Lots of car for the money | Six of the Best

Finding a bigger bang for your buck is a favourite PH pastime – here are half a dozen hot picks

By PH Staff / Saturday, 4 November 2023 / Loading comments

Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG wagon, 2009, 75k, £23,990

Skoda has just this week launched a new Superb – you may have heard. Truthfully, it’s more of a heavy-duty facelift than an all-new model, but that’s fine because the Superb is well-liked on PH and with good reason. Ever since it launched, multiple generations have enjoyed a similar level of praise: it’s a helluva lot of car for the money. Granted, that was mostly due to the model’s exemplary interior roominess, but who doesn’t want to hear it repeated when you’re about to fork over a small mountain of rumpled banknotes? Accordingly, here are half a dozen secondhand cars worthy of the description – starting with the W204 C-Class wagon powered by the absurdly epic M156 V8, here in Performance Pack format. A practical, sonorous modern classic for the price of a new Fiesta. Need we say more? 

McLaren 540C, 2015, 35k, £69,900

Tempting, of course, to populate this rundown with five other big-engined cars from German manufacturers that can now be bought for a quarter of their list price – but it isn’t just used saloons and estates that offer bang for buck in absurdly uneven quantities. If you’re prepared to squint a bit at running costs, older McLarens are notoriously good value. The argument is, by now, well-worn: for the price of a used high-spec 718 Cayman, you get a carbon-tubbed, V8-touting, hugely good-looking mid-engined supercar that works peerlessly well on British roads. And, sure, the 540C we’ve highlighted here was not McLaren’s finest hour in market positioning when new, but on the basis that this one is now only a smidgen more expensive than earlier examples of the 12C, we’re inclined to reassess its appeal. Even when it comes in sofa-appropriate beige. 

Lexus RC F, 2015, 51k, £29,990

Talking of reassessing things, can there be any argument that an RC F of similar vintage is bringing an awful lot to the party as a used purchase in 2023? Lexus was asking quite a lot of buyers when the car was beyond £60k in the showroom. Now, for roughly half as much, it’s much easier to overlook the muted steering and so-so cabin, and fixate on the atmospheric 5.0-litre V8 and those muscular good looks. Here’s one in stock format with below average miles – or, if you’d prefer something a bit more exclusive, there’s a 1-of-26 RC F Carbon currently for sale in PH Auctions with a guide price of £32k to £36k that’s certainly worth a look. Either way, you’re getting for old-school, enjoy-it-why-you-can steroidal coupe for Superb money. In every sense. 

Range Rover Sport SVR, 2015, 69k, £37,000

Though Land Rover had jumped on the SUV bandwagon early enough with the original, L320 Range Rover Sport, it was the SVR that really marked a shift in approach. Arriving a couple of years into the life of the second-gen L494, the SVR brought more everything: more power, more noise, more attitude, more money. The 5.0-litre supercharged V8 produced a thunderous 550hp (later 575hp), which would rocket the SVR to 62mph in just 4.7 seconds. Crucially, though, it was an absolute pleasure to drive as well – this wasn’t just a rowdy exhaust, silly power and big rims. Though that surely helped, as Land Rover sold zillions of ‘em. This one appeals with the blue paint and silver wheels, plus the promise of a full service history as well for £37,000. Buying heavily depreciated Range Rovers has never been without risk, sure – but the reward has seldom looked more appealing.

Jaguar F-Type manual, 2015, 40k, £24,495

A decade on from its launch and with production about to end, the Jaguar F-Type looks more enticing than ever. Ten years of healthy sales across dozens of variants means plenty of choice for the second-hand buyer, from four-cylinder, 2.0-litre drop-top to 200mph, V8 super GT, with all sorts in between. Every single one has looked fantastic. And like so many great fast Jags, they’ve depreciated – an old infotainment screen doesn’t really so matter with tens of thousands off. There are V8s in both body styles from £30k, high mileage V6s at just £20,000, and then this one – a very rare V6 manual, with just 40,000 miles, for £24,495. Maybe not the greatest three-pedal setup in the world, but if the Jag sports car is going to be saved for occasional use then the involvement will be welcome. Likely to be collectible when every new Jag is electric, too…

Bentley Arnage R Mulliner, 2005, 74k, £34,985

If most car for the least money is the challenge, then it’s typically hard to do much better than a big Bentley. That so much can be obtained for so (relatively) little remains fairly remarkable; the spectre of a big bill is surely never far away, but what automotive excellence stands to be gained. Spending £35k on a bargain Bentley almost looks excessive when there are Conti GTs at just £10,000. That being said, there are cheap Bentleys, and then there’s this Arnage R. A Mulliner specification car used as a Crewe demonstrator back in the day, it was optioned up with a fridge, blinds, and two-tone paint. Don’t forget the 6.75-litre twin-turbo V8, either. Apparently, it was £151,000 in 2005, the equivalent of more than a quarter of a million today. Now it’s Focus ST money, and looking far fresher than its 74,000 miles might suggest. Fortune favours the brave, right?

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