RAC Cars News


Luxury cars on a budget

By raccars Published

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Buyers of used luxury cars benefit from the depreciation that's so painful to the first owners.

If you buy brand new, depreciation is an unpleasant but inevitable fact of car ownership. However, what's so uncomfortable for the car's first owner can be a bonus for those buying used. If you're looking for something impressive but your budget is rather more 'small family hatchback', you might be surprised at the luxury cars you can pick up after depreciation has done its dirty work.

Don't forget, however, that when something is cheap, there's always a reason. Luxury cars are almost invariably accompanied by higher fuel, service and running costs.

Luxury cars for £5,000 or less

Alfa Romeo 166

The Italian saloon comes with a 3.0 litre V6 and is as good looking as it is powerful. The 166 has escaped a number of the reliability issues for which Alfa has, deservedly or not, become famous but when something does go wrong it can be expensive to rectify. It's probably worth it for the drop dead gorgeous cabin and to escape from the predictability of the usual German suspects.

Audi A8

For this sort of money you're looking at first and second generation models but the A8 was so beautifully designed and built even back in 1994 that they still look good and ride well today. Even with six figure mileage under its belt the A8 retains a youthful vitality, but beware of thirsty petrol S8s.

BMW 7 Series

The four earliest generations of the luxe saloon all fall within budget and display BMW's usual punchy driving dynamics and premium German build quality. The iDrive system introduced with the fourth generation model can take some getting used to and you will find some models sporting rather brash alloys which it's best to pass over quickly. Overall though this is an awful lot of car for the money.

Citroen C6

The C6 rides with a stateliness reminiscent of another era, when Citroen made huge, luxury barges that suffered from crashing depreciation. There aren't many of them around but they can be found within budget and should be handled with care.

Ford Granada

It'll be some time before you can afford a Ford Mondeo Vignale but this was an earlier attempt at super luxury from Ford which is full of retro charm. You won't match the performance standards of other models on the list, especially with four cylinder versions, but prices are rising as the Granada reaches modern classic status so if you can find a good one it could be a shrewd investment prospect.

Honda Legend

The Legend is utterly devoid of image but offers a smooth ride and a lot of the same equipment as a premium German saloon. It's super reliable and very safe if you can bring yourself to set aside badge snobbery.

Jaguar XJ

The XJ looks dated and rather bloated compared to modern Jags but it's as spacious, rapid and refined as you'd expect from the British brand. Bear in mind that it's an expensive ownership prospect too but it's still a way to own a Jaguar.

Jaguar XK8

Now this is more like it - sleek, sophisticated and something you can really pose in. However you're going to need deep pockets to keep it going.

Lexus LS430

This is Japan's answer to the big Germans and for the price you're not likely to find a better combination of reliability and luxury. Despite Lexus' best efforts however there's still a lack of badge prestige and the LS430 does suffer slightly from its image as the poor man's Mercedes-Benz.

Porsche Cayenne

They're great and you can just about afford an early one, but be aware that a number of reliability issues have been reported, some of which could cost you more than your original purchase price to rectify.

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