PH has a Volkswagen Passat R-Line in at the moment; without giving away the verdict of an upcoming review, it's proving to be quite the long-distance cruiser. 272hp, long gears and adaptive dampers make munching hundreds of miles at outside lane pace an effortless occasion for the driver - especially when adaptive cruise handles the pedals, and lane keep assist reduces the steering load. It practically drives itself on the motorway, with the soft, fleshy thing behind the wheel there simply to ensure all remains in check while they listen to podcasts and work through a family-sized pack of Maltesers.
At the other end of the automotive bookshelf we find cars like the Ginetta G40R. This back-to-basics two-door does not understand how to regulate its own speed, nor does it recognise the importance of white lane lines or have space for bags of chocolate. The soft, fleshy thing behind the steering wheel is so integral to the process of driving it that they're best held tight in place via a set of harnesses, to avoid misreading the messages passed through its chassis. The G40R is a genuine G40 racing car with little more than numberplates slapped onto its nose and bum to keep the fellows at the DVLA happy. It does not, like so much and the Passat in particular, practically drive itself.
Many of those who've raced G40s will tell you of the challenge provided by these Yorkshire-made machines. Indeed, a short stint in one at Brands Hatch a few years back showed to this wannabe racer just how 'agile' they can be, with high-speed oversteer down Paddock Hill Bend confirming that the G40 is a car that needs to be learned before it gives up the goods. Learn to work with its natural nimbleness, however - enabled by a supermini-sized wheelbase and 850kg kerbweight - and the G40 quickly turns into one of the most rewarding driver's cars money can buy.
The naturally-aspirated 2.0 Duratec under the bonnet has a Fiesta ST-matching 200hp, but with so little mass 60mph comes in just 5.5 seconds - and that's with a five-speed manual gearbox, rather than the sequential bolted into the G40's higher-spec siblings. Drive is transmitted to the rear wheels via a limited-slip differential, while double wishbone suspension at the front and rear gives the car fantastic body control and athletic responses to driver inputs. Where a Passat is deliberately rubberised, the G40R is unfiltered and pure. And brilliantly fast as a result.
That does, of course, all come at great cost. Only a madman would set off for a long motorway stint in the G40R, and they'd have to be a fan of heavy steering, road noise and a fidgety ride. G40Rs, even with an MOT certificate to permit their use on the streets, are often best transported on a trailer to open roads or the race track, where the car's motorsport roots enable it to hammer around lap after lap with no brake fade and consistent pace. G40Rs are not cheap, at more than £43k, but they're a league ahead of Porsche Caymans and similar sports cars in this regard.
Today's Spotted looks to be a good example that draws a nice bridge between a proper racing car and those road-focussed equivalents. This 2014 car has covered 5,500 miles, which is a decent distance for a G40R, likely thanks in part to the fitment of air conditioning and a heated windscreen, although with a roll cage and fire extinguisher on board, you'd be hard pressed to describe this as anything less than a racing car for the road. That being said, at £26,000 it's also firmly in hot hatch territory and therefore a significant chunk less than similar-aged Porsches. Although you do at least get a radio in those...
SPECIFICATION - GINETTA G40R
Engine: 1,999cc, in-line 4-cyl (Ford Duratec)
Transmission: 6-speed manual, rear-wheel drive
Power (hp): 200@6,700rpm
Torque (lb ft): 140@5,000rpm
MPG: 29mpg (Ginetta figure)
First registered: 2014
Recorded mileage: 5,500
Price new: c. £43,200
Yours for: £26,000