What we were looking for
Style plays a large part, but we also demand real substance. For us, that means strong pace, sharp handling, long-distance comfort and everyday usability.
Audi TT 2.0 T-FSI
List price £24,900
Target Price £24,900
The TT may be a coupe, but it has broad appeal. The fashionistas love it, petrolheads will give it the time of day, city execs are happy to arrive at high-powered meetings in it and the 'ordinary' man or woman who just wants something different can afford it.
It's a universal car. The svelte lines make the TT appear exclusive but the sub-£25,000 price keeps it reassuringly inclusive.
The first-generation TT looked great, but its on-road capabilities were disappointing. Audi had made the ride quality too firm and the car was a long way from being nimble in corners, either.
Audi engineers worked on that, though, and the current TT is a revelation. A wider platform with a lower centre of gravity and an all-new multi-link suspension layout give it much more poise.
Get behind the wheel of one of these latest cars and you'll feel right at home after only a few corners. It offers manageable performance and handling, and you don't have to put in as much effort as you do in some more agricultural coupes.
It's a well-executed package and part of its success is down to the lightweight aluminium-and-steel construction. The 2.0 T-FSI model tips the scales at just 1260kg - that's a full 76kg lighter than the Volkswagen Golf GTI.
Zero to hero in 6.6sec
This front-wheel-drive model is our pick of the bunch. The 197bhp turbocharged powerplant has more than sufficient punch and will take the TT from zero to 60mph in only 6.6 seconds on the way to a top speed of 149mph. That's plenty quick enough.
In fact, such performance makes the 3.2-litre V6 four-wheel-drive version somewhat redundant.
The quattro's 0-60mph time is 5.9 seconds and it has a top speed of 155mph, but you'll have to shell out £5000 more to get that extra pace and sacrifice some of the front-wheel-drive car's handling finesse.
The TT is stylish, both inside and out. The cabin exudes quality and the only real downside is the cramped rear seating.
It's a faff getting into the back and, once in, you're forced to rekindle a long-lost relationship with your knees.
That's unlikely to be a major problem in this category, though, because practicality is not normally top of the list of priorities for coupe buyers. Instead, they're after sporty looks and an engaging drive.
The TT delivers both.
£25,000 - £40,000
BMW 335i SE
List price £34,085
Target Price £32,423
List price £70,097
Target Price £70,097