Style on a budget: the best looking used cars for £5,000

Style on a budget: the best looking used cars for £5,000

“Fashions fade, style is eternal,” said Yves Saint Laurent. But the question is: can you grab a stylish car when your budget is tighter than Kim Kardashian’s clingy bodycon maxi dress? We trawled the classifieds to find out and — as you might expect – there’s plenty of Italian flair to be found.

BMW 3 Series Coupe

To paraphrase Coco Chanel: “A car should be two things: classy and fabulous.” The E36 BMW Coupe is arguably the best looking 3 Series you can buy, certainly for our £5,000 budget. An unmodified six-cylinder E36 Coupe is a thing of beauty. Coco Chanel would have loved it. Probably.

Audi TT

The Audi TT is like a little black dress – it looks good in every scenario. And as Karl Lagerfeld famously said: “One is never over-dressed or underdressed with a little black dress.” Quite.

Jaguar XK

Jaguar XK

Almost as beautiful as the iconic E-Type and more affordable than the F-Type, the Jaguar XK is a styling sensation. Wait, we appear to be drifting into the kind of commentary you’d associate with the catwalk. Work it, baby.

Volvo C70

Look up ‘safe sex’ in the dictionary and it will probably reference the Volvo C70 Coupe and Cabriolet. This is one Swedish mistress you can gawp at on the internet without risking your marriage.

Renault Laguna Coupe

Bet you never expected to see an Aston Martin in this feature. Wait, what?

Alfa Romeo GT

Alfa Romeo GT

Figures suggest that men think about Alfa Romeos every seven seconds. The GT wasn’t so much built as poured from a bottle. And like a good bottle of Italian red, the GT is ageing beautifully. Bottoms up.

Volkswagen Corrado

In an interview with Car in 1988, the Corrado’s designer, Herbert Schafer, described his creation as: “quite pretty… certainly not one of these lookalike jelly-mould designs”. He was right. We’re not entirely sure Volkswagen has bettered the look of the Corrado.

Mercedes-Benz SL

You could spend the best part of a day searching for a £5,000 car with more style and elegance than the R129 Mercedes-Benz SL, but you’d be wasting your time. The last truly pretty SL? We think so.

Peugeot 406 Coupe

Peugeot 406 Coupe

Twenty years on from its debut at the 1996 Paris Motor Show, some onlookers are still collecting their dropped jaws from the floor. Is the Peugeot 406 Coupe the most beautiful Peugeot ever made? It’s in with a shout.

Mazda RX-8

If your shopping list includes a rotary engine, suicide doors and styling that looks futuristic even in 2016, you’re in luck. The Mazda RX-8 is for you. Just don’t mention the fuel economy.

Hyundai Coupe

That it’s not the sharpest tool in the box doesn’t matter, because the second generation Hyundai Coupe is the most beautiful thing ever to emerge from Korea. Extended warranties and value for money never looked sexier.



You want flame-grilled surfacing for your £5k budget – you got it. Once again we’ll quote a certain Coco Chanel, who said: “In order to be irreplaceable one must always be different.” And the Z4 was/is certainly different.

Peugeot 306 Cabriolet

Why splash out £5,000 on a drop-dead gorgeous car when you can spend a mere £500 on a drop-top stunner? Like the aforementioned 406 Coupe, the 306 Cabriolet offers style and elegance way beyond its price tag.

Saab 9-3 Convertible

Once upon a time, a Saab convertible was the choice of car for the image-conscious motorists of Britain’s stockbroker belt. The 9-3 Convertible is a beautiful topless Swede.

Volkswagen Eos

Volkswagen Eos

So easily forgotten, but in its day the Volkswagen Eos was the best of the coupe-cabriolet set. It looks great, has the right badge, drives superbly and offers a fair amount of interior space. It also sounds like the Greek god of love. A bit.

Audi A4 Cabriolet

There’s just something about Audi Cabriolets – they never seem to date. Even the earliest A4 Cabriolets — introduced in 2002 — still look fresh today. You can look a million dollars for less than five grand.

Citroen CX

Your £5,000 budget won’t stretch to a Citroen DS or SM, so how about the next best thing? Following the DS must have been like trying to follow Sir Alex Ferguson, but the Citroen CX proved it was no David Moyes.

Fiat Barchetta

Fiat Barchetta

Why have a car when you can own a little boat? That the Fiat Barchetta is left-hand drive only simply serves to add to the appeal. Belissima!

Honda Insight

You’ll struggle to find a stylish eco car for £5,000, but may we present to you the futuristic brilliance of the original Honda Insight? A future classic in the making.

Audi Coupe

Much like the Corrado, the Audi Coupe is proof that the Germans are the kings of desirable 90s coupes. Opt for Sport suspension and a five-pot engine, because this particular Audi has got it all going on.

Rover SD1

Rover SD1

The Rover SD1 (Specialist Division 1) arrived in 1976 and looked, to all intents and purposes, like a West Midlands interpretation of the Ferrari Daytona. It was the 1977 European Car of the Year, no less, and it could be yours for under five grand.

Alfa Romeo 156

Forget the stories of mechanical gremlins and build quality issues for a moment. Instead, just spend a few minutes staring at the grace and majesty of the Alfa Romeo 156. We have hot towels at the ready…

Jaguar XJ-S

When faced with creating a worthy successor to the E-Type, Jaguar took the easy way out and went out on a limb. Finding a Jaguar XJ-S for this kind of money is getting increasingly tough, and we’re not saying the journey won’t be littered with problems, but the XJ-S has grace in abundance.

Fiat Grande Punto

Fiat Grande Punto

Trust the Italians to have nailed the whole stylish supermini thing. Squint hard, drive into a hall of mirrors and — with some imagination — the Fiat Grande Punto looks like a pocket-size Maserati.

Alfa Romeo Brera

Arresting, bold and interesting – just three of the words used to describe the styling of the Alfa Romeo Brera. It’s just a shame the concept’s gullwing doors never made it into production.

Citroen XM

A controversial choice? Perhaps, but there’s just something about big and quirky Citroens. The XM is considerably cheaper than the CX and looks almost otherworldly. If Jean-Michel Jarre designed cars…

Volkswagen Passat CC

Volkswagen Passat CC

A four-door coupe in the style of a Mercedes-Benz CLS, but with the reassurance of a humble Volkswagen Passat. It’s like Sophie from Accounts letting her hair down on a Friday night.

Audi A6 Avant

We’re just going to come right out and say it: the C5 Audi A6 Avant is arguably the best looking estate car ever created. Ideally, we’d take ours in full-fat ‘Layer Cake’ RS6 form.

Porsche Boxster

Poor man’s Porsche 911? Can’t tell from the front from the rear? Behave yourself, because the Porsche Boxster is one of the defining sports cars of the modern era.

BMW 7 Series

BMW 7 Series

Grab an E38 BMW 7 Series and a Sony Ericsson JB988 mobile phone, head to the nearest multi-storey car park and you too could pretend to be James Bond in Tomorrow Never Dies. Just avoid having a run in with Dr. Kaufman – he could shoot you from Stuttgart…

Jeep Cherokee XJ

Finding a stylish SUV is going to be tricky, especially at this end of the market. Our pick would be the effortlessly cool Jeep Cherokee XJ, complete with 4.0-litre petrol engine. Check shirt and supersize Coke are optional.

Mazda MX-5

Another used car feature, another mention for the do-no-wrong Mazda MX-5. To meet the stylish criteria and the budget, we’d opt for the first generation car – a modern day Lotus Elan.

Audi S8

Audi S8

If you happen to have a friend who owns a Mercedes-Benz 450 SEL 6.9 and another who owns a Citroen XM, do the right thing and buy an Audi S8. Then recreate a few scenes from Ronin. On private roads, of course.

Alfa Romeo 159 Sportwagon

You know we said the Audi A6 Avant might be the best looking estate car in the world? Yeah, about that. We might have 159 reasons why it isn’t…

Volvo C30

If you can’t afford an 1800ES and the 480 is just a little too quirky, you might want to consider the Volvo C30. Its bold styling is ageing well and the turbocharged five-cylinder version is a Ford Focus ST in a different suit and blessed with a nicer interior.

Citroen C6

Citroen C6

Prices of the last truly eccentric big Citroen have edged below £5,000. It might have depreciated like a stone when new, but that’s not a problem for you.

Honda Prelude

At this price point you’re not exactly swimming in options when it comes to stylish Japanese cars. But the Honda Prelude is an exception to the rule. A slice of retro cool from the Far East.

Has an unhealthy obsession with cars of the 80s and 90s. Doesn’t really do supercars. Not a huge fan of sports cars. But loves the undervalued and the underwhelming.

Is probably a bit strange.

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