another entirely… MB

Vauxhall Insignia VXR Sports Tourer, 2011, 43k, £12,990

You’re probably thinking: ‘why should I buy a Vauxhall when there’s a perfectly good Audi RS6 on this list?’ And I wouldn’t blame you. But shouldn’t a fast Audi be an estate? What’s the point of having a punchy daily driver if you can’t get dogs in the back? Behold the blue-collar alternative: a Vauxhall Insignia VXR Sports Tourer. I hear a few groans, but the Insignia VXR went about things in a very un-Vauxhall manner. It packed a 2.8-litre turbocharged V6 developing 325hp and channelled it to all four wheels. A 0-62mph sprint took 6.1 seconds and it could muster a top speed of 155mph. Granted, it won’t be as quick as some of the cars on this list, nor will it be as glitzy inside. Quite the opposite, in fact. But that means there’s less to go wrong, and, if something does go pop, the same probably won’t happen to your wallet. CT

BMW M3 (E92), 2007, 112k, £14,795

Once upon a time, you certainly won’t have forgotten, the E92 M3 made headlines for ditching the straight-six of the E46 for a 4.0-litre V8. Present company notwithstanding, it was the M3’s muscle car era, where power leapt to 420hp, albeit at a very un-muscle-car 8,300rpm. Power, of course, was all sent to the rear wheels. No xDrive system to hold your hand when things got slippery. And because it’s possibly not quite hit fully-fledged modern classic status just yet (though they’re only going one way), the E9x generation can be picked up fairly cheap. Just like this one. Oh, and what’s that in the centre console? A gear lever, perhaps? A major premium on an E46, but here’s a manual M3 for the same price as a new VW Up. Some will say the S65 V8 is a little bit fragile, but it’s made it this far… CT

Mercedes-Benz SL55 AMG, 2005, 108k, £14,995

If you’re going to go ‘fast for £15k’ and don’t include an SL55 then you’re mad. Plain and simple. Why wouldn’t you? For a start, we’re talking a 5.4-litre V8 mit Kompressor, thumping out just shy of 500hp and a mighty 517lb ft of long-wave twist. And if the 62mph sprint in 4.7 seconds isn’t fast enough, then pop to the bathroom, find your reset button and press it. Not only that, but think of its trademark bassy bellow as you hoof it with the roof down, which, by the way, lowers in under 16 seconds. The best thing about the SL55 – beyond its performance, noise, looks, and the fact it comes stocked with more toys than Hamleys in December – is the handling. No, it’s not track-day sharp, but there are few cars that (a) goes sideways more freely and (b) do so as benignly. I know this because, once, I became so fed up with a customer – a timewaster looking for a test drive – that I gave him one to remember. No, I shouldn’t have – but you didn’t meet him. JH

Chrysler 300C SRT8, 2006, 54k, £13,970

It’s got ‘Hemi’ written on the engine, so it’s in. Yes, there are more than six litres making less power than both SL55 and RS6, but it’s unsullied by forced induction – if you subscribe to ‘ain’t no replacement’, nothing offers more for less than a 300C. And there’s still enough performance for a yee-haw 0-62mph time of five seconds. The 300C had plenty of Mercedes bits in it, with its LX platform sharing some intellectual property with the W211. Some of the switchgear was Mercedes’, too, although that’s nothing to boast about (this wasn’t Mercedes’ finest hour for quality). Chrysler had a good crack at lowering the tone even further, of course, with interior plastics so cheap that Poundland’s bid to supply them was turned down – too pricey. It’s also not as technically good as an M5, but so what. The SRT-8 has plenty of character and greater rarity value. At less than £14,000, this one had to make our list. JH


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