Sportscars are cool, just about everyone wants one. But taking the plunge and buying one isn’t easy. Why not settle for something a tad more practical and sensible: a second-hand sporty SUV?
A slick sportscar is just about every person’s dream car. Ask people what they’d most like to drive, and the majority would probably say a Ferrari or a Lamborghini. But dreaming about a sportscar and owning one in real life are two very different things. Make no mistake, sportscar ownership is not for everyone. Firstly, there’s the price. A real supercar costs a lot of money. We’re talking about the kind of money that could get you a nice house in a swanky estate or send your kids to Harvard. Unless you have more money than you know what to do with, buying one can seem a bit selfish. Even if you can afford it, there’s always something better to do with the money.
Another issue is practicality. Living with a proper sportscar isn’t easy. Speed bumps start looking like impassable mountains. Taxi drivers become Kamikaze pilots with the single aim of destroying your precious car. You spend more time with petrol station attendants than you do your own children. And then there’s the interior space. Despite sporting dimensions that rival that of a Hummer H1, your average supercar is pretty cosy on the inside. There’s certainly no space for kids, car seats or strollers. So as tempting as a supercar might look when being piloted by James Bond, Bruce Wayne or Tony Stark (all single guys with no kids, incidentally), few of us are likely to ever buy one. It just doesn’t make sense. Too expensive. Too thirsty. Too impractical.
Luckily, though, there is a solution. Sportscar purists might scoff at the (relatively) recent rise of the sporty SUV, but for a lot of people these vehicles make a lot of sense. Are they as composed and rewarding as a real sportscar? No, of course not. But what they lack in performance they make up for in practicality. And once you start looking at the second-hand market, they seem fairly affordable. Here are a bunch of sporty yet practical SUVs you can buy for R400 000.
X Appeal 2011 BMW X6 xDrive50i
What you see here is not actually an SUV. BMW calls the X6 an SAC, which stands for sports activity coupé. It’s not interested in utility. It wants to go fast and look good. It succeeds. It’s not a subtle vehicle. It takes sportscar lines and inflates them to tank-size proportions. Few vehicles are as large and imposing.
But is it all show and no go? Nope. It’s fast, especially when it’s got BMW’s 4.4-litre V8 petrol mill under its bonnet. The engine pushes out 300kW of power and 600Nm of torque, which results in an impressive amount of speed. Top speed is 250km/h, and it’ll accelerate from 0–100km/h in about five seconds. Is it practical? Meh. Certainly better than a Lotus Elise or an Ariel Atom.
Despite its sports activity coupé nomenclature, it has four doors and a boot that provides a decent amount of packing space. You can take it and the family on holiday. That said, the massive petrol powerplant will be thirsty. And if it’s real practicality you’re after, an X5 is probably a better buy. It doesn’t have the sportscar lines of the X6, but it is more spacious and not quite as obnoxious. The X6 screams windgat. The X5 doesn’t.
Price R399 995
Mileage 98 000km
Engine 4.4-litre turbo V8
Top Speed 250km/h
0–100 km/h 5.1 seconds
Rally raid 2015 Mini Countryman Cooper S
For R400 000 you can get your hands on a Mini Countryman Cooper S that’s virtually brand new. This one has just 700km on the clock! Admittedly, this car doesn’t exactly scream sportscar. Nor is it really much of an SUV. It might be the biggest Mini, but it’s still pretty small. But don’t dismiss it too quickly. If it’s a fun and involving ride you’re after, this little car will deliver. This is the Cooper S, which offers 140kW of power and 240Nm of torque.
In the fairly small body of the Mini, that’s a lot. Find a twisty road and you’ll have no problem imagining that you’re taking part in a rally. You could purchase much larger vehicles for R400k but the Countryman is arguably the most practical Mini, and certainly more practical than most sportscars. It’s light on fuel and easy to pilot in traffic.
Price R399 990
Engine Four-cylinder 1.6-litre turbo
Top Speed 212km/h
0–100 km/h 7.7 seconds
The Quattro connection 2013 Audi Q5 3.0tdi Se Quattro
You’d struggle to find a more fun yet practical SUV than the Audi Q5. This particular derivative, with its 3.0TDI oilburner, offers a lot of power and torque, while still being frugal and easy to live with. It’s got 180kW of power and a whopping 580Nm of torque, but isn’t terribly brash. Indeed, if the Q5 has a shortcoming, it’s the fact that it looks a bit boring. Put your foot down, though, and you’ll be amazed how fun this vehicle (and its torque) can be.
The Q5 also boasts Audi’s Quattro system, which delivers a large dollop of rally coolness. Unfortunately, this Q5 has more kilometres on the clock than we’d like. Once a high-performing turbodiesel has done more than 150 000km, you have to start thinking about reliability. This is especially true when, as is the case here, a vehicle doesn’t have a full service history.
Price R359 995
Mileage 155 000km
Engine Six-cylinder three-litre turbodiesel
Top Speed 225km/h
0–100 km/h 6.5 seconds
One quick cruiser 2012 Toyota FJ Cruiser
The Toyota FJ Cruiser is not a particularly sporty SUV, but we’ve added it to the list for two reasons. Firstly, it’s quicker than many people think. Thanks to its four-litre V6 engine, the FJ Cruiser boasts 200kW of power and 380Nm of torque, which is enough to get it from 0–100km/h in around 7.5 seconds. Secondly, its design is stylish, sporty and cool; it’s an SUV that attracts attention. The FJ Cruiser is also unique on this list in that it is phenomenally capable off-road.
It has low-range gearing and a rear diff lock, which allows it to go just about anywhere. On the downside, its petrol engine is thirsty and its rear suicide doors can only be opened by opening the front ones first, so it’s not the most practical SUV out there. This example has 76 000km on the clock, which isn’t a lot for Toyota’s V6 petrol mill, and it’s got a full service history. If you can live with the fuel consumption, it’s a fun and multi-talented SUV.
Price R399 950
Engine Six-cylinder four-litre petrol
Top Speed 175 km/h
0–100 km/h 7.5 seconds
The Full Turbo 2008 Porsche Cayenne Turbo
You won’t easily find an SUV sportier than the Porsche Cayenne Turbo. It pushes the capabilities of a tall and heavy vehicle to the limit. It’s truly amazing to feel it accelerate. All this oomph is thanks to a turbocharged 4.4-litre V8 petrol mill that develops 368kW of power and 700Nm of torque, which is enough to get it from 0–100km/h in five seconds flat. The top speed is 275km/h. If you’re looking for a sportscar-like SUV, the Cayenne Turbo is undoubtedly one of the best options out there. But all that performance comes at a price.
As with anything sporting a Porsche badge, it’s expensive, so to get hold of one for R400 000, you need to be willing to compromise. This particular example is nearly a decade old and has a lot of kilometres on the clock; too many, in fact. It’s not a sensible buy. For R400 000, you could get a far newer and more practical family 4×4. But this is a Porsche. Moreover, it’s not some low-slung sportscar that’s utterly useless as a family car. This is a big SUV that you can live with on a daily basis.
Price R399 950
Mileage 124 440km
Engine 4.8-litre, V8, petrol
Top Speed 275km/h
0–100 km/h 5 seconds
Sleek And Sexy 2014 Infiniti QX70 3.0D S
Like the Audi Q5 3.0TDI, this Infiniti QX70 diesel is another fun yet practical buy. It’s not as crazy as the Cayenne or BMW X6, but it’s also far less likely to result in buyer’s remorse. The QX70 has attractive and distinctive styling, and isn’t a mainstream choice. Even now, a QX70 tends to turn heads. At the same time, though, this three-litre diesel is quite a frugal and practical. Its V6 turbodiesel delivers a very respectable 175kW of power and 550Nm of torque, which is enough to make it fun to drive, without making it overly expensive to run.
Price R399 995
Mileage 102 000km
Engine Three-litre V6 turbodiesel
Top Speed 212km/h
0–100 km/h 8.3 seconds
Text: GG van Rooyen