Best used cars for under £40,000

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

Chris Rosamond
May 28, 2021

If you have a £40,000 budget you may not have even considered a used car, as there are plenty of desirable new car options for the money. However, if you consider pre-owned models, the realm of luxury and performance cars opens up too, and you could soon be driving a car that will be the envy of all your friends and neighbours.

If £40,000 sounds like a substantial budget for a new car, just think how far it stretches when you’re buying nearly new. You can get your hands on some seriously classy nearly new upmarket saloons, imposingly prestigious SUVs and a range of scintillating sports cars, all of which shed thousands of pounds in depreciation when their first owners drove out of the showroom.

That leaves you to savour the spoils, and we’ve rounded up a group of our favourite premium choices to help whet your appetite for a luxury used car from the many fantastic choices here on BuyaCar.

Some of the most sophisticated cars you can get are well within reach at this price point, with many of the best saloons, SUVs and hatchbacks all available at vastly reduced costs, with no reduction in prestige or quality. So, even if you have a big budget, you can take advantage of getting far more car for your money by going used - whether you’re after lots of equipment, power or style.

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 very latest safety tech, but not an awful lot else.

In many ways, a slightly older version will be barely different to a brand new model, with potentially just the number plate showing a difference. And if that bothers you, you can always pick up a private number plate with the savings you’ll have made by going used.

Here is our pick of some of the most exciting and luxurious cars you can buy, which are all available for less than £40,000. The truth is, these are the cars we would choose to buy regardless of budget, so 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 E-Class Estate

Our pick Mercedes E200d Estate AMG Line
Used deals Limited stock

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, and 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, which has a 2.0-litre diesel engine is the model to go for; it's 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.

MERCEDES E-CLASS ESTATE BUYERS' GUIDE

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 high-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 power in a range of high-end specifications. Searching for a slightly older model, meanwhile, will bring huge savings of around £15,000.

VOLVO XC90 BUYERS' GUIDE

3. Mercedes S-Class

Our pick Mercedes S350d L AMG Line
Used deals Limited stock

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

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. This version can 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 S-CLASS BUYERS' GUIDE

4. Audi A5 Cabriolet

Our pick Audi A5 Cabriolet 40 TDI S Line
Used deals from £22,600
Monthly finance from £351*

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 noise 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 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 Sport

Our pick Range Rover Sport 3.0 SDV6 HSE Dynamic
Used deals Limited stock

The Range Rover is the ultimate go anywhere luxury car. For luxury SUV fans who want something with all the Range Rover image and prestige but one that’s a bit less old-school and more fun to drive, the Range Rover Sport is an enticing choice.

Like all Range Rovers, the Sport models 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 your hands on one of the high-performance petrol V8 models. We’d opt for a SDV6 diesel engine in HSE Dynamic spec. It’s a great all-rounder thanks to plenty of power and a reasonably good economy record.

RANGE ROVER SPORT BUYERS' GUIDE

6. Porsche Macan

Our pick Porsche Macan 3.0 Diesel S
Used deals Limited stock

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

PORSCHE MACAN BUYERS' GUIDE

7. BMW 5 Series

Our pick BMW M5
Used deals from £28,200
Monthly finance from £609*

The M5 is the sports saloon by which others are judged. There’s a new model on the market but it costs considerably more than £40,000. However, it’s not just a lower price that the older version has on its side.

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+.

The M5’s 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.

Alternatively, you could spend your £40,000 budget on a low-mileage, nearly new 2020 530e petrol hybrid in M Sport trim, which has plenty of the M5 model’s sporty styling cues, but will be a lot easier on your pocket when it comes to running costs.

BMW 5 SERIES BUYERS' GUIDE

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 after serious style. 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 if you want more grip, there are quattro four-wheel-drive variants.

This latest version introduced Audi’s virtual cockpit featuring a digital display screen in place of conventional instruments. Naturally for a car of this type and size, 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.

AUDI TT BUYERS' GUIDE

9. VW Golf R

Our pick Volkswagen Golf R
Used deals Limited stock

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 (it has a substantial 310hp for a rapid 0-62mph time of 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.

VOLKSWAGEN GOLF BUYERS' GUIDE

*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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