The best sports cars your money can buy in 2014
The perfect sports car is more than the sum of its parts; it is more than cutting edge materials and precision engineering. The perfects sports car is like a magic wand in Harry Potter - it picks its owner; it feels right on every level and matches the abilities of the driver.
However, sometimes it takes a push in the right direction to find your magic wand. This is a quick guide to the best sports cars that money can get you in 2014.
£195,000 - McLaren 12C Spider
At just shy of 200 grand, the McLaren 12C Spider is up against some stiff thoroughbred competition; but it unequivocally blows them out of the water.
Its twin-turbo charged 3.8 litre V8 can muster up a whopping 616bhp resulting in a 0-60 time of just 3.1 seconds and can reach the 100mph mark in just over seven seconds.
Despite this awesome power, the ride is beautifully well-controlled; so much so that it is easily the best drive of all the supercars out there - bar none.
McLaren is known to focus on substance over style and while the 12C Spider is certainly not an eye sore, the same holds true for this piece of precision engineering.
£58,500 - The Jaguar F-Type
With an excitable 3.0 litre supercharged V6 engine that musters up to 380 horsepower, the F-Type has plenty of juice under the hood. For those with cash to spare, there is also a 5.0 litre 495-horsepower V8 model available enabling 0-60 in a little over four seconds.
The rear drive configuration, combined with Jaguar's refined suspension system allows for some incredible handling and the curvaceous styling is a real head turner.
£38,237 - Porsche Boxster
At just over £38,000, the Porsche Boxster is an absolute steal considering its pedigree lineage. With a 5.8 sec 0-60 time and a top speed of 164mph, it is slower than the cars reviewed above, but don't let that fool you - the Boxster is a dramatically powerful machine with plenty to offer.
Handling is sublime thanks to its flat body; at times the tyres seem superglued to the road, allowing for high speed cornering.
Unlike many sports cars, the ride is comfortable, with the cabin being a relatively quiet environment.
£13,000 - £25,000 - The new Mini Cooper
Many argue that Mini don't do enough to change things up when it comes to the look and feel of the world famous vehicle; but why should it? Mini owners will know that there are very few cars which are quite as fun to drive and the new model is no except ion.
The new Cooper is certainly still a Mini; albeit, a slightly chunkier one with a longer nose. However, under the hood, BMW have done quite a bit of tinkering. The Cooper comes with a three cylinder 1.5 litre engine and the Cooper S, a 2.0 four cylinder engine.
With a much more refined suspension system than previous models, the new Mini feels a bit more civilised . Mini enthusiasts may well say that their beloved hatchbacks are not meant to feel civilised but they needn't worry. Take the Mini through a corner and it is still one of the most joyous experiences known to man.
£23,845 - £33,370 - Audi TT
When the Audi TT was launched back in 1998, it was immediately hailed as a classic. Its design was nothing short of breath-taking, even if its performance left a lot to be desired. So how does the new Audi TT stack up against previous iterations?
Thankfully Audi's second album is also a triumph; in fact, it is better in almost every way. The curvaceous roofline, proud wheel arches and raised shoulders remind you that this is most certainly still the Audi TT. It is a bigger on almost every axis than previous generations - longer, taller and wider.
However, where the new Audi TT really differs is in performance. The car grips to the road like the wheels have been coated with industrial epoxy. There are an array of flavours to choose from, starting with the 1.8 litre engine, right through to the RS model, which is capable of achieving 0-60 in just 4.7sec and will keep going all the way up to 174mph (assuming the limiter is removed).
£20,000 - Mazda MX-5
The Mazda MX-5 has been around for a quarter of a century now. Usually after such a long period of time, models are either resigned to history books, become unattainable classics or, in the rarest of cases, continue to be produced. Somehow the MX-5 has managed to achieve all three. Old or new, this is still one of the most popular sports cars available today.
How has it managed such a feat? Well, it got the formula right 25 years ago and it has remained largely unchanged. A front-engine rear-wheel drive layout, a punchy engine, lightweight and handsome, the MX-5 lives and dies by the motto - 'if it ain't broke, don't fix it'.
That's not to say that the latest model does not offer up a few new tricks. The new bumper and grille keep the MX-5 looking current, while retaining its overall identity.
There are three main specs to choose from starting with the SE, then the Sport Tech and finally the Sport Tech Nav.
The Mazda MX-5 remains true to its heritage with sharp handling and precision steering. The 1.8 litre models is paired to the standard five-speed gearbox, whereas the 2.0 model enjoys a six-gear format. While the standard models only manage 0-60mph in 7.6 seconds, the BBR models, which have been tweaked by racing partners, manage a very respectable 4.9 seconds.
As they say 'you pays your money and you takes your choice', personally I'd choose the McLaren 12C so I'd better get saving.