If I say enormous top speed, would you think Vauxhall? Unlikely. And yet the five-door Vauxhall Vectra VXR stunned its contemporaries in 2005 by rewarding those brave enough to look down when flat out with a 161mph readout.
But, of course, you probably don’t live near an abandoned airfield and your commute is unlikely to include a stretch of autobahn. No matter: even at more regular speeds, this Vectra VXR is a riot to drive.
It’s powered by the same twin-scroll 2.8-litre V6 turbo engine as a Saab 9-3, but with an extra 5bhp pushing it up to 276bhp, along with 259lb ft of torque. And it offers a real shot of analogue hot saloon thrills. Hit 3000rpm in full-bore acceleration and the prodigious amounts of torque steer turn the wheel into a rattlesnake in your hands, and the firm low-speed ride is a constant reminder that – despite the roomy interior – you are not in something that’s remotely sensible. And sure, it isn’t that comfortable around town, but if you do spend most of your time on the motorway, then you’ll appreciate its impressive high-speed stability.
This example from 2009 is knocking on the door of 100,000 miles, but you get it with 12 months of MOT and dealer warranty. And it looks to have a pretty mint history. The advisories on its last MOT suggest it may need a new set of tyres but, apart from that, it’s good to go. A part-leather interior, front and rear parking sensors and climate control add a dash of big-car luxury to this top-speed hoodlum. Its £25,000 price when new made it a tough one to justify, but less than £6000 now gets you raw pace and space.
Jaguar F-Type SVR, £60,000: VXR: 161mph? Pfft. The F-Type SVR is a two-seat monster that will hit the double-ton. And this one is almost half its original price. It’s nicely specced, with carbon-ceramic brakes and a tasteful deployable rear spoiler (not the fixed, yobbish one).