Buying used: Audi TT v Renaultsport Megane v Subaru BRZ v Toyota GT86

Buying used: Audi TT v Renaultsport Megane v Subaru BRZ v Toyota GT86
Buying used: Audi TT v Renaultsport Megane v Subaru BRZ v Toyota GT86

How to pick up a sporty coupe for less than £15,000

 Audi TT 2.0 TFSI 211 Sport

List price: when new £27,145
Price today: £13,500
Engine: 2.0-litre petrol
Power: 208bhp
Torque: 258lb ft
0-60mph: 6.0sec
Top speed: 147mph
Fuel economy: 42.8mpg (Official average)
CO2 emissions: 154g/km

The sporty four-seat coupe market was reinvigorated with the arrival of the Subaru BRZ and Toyota GT86. These two-door four-seaters shared a revvy 2.0-litre engine and rear-drive chassis, and were both designed above all to deliver bucketloads of driving pleasure. A few years on from launch, growing numbers are appearing on the secondhand market, so which is best?

To find out, we’ve compared them with two alternative takes on the sporty coupe recipe. The first is the ever-popular Audi TT, the top-selling star of the sector. The second is the ultra-focused Renaultsport Megane 265 Cup – yes, technically a three-door hatchback, but Renault calls it a coupe and we know it’s terrific fun to drive, so we’re including it here.

Engine and performance

Behind the wheel, it’s immediately clear the Subaru and Toyota have something of a performance deficit compared to the turbocharged Audi and Renault. Their non-turbo boxer engines aren’t very flexible, requiring lots of gearchanges, and any theoretical traction advantages of their rear-drive setups is tempered by skinny tyres that lack grip.

Renault Mégane RS 265 Cup 


List price when new: £24,840
Price today: £13,000
Engine: 2.0-litre petrol
Power: 261bhp
Torque: 266lb ft
0-60mph: 6.3sec
Top speed: 146mph
Fuel economy: 34.4mpg (Official average)
CO2 emissions: 190g/km

The other two are much more like it. The Megane is super-powerful but it’s actually the lightweight TT’s 2.0-litre petrol turbo that’s quickest against the clock. It’s a really flexible engine, more so than the Megane, and much more so than the other two. Both the TT and Megane have much better brakes than the Subaru and Toyota as well.

Driving experience

Through corners, it seems a similar story at first. Both the TT and Megane have far more grip and corner much harder. They’ll make much faster progress. But this was intentional on the part of the Japanese makers. They fitted skinny tyres to up the fun factor. They have well-balanced chassis, accurate steering and deliver loads of feedback to the driver – and their rear-drive setups are purer as well.

The problem for them is that the other two aren’t exactly dull to drive. The Megane in particular is phenomenally involving, and even a firm ride doesn’t actually become jarring. The TT is softer but corners almost as flat, cruising with more refinement than the rorty Megane. Indeed, the Renaultsport, with its whooshes and barks, is every inch the hot hatch. The Japanese duo? Predictably loud when revved, and they drone busily on the motorway.

Specifications: Subaru BRZ SE

List price when new: £24,995
Price today: £12,500
Engine: 2.0-litre petrol
Power: 197bhp
Torque: 151lb ft
0-60mph: 7.5sec
Top speed: 135mph
Fuel economy: 36.2mpg (Official average)
CO2 emissions: 181g/km

Interior

Moving inside, the BRZ and GT86 are near-identical. Only the badges really differ. Both have seats that lack support and pedals offset to the right. The Megane is more like a conventional hatch, while the TT is low-slung and coupe-like. It’s beautifully finished too, more so than the Megane – and both of them are nicer than the cheap interiors of the Subaru and Toyota.

But while it’s great for drivers, the tiny TT is no good for adults in the rear. The BRZ and GT86 have a little more space, but only the Megane is a genuine four-seater. It has a big boot too: the TT’s is OK but the Japanese duo both have minuscule boots with tiny openings. At least their seats fold fully-flat.

Running costs

And so to costs. Both the BRZ and GT86 undercut the TT. That’s the power of depreciation: you’ll have to spend around £1000 more to get a decent Audi over the Subaru or Toyota. The surprise is the Renaultsport Megane – its reputation goes before it, meaning values sit between the other cars. Not something that’s always the case with Renaults.

You pay the price in terms of running costs with the Megane, as it’s the thirstiest here. The TT’s the most fuel-efficient, with an impressive 42.8mpg combined figure, compared to the Megane’s 34.4mpg. The Japanese cars have short service intervals, which could be awkward, while the other two cars require timing belt changes, which is a cost you must factor in: if the belt breaks, your engine will be wrecked. On the Megane, for example, it must be done every five years.

Toyota GT86

Engine: 2.0-litre petrol
List price when new: £24,995
Price today: £12,500
Power: 197bhp
Torque: 151lb ft
0-60mph: 7.5sec
Top speed: 135mph
Fuel economy: 36.2mpg (Official average)
CO2 emissions: 181g/km

On the reliability front, the Japanese pair are predictably flawless. The Renault can be niggly, particularly with electronics, although both engine and gearbox are generally tough and problem-free. It’s the TT that has the longest list of things to watch out for, including automatic gearboxes that stick in gear, high oil consumption on early cars and timing chain tensioners snapping on later post-2011 upgraded cars (even so, these are the ones you should go for). Buy wisely.

Verdict

But if you do get a good ‘un, the TT is the one to have. It’s lovely to sit in, nimble and fast, cheap to run and a pleasure to own. Even so, we love the thrilling Megane, and some will happily put up with its high running costs because of the sensational handling and family-friendly practicality. Trailing them are the Japanese cars. They’re fun, but both are ultimately beaten by the fun-laden reserves held by the Renaultsport and Audi.

Our price today figure is based on a 2012 model with average mileage and full service history, correct at time of writing

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