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Looking for alternative options to your favourite track cars that do not compromise on comfort or practicality? We draw up a handy list!
Category: Car Buying Advice
Good body control, a high power-to-weight ratio and sharp handling. These are but bare essentials when it comes to proper fun around a track, but are frequently only achieved through a no-compromise setup that can cut on a track car's usability as an everyday vehicle.
Unfortunately, staying in Singapore also means a reasonable drive up North for your track days, so if you're the sort that's looking for something that can deliver you up North in reasonable comfort while packing along a good weekend's worth of luggage, here is our top pick of cars that strike a good compromise between both track day fun and everyday practicality!
Those looking for a hot hatch that performs on the track while still being great for the daily commute have always had one obvious choice: The Volkswagen Golf GTI. But we think the Seat Leon Cupra could be an equally capable contender for the segment.
For a start, the Leon Cupra shares the same MQB platform, EA888 engine, and other componentry with the GTI, giving it the same rear passenger and 380-litre boot space as the popular hatchback.
But where the Leon Cupra outshines its cousin is with its output, squeezing out 286bhp against the GTI's 227bhp, while losing only an additional 13kg in kerb weight.
Add to that the fact the Seat Leon Cupra has a sportier-looking instrument panel next to the GTI's and the Spanish cousin is already looking a like a far more appealing machine next to its German rival.
But the best part is perhaps the fact that the Seat can be purchased from just $152,999, a saving of $8,901 over the GTI's starting price of $161,900. More power in your track car for a lower price? Now that's practical thinking.
In a segment that embodies Colin Chapman’s philosophy of 'simplify, then add lightness', it should come as no surprise that Lotus' lightweight coupes - the Elise and Exige - have long been champions in this segment.
But the duo now have a new contender for the segment to deal with, and if you happen to be shopping for a lightweight coupe around the 200bhp mark, we think the Alpine A110 could be a worthy alternative to the Elise Sport 220, so long as you're willing to forgo the opportunity for open-top motoring.
And why so? Simple: The Lotus Elise Series 3 was first unveiled to the public in 2010, and the age of the platform shows. The car's notoriously tall and wide door sills make ingress and egress problematic, and the cabin has still stayed as spartan as ever, missing modern touches like a central infotainment display.
Does that mean that the Alpine is a car that has compromised on the pure driving experience? Not necessarily. Our review still found it to be a car with a fantastically sorted suspension, allowing the car to handle with precision and accuracy.
And should the Alpine's 174kg additional kerb weight and $28,800 dearer asking price weigh against it? Not so much we think, thanks to the Alpine's additional 31bhp, which brings its power-to-weight ratio back to a competitive level next to the Elise.
But perhaps the best part is the fact that the Alpine comes with a dual-clutch transmission, which is perfect for reducing the work necessary when driving back home through the traffic jams at Johor Bahru and the causeway.
The performance sedan segment has long been ruled by the German rivals: The BMW M3 and the Mercedes-AMG C63.
But what if you're looking for something that can take the edge off just a little for the daily commute?
We think shoppers in this segment looking for something that can deliver a more comfortable ride for the daily drive should give the Italian Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio a serious look.
In our review of the Giulia Quadrifoglio, we found the car to be capable of soaking up small bumps in the road in a way that its German rivals could never do once the car is set into its soft damper setting.
Other practical considerations? Well, the Giulia Quadrifoglio sports the same 480 litres of boot space as the outgoing F80 BMW M3, while matching the current C63 S for power output at 503bhp. This is even though the Alfa's price starts at $339,000, a sizable $137,888 saving over the Mercedes' $476,888.
And for that money, you get a bi-turbo 2.9-litre V6 engine that is related to Ferrari's own F154 V8, as well as a stunning exterior design that is both aggressive and dramatic.
Looking for the handling prowess and elegance of a two-seat sports coupe? For the longest time, those shopping within this segment (and looking for something more upmarket than the Mazda MX-5) have defaulted to the Porsche 718.
But what if reality hits and you now really ought to be buying something with four seats to bring about your third member of the family? Or perhaps you could now be looking for something with a little more boot space so you can bring along the necessary luggage for a weekend getaway to pair with your tack day up North?
Don't despair, for there is no need to shop for an SUV just yet. We think that BMW's M235i Gran Coupe could be a viable alternative for those looking for an alternative to the Porsche 718 Cayman 2.0, but still could use an extra rear bench.
Alright, so the 2 Series Gran Coupe isn't a coupe in the strictest sense, but having those extra rear doors is going to be invaluable when installing a child seat or when you need to take a second passenger.
And those that need to bring a fair amount of luggage with them will find the added convenience of only having to open the boot in order to obtain 430 litres of luggage space, as opposed to the 718 Cayman's 405 litres, which is separated into two compartments in the front and rear.
For sure, you will not get the handling balance and poise of a mid-engined coupe, but the BMW 235i Gran Coupe's output, at 302bhp and 450Nm of torque, easily matches that of the two-litre Porsche's, at 300bhp and 380Nm of torque. Our first drive of the BMW 235i Gran Coupe also found the car capable of delivering a high level of engagement and entertainment thanks to a well-weighted and communicative steering, and high levels of grip on offer.
Not entirely convinced? The BMW 235i Gran Coupe is also available from $238,888, a $35,100 saving over the Porsche 718 Cayman 2.0. That's easily enough to pay for a good number of track days and weekend escapades up North.
*All prices accurate as of 14 May 2020.
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