For Top Gear episode 2, our intrepid trio of men behaving badly took to the Australian Outback to test three grand tourers – better know as GT cars. Taking on ‘the most manly proving ground of them all’ they used the cars to round up a small-ish herd of 4,000 cows on a three million acre farm (‘the same size as the south east of England’).
Clarkson made the serious point that the BMW M6 Gran Coupe would fall in value like a house on fire. And this is a phenomenon that can play into the hands of smart used car buyers: second-hand examples of the M6 GC, Bentley Continental V8S and Nissan GT-R are tens of thousands less expensive that a new model, but the driving experience is no less impressive. We look at just how much buyers could save by choosing a used example and what they’re getting for their money.
BMW M6 Gran Coupe
Cost new: from £98,145
Cost used: from £59,987
So you were rather smitten by, as Clarkson pointed out in Top Gear episode 2, the four-door version of a two-door car that’s a based on a four-door car? Smitten enough to look at BMW’s configurator, at which point the jaw dropped and the mug of tea missed your mouth.
This is basically a £100,000 car, which is a lot of money in anyone’s book, but a heck of a lot for a BMW. What makes it so special? Well, it is powered by a 4.4-litre V8 engine that has not one but two turbochargers. That means it has 552bhp, which sounds like it would be enough to get you from A to B as if your life depended on it.
All that “powerrrrrrrr” is directed to the rear wheels via a seven-speed dual clutch transmission, which means this is the car for those who like to do big skids. And if you can get the launch control system to do its job better than it did for Clarkson, then the M6 GC can charge from 0-62mph in just 4.2seconds. Phew.
Clarkson described it as the ultimate mile-muncher, presumably because it allows the driver to carry out such an extensive degree of electronic fine-tuning that it can be smooth and supple one moment, savage and searing the next.
A glance at the selection of BMW’s approved used cars showed a metallic black, September 2013 M6 Gran Coupe with less than 11,500 miles on the clock for less than £60,000. That is a seriously tempting saving, and cars of a similar age and mileage in different colours aren’t that much more expensive. Clarkson made the point that recent M cars have been a bit disappointing, but not so this one: “God, this is just electrifyingly good.” Especially with a £40,000 saving…
Bentley Continental GT V8 S
Cost new: from £146,000
Cost used: from £116,990
You just knew from the Bentley badge alone that the Continental GT V8 S would be the most expensive of the GTs used to herd cattle in the Outback. And unfortunately, because it’s still quite a new addition to the range of the British car maker, second hand examples aren’t exactly two-a-penny.
The most affordable (relatively speaking of course!), found on the Bentley approved-used car locator was an early 2014 model which had covered just 1700 miles and was going for just under £117,000. Reaching for the calculator, that rate of depreciation means that every mile driven cost its owner £17. Ouch. And there you were thinking London taxis were expensive.
The big, brawny Bentley came in for rather a lot of ribbing from James May. But during the race to the top of the quarry, Hammond was quick to disprove May’s theory that: “the china and silverware will fall over and make a terrible mess”. The Bentley was made of stern stuff, and probably would have won the race had Captain Slow not called upon the services of British Stig, who had been smuggled along in the boot of May’s Nissan GT-R.
The Bentley has a 4-litre V8 engine, again with the obligatory two turbochargers, and delivers 522bhp to all four-wheels, which gave it quite an advantage in all the speed tests. (Odd, given it has the slowest 0-62mph time of 4.3seconds.) And as it so ably demonstrated, the brakes are more than capable of making a mockery of the Highway Code’s recommended stopping distances.
It may well exhibit a touch of “faux toffery” and look at home in the car park at Old Trafford, but boy, did the GT V8 S show the BMW and Nissan who’s boss.
Cost new: from £78,020
Cost used: from £44,995
Now that’s more like it: the Nissan GT-R may be one of the fastest cars in the world but that doesn’t mean you can’t buy a bargain on Nissan’s used car site. How does a November, 2010 GT-R that’s covered less than 33,000 miles for a £33,025 saving sound? Its 3.8-litre V6 engine is probably only just run-in…
There was a feeling, however, that Captain Slow and the Top Gear producers slightly missed the point of the GT-R when they smuggled in British Stig to drive in place of James May; the GT-R’s unique selling point is that it’s astonishingly easy to drive astonishingly fast. In the quarry race, even Captain Slow could have beaten Clarkson in his rear-wheel drive BMW.
Still, no time for grumbling when there’s a used GT-R awaiting our attention. It should be noted that the 2010 era model we found would have been registered just before a raft of minor but appreciated improvements were made to the car for 2011. Despite this, it has 478bhp, can accelerate from 0-62mph in 3.5seconds and the top speed is 194mph. If that doesn’t blow your mind, what will?
Even Clarkson agreed, saying: “If you like driving, above all else you have to have one of these.”
And that’s the thing. The GT-R is one for the sort of petrolhead who sleeps in their Nomex race suit and takes the racing line when pushing the trolley around the supermarket. It forever feels as though it’s goading the driver into going faster and faster, whereas the Bentley and BMW are just as happy doing the daily commute. It takes a particular sort of person to put up with a GT-R – even one at a knock-down price.