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How to buy a serious performance car for the price of a family hatchback (and 3 models to see first)

Want a beast on a family-wagon budget? Look no further.
Dec 4th 2017, 2:37 PM 5,063 0

WHEN IT COMES to buying a family car, there are many things you need to consider.

Boot space should be large enough to accommodate family weekends away, weekly shopping duty and of course, that occasional trip the Swedish flat-pack furniture store.

Sufficient room for the kid/in-laws/friends that always end up getting you to drive (delete as appropriate) also needs to be taken into consideration. Not to mention running costs, so you might be looking at getting a diesel for all those miles you do.

Then again, you could also buy any of these for the same money as a new family hatchback, so…

1. Porsche Cayman (2005-2013)

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Forget what the purists might say about the 911 if you want a Porsche that delivers a sublime driving experience go for a Cayman. The mid-engined 2.7-litre has near-perfect balance and provides excellent levels of grip making it a joy to drive hard without becoming a handful.

It was based on the Boxster but is held in a higher regard. By having a fixed roof the rigidity is improved, and the sportier Cayman S was bought by many over the 911. The fact that it has a 260-litre boot means it is reasonably practical although it will cost you more to tax than the average family car.

Still, it continues to be a sought-after car today, so buying and running for a year or two won’t cost you all that much in the end if you get the right one. There’s a 2007 model here for under €20k.

2. Maserati Quattroporte (2004-2013)

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Okay, so we’re going to blur the lines a little here by including a family car that has sports car DNA and performance.

The Maserati Quattroporte (meaning four-door in Italian) is now becoming a reasonably cheap car to buy. It is a brave choice though, as its oily bits aren’t the cheapest to maintain and if you choose one of the early examples you could be looking into something of a money pit.

But if you stick to the maintenance schedule diligently then aside from those costs it should be capable of daily driving. Prices aren’t huge for these and thanks partly to the Celtic Tiger years there’s still quite a selection around on the used market. So if you fancy a four-door Italian saloon with a Ferrari-sourced engine producing 400hp, shop around.

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3. Jaguar XK (2006-2015)

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When it comes to sports cars, Jaguar has some good pedigree. Most will know its most famous car, the E-Type, but go back further and it was the XK name that represented Jaguar on the sports car scene.

These days it’s the F-Type but before that was the XK8 series from 2006. It was powered by a smooth 4.2-litre V8 initially, which was increased to a 5.0-litre unit later on. Its styling is classic Jaguar, with a sloping roofline and long bonnet. The convertible version retained the classic fabric roof and 2+2 seating.

Although it is more of a GT car than outright sports car, it could still cover ground at an impressive rate, but its weight does come to the fore on tighter sections of road. The boot is large enough to be practical, but those rear seats are a pinch even for the kids.

More: How to buy a great compact crossover for €12k – and 4 models you need to see first>

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Dave Humphreys


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