Look, it happens to all of us – there’s no shame in it. Your waistline starts keeping pace with your age, you can’t find your hairline without two mirrors and some complicated yoga-esque bending, your face becomes one big wrinkle. Sooner or later middle-age backhands us all upside the head.
But we have good news, friends. Existential doubt, concerns over your own mortality, questioning your path in life – these are all fantastic excuses to go out and blow a tonne of cash on an absurdly expensive motor. In fact, for most of us, it’s our only real chance to do so.
So, to help those of you currently struggling with your own middle age malaise, we’ve compiled a list of the very best cars to help you cope with this crisis. Simply scan through, pick out the one that suits you best, and go spend your hard-earned savings. After all, you can’t take it with you!
(Please note: the cars are listed in alphabetical order rather than ranked on merit)
1. Audi RS6
At first glance it looks like your garden-variety, premium-badged load-lugger – hardly the stuff of dreams for the average sufferer of a midlife crisis. But the RS6 is a rocket-powered wolf in sheep’s clothing. The statistics alone are enough to get your head spinning: the 4.0-litre bi-turbo V8 engine knocks out 552bhp, 700Nm of torque, 0-60mph in 3.9 seconds and a top speed of 189mph. Plus it offers all the practicality of an estate for those whose offspring are yet to fly the nest – meaning you can get within touching distance of warp speed with space for the wife, kids AND luggage.
For: You’ll be able to pull away from Porsche 911-driving smug gits at the lights.
Against: Unless they actually see you pulling away from a 911 at the lights, most people will think you’re just driving an Audi estate.
2. Audi TT
There are two schools of thought when it comes to the Audi TT. The first believes that it is a beautiful sports car, with an exterior design verging on classic status, and the performance and handling to match its looks. The second believes it’s a hairdresser’s car. Whichever way you look at it, the engines are punchy and the residual values are some of the best around – so you can tell the missus you’re making an investment rather than throwing away money chasing after your lost youth.
For: You can ease your way into middle age with a tasteful and elegant sports car.
Against: Your friends may start demanding free haircuts.
3. Bentley Continental GTC
If you’ve got the sort of money required to splash out on a Conti GT Convertible as a knee-jerk midlife crisis antidote, then you’re probably too busy relaxing on your private island or directing your corporate empire from the corner office of a glass-plated tower-block to be reading our advice on cars. But if you’ve stumbled across this page then we’d highly recommend the Bentley as a suitable outlet for mourning your lost youth. With a top speed of 195mph, the GTC is just about the fastest thing with a drop top and four seats. It’s also incredibly comfortable and put together with the kind of craftsmanship that would make a Savile Row tailor weep with envy and curse his ham-fisted attempts at elegance.
For: It’s refined, luxurious and faster than a cheetah on Red Bull
Against: Your millionaire mates will sneer that it’s just a Volkswagen in drag.
4. BMW Z4
If you’re looking for a more traditional midlife crisis motor, then look no further than the BMW Z4. It’s certainly got the look: it’s low-slung and sleek, with a stubby boot and elongated, bulging nose. It’s two parts sports car to one part muscle car, garnished with a premium German badge. Basically, it’s the stuff childhood motoring fantasies are made of. Sure, there’s barely enough room in the boot for a jacket, let alone luggage. And, yes, the fact that BMW only makes it with petrol engines means you’ll effectively be lighting a bonfire under your bank balance. But who cares … it’s cool! And fast!
For: You’ll be the envy of every 14-year-old petrol head on your street
Against: You should know better at your age. Really.
5. Fiat 500 Abarth
Don’t have £30k-plus lying around to fund your age anxiety-related escapism? Fret not, because these days there are plenty of options for the middle-aged thrill-seeker on a budget. Yes, the hot hatch has brought high-powered motoring to the masses, and the Abarth 500 is one of the most entertaining out there. It’s based on the Fiat 500 city car but – like Gok Wan sprucing up a lonely spinster with a figure-flattering dress and trendy hair cut – tuning firm Abarth give their versions a few key alterations. The cute looks are given a menacing edge with an aggressive bodykit, and the wallet-friendly, fuel-sipping engines are tweaked until they’re as venomous as a striking viper. The guys at the golf club are unlikely to be impressed, but you’ll blast from 0-60mph in under eight seconds, so who cares.
For: You’ll get an iconic badge and blistering speed without needing to remortgage your house.
Against: This is no way to grow old gracefully.
6. Ford Focus ST
Like the idea of hot hatch thrills but are put off by the Abarth’s diminutive dimensions and racing stripes? Then check out the Ford Focus ST. It gets a more muscular bodykit than the standard Focus, as well as 19-inch alloys, but it’s no where near as in-your-face as the Abarth 500. And as the Focus is one of the most common cars on the road, you’ll blend right in. Right up until you put your foot down and kick the 247bhp 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine into life, pushing you back into the Recaro sports seats and catapulting the car from 0-60mph in 6.5 seconds.
For: Most people will think you’re driving a regular Ford Focus.
Against: Most people will think you’re driving a regular Ford Focus.
7. Jaguar F-Type
If you’ve found yourself hovering on the brink of a midlife crisis, then count yourself lucky and dive right in – it couldn’t have come at a better time. Because you have the perfect excuse to cash-in your savings and splurge on Jaguar’s drool-inducing F-Type. It’s a successor to the legendary E-Type of the sixties, and not only is it achingly cool, it offers the same kind of heart-stopping thrills as a Sergio Perez overtake. You’ll also have pleasure of knowing you own one of the most desirable vehicles on the planet – and that owners of sports cars half-again as expensive as yours are looking on with envy.
For: No matter how prestigious your postcode, you’ll have the most eye-catching car for at least a two-mile radius.
Against: Pedantic old timers will bend your ear, whining about how it’s not as good as the E-Type.
8. Jeep Wrangler
Not a fan of wind-in-your-hair motoring? Not a problem. The middle-aged man in a sports car is a cliché anyway, and we’ve got another solution for you: the rugged off-roader. The Jeep Wrangler is perfect for the ageing gent who wants to indulge his inner child without drawing attention to the fact. If anyone questions the motivation behind buying a two-tonne American mud-plugger that looks like it’s been hacked out of granite, you can explain away your frivolous purchase by bigging-up the Wrangler’s practicality and reliability. You can point out its ability to cope with Britain’s pothole-addled road network and annual three-day snow panic. You can assure them it has nothing to do with the iconic badge, military background and the way it makes you feel like a weathered US army captain from World War 2. It’s all about the practicality. Honest.
For: Those picturesque winter mornings when you trundle past the BMW drivers stranded in the snow.
Against: Thirty-five to the gallon and a ride that will tie your spine into knots.
9. Land Rover Defender
Then again, if you’re considering a 4x4 as a little post-youth me treat, you have to at least cast your eye over the Land Rover Defender. Icons don’t come much bigger. Of course, as with the Wrangler, there are some major downsides. It’s big, clumsy on the road, uncomfortable, noisy, and expensive to run, tax and buy. And it also lacks even the most rudimentary safety technology. But then there’s the way it looks: all hard angles and edges. It’s halfway between tank and car, and you won’t find anything else under £100,000 that has half so much road presence. It’s Rambo in car form, the ultimate man machine.
For: Nothing on the road has the same macho factor.
Against: You’ll look like a poser unless you live in the country.
10. Porsche Boxster
For ultimate midlife crisis credibility, there really is only one option: a Porsche. Nothing else will incite the same delicious mix of loathing, envy and admiration in all who behold you. Sure, people might sneer at you. Some may say a middle-aged man has no business in a Porsche. Others could accuse you of being laughable and clichéd. But as soon as you own one, you’ll gain access to the Porsche owners’ dictionary. It will help you to understand the language of envy. You’ll realise that “laughable” actually means: “successful”. That “clichéd” means: “cool”. And that “what’s he compensating for?” translates as: “I want to be him!”. And if you opt for the Boxster – named Best Roadster at our 2013 awards – you’ll also find that “Porsche” roughly translates to: razor-sharp handling, everyday usability, decent running costs, and genuine value for money.
For: It’s pretty much the perfect open-top sports car.
Against: People will hate you. And they may throw things.
11. Range Rover Evoque
At first glance the Range Rover Evoque looks every inch your stereotypical midlife crisis car. The concept car looks and the words: “Range Rover” on the nose indicate it’s exactly the kind of impractical, over-the-top, premium-badged, status-symbol that is the mainstay of this distinct category of vehicle. But, actually, the Evoque is much more than this. For starters, entry-level models come-in at under £30,000 – that’s the sort of money you’d pay for a mid-spec 3-Series. But it also handles well on the road, is a true off-roader, has plenty of interior space and reasonable running costs. It won Best Compact SUV at our 2013 New Car Awards. It is – whisper it – an entirely justifiable purchase. And therefore, as a midlife crisis car, it’s a complete cop-out.
For: It’s actually a sensible choice. Your wife/significant other will love you for it.
Against: You only get one midlife crisis, so for heaven’s sake pick a face-meltingly fast sports car with barely enough space for a guinea pig.
12. Tesla Roadster
If the Range Rove Evoque is the most sensible choice for a midlife crisis car, the Tesla Roadster has to be top of the pile at the other end of the scale. It’s tiny: the boot is miniscule, the cabin cramped, and just getting in and out takes real doing. And while it’s fast, it’s also electric. You’ll have to charge it for hours and then there’s no telling how long it will run for. And given that a midlife crisis is essentially a form of range anxiety, we think that opting for an electric car is probably a step to far. Why not go for the car the Tesla is based on instead – the Lotus Elise. It’s almost as fast, it’s a damn sight cheaper and it’ll help you forget about your limited range, rather than remind you of it. The Tesla is not for the faint of heart.
For: It’s fast, rare and gloriously impractical.
Against: It’s a sports car capable of 0-60mph in 3.7 seconds powered by electricity – you may as well try and run a space shuttle on dreams and fairy dust.
13. VW California
For most of us, a blast around in an unjustifiably expensive sports car once a week will be enough to allay the existential crisis of middle age. But there are always a few hardcore souls who go further – who jack in their jobs and the materialism of modern life and live out the rest of their days in a camper van. And for those brave pioneers, what better than the VW California? It’s got everything the modern hippy needs, from a fridge, gas hobs and sink to a fold out double bed and retractable awning. You’ll be the envy of every other middle-aged glamper at Glastonbury.
For: It’s incredibly versatile and a relaxed and comfortable long-distance cruiser.
Against: Do we really need to spell it out for you? Get a grip!