ORDINARILY, DRIVERS spending £5,000 on a used car tread with caution and choose something that is cheap to tax, service and insure. Nothing wrong with that but we thought we’d like to show you, with the help of some of the used cars for sale on driving.co.uk, that £5,000 can also buy you something that is interesting, and which will fill your heart with pride.
But some caveats. It’s all very well us suggesting you throw caution to the wind and spend your £5,000 on something sporty or luxurious or off-beat but should you be tempted, do consider what such a car will cost you to run, and put a little money aside each month for unexpected maintenance bills. If the one you like the look of qualifies for cover, consider buying a good quality mechanical warranty for it.
Most importantly, please don’t assume that in featuring the cars below, we are endorsing them. We’ve merely read the advertisements and spoken briefly to the dealers selling them. Only a thorough check and a test drive will tell you whether any of the cars is good enough for you. And while they were still available when we called, one or two may have been sold in the interim.
Advertised car: Mazda MX-5 2.0i Sport Mk 3 £4,999 (2005/55; 52,000 miles)
You’ll find lots of good quality current-shape MX-5s like this one for around £5,000, and some mint-condition late Mk 2s as well. This one leapt out for its classy silver finish, one-owner history and fair price. Fun in the sun is standard.
Advertised car: Audi TT 1.8 T quattro (225) £4,980 (2002/02; 87,690 miles)
The “225” in this TT’s name refers to the engine’s power output in PS, which in old money equates to 219bhp. It’s enough to have given this particular car’s four-wheel drive system a work out, but is guaranteed to put a smile on your face. A Mk 1 like this still looks the original and best, and silver sets it off a treat.
Advertised car: Audi A6 2.7 TDI SE Avant £4,989 (2005/55; 115,000 miles)
Estates don’t come much classier than an Audi Avant. Elegant, supremely well made and practical, it defies changing fashions. The 2.7-litre V6 diesel powering our example is a refined and muscular engine with good economy, too, and assuming it has been looked after, has many more miles in it.
Advertised car: Jaguar XJS 4.0 £5,990 (1992; 72,000 miles)
We’re entering fledgling classic territory here, and all the ownership challenges that come with it. But this lovely old cruiser has evidence of 16 services and is described as being sound in wind and limb. Importantly, given how expensive seats and trim can be to repair, its interior looks good.
Advertised car: Cadillac BLS 2.T SE saloon £4,995 (2007/07; 37,000 miles)
With a list price of over £20,000 and class-trailing standards of ride and handling the BLS was never a good buy as a new car but now that used ones like our example are under £5,000, they start to make sense. Under that brash body lurk the proven mechanicals of a Saab 9-3, while the 2-litre turbo petrol engine is smooth and refined.
Advertised car: Volvo C30 1.6 SE £6,000 (2007/07; 43,400 miles)
You could have a younger, 2009/09 Ford Focus 1.6 Zetec S 3dr for the same money but the Volvo looks, and is, cooler with its coupé styling (so it’s cramped in the back) and overtones of the classic 1800ES in its shooting brake rear end. It’s merely average to drive but is well equipped and solidly built.
Advertised car: Range Rover 4.0 HSE £4,995 (2001/Y; 119,500 miles)
This is where the game of £5,000 cars becomes potentially ruinous. Should we be suggesting a 13-year-old Range Rover? Well, the chap selling this one swears it drives “like new” (which could mean anything when you’re talking old Rangies) and there’s something reassuring about him having taken 13 high-quality snaps of it, warts and all. Worth a drive, at least.
Advertised car: VW Phaeton 3.2 V6 £5,999 (2004/04; 74,000 miles)
The Phaeton is VW’s attempt to take on the heavy hitters from BMW and Mercedes, and as any owner will proudly tell you, it shares its platform with the Bentley Continental GT. Unfortunately, its VW badge means new car buyers have never taken it seriously, but used car buyers seeking value should. Incidentally, our example has a full service history.
Advertised car: Audi A8 4.2 quattro Tiptronic £5,295 (2003/03; 89,500 miles)
We make no apologies for suggesting another big VW Group saloon. Big, thirsty cars depreciate the fastest and if they’re made well, like the roomy, handsome and understated A8, they are clear bargains. That’s a 4.2-litre V8 under the bonnet by the way, and four-wheel drive, so don’t expect to go anywhere on a teaspoon of gas.
Advertised car: Porsche Boxster 2.7 £5,692 (2001/51; 88,000 miles)
You thought the Range Rover was high-stakes. An old Boxster that has doubtlessly been driven with some gusto in its time is surely just as sleep-depriving. However, this car has had just two owners and its records show partial Porsche service history. Assuming it checks out, a good mechanical warranty would be a sensible move.