Renault’s budget brand, Dacia, produces some of the cheapest new cars currently sold in the UK. From its no-thrills Sandero supermini, starting at £5,995, to its £9,495 Duster crossover, there’s an affordable Dacia for everyone. But if you’re willing to buy second-hand, you might be surprised at the kind of cars you can pick up for the price of a new Dacia. We’ve hit the classifieds…
“Can you buy a Porsche 911 for the price of a new Dacia?” we asked ourselves. Well, yes, sort of. If you’re in the market for an entry-level Dacia, we’re sorry to tell you a used Porsche 911 isn’t within reach. If, however, you’re looking at Dusters, you might be pleased to hear you can indeed afford a used 911 of the 996 variety.
We’ve found this example at a dealer in Derbyshire. It’s not the most desirable spec – with a blue interior and an automatic gearbox. It’s also covered 134,000 miles, but apparently comes with full service history, which should put your mind to rest a little. No, it won’t be as cheap to run as a Dacia, but it’s a Porsche…
If you are on a Sandero budget, there’s quite a wide choice of Boxsters available for sub-£6,000. Yes, some will scoff that you couldn’t afford a 911, but there’s a lot to like about the Boxster. Indeed, our budget gets us a 3.2-litre Boxster S, boasting 256hp and a 0-62mph time of 5.9 seconds.
We’ve hunted out this tidy-looking example from 2000, with 74,000 miles and a comprehensive service history. Do your research first, though. They’re known to suffer from engine issues which could hit you hard in the pocket.
Mercedes-Benz CLS 500
A £6,000 budget goes a long way in the world of the bargain barge. You’ll love or hate the way the Mercedes CLS looks, and the 500 has always lived in the shadow of the supercharged CLS 55. But the naturally-aspirated V8 makes for effortless progress, and we think it’s a bit of a used car bargain. OK, you might have put the lease price of a new Dacia aside each month for fuel alone, but it’ll be worth it.
If you want to fly the flag for Britain, this Series II Jaguar XJ will make you look like a member of the royal family for less than £5,000. The seller doesn’t mention whether it’s got an MOT, which is a bit of a worry, but it’s a very pretty thing to look at, nonetheless. Under the bonnet is a lovely 5.3-litre V12. Whether it runs is another matter.
Rolls-Royce Silver Spur
Yes, you can even buy a Rolls-Royce for less than an entry-level Dacia Sandero. This Silver Spur looks rather smart in gunmetal grey, although the owner does admit it has a few minor issues. Its MOT history suggests it’s hardly been used in recent years, which could prove problematic. But it’s a £6,000 Roller, so who cares?
BMW 7 Series
If you’re after something newer, this 2005 BMW 7 Series is a very tempting buy at £5,994. And, in 750i guise, it’s powered by a 4.8-litre V8 producing 367hp. Combined economy of 24.8mpg could hit the wallet, and it could also produce some painful maintenance bills if you don’t buy carefully. The MOT history of this particular example looks fairly clear, suggesting it’s led an easy life.
Alternatively, how about one of the first true performance SUVs? The BMW X5 4.8is boasts 352hp, hitting 62mph in 6.5 seconds. That’s still impressive for an SUV today: it was incredible when it was launched in 2002. This 2003 model we’ve found comes with an LPG conversion, which will help make the 18.9mpg more manageable. Make sure it’s been converted properly, with the correct paperwork, and functions as it should.
Right, sensible shoes for a moment. You can buy two Dacia Sanderos for the price of a new Ford Fiesta but, as Britain’s best-selling car, there are plenty of good examples in the classifieds. For less than £6,000, we found this three-year-old Fiesta Zetec at a Ford dealer in Derbyshire. It’s powered by the popular 1.0-litre Ecoboost petrol engine.
Now, back to looking at what you can buy for entry-level Duster money. Dacia’s crossover starts at £9,495, undercutting mainstream rivals such as the Nissan Qashqai and Skoda Yeti by more than £7,000. But if you’d prefer something a little trendier, depreciation is your friend. The first-generation Nissan Qashqai was an excellent car, and a budget of £9,500 will pick up one of the last from 2013.
The Lotus Elise is one of the purest sports cars money can buy. However, it is going up in value, meaning good ones are out of our £9,500 budget. But there are a number of affordable Vauxhall VX220s about. They’re very similar to the Lotus, built at the firm’s Hethel factory, but are powered by Vauxhall’s (more reliable and less rev-hungry) 2.2-litre engine. Just check for abuse: many have been used on-track.
If you’re looking at a Dacia Duster because you’re after practicality, or the SUV lifestyle appeals, consider a Mitsubishi Shogun. They offer excellent reliability, genuine off-roadability and loads of space for the cash, with 2008 long-wheelbase models available within our budget.
Alternatively, if you want maximum kudos when turning up at a campsite in the woods, look at America’s answer to the Defender: the Jeep Wrangler. There are plenty available for less than £9,500. Just watch out for off-road damage. Most will have been used as Chelsea tractors, however.
BMW M3 convertible
Now is a good time to buy a convertible and, with four seats, the BMW M3 is every bit the practical family car the Dacia Duster is. Convinced? Watch out for cracked subframes and make sure it’s been serviced regularly.
Right, time for another one of those rare sensible moments. If you want a genuine load-lugger that offers low running costs and excellent value for money, the Skoda Superb is a brilliant buy in estate guise. A budget of £9,500 will get you a three-year-old model with the efficient 1.6-litre turbodiesel engine.
If the Dacia salesman convinces you to spend close to £17,000 on a top-of-the-range Duster Prestige Dci 4×4, a whole world of options opens up on Auto Trader. If 4×4 is a must, how about this Range Rover with the brilliant TDV8 engine? It’s been given the Overfinch treatment, which won’t be to everyone’s taste, but we like the bodykit and bling alloys.
Land Rover Defender
If you’re after something a little more hardcore, how about a Land Rover Defender? Production of the iconic Landy finished in 2016, meaning a good example could be a very sound investment. Make sure you take a test-drive before parting with your hard-earned, however: they’re a tad agricultural to drive. We’ve found a tidy-looking 2002 Defender County Station Wagon for £15,995.
Bentley Turbo R
If your circumstances don’t dictate that you need a 4×4, well, the world (or at least Auto Trader) is your oyster. How about this 1997 Bentley Turbo R, with just 47,000 miles on the clock? With the help of its turbo, its hand-crafted 6.75-litre V8 engine produces 300hp, meaning it’ll hit 60mph in 6.6 seconds.
As this model is the long-wheelbase version, there’s potential to make extra money as a chauffeur at the weekends. You might need help with the running costs, after all…
Or, yeah, if you’re trying to be sensible… how about a nearly-new Qashqai? That £17,000 you could spend on a high-spec Duster buys a 2016 Qashqai 1.5-litre diesel in mid-range N-Tec+ trim. They’re popular, but there’s a reason for that. And, having covered just 13,000 miles, this example should be in as-new condition.
If you’re looking for a car that’s fun but also a fairly sensible ownership proposition, the Toyota GT86 is within our £17,000 budget. This 2014 example at a dealership in Twickenham has covered less than 9,000 miles. There’s a catch… it’s an automatic.