Car Buyers' Guide: Comfortable performance cars

By Jack Biddle

Compromise needed between performance and comfort

Lexus IS F V8 (2008)
Lexus IS F V8 (2008)

The dilemma: Garry is getting close to retirement age but the last thing he wants is a "sensible" vehicle and at the moment he's driving a 2003 3.5-litre V6 Nissan Skyline Coupe.

But Garry's wife isn't so happy with the family wheels as she does not enjoy the "hard ride and the road noise".

"We previously had a Toyota Soarer 4-litre V8 which my wife loved for the silence and comfort. But I found it the performance was a bit sluggish, especially acceleration," says Garry.

"I also ride a BMW K1200 R motorcycle which is not sluggish at all."

So now Garry is after a near-new car that performs like the Skyline but will keep his wife happy by being quiet and comfortable.

With high performance vehicles there are always compromises. For example, minimal road noise and armchair comfort do not necessarily work in harmony with exceptional road handling and sheer grunt from under the bonnet.

For this reason many owners of these types of vehicles soon tire from the ownership experience especially if the vehicle is being driven on a daily basis.

The other important consideration when buying second-hand is just how harsh and brutal has the previous owner been in getting their thrills. Track days for example, can be an environment where high-performance vehicles can be pushed to their limits and beyond.

Do your homework on used imports with these types of vehicles also. From my experience there are often engine management (computer settings) differences between what was sold new in New Zealand and what was available in other countries. It's often no drama until you have the need to call on the local franchise network to help sort out a power train issue.

The budget: $40,000-plus

The shortlist

Lexus IS F V8 (2008)

The 5-litre V8 engine provides all the power you should need while cabin feel and ambience present the feeling of travelling in first class. Overall, a great balance between luxury and high performance which is sure to appeal to those sitting in the passenger seat as much as the driver.

BMW 335i (2007)

Cheaper to purchase than the Lexus, you buy the badge, a high-specification level and performance from the 3-litre twin-turbo engine. Overall, ownership costs are likely to be considerably higher than a well maintained Lexus. Used imports should be checked thoroughly for body corrosion if sourced from the UK.

Audi A6 S Line (2007)

This model was sold new in NZ and on paper would seem to tick a lot of boxes for you. A well-documented past service history is desirable as is a thorough pre-purchase inspection from an outfit who know the product inside and out (Audi dealer or specialist). Like all the Euros, on-going running costs make me more than a tad nervous.


Driven recommends

The Lexus may be stretching the budget but it does offer an awful lot of motorcar for the money and, dare I say it, is a sensible choice.

- NZ Herald

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