Let’s get one thing clear straight off the bat. If you want a Porsche Cayman GT4, get one. You won’t be disappointed, as editor Inwood found out in Scotland last year.
It’s a five-star car for a reason. The mid-engined, rear-wheel-drive layout affords impeccable handling, while the howling 4.0-litre flat-six offer up 309kW and 420Nm.
It’s all very engaging, especially the tactile six-speed manual and three handily placed pedals. It’s a raw experience, but then, that’s what you want it to be. It’s a race car for the road. Corners mean more than its 0-100km/h time of 4.4 seconds. But what else could you get for $207,000 new or used?
991 PORSCHE 911 GTS (2014-2016)
Yes, of course there has to be a 911 in this mix. A brand-spanking 992 Carrera is just out of reach, but a second-hand atmo 991 GTS isn’t. Full-blown GT products aside, the 3.8-litre flat six (316kW at 7500rpm and 440Nm at 5750rpm) in the GTS stands among the pinnacle of naturally aspirated Carreras.
The ground-breaking (at the time), but slightly controversial seven-speed manual is available, as is the rapid-fire seven-speed PDK which enables 0-100km/h to occur in 4.0 seconds.
You could find a GT3 of the 996 variety for less than this kitty allows – hopping around the $140,000 mark - but a good quality 997 GT3 is a stretch and a 991 GT3 entirely out of the ballpark.
LOTUS EVORA GT 410 SPORT (2020)
If you’re talking mid-engined, weight-conscious, rear-drive coupes, then Lotus springs to mind. However, these days the English brand doesn’t just built lithe chassis and engines with ‘enough’ grunt.
Instead, the Evora GT 410 Sport gains an angry supercharged V6 with 306kW and 410Nm (thanks, in part, to Toyota). Carbonfibre is splashed around generously, and while the number on the scale isn’t as small as you’d think, 1361kg isn’t exactly raising Jenny Craig alarm bells.
Grippy Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tyres, rear drive and a Torsen limited-slip diff equal $194,990-worth of fun. There’s even spare change in the budget for some track days to boot.
MERCEDES-AMG GT (2014-present)
Okay, the AMG GT isn’t quite as cool as the SLS it replaced or as focused as the Cayman GT4, but it’s still endowed with a very long bonnet and a raging 4.0-litre twin-turbo bent-eight.
It’s not short on shove, either, with the V8 pumping out 384kW/670Nm in S guise and 410kW/680Nm for the C. Both can be had second-hand for around the $200,000 mark, while the latter also comes in a Roadster version. You’ll get to 100km/h in 4.0 seconds or less, and the downright dirty soundtrack is addictive.
It’s full of drama and the cabin-back layout means you sit virtually over the rear wheels, too. It’s a very different flavour to the GT4, but one that can be as enticing in its own way.
FERRARI 612 SCAGLIETTI (2004-2011)
An often forgotten Ferrari, and one that juxtaposes the GT4’s hardcore nature with grand-touring ability. Although it, too, has an epic symphony, yet it’s vastly different thanks to the screaming 5.7-litre V12 nestled within the front axle.
It produces 397kW at a rather lofty (for a big V12) 7250rpm and generates 588Nm at 5250rpm. The 1850kg cruiser reaches 100km/h in 4.0 seconds and will go on to a top speed of 320km/h.
A refined version of the six-speed automated manual gearbox, or F1 transmission as it was coined, made its way into the 612, while the chassis formed the basis for the 599 GTB. However, be prepared for a steep maintenance bill.
CHEVROLET CAMARO 2SS; HONDA CIVIC TYPE R; VOLVO XC60 (2020)
Here come the curve balls. Or triple treats, you could say. You could easily swap in a Ford Mustang GT, but the $85,990 Camaro 2SS covers the V8 muscle quotient well. Especially with 339kW/617Nm to play with at the rears and a six-speed manual.
Then, in the middle of the garage, is the Honda Civic Type R. At $51,900, this controversially styled hot hatch is virtually without dynamic flaws. And its 2.0-litre 228kW/400Nm four-cylinder turbo proves the Japanese manufacturer well and truly still knows what it is doing.
With cruising and cornering taken care of, the Wheels Car of the Year-winning Volvo XC60 is there to take care of family duties. In $71,990 T5 Inscription guise it is classy enough for the school run, comfortable for holiday road trips and peppy with its 187kW/350Nm boosted four-pot.
FORD FIESTA ST; AUDI S4 AVANT; FORD RANGER RAPTOR (2020)
An ultimate three-car garage? Not quite… but it’s a bloody good one. Granted, this one’s a little cheeky because the $31,990 Ford Fiesta ST is still not officially on sale down under as yet (although we’ve driven it overseas). However, it will be very soon – and going by our overseas impressions, we want the 147kW/290Nm hot hatch in our garage.
The $102,900 Audi S4 Avant has a dual purpose of being the family wagon and the weekend apex-carver – let’s just hope no-one gets car sick, including the dog. The delicious 260kW/500Nm turbo V6 will also have you at 100km/h in just 4.9 seconds.
And of course, the Ranger Raptor can’t be forgotten for its mud-slinging, bush-bashing ability for $76,490. It’s a riot.