RAC Cars News


Luxury Cars For Bargain Prices

By raccars Published

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It sounds too good to be true, but if you are creative in your choices, you can live the champagne lifestyle on a beer budget - in automotive terms at least.

VW Phaeton

The behemoth Phaeton was designed to be the ultimate luxury saloon but has never quite overcome the limits of its distinctly pedestrian badge. This is good news for used Phaeton buyers, as it means the huge saloon suffers from crashing depreciation. Introduced in 2003, the Phaeton is even bigger than a Mercedes S-Class and comes with a range of thirsty engines plus pretty much every gadget that was available at the time. The 2010 V6 diesel model is the most successful in the range. £4,000 should get you into this example of misplaced luxury - but will not carry the cachet of a premium badge.

Lexus LS400

The 1998-2000 LS400 is fantastically reliable and can be found today from £700. Make sure the cambelt has been changed on schedule and you'll have a high quality premium model to play with that makes a nice change from the more obvious choices. You could argue that the LS400 lacks some of the gadgets that earn a car the 'premium' tag, but it still looks cool.

Jaguar XJ8

Jaguars feature in very few 'bargain cars' lists, but the excellent 1997-2003 XJ8 benefits - or suffers, depending if you are buying or selling - from appalling depreciation that sees good condition examples available from £3,500. It's a thirsty beast and pre-2000 models suffered from some mechanical issues, but it's a Jag...

BMW 7 Series (E38)

BMW's equivalent to the Mercedes-Benz S-Class ran from 1994-2001. It scores well on reliability and is more frugal than the Merc, but check the steering and braking systems carefully before laying down any cash. The air conditioning and cooling systems have also seen some problems. However £2,500 is still cheap for metal of this quality.

Mercedes-Benz S-Class (W220)

The 1998 model S-Class is plentiful on the used market and is full of cool tech, such as ventilated seating and air suspension. This was also the first example of the Comand infotainment system. On the other hand, some of the same gadgets can result in expensive repair bills. Let's face it, big Mercedes saloons tend to age well and £4,500 will get you a decent model, but check footwells for signs of damp from blocked ventilation ducts.

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