Satisfaction Guaranteed: 5 Fun Cars That Make You Work For Your Speed

Gerald Yuen
29 Jun 2022

We cannot seem to ignore the fact that the automotive industry’s unceasing push for instantaneous tap-and-go performance is fast becoming the norm, due to the impending electric revolution. And it comes as little surprise that petrolheads wonder just how long more high-revving, perfectly tuned internal combustion motors can serve them before even heftier taxations kick in.

While we rue rising fuel costs and COE premiums that demonstrate no signs of easing, perhaps now might be the time where we can still harvest thoughts of “grab them before it’s too late”. Sure, annual depreciations of some rare metal are inching towards terrifyingly unattainable figures for the masses in Singapore, but this shortlist we reckon still has a place in motoring’s hall of fame.

If you have pockets deep enough to indulge in this hobby, these cars will certainly guarantee plenty of smiles per mile. Does automotive nirvana require self-serviced satisfaction? Yes, according to these tried-and-tested machines that have proven to supply spades of sensory overload!

BMW M3 (E92)

One could argue that the E92 M3 is the last, proper old school M machine before the introduction of force induction. With a redline that sweeps clockwise till 8,300rpm, it surely makes you work for your velocity-infused adrenaline but those who have sampled it will know that it is well worth it. The naturally aspirated 4-litre V8 extracts 420Nm of torque only halfway through the rev counter configured to a spine-tingling 9,000rpm, but the manner in which it delivers that trademark zingy chord on full prod makes you wonder if the pursuit for outright pace nowadays comes at the expense of a less engaging experience. Most in the used car market are fitted with a 7-speed M dual-clutch transmission (DCT), which compared to its predecessor’s SMG gearbox, served well to amplify the enthusiasm of the engine.

4G63-equipped Mitsubishi Evolution

Enjoy the fruits of your labour with a Mitsubishi Evolution that demands no less than full commitment from the driver. The first nine generations of Evos benefitted from an engine that withstood the test of time. Although they would highly likely have been through various states of tune throughout their lifespan, fundamentals stay mainly intact - a bulletproof cast iron cylinder block and aluminium headers paired with a large turbocharger. Most will be paired with a manual gearbox - the only sensible choice in our opinion (unless you source for the now-extinct Evo 7 GTA or Airtrek Turbo SUV). Sure, a committed pull on full boost in a well-tuned Evo is managed by a very capable, WRC-derived all-wheel drive setup. But a unit tuned with a peaky torque curve can still feel lairy, yet unapologetically rewarding.

Honda S2000

The Honda S2000’s F20 and F22 motors might not receive similar affection from B and K series engines that graced Type R Civics and Integras, but they are special in their own right. Sitting longitudinally and developed for the S2000’s rear-wheel drive layout, the overall package of this 2-seater convertible makes it extremely appealing in an era where EV manufacturers are comparing capacities of “frunk” or “froot” space. Honda engineers consulted with its racing department to eke out every bit of performance from this engine. Yes, it is torque-lite on most fronts, but one can revel in the delight of a creamy smooth motor that never feels strained on full pelt. And the sound itself makes up for all the physical work required when you manage to ride in the addictive VTEC powerband.

Lotus Elise

Similar in recipe to the Honda S2000 in terms of engagement, but it has a neat trick up its sleeve. The Lotus Elise’s motor is mid-mounted, which means the driver benefits from a front-end that is very nippy and interactive. It measures in at comfortably under 950kg - featherweight considering that a modern EV like the BMW i4 weighs more than 2 tonnes. Even the Lotus Emira, the last Lotus to be powered by an internal combustion engine, weighs 50% more than the Elise. Sure, piloting a car that weighs next to nothing comes with challenges, which is precisely why we love it as it emphasises the importance of downforce to obtain stability at higher speeds. Working to maintain speed in the Elise can be demanding, but very enriching.

Volkswagen Golf R32 (Mk5)

The R32 designation might be more commonly associated with the Skyline lineage, but Volkswagen can be proud of their product that was more of a statement piece than number hunter. A narrow-angle 3.2-litre VR6 sits in a compact hatchback format, which does no favours in terms of weight distribution. Sure, the Mk5 Golf GTI felt way nimbler (200kg lighter) and is more tuner-friendly than the Golf R32, but the sensation of a deep, bent-vee burble cannot be replicated. A peak torque of 320Nm can be had from 2,500rpm, which sounds rather accessible in theory but its 1.5 tonne weight hampers swift progress in reality. Nonetheless, toil to hover within the powerband and be greeted by a soundtrack like no other.

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