Cheap luxury cars

Cheap needn't be nasty, and cut-price luxury cars are abundant. Here are ten of the best

Murray Scullion
Apr 19, 2018

Luxury is very hard to define in a car. To some, it means acres of heated leather for you to sit on, while some think the latest tech is more lavish in this day and age.

The di rigeur manufacturers for luxury aren’t even that anymore - yes Audi, BMW, and Mercedes-Benz are the norms. But is a Mercedes-Benz B-Class a luxury car? Peugeot and Citroen have been trying to muscle in on the luxury game for a few years, too.

And of course the Japanese companies have their luxury sub brands. Lexus is the frilly Toyota, while Nissan has Infiniti. Then of course there are the Brits. Jaguar has been a mainstay of the Waitrose car park since the invention of Waitrose car parks.

But what makes luxury cars all the more delicious is that they lose value faster than they accelerate. Some big and expensive cars can lose around 30 per cent of their value in the first year alone.

So when it comes to buying a cheap luxury cars, depreciation is your friend. If you pick right, you can have your Marks and Spencer chocolate and salted caramel truffle brush stroke cake, and eat it.

But a words of warning: while these cars enable you to live a champagne lifestyle on a lemonade budget, please do remember that the running and maintenance costs are still akin to a luxury budget.

Peugeot 508

Best cheap luxury car for value  

Our pick Peugeot 508 saloon GT 2.0 BlueHDI GT 
Used price £8,000-£25,000 Price from new £33,235

Kicking this list off with a Peugeot is a brave choice, but bear with us. The 508 is well finished inside, with the fixtures and fittings stylishly interlinked with one another, plus there’s loads of tech for the money too, including Emergency Brake Assist (it will brake for you in an emergency), DAB radio, and sat nav.

The 508 also has a very supple ride. When gliding down a motorway, it is incredibly smooth, and remains smooth when you’re on poorly maintained British B roads too.

The main criticism of the car when it was new is that it got quite expensive in top spec - which is true. Top spec cars were getting close to £35,000. However, fast forward a few years and even top spec cars can be bought for sub £10,000. We’d recommend top-of-the-line GT spec, this way you get even more pliant suspension and nicer looking alloy wheels.

There’s a new 508 coming later this year too. So if you can wait that long, this will drive the price down even further. Rapidly so of nearly new cars that are the old shape.



BMW 3 Series

Best cheap luxury car for all-round capability

Our pick BMW 3 Series 320d M Sport  
Used price £9,995-£31,500 Price from new £35,735

The sixth-generation BMW 3 Series first reached the UK in 2012. This is great news for the luxury buyer looking to snap up a bargain, because thousands have been sold in that time, and thousands are re-emerging on the second-hand market.

It received a facelift in 2015, and the sub £10,000 cars will be all before this. This is no bad thing, as the facelift was only very minor.

Overall, the 3 Series is well built, comes with engines that are economic, or fast, or both, and it’s also one of the best handling cars in its class. The steering is very direct and you can really feel what the car is doing.



Audi TT Roadster

Best cheap luxury car for sportiness

Our pick Audi TT 2.0 TFSi S-Line
Used price £9,999-£18,500 Price from new £31,150

To some, the Audi TT may have an image problem. For too long, the TT has had this ‘hairdresser’s car’ image. If you’re not familiar with that idiom, it’s supposed to mean a car that values style over substance. What this has to do with the profession of hairdressing, we’re not sure.

But, what we do know, is that the TT is a solidly built and handsome car. It’s not big like the rest of the cars on this list, but it does have rear seats. Just don’t expect adults to sit in them for too long without complaining.

We would recommend seeking out higher-specification S-Line models. These would have cost its original owner significantly more than the entry-level Sport when new, but the difference in value after several years is negligible. Petrol TTs also lose value a bit faster than diesel-engined car, plus they’re more sporting to drive.



Jaguar XF

Best cheap luxury car for British class

Our pick Jaguar XF 2.2 Luxury
Used price £12,000-£19,000 Price from new £29,375

For this kind of cash, you’re not going to be able to get the latest Jaguar XJ (2015-Present). You’ll be looking at the previous generation, which was made from 2008-2015.

Some of the electronics will feel clunky and outdated if you’re comparing them to a brand-new Jaguar, but it’s still a solidly classy car. But it’s still handsome today, and can be had with a whole load of engines.

The big petrol-powered engines are fast and sound great - but are very expensive to run. We’d opt for the 2.2-litre diesel. It’s swift enough for most people, and will return in the region of 50 + mpg.

Luxury trim gets you 17-inch alloy wheels, eight-way electrically adjustable seats and rear parking sensors.



Infiniti Q50

Best cheap luxury car for left-field choices  

Our pick Infiniti Q50 2.2D Premium
Used price £12,000-£19,000 Price from new £32,260

The Infiniti Q50 is definitely one for the left-field thinkers. Infiniti is Nissan’s luxury brand offshoot, and the Q50 is aimed at the Mercedes-Benz C-Class, Jaguar XE, and Lexus IS.

If you like the idea of having something much rarer than the standard-fit Mercedes or BMW, then Infiniti could the answer for you. Not only is it rare, but it’s eye-catching too, and more handsome than rivals. It’s also bigger in the rear than many of them.

But the interior isn’t quite up to scratch, and the diesel-engines can be noisy. Saying that, we’d suggest the diesel because it’s much more economical than the thirsty and fast petrols. Premium spec cars come with a treasure trove of options, most notably a BOSE 14 speaker sound system teamed with subwoofers.



Lexus IS

Best cheap luxury car for reliability  

Our pick Lexus IS300H Executive  
Used price £13,500-£31,000 Price from new £32,895

Another left field choice here, although admittedly, not as left field as the Infiniti above. Lexus is the luxury arm of Toyota, and prides itself on its build-quality and bold looks.

For the lower end of the price range, you’re looking at a pre-facelift model. So something registered between 2013 and 2016.

The hybrid is a good option as it’s smooth, powerful, quiet, and capable of 67mpg. It’s capable of running completely on electricity at low speeds for short journeys around town, which is a)cheap and b)very smooth and quiet.

The automatic gearbox (a CVT type) is slow and dimwitted at times. But overall, the IS is a wonderfully put together alternative choice to a luxury saloon.


Volvo S80

Best cheap luxury car for Scandi minimalism

Our pick Volvo S80 D5 Lux
Used price £14,000-£15,000 Price from new £34,650

Volvo’s S80 is massive and offers similar dimensions to the Audi A6 and BMW 5 Series, but is nowhere near as expensive as them.

It’s no longer for sale, which has helped bring prices down. And to some, it may feel outdated in the way it looks. But it is stylish and minimalist in only a way something from Scandinavia can be. It’s very understated, and is a welcome change to some of the more brash German offerings. Service intervals are every 18,000 miles, which is impressive for a luxury car.

Considering the huge depreciation figures, you may as well treat yourself to the top spec D5 Lux. Featuring a 2.4-litre diesel engine and an automatic gearbox, it’s powerful and smooth, and best suited to those travelling quite far quite regularly. Opt for the adaptive chassis control for a more comfortable ride too.


Mercedes-Benz E-Class

Best cheap luxury car for mid-sized saloons

Our pick Mercedes-Benz E-Class E220D AMG Sport 
Used price £14,500-£21,999 Price from new £37,645

A new E-Class came onto the scene in 2016, driving the price down for the previous generation. It’s this generation we’ll be concentrating on.

The quality of the interior in this E-Class is nothing short of superb. It’s not flashy, but everything is laid out in a simple and easy to understand way, and everything fits and shuts with a reassuring clink.

A variety of different trims and engines can be had, and it should be known that chassis set up is different depending on trim level. SE level has softer suspension, making it smoother over bumps. Where as the AMG Sport trim has harder, more sport suspension.

We’d recommend this as it comes with nice exterior touches and makes the E-Class look even more premium than it is.



Alfa Romeo Giulia

Best cheap luxury car for Italian style  

Our pick Alfa Romeo Giulia 2.0 TB Veloce 
Used price £22,000-£32,000 Price from new £38,265

Alfa Romeo is firmly aiming its Giulia at those seeking luxury away from the big German marques.

The Giulia is a similar size to the BMW 3 Series, Audi A4, and Mercedes-Benz C-Class. It’s a stunning looking thing, especially when it has big wheels on. And there are some nice touches inside too - like the ability to control the dashboard screen with a centrally mounted controller and not via a touchscreen.

Because there’s only been one generation of this type of Giulia (save for the classic saloon made in the Sixties and Seventies) your used luxury car will still look brand new. Plump for the 2.0-litre turbo - it’s sporty with 280hp, but nowhere near as expensive as the bigger and frighteningly fast Quadrifoglio model.



Maserati Ghibli

Best cheap luxury car for brand snobs

Our pick Maserati Ghibli V6S
Used price £24,995-£48,000 Price from new £61,475

This may be the cheapest model Maserati makes, but it’s still a Maserati at the end of the day.

It was subject to a facelift in 2016, driving the prices of older cars down. Even the pre-facelift model is still a stunning car, likely to draw crowds and admirers.

The Ghibli is the most expensive on this list, and isn’t exactly cheap in its own right. But it is cheap for a Maserati. They start at around £24,995, although we’d pony up some more cash for the V6 petrol. It’s stupendously fast and sounds great, and really suits the Maserati marque more than the diesel engine.

Even if it is expensive for this list, cars can be bought more than 50 per cent cheaper than a new one.



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