Last week, Car Throttle producer Ethan swaggered into CT HQ carrying what he called "my new baby". He was not carrying a small human, nor was he wielding the keys to a hot new motor. Naturally, I was confused what he was on about. Turns out that Ethan's "baby" was a new MacBook Pro Retina. Apparently it's the billy bollocks of all laptops, but my first reaction was to call him a cock and to dive into the small ads to show him what cars his £1300 could have bought him instead. Here are my top five contenders:
1. Renaultsport Clio 172
The Clio 172 is still regarded as one of the best hot hatches money can buy. Its highly strung 2.0-litre engine produces (you guessed it) 172hp, which makes for some interesting reading: 0-62mph flies by in 7.2sec and you'll hit 138mph flat out. The Clio's greatest attribute is it's no-nonsense approach to life and wheel cocking, corner crucifying nature - £1200 is all you need for this pocket rocket.
2. BMW 540i V8
Sorry Ethan, but for the price of that laptop, you can also afford a V8-powered BMW 5-series. Its 4.0-litre warhead produces 286bhp, which will see you on your way to 155mph (limited) after your smokey 0-62mph dash in 6.5sec. For around £1350 you'll sit on the finest leather surrounded with wood and all the gubbins. The 540i is one of the best Q cars too.
3. Fiat Coupe 20V Turbo
If you've got a decent subscription of 'brave pills' in your bathroom cupboard, then the £1300 Coupe could be the car for you. Designed by Chris Bangle (exterior) and Pininfarina (interior), the Coupe's powered by a five-pot, turbocharged 2.0 - going fast on a shoestring budget really doesn't look sexier. Granted, there are reliability issues (FIAT - Failure in Automotive Technologies), but when all is well, this 220bhp Coupe will drag you to 62mph in 6.5sec before reaching its 155mph top speed.
4. Volvo V70 2.3 R
It would have been rude of us not to have included a fast estate, so here is the awesome Volvo V70 R. Like the Fiat Coupe, power comes courtesy of a 5-cyl engine. The Volvo's unit produces 240bhp, which will launch you and a wardrobe to 62mph in 7sec. £1250 bags you leather, wood, and another great Q car.
5. Toyota MR2 GT T-Bar
While not the fastest car on this list, the T-Bar is the most entertaining option for the summer. The two-section glass roof stows easily behind the rear seats, which means you can enjoy tanning on the go. The MR2's 2.0-litre is no lightweight either: thanks to 168bhp, you'll achieve 62mph in 7.7sec ahead of its 137mph top speed. There are also monstrously fast MR2 turbos around, but you'll need to top up the £1300 kitty by £1k for a decent one.
So there you have it, Ethan. While you have fun playing with your 'Retina Display' Mac, the rest of us will be driving the balls off some affordable and epically fun motors!
Any other cars we need to show Ethan?