Best used cars under £40,000

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

John Evans
May 20, 2019

With £40,000 as your budget, or around £550 per month on a personal contract purchase plan, a world of top-quality cars awaits you.

We’ve chosen nine of the best, representing the most popular types from hot hatches to luxury saloons. The prices below show the cheapest on offer, but in many cases with this budget, you can afford cars that are only a couple of years old, and in some cases they'll be nearly new.

No matter how old, all are wonderful to drive, beautifully built and loaded with features and technology.

Scroll down to find the best cars in this price bracket.

Best used cars for under £40,000

 

1. Mercedes E-Class Estate

Latest Mercedes E-Class Estate deals from £20,445
Finance from £288 per month

Yes, the Skoda Superb estate has a larger load area, and is an unbeatable choice if you don't have £40,000 to spend. If you do have £40,000 to spend on a car however, and crave luxury as well as space, then the Mercedes E-Class estate is the pick of the bunch.

A BMW 5 Series 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 E-Class estate buying guide

2. Volvo XC90

Latest Volvo XC90 deals from £27,100
Finance from £368 per month

Safety sells, and the Volvo XC90 brings new levels of modern safety to the game. In fact, according to Volvo, there hasn’t 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 power are the highlights of the engine range, although the thirsty petrols leave something to be desired.
Volvo XC90 buying guide

3. Mercedes S-Class

Latest Mercedes S-Class deals from £26,000
Finance from £399 per month

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’ experience in this class.

There are super-powerful petrol models badged S63 and S65 but for everyday motoring, the diesel engines, especially the 350d, are perfectly good. It can do 50mpg, about what the considerably more expensive hybrid version can achieve, despite Mercedes’ optimistic 113mpg claim. All versions have a 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.

4. Audi A5 Cabriolet

Latest Audi A5 Cabriolet deals from £26,250
Finance from £359 per month

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 hood.

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 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 buying guide

5. Range Rover

Latest Range Rovert deals from £36,689
Finance from £601 per month

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 buying guide

6. Porsche Macan

Latest Porsche Macan deals from £29,844
Finance from £416 per month
SUV and sports cars are two concepts you wouldn't normally expect to see together. 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 buying guide

7. BMW M5

Latest BMW M5deals from £30,290
Finance from £421 per month

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.

8. Audi TT

Latest Audi TT deals from £14,830
Finance from £194 per month

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 buying guide

9. VW Golf R

Latest VW Golf R deals from £16,995
Finance from £257 per month

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 buying guide

             

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