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
Jan 15, 2021

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.

Some of the best cars you can buy are well within reach at this price point, with class leaders in the saloon, SUV and hatchback markets all available at vastly reduced prices, with no reduction in prestige or quality. You certainly shouldn't discount the used car market on the premise that these cars will be old and battered.

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. Some of the cars on this list are barely a few months old so, 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.

Here is our pick of what we believe are some of the most exciting and luxurious cars you can buy, it just so happens that they all cost less than £40,000. The truth is, these are the cars we would choose to buy regardless of budget. You're in a very good place if you can afford to purchase one of these.

Best used cars for under £40,000

1. Mercedes-Benz E-Class Estate

Our pick Mercedes-Benz E200d Estate AMG Line
Used deals from £29,480
Monthly finance from £555*

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 stylish estate as well as a practical one (it has a powered tailgate and tiltable, split-fold back seats).

The E200d with the 2.0-litre diesel engine is the model to go for; they’re quiet and economical, but the best part is you'll be able to get a virtually new one with less than 5,000 miles on it for much less than £40,000.


2. Volvo XC90

Our pick Volvo XC90 2.0 D5 R-Design
Used deals Limited stock

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. At this price range you can get a very low-mileage 2019 model with a choice of petrol and diesel in a range of high-end specifications. Searching for a slightly older model, meanwhile, will bring huge savings of around £15,000.


3. Mercedes-Benz S-Class

Our pick Mercedes-Benz S350d L AMG Line
Used deals from £23,000
Monthly finance from £327*

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.


4. Audi A5 Cabriolet

Our pick Audi A5 Cabriolet 40 TDI S Line
Used deals from £14,995
Monthly finance from £275*

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 (badged 40 TDI) 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.


5. Range Rover

Our pick Range Rover 3.0 TDV6 Vogue
Used deals Limited stock

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.


6. Porsche Macan

Our pick Porsche Macan 3.0 Diesel S
Used deals from £29,965
Monthly finance from £499*

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 - a trend that also hold true for the likes of Alfa Romeo - but it 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.


7. BMW M5

Our pick BMW M5
Used deals from £25,226
Monthly finance from £460*

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, but unfortunately all this good stuff comes at a pretty high price, so you'll be looking at 2016 models if you want one on this budget.


8. Audi TT

Our pick Audi TT 40 TFSI Black Edition
Used deals Limited stock

For 20 years, the Audi 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. 2020 models with around 1,000 miles on the clock are well within budget here, £40,000 could see you driving away with a practically new Audi TT.


9. VW Golf R

Our pick Volkswagen Golf R
Used deals from £33,709
Monthly finance from £600*

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 anorak 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 A-Class AMG, 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 and for much less than £40,000 you can bag a pre-registered 2020 model with as little as 10 miles on it. 


*Representative PCP finance - Ford Fiesta:

48 monthly payments of £192
Deposit: £0
Mileage limit: 8,000 per year
Optional final payment to buy car: £2,923
Total amount payable to buy car: £11,926
Total cost of credit: £2,426
Amount borrowed: £9,500
APR: 9.9%

BuyaCar is a credit broker, not a lender. Our rates start from 6.9% APR. The rate you are offered will depend on your individual circumstances.


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