Motor sport, whether it is rallying or F1, represents the pinnacle of automotive engineering. Fast, powerful and stylish, track (or off-road in the case of many rallies) cars are held up as examples of the best a manufacturer has to offer in terms of design and tuning.
However, now more than ever it is possible to buy an on-road car that has inspired a track car sibling or vice-versa.
For example, Alfa Romeo’s Cloverleaf trim for the premium Giulietta hatchback boasts the same iconic racing badge as racing Alfa Romeo cars from the past. Meanwhile, Renault’s Wind model decked out in Gordini racing stripes is a nod to its track-based success.
Often, racing cars are inspired by more affordable road cars. Below we’ve gathered together five of the best track cars covering a range of different motorsport events.
We’ve also listed the cars that inspired those track cars, but all five can be found in Perrys dealerships in their standard form, meaning you can drive a great new car with a link to the fastest and the most furious around.
Citroen DS3 WRC
The Citroen DS3 WRC is the car that is providing the platform for Sebastian Loeb’s attempts to secure a seventh successive rallying title.
It uses a 1.6-litre, 300bhp turbocharged engine to propel Loeb around the course and its eye-catching livery and over-sized spoiler ensures it follows in the long tradition of successful Citroen rally cars.
The Citroen DS3 WRC car has its origins in the stunning Citroen DS3 Racing hot hatch, which itself is based on the standard Citroen DS3 supermini.
While the hot hatch DS3 Racing delivers 200bhp and plenty of sports styling, it is also a limited edition – which means your best bet to get behind the wheel of the stylish little supermini is to buy a standard DS3 for around £12,000.
You’ll get plenty of customisable options, low running costs and concept-car looks for your cash, making the new Citroen DS3 one of the most desirable cars on the road today.
Citroen DS3 prices and specification
Citroen DS3 test drive
The Mazda MX-5 is the world’s most popular two-seat roadster and its famous lightweight design and superb handling lend themselves perfectly to the racing world.
Throw in a 275bhp engine and a roll cage, along with a striking paint job, and you get the Mazda MX-5 GT, a car which competes in endurance races such as the Britcar MSA British Endurance Championship in 2011.
With a top speed of 160mph and a 0-60mph time of just three seconds, the 850kg sports car is a brilliant racer and a reminder of the driving dynamics and sporty emphasis Mazda places on its popular two-seat convertible.
Standard Mazda MX-5 prices start from around £18,000 in the UK, giving you a superb driving experience for very little money.
Mazda MX-5 prices and specifications
Mazda MX-5 test drive
The Clio Renaultsport 200, a car based on the popular and long-running Renault Clio hatchback, is the basis for the Renault Clio Cup racers.
The Renault Clio Cup is a championship made up entirely of Clio Renaultsport 200 cars and acts as a sort of feeder championship to the British Touring Car Championship for drivers.
These pocket-rockets offer a hefty 205bhp helped along by a new diffuser and spoiler and a rollcage for driver safety.
The hectic, thrilling championship is Renault’s celebration of its incredible racing heritage and a timely reminder of the fun to be had in Renault’s emotive little hatchback.
If you want to experience the joys of Renault Clio ownership, standard models start from £11,625. The Clio Renaultsport 200 costs £17,135 for Cup versions.
Renault Clio prices and specifications
Renault Clio test drive
The Jaguar XKR is an incredible machine. Fitted with a 5.0-litre supercharged petrol engine, the coupe can reach 60mph from standing in 4.6 seconds and goes on to an electronically limited 155mph.
The luxury coupe is an ideal candidate for the race-track treatment and in 2010 a modified model took part in the Le Mans 24 hours, the iconic endurance race.
The Jaguar XKR GT2 delivers over 500hp and comes with a new aluminium body design to reduce weight and improve performance.
While the Le Mans version is a pure racer and not available to UK customers, stunning supercharged Jaguar XKR prices start from £79,000 for coupe and £85,000 for convertible versions.
For those looking for a lower price tag, the standard Jaguar XK coupe costs £65,430 on-the-road, matching luxury with performance in the way only Jaguar can.
Jaguar XKR prices and specification
Jaguar XKR test drive
Unsurprisingly for one of the most iconic American muscle cars of all time, a version of the Chevrolet Camaro can be found on the Nascar circuit.
This special edition convertible version of the Camaro was chosen as the pace car for the famous Indy 500 and is based on a classic Camaro that did the same job in the 1960s.
As expected from Nascar, the Camaro comes with a 6.2-litre V8 engine and plenty of sports styling in the shape of an RS equipment package.
The Chevrolet Camaro is available to UK buyers for the first time in 2012. Chevrolet Camaro prices start from £34,995 for the coupe and £40,000 for the convertible versions and it comes with the 6.2-litre V8 developing 426bhp. This offers a 0-62mph sprint time of 5.2 seconds.
The new 2012 Chevrolet Camaro comes in a single, high-spec trim level in the UK and the first deliveries are due to take place in the Spring.
Chevrolet Camaro prices and specification
Chevrolet Camaro test drive