When the third generation Impreza was unleashed on the world in 2007, many shocked gasps echoed throughout the automotive world. Gone was the menacing saloon shape of the previous generations - even ‘bug eye’ cars have an angry aura around them - and in their place was a fairly non-descript hatchback.
Once the initial shock had subsided and our eyes had adjusted, it was clear the WRX STI version this hatch spawned was actually pretty hot. It had a wider track, and the flared arches this necessitated gave it the aggressive stance it desperately needed. The 2.5-litre engine makes 304bhp, and a mode selector allows the driver to select between either 35/65 or 50/50 front-rear torque distribution.
As new, the WRX STI could be had for about £30,000, however the intervening four years haven’t been kind - you can now grab one of these rally-bred monsters from about £16,000. From 2011-onwards, you could even have your WRX STI in the more traditional saloon shape.
With the plethora of E46s owned by CT staff, it’s not often the E92 M3 gets mentioned around these parts, but now is its time to shine thanks to the cruel mistress that is depreciation. If you bought your M3 as new it would have cost you somewhere north of £50,000, however used E92 prices are now homing in on £25,000.
For your cash you get the iconic S65 V8, which was introduced with this car, and is hidden beneath a proud bonnet bulge. 414bhp, 295lb ft of torque, and 0-62mph in a blink under five seconds make this one serious performance car.
This is not just a C-Class with a bigger engine and a few shiny exterior bits, oh no. The W204 was overhauled by AMG to make the C63, and the results were gobsmacking. Styling that could catch the eye among far more exotic machinery and an engine that could spin the rear wheels if you so much as coughed too close to the accelerator combined to create a fearsome machine.
Much like the M3 it faced off against above, the C63 was yours from £50,000+. Affalterbach’s finest has held its value a little better than the Beemer, so finding a car for sale under £30k is tricky. Still, it’s a helluva lotta car for the cash, and if you’ve got your haggling hat on you might just be able to dip down towards the hallowed 50 per cent mark.
The Nissan GT-R is already a performance bargain when new. It has the performance to keep far more extreme and expensive machinery honest, so the fact that these cars are now solidly below £40,000 makes them an absolute steal. All-wheel drive security and blistering performance for a splash more cash than a new Civic Type R. I know which I’d rather have…
The Ferrari F430 is a modern classic. It has simple, stunning styling that has stood the test of time - this car was introduced 11 years ago, can you believe that? As new, £120,000 would’ve been your starting point for this Prancing Horse, however these days you can get one for just £60,000.
Let’s be honest, just is a relative term here - it’s about £60,000 more than I could afford, for example - but when you look at what you get for the cash you start to see why it’s appealing. For a start, that engine; the 4.3-litre V8 was one of Ferrari’s finest, naturally-aspirated units, making 483bhp. It sounds utterly fantastic, and in the Scuderia I’d argue it’s one of the greatest engine sounds in any production car.