New vs used

The benchmark two-seat roadster or a brash but almost forgotten Italian sports convertible?

Porsche Boxster

NEW: £37,589

Power 261bhp Torque 206lb ft 0-62mph 5.8sec Top speed 164mph Economy 34.4mpg

WHAT IS IT?

The entry-level Porsche Boxster, in base-spec manual form. Equipped with a 2.7-litre flat six that develops 261bhp, it’s capable of a sprightly 0-62mph in 5.8sec. And thanks to better cooling, automatic stop-start and intelligent battery charging, the standard Boxster’s combined economy is a claimed 34.5mpg.

WHAT’S IT LIKE TO DRIVE?

The car is barely any lighter than the more powerful Boxster S, but it feels a little leaner and revs with almost the same howling enthusiasm. However, Porsche’s immaculate fettling underneath has produced a car of such elevated ability that the 2. 7-litre engine’s lower output barely seems to scratch the dynamic surface. But even without the extra punch, the Boxster bristles with flat-six cheek.

WHAT’S IT LIKE INSIDE?

It has an interior of genuine quality that’s almost as good to use as it is to admire. The driving position, although improved, continues to offer too little legroom for taller drivers. And while there is no shortage of storage areas on board, all are useless for anything other than tiny items. The folding roof mechanism is fantastic, though.

WHERE’S MY MONEY GOING?

The Boxster is surprisingly frugal and Porsche offers an impressive three-year warranty and 20,000-mile service intervals. Boxsters have never struggled to keep depreciation at bay, either. The only thing to watch out for is a trigger-happy finger on the options list.

WHY SHOULD I BUY ONE?

You’re buying the market’s yardstick two-seat sports car, albeit in base-spec form. Its refinement, ride, enhanced appearance and dazzling chassis make it comfortably the finest roadster within reach of modest money, and all with the associated cachet of one of motoring’s most desirable badges on the bonnet.

Alfa Romeo RZ

USED: £36,995

Power 207bhp Torque 181lb ft 0-62mph 7.0sec Top speed 145mph Economy 21.9mpg

WHAT IS IT?

The Alfa Romeo RZ (for Roadster Zagato) is a convertible version of the SZ sports car. Dubbed ‘il mostro’ or ‘the monster’, it was launched in 1992, based on a heavily modified Alfa 75 V6 platform. Production ended in 1994, with just 284 RZs made. Upwards of £34,000 should get you a spotless, low-mileage example.

WHAT’S IT LIKE TO DRIVE?

By modern standards, you might feel slightly underwhelmed. But 207bhp from the 3.0-litre V6 and 0-62mph in 7.0sec means it’s no slouch. Anyway, with the RZ it’s all about the handling. Reports at the time suggested the rear-wheel-drive RZ performed well and generated truly phenomenal amounts of grip; they could pull 1.1g in the corners.

WHAT’S IT LIKE INSIDE?

The cabin is airy and attractive, with lashings of leather and thick bucket seats with plump bolsters. The dash is simple, the heater knobs are taken from the Alfa 75 and the dials are carbonfibre. It also has a painted centre console that sweeps up between the seats to conceal the folding roof’s storage area. However, draw your own conclusions when it comes to early 1990s Italian build quality.

WHERE’S MY MONEY GOING?

Due to its ultra-rare nature, prices have remained solid and even increased over the past few years, after hovering in the mid-£20k range. And there’s no reason why the RZ shouldn’t keep on appreciating. A combined 21.9mpg and components having to be specially made means running costs are hefty.

WHY SHOULD I BUY ONE?

Seldom has there been a car whose looks have divided so much opinion, although many think the RZ’s styling has improved with age. As well as being an appreciating asset that sounds fantastic and handles like a gem through the corners, the Alfa could also be the perfect analogue antidote to modern-day automotive number-crunching.

AND THE WINNER IS… USED

If you want the perfect open-top driver’s car, it has to be the Boxster. However, if you want an unforgiving and outlandish ownership experience, it has to be the Alfa Romeo RZ — provided you can live with the bills for fuel and maintenance.

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