In every car manufacturer’s HQ there is a silent war being waged. In one camp there are the engineers seeking the ultimate in performance. In the other, there’s the marketing department. Past victories for the engineers are glorious indeed. The BMW M3, Porsche 911 GT3 RS and the Renaultsport Clio 200 are all courageous cars.
But, all too often, it’s the money men who win, taking cars we’d give our back teeth for only to ruin them with rubbish entry-level models and parts bin specials full of yesterday’s cheap tech. We’re utterly fed up with them, so here, without further ado, are the worst of the best: ten brilliant cars you should never buy
BMW Z4 18i
Not only has the pretty BMW Z4 been made even better looking for 2013, you can now get behind its chunky steering wheel for £2,000 less than before. Have the boys at BMW been spending too much time at Oktoberfest you ask? No, because as cheap as it seems, nobody in their right mind should actually buy one. The 18i uses the same 2.0-litre engine as the 20i and 28i, but it’s been detuned to produce a weedy 158bhp. The car also does without ‘standard’ kit like leather upholstery and climate control. Not only will your drop-top sports car struggle to keep up with diesel saloons, you’ll get sweaty trying. Spend the extra cash and buy a Z4 20i instead.
Ford Focus 1.6 Edge
One upon a time we all drove around in family hatchbacks with wheezy 1.6-, 1.8- and 2.0-litre petrol engines, spewing carbons into the atmosphere with reckless abandon as we sat at traffic lights. Then we started to ‘downsize’. The Focus 1.0-litre EcoBoost is a shining example, with 100bhp, yet economy of 60.1mpg and emissions of just 109g/km of CO2. So, why oh why does Ford still sell the 1.6-litre petrol, which emits far more, is noisier and slower? Luddites and cavemen, form an orderly line here.
Dacia Sandero Access
Dacia could be Renault’s saviour, just like Skoda is now one of VW’s top-performing brands. Its Sandero is perhaps not the finest car to drive, but it’s a Fiesta-sized car for half the price of the Ford favourite, with a brace of engines from the latest Clio. But (you should have seen this coming by now) Dacia has tried to create a stir with a super-low £5,995 price tag. For that, you get literally nothing: Steel wheels, manual window winders, no stereo, white paint and black bumpers which remind us of a teenager’s half-painted project car. Do yourself a favour; spend £600 more, get the Ambiance version and your car will look like it made it to the end of the production line.
Toyota GT86 Automatic
The GT86 is one of the most involving cars of our time, and already looks set to be an icon. With rear-wheel drive, a lower centre of gravity than a Porsche Boxster and an affordable price tag, it’s the perfect antidote to bloated hot hatches, which get more powerful every year and more remote as a result. But, like a desert island a Bear living on it, there’s trouble in paradise. In the GT86′ case, that bear is the optional automatic gearbox. Not only will this rob you of being a part of the car, the gear ratios are better suited to cruising, so it’s harder to keep the rev-happy engine on the boil. Epic fail.
Porsche 911 Turbo S
Everyone loved the 996 version of the 911. “How could the 997 edition be better?” we asked. And then Porsche showed us how brainy it is all over again with its latest and greatest, the 991. The flagship model in the range is the 911 Turbo S, a four-wheel drive behemoth with 560bhp, that can squeeze in a lap of the Nordschliefe quicker than you can get to your local chippy. But, it’s £140,852, basic! A standard Carrera coupe and it will set you back £73,413, has 350bhp, hits 62mph in 4.8 seconds and has rear-wheel drive for a more involving steer. Do you really need to go quicker? Is a Turbo S really worth twice as much?
BMW X5 xDrive50i SE
Picture the scene: You’re in a rush, your baby is crying and you need to order your new Bee ’em. The box for xDrive50i sounds about right. Tick. Oh no, you’ve just bought a twin-turbo 4.4-litre V8 you muppet, and this is West Dulwich, not the Wild West. Say hello to burbling around and getting 16.1mpg urban, or 22mpg if you’re careful on a longer run. The xDrive40d would have saved you £4k, and with 37.7mpg, you wouldn’t be funding the Shell Christmas party.
Honda CR-V 2.0 i-VTEC
Honda’s latest ‘soft roader’ is ideal for families, thanks to its spacious cabin, reliability and tough build quality. The CR-V even has rear seats that flip down at the pull of a lever. It’s a relaxing place to be, so don’t ruin it with a screaming VTEC. This petrol engine might find fans amongst Civic owners, but with your family, luggage and a wet dog all aboard, you’ll bemoan the lack of low down torque and your partner will think you’re trying to be emulate Lewis Hamilton as you desperately try to unlock peak power at a screaming 6,500rpm.
Range Rover Vogue SE
We love the new Range Rover. It can go anywhere off road and is rivalled only by limousines on it. But do you need it? Have you ever popped out to get a paper and ended up traversing the sand dunes of Morocco? We didn’t think so. Let us point you in the direction of the Range Rover Sport, it sits on the same platform, has the same badge, looks just as good on your drive and, crucially, it’s a whopping £20,000 cheaper.
Mercedes SLS AMG Roadster
The SLS AMG is a beautiful car, there’s no two ways about it, but you’d be a fool to choose the convertible. Why? Because the coupe has gullwing doors. Gullwing doors! Owning a car with those showstoppers should be on everyone’s bucket list. Hell, drive around with those gullwing suckers open all day long if you want a bit of extra air in the cabin, but don’t trade them for doors of the sort you can get on a Ford Fiesta. And for goodness sake don’t give Mercerdes-Benz an extra £10,000 for ruining one of the most iconic designs of our generation.
Aston Martin Vanquish
We love the Vanquish. Outside of the One-77, it’s probably the best looking Aston Martin on the planet. We’d sell our grandmothers to own one, but the money we earned from the old lady would go way further if we went for its V12 Vantage S cousin. Both cars use the same engine, but the Vantage S is way faster and is the only mass-produced Aston that can smash past 200mph. It’s also fifty thousand pounds cheaper. Why pay more and get less?