Best P-Plate legal car: Coupe Battle (Under $12k)
So you just got your P’s and some change in your pocket, you’re free and want to tell everyone. Whether you are into carving corners or rolling down the local main street in style, I’m sure there will be something for you in this series.
Integra Type-R (DC2)
The Integra has nearly God-like status among small Japanese sports cars. Jump on YouTube and you see this car pitted against others with twice as much power and it feels right at home. The Type-R combined everything a young motoring enthusiast needed, the car was ultra-reliable, it was practical enough, very economical and when you wanted could easily set your pants on fire. The Honda is also the only car on this list with the holy trinity… soul/passion, racing heritage and engineering excellence in one package.
What to expect-
The Type-R (like most Type-Rs) is a no compromise track car for the road. Honda achieved this with serious engineering. They lightened the car with thinner glass, lightweight wheels and less sound deadening. Excellent handling was helped with stiffer suspension; extra spot welds to the chassis and performance tyres. The engine has polished and ported intakes, performance headers and lightened flywheels just to name a few, all this came straight off the factory floor!
The Type-R’s party piece; the tiny 1.8-liter with Honda VTEC churning out a huge 149Kw with a stratospheric red-line of 8600RPM! All in a car that only weighed 1087KG. It was enough for it to do 0–60 in a hair over 6 seconds.
As a driver’s car and a future classic, it’s a no brainer. Examples can be picked up for under $12K but make sure you have a good look, chances are they have higher KMs and a little beat up but with some TLC they will go a long long way….very quickly. If you’re not too concerned about the higher Noise, Vibration & Harmonic (NVH) levels this is definitely the car for you.
Keep the car as original as possible to retain better re-sale, possibly even appreciation over the time you have it. Make sure your mods are reversible.
Nissan Skyline 350GT Coupe (V35) / Infiniti G35 Coupe
The V35 is a Grand Tourer, it’s meant to cover long distances with comfort at high rates of speed and oh boy does it do that and then some! The V35 was the test bed platform for the latest generation GT-R. Nissan used it as a concept and then based the GT-R on top, obviously turning everything up to 11.
What to expect –
The 350GT being a Grand Tourer is predominantly a luxury car with sporting credentials. The coupe body in my eyes is absolutely gorgeous; the lines are soft, flowing and still today look modern. The car has seating for four and a decently spacious boot, the interior has a premium feel with all the latest features and funky gadgets.
Since the 350GT shares the drive and suspension components from the 350Z you get the same 287HP-306HP engine depending on year. The engine is a great powerhouse with a great torque figure and progressive power all the way up the 7200rpm redline taking you from 0–60 in 5.8seconds. Transmissions are the same 5 speed automatic or 6 speed manual. For the enthusiast the manual is the way to go, but since a lot of these cars will spend their time in traffic the automatic is a blessing and still great when having fun.
If you’re looking for something a little grown up but don’t want to completely let go of the hoon lurking inside you this car is a great choice, offering a great compromise between luxury and sporting feel. The V35 is just as comfortable through twisting mountain roads or pulling up to a fancy restaurant.
Over the years the car can develop some minor creaks from the center console but reliability and parts availability are great on this vehicle.
Add on some breathing modifications Intake/exhaust and this car will absolutely roar when you have your foot down.