PURE SPEED

WHEN YOU WANT SOME MID-ENGINE EXOTICA ON A BUDGET

BY LOUIS CORDONY

SUPERCARS are addictive. Drive a proper one and it will completely scramble your definition of performance. The problem, though, is unless you have $400K lying around, you wonít get that chance, which is where the two above machines come in.

While weíre not saying an Alfa Romeo 4C is a substitute for a Ferrari 488, cars like it, and the supercharged V6 Lotus Exige, promise to deliver half the experience for a third the price.

At the 4Cís core, thereís a stiff-as-anything carbon-fibre tub, into which goes a turbo inline-4 and dual-clutch transmission. Sure, the fastest all-wheel drive hatches would pip it in a straight line, as that turbo 1.75-litre Giulietta engine pushes it to 100km/h in 4.5 seconds. But the 4C is more about the uncorrupted, unassisted steering, rapid gear changes and exotic construction. And not being a Porsche Cayman.

In the ďusedĒ corner, Lotus has been creating small exotics since seemingly forever. Its Exige has an aluminium-based chassis and a supercharged Toyota 3.5-litre V6 churning out 258kW and 400Nm in S spec. Thatís not going to frighten a McLaren, but when itís pushing 1125kg youíre in for serious performance. Triple figures arrive on your dash in 3.9sec and itíll keep most 911s honest anywhere twisty.

If youíre willing accept one in used condition, you can find an example for the same amount the 4C asks. We dare say the Lotus will have you pining for the next drive more than the Alfa.

CLASSIES watch

04 modern classic tempters we found on tradeuniquecars.com.au

2011 AUDI R8 5.2L V10, 386kW/530Nm, 13,954km, Melbourne, VIC

Proper V10 power matched to a sure-footed all-wheel drive chassis. Almost cheap.

$179,000

2012 FERRARI 458 ITALIA 4.5L V8, 425kW/540Nm, 28,800km, Richmond, VIC

Ferrari wrapped its last atmo V8 in a gorgeous body and capable chassis.

$389,900

2008 PORSCHE 911 GT2 3.8L F6TT, 390kW/680Nm, 26,754km, Melbourne, VIC

Much more grown-up than the GT2 before it. Still demands respect.

$489,900

2013 NISSAN GT-R 3.8L V6TT, 404kW/628Nm, 14,899km, Cockburn, WA

A sports car with supercar-eating pace. Still just as fast today.

$112,888