"High performance" hatchback/saloons. Worth the premium?

"High performance" hatchback/saloons. Worth the premium?

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white_goodman

Original Poster:

3,667 posts

156 months

Friday 30th April
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Reviews for the latest M/AMG/Audi RS product are often accompanied in the comment section by comments like, what, 80k for a 2-Series/C-Class/Audi A3 and you could get a 911/Cayman for that money etc, so my question is for those of you that have taken the plunge on the high performance "halo" version of a regular car is was that premium worth it? Conversely, perhaps you could have afforded the "halo" model but chose to save 50% or so and buy the vanilla version. Do you think that you're still benefiting from the engineering effort that went into producing the "halo" version and still getting almost as much/enough car for significantly less or do you own the lesser version and still aspire to the "halo" product anyway?

This question is not exclusive to the above products. You could apply it to hatchbacks too ie Fiesta ST vs. Ecoboost, Golf GTI/R vs. the regular TSI/TDI or even apply it to a base Cayman/911 vs. a GT product.

Having owned both the "halo" model and mid-range models of various cars, I am a little undecided. Having owned and experienced a 205 GTi, E30 325i, Corrado VR6 and "Blobeye" Impreza WRX, I would say that the "halo" models of those cars were worth every penny but then I didn't buy any of them new, so it's a bit of a different proposition. In the Impreza in particular, the engine made the car for me and having also driven a regular NA Impreza of that vintage, it was not a car that I would consider buying in that guise, as the performance felt very flat and it just highlighted other shortcomings of the car, such as the very cheap-feeling interior.

Conversely, the mk4 Golf GTi was such an underwhelming driving experience that it didn't really offer anything for me over a regular 1.6/TDI SE model. The standard mk5 Golf drove really well, so prior to driving it, it was difficult to see how the GTI version could offer much over and above it but somehow it did subjectively. I have a mk7 Golf 1.4 TSI right now and it's a nice enough car if a little unexciting. Naturally, I would have gravitated towards a GTI/R if it had been in budget at the time but would those cars feel more special than my car or like mine but just a bit quicker and would something completely different and set up with a bit more of a driver focus from the "get go" like a GT86 or MX5 feel more special than a "tarted-up" shopping hatchback?

I do reject the arguments against the "halo" cars a little though. They're not exactly a new thing and those arguments don't always apply in the real world. How many sales reps in the 80s drove a Sierra 1.6L and felt better about their choice because the Cosworth existed and they felt that a Cosworth was a car that they could reasonably aspire to and practically use vs. a Ferrari or Porsche, which would have seemed totally out of reach? Today you can drive a BMW 520d with an M Sport bodykit that doesn't look unlike the MD's M5, so if anything the connection is even closer there than it was 30 years ago. I would of course love a Cayman GT4 but I live in the real-world and have two young kids, so need rear seats and a decent boot, so an M2 CS really is somewhat of a dream car for me. 80k is a lot of money though, so in my world, the M2 Competition or even the M240i seems like a more realistic/better value compromise but if I had the money, would I still want the M2 CS. Absolutely!

So, in your opinion, when you're looking at a high performance "halo" model based on a more humble hatchback/saloon/estate costing half the price in basic/mid-range spec, is the premium one worth paying, whether that be a Golf R vs. a Golf TSI, M2 CS vs. an M240i or an RS6 vs. a 3.0 TDI Avant or in objective/value terms, is the cheaper, lesser version the better car?

Every day a journey

486 posts

3 months

Friday 30th April
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My Mum used to have a M240i cabriolet.

It was fking ste.

Halo model my arse.

Over engineered pice of crap.

engine was good and it went like stink but just SUCH a horrible car.

CABC

4,149 posts

66 months

Friday 30th April
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No.

Get a 320 and a proper sports car.

Deep Thought

28,789 posts

162 months

Friday 30th April
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Every day a journey said:
My Mum used to have a M240i cabriolet.

It was fking ste.

Halo model my arse.

Over engineered pice of crap.

engine was good and it went like stink but just SUCH a horrible car.
With respect, the M240i isnt the halo model, nor is it an M car - that would be the M2.

And i think we're talking here about the hyper priced cars such as the A45S etc.

Deep Thought

28,789 posts

162 months

Friday 30th April
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white_goodman said:
So, in your opinion, when you're looking at a high performance "halo" model based on a more humble hatchback/saloon/estate costing half the price in basic/mid-range spec, is the premium one worth paying, whether that be a Golf R vs. a Golf TSI, M2 CS vs. an M240i or an RS6 vs. a 3.0 TDI Avant or in objective/value terms, is the cheaper, lesser version the better car?
We'd an A45 which had incredible performance and pace, but the new A45S is just crazy money for a 5 door hatch. I can sort of get the M2C pricing as at least its a coupe and has bespoke bodywork to help warrant the price (and it was well discounted at one point too).

I guess only the individual can decide if its worth the premium to them. Some people it will be, some it wont.


tril

291 posts

39 months

Friday 30th April
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I only have room for one car as I live in Zone 2, and I'm 30, so I don't really need anything massive. The RS3 fit the bill perfectly because it's practical, reasonably sized and it can be pretty civilised if you need it to be. However, if you want to have some fun (within reason) the engine and exhaust sound are absolutely phenomenal, especially because mine is tuned. I've also done a bit of work on the handling so it's a bit less neutral and it's great fun to drive, if a bit too fast for British roads really.

When I eventually move back out of London I'll probably keep my RS3 but will also have the freedom to buy more sports focused cars, which I'm looking forward to more than anything else lol. If I was in the position originally where I had the space for more than one I'd probably go for something more sedate as an everyday car and buy something Cayman/Exige etc flavoured.

Nickbrapp

3,965 posts

95 months

Friday 30th April
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The jump from a fiesta St Line to a a ST is more than likely worth it, the ST doesn’t have too much power, and a few quid more a month 2/3k more and you can have fun in it everyday


A golf R or S3, more than double the power of the standard most sold model in the 1.5 tsi, nudging £40k or more, probs too much power to ever use on the road

A M3, again no, worse ride, looks worse, too much power to enjoy legally.

A SVR Range Rover? Totally pointless just a show off chav model for footballers and company directors who sell supliments

A Audi RS6? Maybe 10 years ago still relevant but not it’s so chavvy and over styled it’s just another chav mobile and a bit of a one trick pony, going fast.


Although they all have a place I guess, lots of people need a practical car for everyday life but only have space for one car, but still kid themselves as a Peterhead and that they need the quick model, or like me, see a 2nd fun car as a waste when it’s just sitting around all week.

The standard models are so competent you really don’t need more for the road, and today with electric steering, turbo charged engines and the cooking models having decent power I’m not sure there’s a need for the sport model anymore.

Mr Tidy

13,819 posts

92 months

Saturday 1st May
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Going back many years I always wanted the "halo" model.

My Rover P6B was a 3500S, my MK2 Granada was a 2.8 Ghia, my MK2 Escort was an RS2000, my MK3 Capris were both 2.8 Injections, my MK3 Granada was a 2.8i Scorpio, etc.

Anyway in 2014 I bought a BMW Z4 3.0Si Coupe which was the cheaper option and a great car, but in 2019 I replaced it with a Z4M Coupe which is just so much more special - even if it costs way more to maintain.

Halo model for me every time if it is afordable!

samoht

2,243 posts

111 months

Saturday 1st May
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Ultimately if you want a car that's fast and practical, you have to get a high performance derivative of a regular saloon/estate. Value doesn't come into it, since a base engine version won't be fast, and a true sports car won't be practical.

Nicks90

281 posts

19 months

Saturday 1st May
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I think these halo cars are pointless crap and just used by marketing peeps as a marketing gimmick to sell 1.5 petrol versions to the masses.
The halo version of a golf is still a golf. Essentially the same chassis as used by the little 3pot 1l econobox model. Yes you can polish the chassis stiffness and throw 5k of suspension to MAKE it handle 400bhp... But it's still a mass produced cost minimised easy manufacture profit machine chassis for a car giant.

80k on a mass market hatch or 80k on a car that was designed from the outset as a sports car? Sorry but you'd have to be a dick head to go with an a45s or rs3 or any of that ilk.
Save a huge amount and go for the mid range. Still hugely fast and without a million computers keeping you on the road, fast enough to throw you into a lamp post or have your license nabbed by the boys in blue.
Then use the other 30k to buy and run a 5 year old sportscar as a 2nd car toy.

Edited to add, that's what I would do if I was daft enough to waste 80k on cars. I'd rather use my money on hookers and coke if I had that sort of wealth, but it's all theoretical as I'm poor.

Edited by Nicks90 on Saturday 1st May 00:57

white_goodman

Original Poster:

3,667 posts

156 months

Saturday 1st May
quotequote all
samoht said:
Ultimately if you want a car that's fast and practical, you have to get a high performance derivative of a regular saloon/estate. Value doesn't come into it, since a base engine version won't be fast, and a true sports car won't be practical.
All relative though, a 340i/340d or 3.0 TDI A6, even an Audi S3 is still bloody quick though by any standards, do you need to get the M3/RS3/RS6?

MrAverage

788 posts

92 months

Saturday 1st May
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I test drove the bmw m135i and was left very underwhelmed.

It was comfortable, quiet, very smooth and had no sensation of speed or fun.

If these other mega hatches feel the same then they must make a hugely fast and capable daily but devoid of any real character.

AC43

8,849 posts

173 months

Saturday 1st May
quotequote all
It depends on the car and what you want. I've had two "halo's" (C43's) and two "one-down-from-halo's" (E500's) all bought s/h at somewhere between 3 and 7 years old.

You get the largest or second-largest engine, some massive stoppers and the best tyres/wheels/springs/dampers in the range.

Inside, these cars come very highly specced anyway and the original owners usually stuck a load more kit in them.

I wouldn't buy one new but I think they're great value when the initial depreciation has happened.

stongle

4,122 posts

127 months

Saturday 1st May
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Performance model and Halo model are not the same. Its difficult to tell now with so many versions of cars; but it's been a long tradition. 205 Gti - not Halo, 205 GTI Mi16 Halo model. Imprezza WRX not Halo, 22B - Halo. Its still the same - M135 not Halo 1M or now M2 Halo model, then you get into the Renault and VW madness. These Halo models have always had massive premium / rarity, but little real world performance advantage over the performance versions; they differentiated on fairly massive diminishing returns. Rarity value for genuine Halo model IS probably worth the premium (over the longer term), but little real world gain. One thing that seems to have changed, is that the limited edition Halo model has in some instances morphed into a non-limited hyper-performance version. A45 S Plus being an example. If the A35 is already pretty ballistic (faster to 60 than an m140), the 45S Plus in a whole other category. But its still not a limited version. It's also only 56k, so someway short of Porsche comparisons (not sure the a45s plus buyer is the same as a 997 Turbo buyer which can be done for the same money).

It's become pretty confusing. Seems like you know have:

Eco / geriatric version
Lease / white box special
Looks fast version
Performance version
Hyper performance version
Halo model

To an enthusiast I suspect the last 2 are worth the premium - but that has little to do with the real world.

Edited by stongle on Saturday 1st May 10:39

LamedonM

76 posts

7 months

Saturday 1st May
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The Halo model, If you ask me they are worth it for someone that likes performance cars, especially when the only car and bought secondhand.

ruggedscotty

3,327 posts

174 months

Saturday 1st May
quotequote all
The halo model is always the best they do and the most expensive, but its used to add polish to the range...

the sales rep in his 2.0 tdi A4 can think he is in something similar to his CEO's RS4....

The reality is of course its worth the premium if you like cars and as said buying 2nd hand, as the cost of a new one is huge.

Ive always felt that the high performance hatchback sallon is a get out. a means for the car manufacturer to squeeze money out of the range and get publicity. the sierra cosworth was bred for saloon car racing, for motor sport. And the ruies of that motor sport required road going versions, the punter had to be able to go into a showroom in the high street and buy one. This is what gave rise or you could bet that the motor companies would probably not have bothered.

BMW and Merc used to have better performing cars on the go, that was their USP. and then they started chasing the money when they realised that they could not survive on simpe selling high performance to the masses. they had to have bread and butter saloons but with the perception of high performance...

I had a rental out the other day an A class 220 AMG diesel... basically a good car.. auto flappy paddles air con heated seats all the car you need.. lol with 187hp and 7s to 60 maybe a bit more than what you needed.

If your after bragging rights to having the halo then yup go for it, but in real world not on the race track or doing pikes peak are you really going to be runnign the car in the performance envelope that its designed for, sure you will never trouble it, but isnt that wasted money.

kambites

61,236 posts

186 months

Saturday 1st May
quotequote all
If you need the practicality they offer and can afford it, sure. Especially if you don't have space for more than one car.

Since I have space to park multiple cars, I think I'd always prefer to go for something dull and practical, and something interesting and impractical to sit beside it.

samoht

2,243 posts

111 months

Saturday 1st May
quotequote all
white_goodman said:
All relative though, a 340i/340d or 3.0 TDI A6, even an Audi S3 is still bloody quick though by any standards, do you need to get the M3/RS3/RS6?
I agree, there's often a second-tier model with still plenty of grunt for what's never going to be a sports car.

In my case I bought a C55 estate, having driven one the appeal of the V8 was irresistible over a C320 petrol or diesel. But it's basically an indulgence, for the sound and smoothness and reach of performance. Possibly I can't resist getting the 'top' model available, even if I don't really need it ;-)

I never considered it as an alternative to buying a sports car, I already have one and love it, but it can't carry bicycles. However I also don't consider that just because I have a sports car, my 'daily driver' should be slow.



cerb4.5lee

18,718 posts

145 months

Saturday 1st May
quotequote all
I'm a bit in the middle with this. When I swapped my E92 M3 for a E90 330i I didn't really miss the M3 because day to day the 330i did pretty much everything that the M3 did. Even the cabins were virtually identical so you do question why the M3 is so much more expensive. However there is definitely something nice for me in having the full fat M car though.

Leon R

1,481 posts

61 months

Saturday 1st May
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Having only halo models I can give my perspective.

I wanted the things that made them halo models (different, custom body, bespoke engine ect) if you don't want the things that make them the halo model they are an utter waste of money.