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The best used cars - right now

By raccars Published

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A helpful list of the best used cars in a number of categories which should save you time sorting the wheat from the chaff.

Cheap fast used cars

You don't have to pay super car prices to get something a little pacy. For less than £2,000 you could get a 1996-2003 BMW 5 Series 535i or a 1997-2002 Mercedes-Benz CLK430, with powerful engines, classy, comfortable cabins and the potential to reach 150mph.

Family cars with performance and practicality

Neither do you need to spend a fortune to buy a practical family car that's also a pleasure to drive. In this most demanding sector there are some very impressive, affordable entries. Take a look at the Skoda Octavia vRS, the Lexus IS 300 and the almost too obvious Volkswagen Golf Gti, all of which can be found in good condition for as little as £5,000.

Cheap seven seaters

Big families need big cars but don't necessarily have the big budgets to go with them. With a budget of only £2,000 you can get into a 1999-2007 Vauxhall Zafira - it's not exciting but it is spacious. Alternatively there's the Land Rover Discovery 2 from 1992-2002, ideal if you need something which can do double duty for weekend adventuring. It's characterful but a little cramped compared to other seven seaters and can be thirsty.

The Renault Espace defined the class and the 1997-2006 model offers a surprising amount of sophistication for this budget. Access and seating layout aren't great but it's a very comfortable ride with some quirky features in the cabin. If your seven seater needs are intermittent, try a large estate instead of the traditional MPV. The 1997-2004 Volvo V70 is an absolute bargain at this price and is very versatile. The cavernous interior is comfortable and practical on an everyday basis and comes with the option of a third row of rear facing seats.

Longevity

The unprepossessing looking second generation Nissan Micra from 1992-1997 is surprisingly tough, able to withstand huge mileage and rough treatment. It will probably still be on the road long after you have finished with it. It's available for an astonishingly cheap £500-£1,000. The Suzuki Jimny is another doggedly determined and really rather capable contender. Despite its diminutive size and relatively puny 1300cc engine, it's a competent little off roader with bulletproof mechanicals. Prices start at £1,000, for which it will give you years and years of faithful service.

Bargain performance cars

For about £10,000 you could buy a brand new Fiat Panda. Or you could go for something far more exciting and glamorous. The screamingly entertaining BMW M6 from 2005-2010 suffered from crashing depreciation, which is great news for used car buyers as it can now be found for about £12,000. This buys you a 5.0 litre V10 producing 500bhp and a 0-62mph time of 4.4 seconds. You also get a smart and luxurious cabin.

The lithe Jaguar XKR from 1998-2007 is even cheaper. Prices start at £5,000 but it's worth splashing out a little more for better examples. Earlier models came with a 4.0 litre V8, followed by a 400bhp 4.2 litre unit from 2003. It's both rapid and luxurious, with a surprisingly exciting drive for such a sleek and refined looking vehicle.

Used Ferraris

Ferrari ownership may be more achievable than you think. Choose carefully and you could complete a popular childhood dream for as little as £30,000. The understated but swift Ferrari 456 GT from 1992-2003 was at one time the fastest four seater in the world. It's beautiful and surprisingly practical with its rear seats and a reputation for reliability. Early models can be found from £30,000 but running costs will be high. As you should expect for a car capable of 188mph.

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