Holden’s Commodore SS ute has been our sub-$50K Bang For Your Bucks (BFYB) champion for the last two years, but would that be so had we included used cars in the mix?
While we will never know categorically, we can survey how past racetrack stars have since fared on the used market – and enter into contention sub-$100K models that have depreciated.
So if a near-new racetrack star is on the purchasing cards, where would MOTOR look?
2014’s Ford Fiesta ST winner can now be had for under $15,000 for an early-2013 example – and that surely must be the driver’s car bargain of the century. Around Winton in that year’s testing the 134kW/240Nm 1.6-litre turbo Blue Oval product nabbed a 1min 45.1sec lap, only eight-tenths behind an FG X Falcon XR6 Turbo and ahead of eight costlier contenders.
A year later, in 2015, BFYB’s fastest lap time was 1min 42.1sec from the Holden Astra VXR. That 206kW/400Nm 2.0-litre turbo Lion, with standard Recaros and Brembos, can now be had for under $20,000 with a 20,000km odometer. That’s a lot of ‘fast’ for not much cash.
Last year the second-place (behind the SS ute) lap of the Peugeot 308 GTi 250 took its Winton time to 1min 40.1sec. While the 308 GTi 270 is the hero model with big brakes and a limited-slip differential (LSD), its now-defunct smaller sibling is no dynamic duffer. Incredibly, the 184kW/330Nm 1.6-litre turbo Frenchie – which weighs 1205kg, or 381kg less than the portly Astra VXR – can be had for $30,000 with only a few thousand kays showing.
Of course while those former Bang stars have fallen far in resale-value terms, there are also more expensive and focused sports cars that are just starting to fall under $50,000 used.
If the budget comes in just below that threshold, our first stop would be a 2015 Renault Megane RS275 Trophy-R. If the two-seat, adjustable Ohlins-damper-equipped French hot hatchback can tame the Nurburgring, then it will be difficult to beat on any local racetrack.
Although $61,990 plus on-road costs new, this 201kW/360Nm 2.0-litre turbo front-driven stripped-out special can now be purchased for around $45,000 – particularly for a rare (read ‘unwanted’) model de-optioned without audio and air-conditioning.
For around the same money, a 2015 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution Final Edition is also on the cards. It might as well not have audio and air-con given the horrid way the 2008 cabin has aged, but the 226kW/414Nm last bastion of an iconic model will make mince of any track day.
The all-wheel drive system, in particular, remains an absolute stand-out – although the steering and gearshift can’t provide the mini-Porsche 911 GT3 feel of the Renault Sport.
All-paw Japanese hero or front-drive French maestro? It would be a tough tussle, depending on the priorities. Either way, when it comes to used racetrack stars, we may not give out awards – but there’s plenty of bang for your buck to be found here.