Best used cars for under £40,000

Our list of used cars under £40,000 features a cornucopia of premium brands

Simon Ostler John Evans
Aug 28, 2019

With a budget of £40,000, the idea of a used car might not have even crossed your mind. Sure, you could be driving away with a brand new Audi A5 Sportback, but you could also get something much more exciting than that if you were to head to the used market.

The best thing about used cars is that they don't even have to be used an awful lot before their value begins to tumble. That's why the cars you'll find on this list are not much more than two or three years old, in the grand scheme of things, you might be sacrificing some of the latest safety tech, but not an awful lot else. In many ways, a slightly older version will be different in nothing but looks to a brand new model.

We’ve chosen nine of the best options available to you, from exciting, powerful hot hatches to the most luxurious saloons on the market, we really have left no stone unturned.

Read on for our list of nine excellent used cars that are available for less than £40,000.

Best used cars for under £40,000

 

1. Mercedes-Benz E-Class Estate

Latest Mercedes-Benz E-Class Estate deals from £20,932
Monthly finance from £235

Yes, the Skoda Superb estate has a larger load area, and is an unbeatable estate choice if you don't have £40,000 to spend. But, you do, so the Mercedes E-Class estate has to be the pick of the bunch.

A BMW 5 Series Touring is more fun to drive but can't quite match the E-Class’s ride comfort, especially with the optional air suspension. Long-distance drives are its forte, rather than hustling along back roads.

Thanks to its clean and uncomplicated lines, the Mercedes is a practical (it has a powered tailgate and tiltable, split-fold back seats) as well as stylish estate. The 2.0-litre diesel engines are the ones to choose; they’re quieter than the old 2.1 and more economical. If you need more power go for the 3.0-litre diesel.

Mercedes-Benz E-Class estate buyers' guide

2. Volvo XC90

Latest Volvo XC90 deals from £27,490
Monthly finance from £379

Safety sells, and the Volvo XC90 brings new levels of modern safety to the game. In fact, according to Volvo, there has never been a fatality recorded in an XC90 in the UK. Testers of safety, Euro NCAP, even went as far as scoring it 100% in its safety assistance section.

Inside, there’s no shortage of space and it has seating for seven. The cabin is reassuringly expensive, yet minimalist.

Efficient diesel and hi-tech hybrid engines are the highlights of the range, while the thirsty petrols are somewhat lacklustre.

Volvo XC90 buyers' guide

3. Mercedes-Benz S-Class

Latest Mercedes-Benz S-Class deals from £26,500
Monthly finance from £406

If you can't afford a Rolls-Royce, a Mercedes-Benz S-Class is the next best thing. Spacious, comfortable and serene, the latest version builds on all of Mercedes’ many years of experience in this class.

There are super-powerful petrol models badged S63 and S65 but for everyday motoring, the diesel engines, especially the 350d, offer perfectly acceptable levels of performance. It will regularly conquer 50mpg, which is similar to the considerably more expensive hybrid version, despite Mercedes’ optimistic 113mpg claim. All variants are equipped with nine-speed automatic gearbox.

Trim-wise, you don't really have to look much beyond AMG Line with its leather seats, sat nav, climate control and wireless hotspot, all comfortably within your £40,000 budget.

Mercedes-Benz S-Class buyers' guide

4. Audi A5 Cabriolet

Latest Audi A5 Cabriolet deals from £23,500
Monthly finance from £350

A succession of hot summers has turned many car buyers’ thoughts to cabriolets such as the Audi A5. The great thing about this particular model is that, even when it’s snowing, it feels as snug as a conventional car. It’s almost as quiet on the motorway too, with wind roar well suppressed by the electrically powered canvas roof.

Inside, it has a really classy interior with lots of technology. It’s roomy too, where most convertibles are cramped in the back.

Of the engines on offer, the 2.0-litre diesel paired with Audi’s twin-clutch S tronic automatic gearbox is a great choice. There are quattro four-wheel-drive variants but grip levels in the standard car are perfectly good and in any case, the A5 is more cruiser than bruiser.

Audi A5 buyers' guide

5. Range Rover

Latest Range Rover deals from £32,100
Monthly finance from £500

The ultimate go anywhere luxury car is de rigueur for the upper echelons of society. This current generation of Range Rover, launched in 2013, is the model that has raised the bar highest during its 48 years of service too. And used prices have now slumped to below £40,000.

All Range Rovers are opulently appointed, and feature permanent four-wheel drive and sophisticated software for driving off road.

Your £40,000 gives you a few spec options, but don’t expect to get a long-wheelbase model or a petrol V8. We’d opt for a SDV6 diesel engine in Vogue spec. It’s the best all-rounder in the range thanks to plenty of power and claimed economy of just over 40mpg.

Range Rover buyers' guide

6. Porsche Macan

Latest Porsche Macan deals from £28,980
Monthly finance from £317

A sporty SUV is perhaps not the first concept that would pop into your head. But the Macan blends both in one satisfying and entertaining package. Despite having a name for performance cars, Porsche sells many more SUVs than it does sports cars these days. But, Porsche has mastered the trick of making these apparently unwieldy machines fun to drive. The Macan is agile in corners and resists body lean extremely well, all while riding comfortably.

Not only that, if you choose it in S Diesel form, no longer available new since Porsche exited the diesel market, you’ll find it’s also economical as well as very powerful when you need it most – overtaking quickly and safely.

Add a high trim level and Porsche’s usual attention to build quality, and the Macan is a very attractive package.

Porsche Macan buyers' guide

7. BMW M5

Latest BMW M5 deals from £35,000
Monthly finance from £485

The M5 is the sports saloon by which others are judged. There’s an all-new model on the market but it costs considerably more than £40,000. Which is not to say the version under the spotlight here has the virtue only of its lower price.

Take as read that it’s very powerful and that it can give rivals such as the Jaguar XFR and Mercedes–AMG C63 a run for their money. But what’s surprising is how comfortable it is in everyday driving, too, thanks to a suspension system that lets you choose between a variety of ride modes from Comfort to Sport+.

Cars like the M5 can be all about the driver but the BMW also spoils passengers with lots of head and legroom, both front and rear. Interior quality is top-notch, too.

BMW 5 Series buyers' guide

8. Audi TT

Latest Audi TT deals from £14,750
Monthly finance from £195

For 20 years, the TT has been the default choice for coupe buyers. We’re on the third generation now and but for a more angular appearance, it’s not that dissimilar from the original launched in 1998.

Of course, in just about every area from handling and performance to technology it’s moved the game on considerably. Incredibly, at a time when we’re used to hearing of cars gaining weight, this version has actually lost some of it. Partly as a result, it’s more fun to drive than ever before. And of course, if you want more grip, there are quattro four-wheel-drive variants.

This latest version introduced Audi’s virtual cockpit featuring a dynamic display screen in place of conventional instruments. Naturally, the TT is cramped in the back but if anyone suffers from claustrophobia, there’s always the Roadster convertible version.

Audi TT buyers' guide

9. VW Golf R

Latest Volkswagen Golf R deals from £15,000
Monthly finance from £230

If you want ballistic performance in a discreet package, look no further than the four-wheel-drive Golf R. To the untutored eye it looks little different from a basic Golf 1.4 TSI. Even an experienced Golf watcher might confuse it with the lower-powered and much less extreme Golf GTI.

Which, in a class populated with cars such as the outrageous-looking Ford Focus RS and Mercedes-AMG A 45, is just fine. It’s the mature choice that hides its performance (306bhp for 0-62mph in 4.6 seconds) under a conventional hatchback suit.

Beyond its performance, all the other Golf virtues are here from a high-quality and reasonably spacious interior to good levels of practicality.

Volkswagen Golf buyers' guide

             

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