Yes, alright - it’s a TT. The anti-sports car; an Audi A3 in a party frock. And sure, you’re going to have to live with the pitying looks of everyone who ever bought a Porsche Boxster. But that’s fine. You’ll live: the original TT is a design icon. The original Boxster is a blancmange in comparison.
Okay, fine - the Boxster runs rings round the TT. And the Cayman is the far horizon; a place the TT could only reach if Audi had thrown the baby out with the bath water, and relocated the engine along with just about everything else. But it didn’t do that. Instead it trusted its Californian design office to ignite a ruddy great fire under the general public. Which it duly did.
Easy to forget now, as the current TT slips under the waterline of abandonment, but the first model hit the shelves like Haribo in a bowling alley. Moose test, shmoose test - people descended on it like Knebworth tickets. Primarily because it looked the business, and secondly because it didn’t cost the earth. That enthusiasm meant Audi sold like a billion units, which in turn means you can have arguably the best version today for the fiscal equivalent of shekels and lint. And while you can, you absolutely should. NC
There is no point in history where the Monaro didn’t seem old school. It was born that way; offering so much V8 for so little outlay (relative to other coupes) was central to its appeal. That it also looked smart and drove well only added to the charm. This really was priced as a TT alternative, except it didn’t drive like an A3, because it packed a 5.7 V8 and drove the back axle exclusively.
Even in a sector that included sports cars as good as the Nissan 350Z, BMW Z4 Coupe and Mazda RX-8, the big Vaux stood out; this was before right-hand drive Mustangs, remember, and nothing else offered quite such a combination of talents. One which UK buyers could hardly get enough of.
A decade and a half since the Monaro’s demise and even with everything going on it still looks conspicuously good value. Perhaps because of what’s going on, in fact - a Monaro will cost rather more than a TT to tax and fuel. But in a world of £20k EP3 Civic Type Rs, the Monaro’s case looks a compelling one at sub-£15k: this 2006 car has covered just 35,300 miles and comes with a fresh service as well as some handy upgrades. Maybe not the bargain it once was, but it’s hard to think many more entertaining coupes for supermini money. MB
It wasn’t that long ago that you could jump into the classifieds and find a clean, manual BMW E46 M3 for a little over £10,000. How things have changed. Now, you’re looking at well over double that for a car with a fixed roof and a clean bill of health.
But worry not, there’s another way to get your hands on an E46 that’s rarer considerably rarer than most M cars – the Alpina B3 3.3. Granted, it’s not going to be quite as rewarding when you’re really chasing it, but the B3 is for those times where you want go somewhere very quickly and very comfortably - i.e. every time you get in it. And, yes, it may be difficult to justify spending the best part of £15k on a car that doesn’t look all that different to a 320Ci - but isn’t that the point?
Nobody has to know that you could match an M3 in a 0-60mph sprint, or that you’re driving one of only 90 examples built for the UK and 275 worldwide. It’s also defying the laws of depreciation, and, with only 75,000 miles on the clock, it’s barely run in. For an Alpina, that is. CT
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