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MOTOR's 2018 Christmas slays: $100k rear-drive garage

By Daniel DeGasperi, 22 Dec 2018 News

Christmas slays $100k rear-drive garage news

Four rear-wheel drive bargains that put the presence in Chrissie presents

Apparently if you can’t be with the one you love, you love the one you’re with. Except when it comes to cars, though. Instead of buying, for example, a BMW M2 Competition for a just-on six-figure sum, why not snare a quartet of rear-wheel drive offerings instead?

Here we’ve chosen not just four different powertrains – naturally-aspirated four, inline turbo-six, atmo flat-six and V8 – but very distinct and distinguished characters.

One is best as a daily driver, the other for a track-attack, another for a sunny day on a tight mountain pass and then one to demolish cross-country kays. That’s a lot of ability for just on a hunge.

1. 2013 Subaru BRZ - $15k

We’ve only chosen the BRZ here, and not its Toyota 86 near-twin, because it was specified right in between the latter’s GT and GTS model grades. So you scored the better interior and 17-inch tyres, without leather and heated seats, basically. Anyway, these five-year-old coupes are now ducking under $15K, and that’s so good.

The 147kW 2.0-litre boxer four might not be the best daily, but it’s rev-happy and the delightful six-speed manual is perfectly suited to keeping the tacho needle in a flutter. Superb steering and chassis balance are BRZ/86 hallmarks – fit a set of great tyres and go for laps for days knowing that, being a Toyobaru, it won’t go wrong.

MOTOR comparison: BRZ tS v 86 Performance Pack v MX-5 RF Limited Edition

2. 2013 BMW M135i - $25k

Meet one of the best all-rounders for this money. Even the eight-speed automatic (though we’d still choose manual) is a fine fit with the 3.0-litre turbo six-cylinder that made 235kW at 5800rpm and 450Nm from 1250rpm all the way until 5000rpm. Yep, we know, in a hot hatchback that weighs 1445kg, or about VS Commodore mass…

Especially with optional adaptive suspension, and ideally with the circa-$5K-optional limited-slip diff, an M135i can be both hugely fast and enormously fun on a twisting country road. Yet with modern infotainment, relaxed urban manners, comfortable seats and badge-snob credibility, it is the rear-driver that’s all things to everyone.

MOTOR comparison: M135i v A45 v S3

3. 2006 Porsche 987 Boxster S - $30k

Steering perfection. Superb mid-engined balance. A Porsche boxer six with 206kW at 6200rpm and 320Nm from 4700rpm until 6000rpm, good for a 5.5sec 0-100km/h in a 1420kg roadster bodystyle. All for $30K. And that’s all you need to know, right?

Not only can you get the 987 generation of compact German rear-driver in base five-speed manual form for Polo GTI money, but this S version with the better six-speed manual is quick enough to dispatch with any similarly priced hot hatch in a straight line or through corners. As affordable weekend indulgences go, it doesn’t get any better.

4. 2007 Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG - $30k

Take all of the above, flip it and reverse it. The quickest car of this quartet is this 4.5sec 0-100km/h, 6.2-litre V8-engined brute that weighs 1840kg, with 378kW at 6800rpm and 630Nm at 5200rpm. And even a decade ago it had a seven-speed auto.

It couldn’t be any more different to the petite boxer Boxster, yet these days an example from the same year starts at $30K. It sounds good, rides well, is stacked with the usual Benz leathery luxury and will comfortably seat five.