To Steal or Not to Steal | Front-engine coupes

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Yes, okay โ€“ itโ€™s a TT. The unsportsmanlike car; an Audi A3 in an evening dress. And of course, youโ€™re going to have to live with the pitying stares of anyone whoโ€™s ever bought a Porsche Boxster. But itโ€™s good. You will live: the original TT is a design icon. The original Boxster is a blancmange by comparison.

Alright, fine โ€“ the Boxster revolves around the TT. And the Caymans are the distant horizon; a place the TT could only reach if Audi had thrown the baby out with the bathwater and moved the engine along with just about everything else. But it didnโ€™t do that. Instead, he trusted his California design office to ignite a big ruddy fire with the general public. Which he duly did.

Easy to forget now, as the current TT slips below the waterline of abandonment, but the first model hit the shelves like Haribo at a bowling alley. Moose test, shmoose test โ€“ people descended on it like Knebworth tickets. First because it looked like the business, and second because it didnโ€™t cost much. That enthusiasm has meant Audi has sold like a billion units, meaning you can arguably have the best version today for the fiscal equivalent of shekels and fluff. And even if you can, you absolutely should. CN

Thereโ€™s never been a time in history when the Monaro hasnโ€™t looked old school. It was born like that; offering so many V8s for so little expense (compared to other coupes) was at the heart of its appeal. The fact that he also looks smart and drives well only added to the charm. It was really at the price of a TT alternative, except it didnโ€™t drive like an A3, as it packed a 5.7 V8 and drove the rear axle exclusively.

Even in an industry that included sports cars as capable as the Nissan 350Z, BMW Z4 Coupe and Mazda RX-8, the big Vaux stood out; that was before right-hand-drive Mustangs, remember, and nothing else offered such a combination of talent. One that UK buyers could hardly get enough of.

A decade and a half since the Monaroโ€™s demise and even with everything going on, it still seems good value for money. Maybe because of what actually happens โ€“ a Monaro will cost a bit more than a TT in taxes and fuel. But in a world of ยฃ20,000 EP3 Civic Type R, the Monaroโ€™s case looks compelling at under ยฃ15,000: this 2006 car has only done 35,300 miles and comes with a new service plus some practical upgrades . Maybe not the bargain it once was, but itโ€™s hard to think of many more entertaining coupes for supermini money. Mo

Not too long ago you could hop into the classifieds and find a clean manual BMW E46 M3 for just over ยฃ10,000. How things have changed. Now youโ€™re looking at well over double for a car with a fixed roof and good health.

But donโ€™t worry, thereโ€™s another way to get your hands on an E46 thatโ€™s much rarer than most M cars: the Alpina B3 3.3. Admittedly, it wonโ€™t be as rewarding when youโ€™re really chasing it, but the B3 is for those times when you want to get somewhere very quickly and very comfortably โ€“ that is, every time you get on it. And, yes, it can be hard to justify spending the best part of ยฃ15,000 on a car that doesnโ€™t look all that different from a 320Ci โ€“ but isnโ€™t that the point?

Nobody needs to know that you could match an M3 in a 0-60mph sprint, or that youโ€™re driving one of the 90 examples built for the UK and 275 worldwide. It also defies the laws of depreciation and, with only 75,000 miles on the odometer, itโ€™s barely broken in. For an Alpina, of course. CT


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