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Budget alternatives to your dream car

By raccars Published

What are the smart alternatives when you don't have the money to buy an exclusive dream car?

It's usually - but not always - money that prevents petrol heads from owning their dream car. Some cars are simply too exclusive to be accessible. If you have your sights set on one of these rare beasts, the following make reasonable alternatives.

Dream car & budget alternative

BMW M5 & BMW 540i

The E39 generation of the always-desirable M5 is arguably one of the best super saloons ever made, with a 5.0 litre V8 producing 400bhp to a throaty soundtrack. However, they are very expensive and good examples aren't that plentiful on the used market. Instead think about the 540i. It's got 286bhp to play with from a sublime 4.4 litre V8, which may sound puny in relation to its animalistic sibling but, in fact, is sufficient for plenty of driving entertainment. You don't get the full, raw M experience but your wallet will thank you for it...

Land Rover Defender & Suzuki Jimny

The Defender is no more and good used models are gaining in value and exclusivity. If you weren't quick enough to grab a Defender before the production line closed, suspend your badge snobbery for a moment and consider the Jimny. It may not offer the prestige or butch looks of the Defender but is a genuine performer off-road, surprisingly entertaining and very affordable. You may not look too macho rolling up for a mudplugging session but put the Jimny in action and you'll silence any doubters.

Bugatti Veyron & VW Passat W8

Admittedly there's very little similarity between the two cars, but for about £2,500 you can get your hands on an exact, half size version of the Veyron's 8.0 litre W16 engine with the 4.0 litre W8 in the Passat. And the estate version even has room for the dog!

Volkswagen Golf Gti Mk2 & Volkswagen Jetta Gti 16v

One of the great Eighties hot hatches is becoming one of the most desirable modern classics, meaning that it's getting harder to find and more expensive. However its sibling, the Jetta, was less popular and is therefore less predictable, making it a bargain alternative with a practical boot and a lot of the same retro appeal.

Mercedes-Benz S-Class & Lexus LS400

Trading heavily upon its 'best car in the world' advertising campaign, the Merc is certainly a very impressive car. However it's also (dare we say it?) a little ponderous, a little pompous and rather obvious. It's also very expensive, whereas for under £1,000 the LS400 is a great mimic with a sweet V8.

Volvo XC70 & Vauxhall Insignia Country Tourer

Now that Volvo has been elevated to premium status, people are starting to sit up and take notice of what have, in fact, always been some excellent cars. The XC70 is a beefy estate perfectly equipped for the worst the British weather can throw at it, but prices start at about £35,000. The Insignia is a less prestigious but very competent alternative, available from £14,000.

Range Rover Evoque & SsangYong Tivoli

The fashion set's favourite compact SUV comes with a less than attractive price tag. SsangYong's equivalent, the Tivoli, doesn't carry quite the same cachet but is causing quite a stir with its surprisingly smart styling, pleasant driving dynamics and bargain price tag. The five year, unlimited mileage warranty could also prove a draw for those whose pockets are a bit tight.

Lotus Elise & Vauxhall VX220

Embodying the lightweight racing ideal, the ever desirable and super cool Lotus is a triumph of both form and function. However its doppelganger, the VX220 also started life at the Hethel Lotus factory and offers many of the same virtues for about £20,000 less.

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