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Episode 45

Buying A New Daily vs New Racing Car

In the £30-35,000 price range, there’s a very interesting car-buying dilemma…

Back in the spring time I wrote an article asking whether I really needed to buy a racing car, or whether my speed need would be met by just a track toy. You can read the article in full here, and if you’re yet to read it I won’t spoil it for you now. This week we’re travelling down a similar path, though. Should I buy a race car, or should I buy myself a new road car instead?

If, like me, you also like your road cars, you might be aware of a new hot hatch that is on its way from Japan. Over the last week or so, a wave of first-drive reviews have been released for the Toyota GR Yaris, and they’ve all been explicit in their assessments: it’s a ridiculously good car. A brainchild of Tommi Makinen Racing – the outfit in charge of producing Toyota’s factory WRC effort – the car is the first homologation-special rally car the world has seen for the best part of 15 years.

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I obviously have not driven the car yet myself, however I have been keeping a close eye on its development ever since it was first announced at the top of the year with a view to potentially owning one myself. As a result, I was relieved that Toyota hadn’t cocked up a recipe that, on paper, is special to say the least. In fact, what they’ve produced is quite the contrary.

By all accounts, the car is light, nimble, as powerful as it needs to be and, most importantly, oozes character. A car classed alongside the Ford Fiesta in terms of dimensions, yet similar to Golf GTIs and Hyundai i30s in potency, and a four-wheel drive system unlike any hatchback on the market, the car really has been made with true drivers in mind. Priced at less than £35,000, it really is an affordable performance vehicle.

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It’s the price, though, that creates my dilemma. More specifically it’s the available finance price where, over a 42-month period and with an £8,000 deposit, the GR Yaris is available at less than £300 a month with just a 1.9% APR, even in my spec choice of the Circuit Pack in black. If you take those finance terms of an £8,000 deposit and £300 a month over 42 months, though, you could finance yourself a rather different driving prospect: a Caterham Academy package.

For those of you not in the know, the Caterham Academy is an all-inclusive entry-level racing series here in the UK. For a base price of a hair under £30,000, you’re buying your very own road-legal racing car *and* a full season of entry fees into a novice-only competition that runs at seven of the best racing circuits in the country, including both Silverstone and Brands Hatch. There are a lot of other features within the Academy package, but I’ve already written a stand-alone article with everything you need to know, which you can read here.

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Back to this subject, then, and you can see the dilemma. For almost equal outlay I have the choice of potentially the best new drivers’ car in years or the beginning of my racing career. So, before I ask you wonderful readers for any advice you’ve got, let’s have a look at the pros and cons of each option from my perspective:

The pros of the Yaris are fairly self-explanatory. It’s a special car, something that hasn’t been built in recent memory nor is it likely we’ll see another. It’s something I can drive every day, at any time and in any conditions. In the long run it’s likely not to depreciate as much as other cars in its segment either, due to its limited numbers and pedigree.

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On the other hand, however, I’d be missing out on the sense of competition that you can only achieve from racing. Sure, I could take the Yaris to track days and I’m positive that they would be enjoyable experiences, but it’s not made specifically for that purpose, so it may not feel quite at home either.

In the Caterham corner, I’d finally be able to begin the racing career I’ve been yearning after. Extra costs that are associated with entry into motorsport – such as the ARDS test and licence – are all included in the initial cost, too, meaning all I’d have to spend on top is the cost of my racing uniform. Another plus point is the nature of the Santander finance deal Caterham have set up. When it comes to the Caterham motorsport ladder, small improvements are made to the cars each year in order to let you progress into the faster series, yet these modifications don’t adversely affect the finance package. Therefore, progression up the motorsport ladder is cheap and easy.

On the flip side, unfortunately, come with the associated hassle of owning a racing car on the day-to-day. The extra expense for storage, towing and other consumable costs need to be accounted for, along with the fact it would be my second car, not a direct replacement for my current vehicle as the Yaris would be.

As you can see, then, there’s a lot of deliberating still to do on my end before a final decision is made. What would help me, then, would be some outside opinions. If the choice was yours, would you buy the new sporty daily, or start a racing career? Let me know with a comment below! No, please do, I need all the help I can get.

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1 Comment »

  1. A real dilemma then.
    You’re right to highlight this car, it is in the tradition of the Lancia Integrale & Escort Cosworth. They may be a pointer to the future, they are rare & still desirable as the Yaris is likely to be in the future. Electric cars are the future, at least in the medium term & could offer similar on-road performance making ic cars obsolete.
    The problem now with the Yaris is that it is too good at the price point. You’ll be unlikely to exploit its full potential on public roads. The Caterham will be on the limit on the track & cars are most exciting when they are at the limit of their capability.
    That said, from a financial pov, the Caterham will likely be worth half the cost of the series at the end of the year. The Yaris may retain much of its value & even appreciate in the longer term.
    Nothing will same thrill as racing but there are cheaper series.
    Another good article.

    Liked by 1 person

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