I won’t condone it, but I can certainly understand how it happens. You start off wanting something quick, elegant and genuinely rewarding to drive, but it also has to feel special. The budget? Unlike most of us dreamers, you actually have enough cash to make this happen: £150,000. That, or you at least have the ability to pay £10,000 up front then around £2000 monthly. So you head to the classifieds and begin your search for that noblest of breeds – the grand tourer, perhaps from Gaydon. Or even Maranello.
But hold your emblematic horses. Circumstances mean door fours and good acreage in the back are non-negotiable, and herein lies your problem. What to do? Separating your desirables from your must-haves and going for two cars instead of one is an obvious option. But deep down, you know that obtaining something truly epic is going to mean putting all your money into one machine. A hypersaloon might just do it, but finding the right one is hard, and its sense of specialness will always be open to question. There’s the fabulous new BMW M5 CS, which somehow justifies its £140,000 asking price, though you wonder whether it’s simply too uncouth and too upright. Audi RS7? Too ordinary. Maserati Quattroporte Trofeo? Just no.
In the end, ‘quick, elegant, rewarding and special’ gives way to the much more achievable combination of ‘quick, lavish, spacious and special’, which is why there’s now a Bentley Bentayga on your driveway when what you really wanted was an Aston Martin DB11. And that’s how it happens.
However, there does exist a way to get the GT soul, or at least a very decent portion of it, in a practical format. It’s the way of the lesser-spotted four-door performance ‘coupé’, and we’re here today because a new one has loped into town (or rather, Alston village, in the North Pennines). And to see just how good it is, we’ve brought along another car from this small clique – in Autocar’s opinion, the car of this small clique – both of them hailing from the same corner of the world.