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Cars you can buy for the £748 price of Christmas

Cars you can buy for the £748 price of Christmas

Cars you can buy for the £748 price of Christmas
The average Brit is expected to spend £748 on presents this Christmas – up from £732 in 2015. With more than three quarters of us shopping online this December, we decided to do some virtual window shopping of our own. But instead of seeking out toys, electronics and socks, we’ve been on Auto Trader and discovered how far £748 goes in the world of cars…

Jaguar XJ – £600

Jaguar XJ – £600

The ‘X300’ shape Jaguar XJ is in a real sweet spot in terms of budget Jaguar buying at the moment. More reliable than both the older XJ40 and newer X308, the ’94 – ’97 XJ is in that ‘not quite a classic’ phase, and that means they’re cheap. A couple of grand will buy a really good one, but an old-man image and fairly high running costs mean there are several about for little more than a monkey (that’s £500 to you and me).

This example we found on Auto Trader claims to be rust-free (but you might want to have a poke around the sills to check) – and even comes with a suitable private plate. The downsides? The bodywork doesn’t sound to be great, with lacquer peel affecting a number of areas, and there’s “a moaning sound from the starter motor” occasionally. But it’s a £600 Jag!

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BMW 7 Series – £700

BMW 7 Series – £700

If you prefer your barges a little more German, how about a BMW 7 Series? Like the Jaguar, high running costs will put most people off, but it even comes with a phone. When an iPhone 7 Plus starts at £719, you’re basically buying a phone and getting a BMW 7 Series for free. Tell that to your family when they discover no presents under the tree this Christmas.

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Toyota MR2 – £800

Toyota MR2 – £800

Let’s step away from barges for a moment and look what £748 gets you in the world of sports cars. At this time of year, no one is buying two-seater convertibles, so the world is your oyster. You could buy a predictable (and very good) Mazda MX-5, but we thought we’d be more ambitious and see if we could find a Mk3 MR2 within our budget. We failed, but this one’s just £800 – and who wouldn’t knock £52 off a convertible in the run-up to Christmas?

Check the oil levels – oil consumption can be an issue – and ask if it’s had a new manifold fitted. The pre-cat in the exhaust manifold has a habit of breaking up, with debris being sucked into the engine. It’s particularly a problem in cars that have been driven hard from cold.

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Mazda RX-8 – £750

Mazda RX-8 – £750

Your kids might hate you now for cancelling Christmas, but in the future they’ll look back and understand your logic in buying a Mazda RX-8 for the price of a few presents. At £750, you don’t need to be Mike Brewer to knock £2 off and get it within budget.

There’s a reason they’re cheap – the rotary engine has an appetite for fuel and oil, and can go wrong if it’s not been maintained. Check that it starts OK while warm, and question the seller on their oil-topping-up habits. Spark plugs are expensive, pushing the cost of a major service to more than £500, but there’s no cambelt that needs changing.

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Perodua Kenari – £750

Perodua Kenari – £750

A PR campaign from Perodua in December 2007 suggested customers should “give the gift of Kenari” that Christmas. It went on to say “Britain’s best value mini-MPV” was available from £5,630, thanks to a £500 cashback deal. Bargain hunters will be pleased to know there’s currently a gold Perodua Kenari automatic on Auto Trader for just £750 for Christmas. You really can give the gift of Kenari this Christmas.

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Suzuki Grand Vitara – £600

Suzuki Grand Vitara – £600

As usual for Christmas, our spending is getting a little bit carried away, with the last three cars being over budget. Let’s rein(deer) it in a bit, with a £600 4×4 that will double up as a convertible when summer arrives. A Suzuki Grand Vitara should make for a trusty workhorse, although an advisory for corrosion on its last MOT means you might want to get it Waxoyled before the rot sets in.

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Volvo 850 – £700

Volvo 850 – £700

Smithy driving his Volvo 850 while singing along to Band Aid is now a traditional Christmas scene for Gavin and Stacey fans. Although his Volvo in the Christmas special is turquoise in colour, Smithy usually drives a maroon Volvo 850, but it was written off in an off-camera crash.

The actual car driven by James Corden sold for more than £2,000 in 2013, making this example we’ve found on Auto Trader look a bit of a bargain. There’s some unsightly lacquer peel on the bonnet, and the wood inside won’t be to everyone’s taste. But it’s a practical load-lugger for those Christmas presents you won’t be buying this year.

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Volvo V40 – £740

Volvo V40 – £740

If you’re not a Gavin and Stacey fan, you might be better buying a newer Volvo V40 for your £748 budget. Many will snub the Dutch-built V40 as “not a real Volvo”, thanks to its platform shared with the Mitsubishi Carisma, but this example looks to be very tidy. Take it for a good test-drive and make sure the automatic gearbox functions correctly.

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Black cab – £795

Black cab – £795

If you’re looking for a career change in the new year, why not invest your £748 Christmas budget (after negotiation) on a black cab? As a TX1, this taxi is powered by a bulletproof 2.7-litre diesel Nissan engine. We wouldn’t worry too much about the 404,000 miles on the clock, although you might want to buy an old Avensis and become an Uber driver instead.

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Mercedes-Benz C-Class – £695

Mercedes-Benz C-Class – £695

Mercs of this era have a reputation for rust, so a £695 C-Class with “no rust issues” certainly grabs our attention. An advisory on its last MOT for “slight corrosion” on the offside sill perhaps suggests an element of creative writing has been used in the ad, but it’s still potentially a bargain. That lovely straight-six engine will soon help you forget about the bodywork, but it might be one to avoid if you cover lots of miles.

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MG ZR – £750

MG ZR – £750

The MG ZR is an underrated hot hatch, with many put off by their reputation for poor build quality. One way to get around the head gasket issue that plagued the K-series petrol engines fitted to the MG ZR is to buy a 2.0-litre diesel. The L-series engine isn’t particularly refined, but it is bulletproof and, as the more powerful 113hp model, it’ll hit 62mph in 9.1 seconds. OK, the 51.5mpg figure is a little more impressive…

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Alfa Romeo 147 – £595

Alfa Romeo 147 – £595

No one has ever regretted buying a cheap Alfa Romeo. Possibly. The seller of this lovely-looking 147 says he’ll take a watch in part-exchange – so chop in your old Casio and it ought to be even more of a bargain. Check through its history: it’ll need a cambelt if it hasn’t been changed in the last three years, but you might be surprised how cheap that can be at a specialist. Budget up to £300.

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Land Rover Freelander – £600

Land Rover Freelander – £600

Old Freelanders have potential to be money-pits, but we think this 2001 V6 looks to be much more than £600-worth. It’s only covered 71,000 miles (probably because the owner couldn’t afford the fuel bills), but it’s going to be more fun to drive than the problematic 1.8 or sluggish 2.0-litre diesel. Transmission issues mean a lot of Freelander 1s have been converted to front wheel-drive by having their prop shaft removed – and the seller of this example admits this to be the case. That’s not a huge concern unless you need the four-wheel-drive ability – and it should even help you save on fuel.

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Fiat Multipla – £600

Fiat Multipla – £600

The original Fiat Multipla was crowned Top Gear’s ‘ugliest car of 1999’ when it was new, and the public’s reaction led to the car manufacturer toning its quirky MPV down when it was facelifted in 2004. But we look back at the Mk1 Multipla now and find it quite endearing. Its three front seats make it a quirky family carrier, and kids will love the bright interior of this example we’ve found.

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Honda HR-V – £750

Honda HR-V – £750

Marketed as the ‘joy machine’ when it was launched in 1999, the HR-V was a lightweight, low-emissions crossover designed to appeal to a young demographic. Today, they’re a reliable and interesting compact SUV and a number of well-used examples are creeping below our budget. The seller of this example at a dealer in Buckinghamshire admits it’s come in as a part-exchange and has a few dings, but it doesn’t look a bad buy for £750.

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Ford Focus – £745

Ford Focus – £745

Let’s be sensible for a moment. If we really were given £748 and told to buy a car we could use every day without costing a fortune to maintain, we’d probably seek out a cared-for Ford Focus. There are loads about, so you can afford to be picky, and parts are cheap. For simplicity’s sake, we’d search for a petrol, and we’ve found this very tidy example from 2003 on Auto Trader. In LX trim it’s not as desirable as a Ghia, but it looks to be in better condition than most. With a very short MOT, we’d try to negotiate a fresh MOT as part of the deal.

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Suzuki Ignis Sport – £595

Suzuki Ignis Sport – £595

Right, back to the fun stuff. The Suzuki Ignis Sport is a plucky little hot hatch – what else offers Japanese reliability combined with Recaro seats and yellow mesh in the headrests for sub-£1,000? They’re few and far between within our £748 budget, but there is an example advertised at a dealership in Leeds. Just don’t expect it to be a minter…

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Rover 75 – £725

Rover 75 – £725

The Rover 75 was actually a pretty good car, it just happened to arrive a bit late to save Rover and was hampered by a half-hearted launch. The engine you don’t want is the 1.8-litre K-series (they’re plagued by head-gasket failure) and automatics are less problematic than the manual gearbox. Naturally, we’ve picked out a lovely 1.8 K-series from the classifieds. While a V6 would be more fun and a diesel generally better in every way, the 1.8 can be bought cheaply and, if you’re careful, won’t necessarily give you any trouble. Watch the temperature needle like a hawk on the test drive and make sure there’s no evidence of oil and coolant mixing to form ‘mayonnaise’.

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BMW 3 Series Compact – £700

BMW 3 Series Compact – £700

The Compact isn’t the most desirable 3 Series, but that means you can pick up a better example than the regular model within our budget. This 2001 example on Auto Trader looks very clean, with just 95,000 miles on the clock, although the seller does say it’s showing an airbag warning light. That’d be an MOT failure, so would need fixing soon.

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Mazda MX-5 – £750

Mazda MX-5 – £750

Have you heard? Mazda MX-5s are going up in price now, especially tidy first-generation models. While this is a Mk1, we wouldn’t describe it as ‘tidy’. It’s been written off in the past, and there are various shades of red going on across different panels. The engines are very reliable, though, so bodywork aside, there isn’t much to worry about. Get on your hands and knees and check underneath for rust.

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Vauxhall Signum – £785

Vauxhall Signum – £785

The Vauxhall Signum is like a Vectra, but much rarer than a Vectra. And that makes it cool. The front bit is the same as the repmobile on which it’s based, but the rear has been extended to provide extra legroom. There’s a near-vertical tailgate, and it was priced above the Vectra when new.

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Renault Laguna – £750

Renault Laguna – £750

Old Renault Lagunas aren’t the choice for anyone who expects their car to start every morning – even the key card can be troublesome. But this example, powered by a lovely 3.0-litre V6, looks promising. It’s covered just 63,000 miles and has full service history including two cambelt changes, says the seller.

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SEAT Leon Cupra – £699

SEAT Leon Cupra – £699

With 180hp, the original SEAT Leon Cupra would hit 62mph in 7.7 seconds. That was hot hatch territory back then, even if it wouldn’t see the direction a hot Leon went today. The original Leon Cupra is relatively unloved, putting it firmly in bargain basement territory. We’re not sure about the aftermarket exhaust fitted to this example (it hints at a boy racer owner), but that’s easy enough to change.

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Lexus IS200 – £595

Lexus IS200 – £595

Yes, we could have found a Lexus IS200 with lower miles for the money, but a 240,000-mile example appeals for the novelty factor. They’re exceptionally reliable, and an MOT history search shows no major issues on the horizon. Wave £500 at the seller and see if you can get it to 300,000 miles without any big bills – we’d be surprised if you can’t.

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Performance per pound: cheap fast cars for sale NOW

Performance per pound: cheap fast cars for sale NOW

Performance per pound: cheap fast cars for sale NOWFeeling slightly mischievous this week, we set ourselves a particularly challenging, er… challenge. Armed with a virtual wad of £2,000, we wandered through the lower reaches of Auto Trader in search of performance bargains. We emerged with everything from a pint-sized hot hatch to a lazy, all-American Cadillac. As always, inclusion does not represent an endorsement.

Ford Mondeo ST220: £2,000Performance per pound: cheap fast cars for sale NOW

We’re tempted to conclude this gallery here and suggest you go out and buy a Ford Mondeo ST220. This thing has got it all: a delightful 3.0-litre V6 engine, a terrific chassis and – just as importantly – a bargain basement price tag.

This is one of a number of ST220s available on Auto Trader, but it looks like an absolute steal. The Essex number plate is a bonus, too.

Jaguar X-Type 3.0 V6: £1,999Performance per pound: cheap fast cars for sale NOW

Fancy a sleeper? The 3.0-litre V6 in the Jaguar X-Type is significantly faster than the 2.5-litre version, with only a marginal difference in terms of economy. You also get the benefits associated with all-wheel drive in a body that could pass as a standard diesel repmobile.

This 2004 example benefits from the lavish SE spec, including upgraded 17-inch alloy wheels, full leather, climate control, and electric everything. A steal at just under £2,000

Lexus IS300 SportCross: £1,495Performance per pound: cheap fast cars for sale NOW

The Lexus IS300 SportCross won’t be able to offer proper estate levels of practicality, but if your idea of ‘lifestyle’ extends to carrying the odd mountain bike and space for the dog, it could be the ideal chariot.

It’s another 3.0-litre V6 engine, although the SportCross is able to add rear-wheel drive to the mix. The 0-60mph time is polished off in 8.4 seconds, but don’t ask about fuel economy. It’ll only put you off.

Mazda RX-8: £1,949Performance per pound: cheap fast cars for sale NOW

We recently covered the Mazda RX-8 as a Retro Road Test and concluded that, if you buy a good car, it’ll be an enjoyable (and unusual) car to own. We appreciate a RX-8 is more of a heart than a head purchase, but good cars do appear in the classifieds.

This might be one such car. Yes, it’s an earlier RX-8 – some folk advise buying a later car – but it has three things going for it. Firstly, the mileage is sensible. Secondly, it has had just one previous keeper. And finally, the MOT history check is rather promising. Worth a look?

Proton Satria GTi: £1,995Performance per pound: cheap fast cars for sale NOW

You don’t need a gazillion horsepower to have fun. With the right chassis, even a mediocre hot hatch can provide the necessary thrills – and none of the spills – on a British B-road. Cars like the Proton Satria GTi, then?

You might not like the styling and the cheap-looking bodykit. You probably won’t be too keen on the quality of the interior. The Mitsubishi-sourced 1.8-litre engine isn’t the most refined unit, either. But Lotus worked some magic with the chassis, which is something you’ll discover when you reach the first corner. Try it. You might like it.

MG ZR: £1,250Performance per pound: cheap fast cars for sale NOW

The MG makeover could only achieve so much, which is why the ZR still has the look of a Rover 25. You’ll know about the issues associated with the K-series engine, but in ZR 160 guise, this was a properly quick car.

Sadly, this example isn’t powered by the 1.8-litre engine, meaning you’ll have to make do with the 105 1.4-litre unit. But look on the bright side: it’ll be cheaper to insure, it has had “one careful owner from new” and there’s only 43,900 miles on the clock.

Skoda Octavia vRS: £1,695Performance per pound: cheap fast cars for sale NOW

The Skoda Octavia was the first car to wear the vRS badge, taking its running gear from the Volkswagen Golf GTi of the time. This means you get a 1.8-litre turbocharged engine developing 180hp, although some cars have been tuned to 225hp, giving them Audi S3 levels of performance.

We like the look of this 2005 example as it has had just one owner from new and comes with full Skoda service history. If it’s as good as it looks, this might be a performance bargain.

Subaru Forester S-Turbo: £1,950Performance per pound: cheap fast cars for sale NOW

And now for something completely different. Back in the day, the Subaru Forester S-Turbo was a bit of a (sound the cliché klaxon) wolf in sheep’s clothing, thanks to its 170hp ‘boxer engine’ and ability to cover ground – rough or smooth – at an alarming pace.

The black alloy wheels and aftermarket exhaust suggest this Forester may have been owned by an ‘enthusiastic’ owner, but it looks to be in great condition. The perfect winter hack?

Suzuki Swift Sport: £2,000Performance per pound: cheap fast cars for sale NOW

The Suzuki Swift Sport is one of our favourite junior hot hatches of all-time, with an ability to deliver ‘scruff of the neck’ old-school thrills. Prices of the earliest cars are edging temptingly close to the £2,000 mark.

Some, like this 2010 car, are already at the £2,000 mark. OK, so the category D status might be an issue (the seller claims it has a dent on the boot lid), but the MOT history is almost faultless. What’s more, it has a mere 47,000 miles on the clock. Further investigation is required, but this might be a bargain.

Rover 200 BRM: £1,995Performance per pound: cheap fast cars for sale NOW

Before the MG ZR there was this: the Rover 200 BRM. The special edition was based on the Rover 200vi and featured a Torsen differential from the 220 Turbo. A bright orange grille was added to pay homage to the BRM F1 cars of the 1960s.

Sadly, somebody has painted the orange grille on this example, but fortunately the ‘Marmite’ red interior remains in place. A future classic for £1,995. Where do we sign?

Toyota MR2: £1,995Performance per pound: cheap fast cars for sale NOW

The Mk3 version of the MR2 is the last one Toyota built and is therefore the most sensible choice if you intend to use it everyday. Unless you want to carry any luggage, that is. There are dozens of similarly priced MR2 for sale on Auto Trader, but this has strong appeal.

Silver over red is a classic combination, while the MOT history makes for good reading. Winter is a good time to buy a roadster, so get haggling.

BMW 328i: £895Performance per pound: cheap fast cars for sale NOW

A gallery on cheap fast cars – ideal territory for the BMW 328i and 330i. Or so you might think. Sadly, a few minutes desktop research suggests that many of the cars on sale haven’t exactly been treated to a pampered lifestyle.

Which is why we’re proposing a 328i convertible. The chances are it will have led a more relaxed life, while the seller claims it comes with full dealer history. The one downside is that it needs a new roof. But look on the bright side: it’s only £895.

Saab 9-5 Aero: £1,695Performance per pound: cheap fast cars for sale NOW

There was a time, in the not too distant past, when Saabs were driven by nice people. You always knew where you stood with Mr Saab (the majority were driven by men). Buying a Saab from a main dealer or directly from a seller was a pleasurable experience.

Sadly, those days have gone, not least because the majority of cars have fallen into banger territory. But gems do exist, like this 2004 Saab 9-5 HOT Aero. The description reads like it has been written by a seller who’s rather reluctant to part with the car. This is always a good thing.

Volvo V70 T5: £1,999Performance per pound: cheap fast cars for sale NOW

From one desirable Swede to another: this Volvo V70 T5 ticks many boxes. With acres of space and 250hp on tap, it’s little wonder they were firm favourites of the nation’s traffic cops.

The gold paint gives this 2002 added stealth appeal, while the specification and seven-seat factor means this could be all the family car you could ever need. Few cars offer such a compelling mix of space, comfort and pace.

Ford Puma: £1,495Performance per pound: cheap fast cars for sale NOW

Again, the Ford Puma isn’t the fastest car on the planet, but its chassis means you can cover ground rather quickly. If it’s not the best front-wheel-drive coupe ever built, there can’t be too many cars above it.

A price tag of £1,495 is punchy for a Puma, but sub-£1k cars tend to be high-milers with more than a little body rot. Which means paying extra for a 26,000-mile car might be a wise investment. Green isn’t the Puma’s nicest colour, but the 1.7-litre Yamaha engine is the one to have

SEAT Toledo V5: £1,000Performance per pound: cheap fast cars for sale NOW

You want a sleeper? Have we got a sleeper for you. The SEAT Toledo V5 is essentially a Volkswagen Golf V5 in a more sombre and less desirable suit. All of which means nobody will know you’re packing a 170hp 2.3-litre five-cylinder engine until you disappear into the distance.

This 2002 car has covered 131,605 miles, which won’t be an issue if it has been serviced correctly. There’s an old-school performance saloon feel to the Toledo V5 and we’re very tempted to make an enquiry about this stealth weapon.

Audi TT: £1,850Performance per pound: cheap fast cars for sale NOW

In standard 180hp form, the 1.8-litre Audi TT is more pose than power, but with 225hp on tap, things get a little more interesting. There are many TTs available for this sort of price, so you can afford to be selective.

This 2001 example looks to be in good condition. As for its performance credentials: bank on a 0-60mph time of 6.6 seconds.

Fiat Stilo Abarth: £1,550Performance per pound: cheap fast cars for sale NOW

If you’re looking to stand out from the crowd, the Fiat Stilo Abarth could be the car for you. Contemporary reviews criticised the Italian warm hatch for looking a little plain, but to our eyes it has aged rather well. You’ll also be able to enjoy the soundtrack from a 2.4-litre five-cylinder engine.

Sadly, the engine only manages to rustle up a mere 170 raging horses, delivering a 0-62mph time of 8.5 seconds. On the plus side, this 2003 car has been treated to some subtle modifications and looks to be in good order.

Ford SportKa: £1,995Performance per pound: cheap fast cars for sale NOW

Much like the aforementioned Ford Puma, it might be worth spending a little extra to secure a good SportKa. Rust is the big issue, while many cars will have been well used and abused. Find a tidy SportKa and you’ll be rewarded with a terrific junior hot hatch.

A price knocking on the door of £2,000 is bold, but it’s a late, 2008 car with a mere 40,000 miles on the clock. What’s more, we can’t see any tell-tale signs of rust on the wheelarches and around the filler cap. Looks great in red, too.

Cadillac CTS 3.6: £1,990Performance per pound: cheap fast cars for sale NOW

And so to our final car: the curveball, or leftfield choice. This time we’re offering something American: the full-fat Cadillac CTS 3.6-litre V6. Check out the performance figures: 0-60mph in 7.0 seconds and a top speed of 145mph. Best we gloss over the 24.4mpg and 275g/km CO2 figures.

As you’d expect, the Cadillac CTS is a rare sight in the UK, with many customers preferring the more economical, but rather lethargic 2.8-litre version. But if straight line speed and the ability to waft floats your boat, a CTS might be an inspired (if brave) choice.

Insanely cheap used luxury cars to buy NOW

Insanely cheap luxury cars for less than £1,500

Insanely cheap used luxury cars to buy NOW

If you’re after all of the flash but are not prepared to splash all of the cash, we might have the answer. Armed with a virtual wad of 1500 notes, we went shopping on Auto Trader to assemble a list of luxury motors you can buy for less than a deposit on a new supermini. At this end of the market, you can’t expect perfection, and a petrol engine is probably safer than diesel, but you might be surprised to discover what’s available. Read on as we guide you through 25 luxobarges you can buy today.

Audi A8: £1,445

In more ways than one, the Audi A8 was a ground-breaking car. Following a decade of development, the innovative Audi Space Frame aluminium construction finally made its debut, while this was the car that propelled Audi into the premium big league. Launched in 1994, this was by far Audi’s most luxurious model to date.

We’d prefer the 4.2-litre V8 to the 3.7-litre V8 offered here, but at this budget beggars can’t be choosers. At some point it looks like it might have been treated to an LPG conversion, but there’s no mention of this in the ad. The MOT history makes for good reading, although some money was spent on the suspension in August.

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Volvo S80: £1,495

To borrow a phrase from a certain brand of chocolate, with this slice of Swedish luxobarge we’re really spoiling you. It’s a 2000 Volvo S80 with the more powerful 170hp 2.4-litre engine with an amazing 55,000 miles on the clock. We checked the MOT history, which appears to back this up.

Be quick: two even more delightful S80s sold in the time it took us to prepare this feature. Because everybody loves a bargain barge, right?

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BMW 7 Series: £1,395

BMW 7 Series: £1,395

There’s a whiff of James Bond about the E38 BMW 7 Series, as a 750iL made a memorable appearance in Tomorrow Never Dies. We can’t promise a 7 Series will never die, but there’s something rather appealing about this 728i.

We’re attracted by the fact that it has had just one previous owner and the full service history, not to mention a list of gadgets that would shame Q. You’ll adore the ride quality and the way it handles, but do your homework before parting with the best part of £1,400.

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Mercedes-Benz S-Class: £1,295

The best car in the world for less than £1,300 – where do we sign? OK, so a 15-year-old S-Class might be showing its age, but at the turn of the millennium this represented the height of luxury and sophistication. Like the 7 Series, the W220 S-Class isn’t without its problems, so you should buy with your eyes open.

A 5.0-litre V8 S500 won’t be cheap to run, but we like the fact that the current owner has owned the car since 2009 and there’s a mere 111,000 miles on the clock. Judging by the photos, this may have been used for wedding duties.

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Alfa Romeo 166: £995

Do you feel lucky? Well, do you? We’re not going to pretend that buying an Alfa Romeo 166 won’t be without risks, but it’s blessed with one of the best interiors of all-time. Besides, at £995, what could possibly go wrong? Actually, don’t answer that.

With a 2.0-litre engine, you’ll have to forgo the brilliance of a V6 engine, but at least it should be cheaper to run. We’re not fans of the black alloys, but the one-former-keeper factor certainly appeals. They don’t make ’em like they used to, etc, etc.

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Chrysler Grand Voyager: £1,495

Chrysler Grand Voyager: £1,495

If you have some brave pills left over from the Alfa Romeo 166, you might be tempted by this all-American people carrier. While many MPVs of this vintage will be showing their age, the Chrysler Grand Voyager manages to retain some class and sophistication.

The ad claims this 2004 car has had one former keeper and has covered 134,000 miles. The MOT history suggests any earlier niggles might have been sorted, although you might want to check what it has been towing. A caravan, perhaps?

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Cadillac BLS: £1,500

The BLS was Cadillac’s entry-level luxobarge for Europe and was based on the Saab 9-3, which itself was based on the Vauxhall Vectra. But wait, before you skip to the next slide, hear us out.

While the 2.8-litre V6 engine would be more appealing, the 1.9-litre turbodiesel could deliver upwards of 45mpg. Meanwhile, the interior is classic American: with a supersize cupholder, plenty of toys and a sea of scratchy plastics. Note the Cadillac analogue clock. Kitsch-tastic.

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Lexus RX300: £1,695

We’ve pushed our self-imposed £1,500 limit a little to bring you this Lexus RX300. At its launch in 2001, the RX300 was ahead of the curve, offering five-seat SUV practicality with little off-road ability. A lifestyle urban cruiser, if you like.

Extend your budget to £2,500 and there’s a surprising number of RX300s available, many of which will have enjoyed a pampered existence. The specification will appeal, but the 16.0mpg urban fuel economy might not.

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Volvo 960: £1,500

Volvo 960: £1,500

According to Volvo, the 960 Estate “was the natural choice for discerning customers who wanted a car offering a unique combination of comfort, safety, ergonomics, space and versatility, a combination much appreciated by drivers and passengers interested in activities like golf, sailing or hunting.” Sounds appealing, doesn’t it?

As a 1995 car, this 960 3.0-litre SE was built during the vehicle’s twilight years and with 206,000 miles on the clock it has certainly seen some life. But the interior is in good shape and the list of toys is impressive. Winter is coming – here are your winter wheels.

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Rover 75: £1,495

Production of the Rover 75 ceased in 2005, making this 2004 model one of the last off the line. It’s also a facelift model, complete with the more ‘European’ face, rather the ‘classic’ original.

The 2.5-litre V6 Connoisseur spec is desirable, while the gold paintwork just seems to suit the styling of the Rover 75. “It is not faultless, but represents, I believe a better than average appearance.” Not our words, Lynn, the words of the dealer selling this Rover.

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Hyundai XG30: £995

If you’re looking to stand out in the bowling green car park, look no further than the Hyundai XG30. This car is budget luxury, Korean style. You even get a pair of yellow fog lights.

The MOT history doesn’t make for enjoyable reading – unless you like tales of woe – but at least the most recent ticket is free of blemishes. Not convinced – the 3.0-litre V6 petrol engine might tip the balance. The potential to waft is high with this one.

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Volvo XC70: £1,395

Volvo XC70: £1,395

Jacked-up premium off-road estate cars are the preserve of the well-to-do and country types who are able to resist the lure of a jellymould crossover or SUV. Or, in the case of this Volvo XC70, the police force.

There are a few battle scars, as you might expect, while the lack of leather seats might put some people off. On the plus side, the seats are electric and heated. Another Volvo ready for winter 2016/17.

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Lexus LS400: £1,000

If you’re going to buy a cheap luxobarge, do it right by opting for the classic Lexus LS400. Here is a car with a brilliant 4.0-litre V8 engine and a reputation for excellence that not even the German brands can rival. Sure, it won’t be cheap to run, but then you’re only paying £1,000 for the privilege of owning this slice of Japanese engineering.

It’s an honest description of the car, while the MOT history makes for encouraging reading. Take it for a test drive before we do.

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Honda Legend: £550

Sticking with a Japanese theme, how about this 2001 Honda Legend? Think of this as a Lexus LS400 on a budget. Alternatively, think of it as a plush Accord. Either way, you could strike it lucky with this motor.

With 185,643 miles on the clock and a less than polished MOT history, you shouldn’t approach this Legend with high expectations, but the seller has been honest in the description. The MOT at the end of November might hurt the wallet.

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Toyota Camry: £800

Toyota Camry: £800

Back in 1997, the Camry was Toyota’s flagship model, but it never sold in huge numbers in the UK. All of which means it’s a rare find on the used car market. These cars are well-equipped, smooth and surprisingly luxurious.

The Sport badge is a bit of a red herring, as these cars were designed for cruising the long straight roads of Australia and the US, but don’t let that put you off. This could be a good way to spend £800 on a cheap luxobarge.

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Saab 9-5: £1,500

Further proof that bargain barges are in big demand: a delightful Saab 9-5 we had lined up was sold before we could finish this feature. Be quick if you fancy a luxobarge for silly money.

Speaking of quick: this Saab 9-5 HOT Aero ought to do the trick. It looks in remarkably good condition, and with just 96,500 miles on the clock the engine has barely broken sweat. Brilliant cupholders and Saab’s ‘Night Panel’ simply add to the appeal.

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Ford Scorpio: £1,500

It has a face only a mother could love, but we have a huge amount of respect for the Ford Scorpio. It stems from a period in time when Ford could deliver luxury cars without the need for a fancy trim level and a concierge service.

This particular car looks to be in good shape, is loaded with some nice toys, and has a mere 54,000 miles on the clock. That said, it might be worth checking the MOT history, as it appeared to have 58,826 miles on clock in April 2015. A typo, perhaps?

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Skoda Superb: £1,495

Skoda Superb: £1,495

The Skoda Superb was essentially a stretched Volkswagen Passat and was the choice of taxi operators up and down the land. They are capable of achieving mega-miles, as demonstrated by this 2006 model with 164,000 miles on the clock.

It’s powered by the later 2.0-litre TDI engine and is blessed with the comfort and joy of the full-fat Elegance trim. Is a diesel engine too much of a risk at 164,000 miles? Approach with care.

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Nissan Maxima: £850

What, no leather interior or creamy 3.0-litre V6 engine? Hey, what do you expect for £850? Besides, the National Trust sticker on the windscreen is a sure sign that the current owner is a trustworthy person. Probably.

The advert includes a detailed description of the service history and the MOT history certainly stacks up. Squint hard and it could pass as a Lexus LS400. Squint harder. Harder still…

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Saab 9000 CD: £350

We’ve long said that the Saab 9000 is one of the best used luxobarges you can buy. Saab took a no-expense-spared approach to its development, which is why they’re capable of covering mega-miles. Just £350 for all this class – amazing.

“This car is due to appear on an ITV car programme in October hosted by Paddy McGuinness,” claims the seller. That’ll be Drive of my Life, then…

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Jaguar S-Type: £1,495

Jaguar S-Type: £1,495

There’s something Inspector Morse-like about this Jaguar S-Type, probably thanks to the burgundy (Carnival Red) paint. Before you head off for a swift pint with Lewis, hear us out, because this could be a peach of a car.

For a start it comes with the desirable 3.0-litre V6 engine which has covered a mere 60,000 miles. The S-Type is based on a Ford platform shared with Lincoln LS and Ford Thunderbird, and while it’s not the last word in reliability and quality, its styling is ageing rather nicely. Like a nice bottle of red wine, Lewis.

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Range Rover P38A: £1,200

Buying a Range Rover at this end of the market is fraught with danger, and you’ll be limited to the P38A – arguably the least desirable of this thoroughly British luxury SUV. This particular example is a Japanese import, so you’ll want to explore its history.

The seller points to a problem with the transfer box, which might be a reason to walk away. Alternatively, as the ad states, this could be a good winter project for somebody handy with spanners.

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Daimler 4.0: £1,495

Release your inner Arthur Daley with this 1990 Daimler 4.0, which is essentially an even plusher version of the Jaguar XJ.

The seller claims it drives like new and has no known faults. Is it class or crass? You decide…

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Jaguar XJ: £1,495

Jaguar XJ: £1,495

For the same price you can get this later Jaguar XJ 4.0 Sovereign. Amazingly, the seller claims this 1995 car has had just own owner from new, while covering a mere 100,000 miles.

There appears to be a few battle scars on the exterior and it looks like the offside front wing and driver’s door might have seen some new paint, but we’re totally won over by the interior.

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Peugeot 607: £499

We conclude with a curveball. A very French curveball. Sure, the Peugeot 607 doesn’t have the best reputation, but who can argue with a 62,000-mile luxobarge with lots of toys for under £500?

Better still, the MOT history is almost completely free of advisories, which could point to a careful previous owner. Just make sure everything works.

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Best Bike Awards 2016

Best Bike Awards 2016: the UK’s top motorcycles revealed

Best Bike Awards 2016The Auto Trader Best Bike Awards 2016 have been revealed, celebrating the very best in the UK motorcycle market. It’s a sector in great shape, and 2016 has been a classic year for new model launches. Auto Trader has chosen the very best of the best.

British bike market in 2016

Best Bike Awards 2016

Almost 80,000 new motorcycles have been registered in the UK already in 2016, a healthy rise of nearly 6% on 2015. Although sales of entry-level bikes are down, bigger-engined motorcycles are doing well: the 126-650cc category is up an impressive 8.4%.

The biggest new bike category is for stripped-back Naked bikes, beating even Scooters and Adventure Sports bikes in the popularity stakes.

Biker boom

Best Bike Awards 2016

There are now 1.25 million motorcycles in use on UK roads, a number that’s been growing over the past few years. There are lots of active riders in Britain and, as bikes become ever-better and boast ever-more-attractive deals, many will be in the market for a new machine.

Here’s the pick of the UK new bike market in 2016.

Best bike for AM licence holders: Peugeot Django 50cc

Best Bike Awards 2016

The 50cc motorcycle 16-year-olds should be riding in 2016 is the retro-look Peugeot Django 50cc. It retains the award it won last year for its combination of cool looks and everyday usability. There’s even a 12-volt charger, so smartphone obsessives can top up their battery on the move.

Best bike for A1 licence holders: Honda CB125F

Best Bike Awards 2016

Riders aged 17 should hot-foot it to the local Honda dealer to pick up a bargain-priced CB125F. Not for nothing is it the UK’s best-selling 125cc machine. It costs from just £2,699, does 151mpg and looks far cooler than you’d ever believe a beginner’s motorbike could.

Best bike for A2 licence holders: Honda CB500F

Best Bike Awards 2016

Riders aged 19 or over can choose a full-size motorcycle that’s restricted to 47hp. Once they pass their full test, this restrictor can be taken off. The best choice here is, again, a Honda; the CB500F is the perfect step-up machine from the CB125F.

Best Scooter: Vespa GTS 300

Best Bike Awards 2016

Who doesn’t want a classic Vespa? Now there’s reason to want a modern Vespa: the GTS 300 has scooped this category three years running and Auto Trader says it’s hard to see anything beating it. It even has heated grips for winter!

Best Commuter: Honda NC750X

Best Bike Awards 2016

Commuter motorcycles should be painless and easy to ride, with a good seating position for excellent visibility. Cue the NC750X, a genuine twist-and-go machine with clutchless transmission and, new for 2016, cooler and edgier looks. Again, it’s a three-time category winner.

Best Naked: Triumph Speed Triple R

Best Bike Awards 2016

The most popular new motorcycle category in Britain right now is the Naked sector. Ooh-err. Aggressive looks, minimalist bodywork and savage power make them real thrillers – none more so than the 138hp race-bred Triumph Speed Triple R.

Best Retro: Triumph Thruxton R

Best Bike Awards 2016

Retro bikes are more classically-styled Naked machines – and Triumph has this sector sewn up too, with the beautiful Thruxton R. It builds upon the established Thruxton range with improved dynamics and engine power. “It’s the retro Triumph you’ve been waiting for,” said Auto Trader editor-in-chief, Jon Quirk.

Best Adventure: Honda Africa Twin

Best Bike Awards 2016

We’ve been waiting a long time for a new Honda Africa Twin, but at last it has arrived – and Auto Trader says the wait has been worth it. It’s one of the best motorcycles to come out of Honda in years, and is “a phenomenal all-rounder… If you want a reason not to buy a BMW GS, this is it”.

Best Tourer: BMW S 1000 XR

Best Bike Awards 2016

Planning on riding across Europe this summer? You need a BMW S 1000 XR. It’s a superbike engine in a sports touring chassis that, says Auto Trader, creates the motorcycle equivalent of a performance SUV. This, ladies and gentlemen, is a BMW X5 M for riders.

Best Sports: Yamaha YZF-F1

Best Bike Awards 2016

The fearsome Yamaha R1 has done it again. A sublime track bike, Auto Trader reckons it’s a bike that wins over both head and heart in an instant. It’s also a race bike for the road that you can thrash all day long without fear – mechanical integrity is second to none. “It’s staggering,” say the editors.

Best Cruiser: Indian Springfield

Best Bike Awards 2016

You may not have heard of the Indian motorcycle company but you’ll certainly have heard of the motorcycle brand it’s beaten to best Cruiser 2016: Harley-Davidson. The Springfield has “the ride quality of an ocean liner and a finish that out-luxes all-comers.” Just for added reassurance, it even has a five-year warranty. Born-again bikers, you need this in your life!

Best Manufacturer 2016: Triumph

Best Bike Awards 2016

Despite building more than 54,000 motorcycles overseen from its Hinckley, Leicestershire HQ, Triumph keeps on innovating, with models such as the Thunderbird, Bonneville and modernised Speed Triple range. It’s a brand that shows the future really is looking bright for the British motorcycle industry, says Auto Trader – which is why it didn’t hesitate to award it the Best Manufacturer 2016 gong.

Best Bike 2016: Honda Africa Twin

Best Bike Awards 2016

The Auto Trader judges were unanimous in picking the new Honda Africa Twin as their Best Bike 2016. They said its ability both on- and off-road is “staggering”, the engine is superb, it’s comfortable to ride and it offers tremendous value for money. An all-round champ that stands clear as Britain’s best in 2016.

Fastest selling used cars in June 2016

Revealed: the fastest-selling used cars in June 2016

Fastest selling used cars in June 2016Thinking about selling your car? Car classifieds site AutoTrader.co.uk has revealed the fastest selling used cars in June 2016.

Read on to find out the hottest used motors on the market.

1: 2015 Hyundai ix35 petrol – 19 days to sell

Fastest selling used cars in June 2016

The Hyundai ix35 represents excellent value for money on the used market – helped, no doubt, by its transferable five-year unlimited mileage warranty. That means, in petrol form, one-year-old Hyundai ix35s were the quickest cars to sell on Auto Trader last month.

2: 2015 Vauxhall Mokka petrol automatic – 21 days to sell

Fastest selling used cars in June 2016

Vauxhall’s popular crossover isn’t exactly class-leading, but with prices on Auto Trader starting at £10,000 for year-old examples, we understand why they’re flying out of showrooms.

3: 2014 Mercedes-Benz SLK diesel – 22 days to sell

Fastest selling used cars in June 2016

It’s that time of year – everyone wants a convertible. The Mercedes-Benz SLK combines low running costs (if you choose the popular diesel) with flashy looks… what’s not to like?

4: 2009 Citroen Grand C4 Picasso diesel automatic – 22 days to sell

The Citroen Grand C4 Picasso is one of our favourite family-movers, so it’s no surprise to see it’s popular with used car buyers.

5: 2015 Ford B-Max petrol automatic – 23 days to sell

With its quirky sliding doors, the Ford B-Max is a practical mini MPV that’s also great to drive. Used car buyers are particularly keen on the petrol versions with the automatic gearbox.

6: 2010 Peugeot 3008 diesel automatic – 23 days to sell

It seems that family cars are in – with Peugeot’s 3008 crossover taking 23 days to sell on average. It’s not as good as a Nissan Qashqai, but you can probably pick one up for less…

7: 2015 Toyota Aygo petrol semi-automatic – 23 days to sell

Fastest selling used cars in June 2016

Selling just as quickly as the Peugeot 3008, the automatic Toyota Aygo is sure to be popular with those who want an urban runabout or new drivers who don’t want the hassle of a manual gearbox.

8: 2013 Mercedes-Benz A-Class diesel – 24 days to sell

Three-year-old Mercedes-Benz A-Class diesels are likely to be ex company cars, but don’t be put off. They’ve probably covered most of their miles on the motorway and have been maintained well.

9: 2015 Ford C-Max petrol – 24 days to sell

Another popular family car, the majority of Ford C-Max people carriers are diesel – perhaps explaining why petrols sell so quickly. Don’t dismiss the 1.0-litre Ecoboost for being too small, it punches above its weight.

10: 2014 Mercedes-Benz E-Class Cabriolet diesel – 25 days to sell

Just like the Mercedes-Benz SLK, people are no doubt tempted by the E-Class Cabriolet diesel for combining practicality and low running costs with a flashy appearance and retractable roof this summer.

Region-by-region: Britain’s fastest-selling used cars

Scotland: 2014 Fiat 500 petrol – 17 days to sell

Fastest selling used cars in June 2016

It’s also interesting to see which cars sell the quickest in each region. Buyers in different areas have very different tastes, it seems – with a Fiat 500 petrol from 2014 the quickest to sell in Scotland, for example.

North East: 2015 Nissan Juke diesel – 20 days to sell

With Nissan being such a huge employer in the area, it’s no surprise to see Nissan Jukes flying out of dealerships in the North East.

Northern Ireland: 2012 Vauxhall Corsa petrol – 35 days to sell

Four-year-old Vauxhall Corsas are popular in Northern Ireland. Has no one told them the Ford Fiesta is better..?

Yorkshire: 2009 Vauxhall Astra petrol – 23 days to sell

While in Yorkshire, used car buyers are particularly keen on the Vauxhall Astra from 2009. No, we’re not sure why either.

North West: 2015 Mercedes-Benz E-Class diesel – 22 days to sell

Fastest selling used cars in June 2016

Buyers in the North West like a bit more flash for their cash, with diesel Mercedes-Benz E-Classes selling the quickest.

East Midlands: 2008 Vauxhall Astra petrol – 24 days to sell

What has the East Midlands got in common with Yorkshire? They both like Vauxhall Astras, apparently.

West Midlands: 2015 Mercedes-Benz A-Class diesel – 17 days to sell

While those in the West Midlands like a Mercedes-Benz A-Class diesel.

East England: 2015 Nissan Qashqai diesel – 15 days to sell

Perhaps influenced by their neighbours in the North East, the fastest selling used car in the East of England is the Nissan Qashqai diesel. It takes just 15 days to sell a used one on average.

Wales: 2015 Nissan Juke diesel – 34 days to sell

Fastest selling used cars in June 2016

Wales loves a crossover, although it does take longer to sell a used car there. A Nissan Juke diesel takes 34 days to sell on average.

London: 2013 Nissan Qashqai petrol – 5 days to sell

Although used cars don’t hang around as long in London. There, a Nissan Qashqai petrol from 2013 is snapped up in just five days on average.

South East: 2015 Mercedes-Benz E-Class diesel – 23 days to sell

Apparently those in the South East have similar tastes to those in the North West. The Mercedes-Benz E-Class diesel is the fastest to sell on Auto Trader.

South: 2013 Audi A3 diesel – 21 days to sell

Fastest selling used cars in June 2016

While Audi A3 diesels are hot property in the South.

South West: 2015 Vauxhall Zafira Tourer diesel – 31 days to sell

Finally, those in the South West prefer something a bit more practical – in the form of a one-year-old Vauxhall Zafira Tourer diesel. They take 31 days to sell on average. Looking to sell your car quickly? You might want to take it to London.

20 awesome BMW M cars to buy on Auto Trader

20 awesome BMW M cars to buy on Auto Trader

20 awesome BMW M cars to buy on Auto TraderBMW M GmbH takes credit for some of the greatest driver’s cars ever made. And while the ‘M’ stands for ‘motorsport’, these are road cars first and foremost, with a focus on accessible, affordable performance. How affordable? Surprisingly so, if you’re willing to buy second-hand. We searched the Auto Trader classifieds for our M cars of choice.

BMW M2

20 awesome BMW M cars to buy on Auto Trader

If the sight of Chris Harris hurling an M2 sideways on Top Gear has whetted your appetite, you’re not alone. BMW’s back-to-basics junior M car has earned a slew of five-star ratings from journalists – including Motoring Research.

This particular M2 has a manual gearbox (the driver’s choice, obvs) and is virtually new, having covered just 175 miles. It’s not cheap, at £52,950, but you can skip the lengthy waiting list.

BMW M3 (E30)

20 awesome BMW M cars to buy on Auto Trader

Here’s the car the M2 has been compared to: the iconic E30 M3. There were no E30 M3 coupes for sale on Auto Trader at the time of writing, so we’ve picked the convertible version. Blistered wheelarches and a dog-leg gearbox mark it out as a bona fide homologation special.

The E30 is one of of the fastest-appreciating classics of recent years, which explains how this 136,000-mile convertible can be advertised for a whopping £69,925. We love the period Hartge alloy wheels, but suspect an M3 coupe would be a better investment.

BMW M3 (E46)

20 awesome BMW M cars to buy on Auto Trader

If the E30 is out of reach, consider what is now the cheapest M3: the 2000-2006 E46. Powered by a 3.2-litre straight-six that revs to 8,000rpm, it offers savage performance and superb handling. Of all the cars here, it’s the biggest bargain.

We deliberately picked an E46 in our favourite Phoenix Yellow colour. However, for the sake of comfort, we’d prefer 17-inch alloy wheels, rather than the optional 18-inchers seen here. With 110,000 miles on the clock and full service history, this car is advertised for £8,989.

BMW M3 CSL

20 awesome BMW M cars to buy on Auto Trader

How about the ultimate E46 M3? Step forward the limited-edition CSL. With 17hp more power, 110kg less weight, a stiffer chassis and retuned suspension, the CSL delivered on BMW’s promise of ‘the ultimate driving machine’.

Today, prices of CSLs far outstrip those of the regular E46 M3. The car seen here, for example, is advertised for £69,990. That said, it’s clearly lived a pampered life, with just 15,355 miles from new. Another fantastic investment – but would you dare drive it?

BMW M5 (E39)

20 awesome BMW M cars to buy on Auto Trader

From perhaps the greatest M3 to what many consider the finest M5. The E39 M5 was sold from 1998-2003 and packed a 400hp V8 inside a subtle saloon body. Despite a limited-slip differential, it isn’t averse to going sideways…

This M5 has covered 131,500 miles, but don’t let that worry you. E39s are generally reliable cars, and this one – advertised at £9,500 – comes with full service history. That’s awful lot of metal, not to mention performance, for your money.

BMW M5 (E60)

20 awesome BMW M cars to buy on Auto Trader

Got a bit more cash to spend? Good, then you’ll want an E60 M5. The successor to the E39 was on sale from 2005-2010 and is a car utterly dominated by its howling 507hp V10 engine. However, maintenance costs are high and many dislike the SMG semi-automatic gearbox.

If you’re going to take the plunge with an E60, you’ll want a reliable one. That means buying one of the best available – like this 36,500-mile car advertised for a not-inconsiderable £23,995. Then again, that’s still less than a new Golf GTI…

BMW M5 Touring

20 awesome BMW M cars to buy on Auto Trader

No, your eyes do not deceive you – this really is an M estate car. The E60 Touring is much rarer than the saloon, with just 1,025 built – versus 19,564 for the four-door. A feral V10 AND the ability to carry an Ikea Billy bookcase? Talk about having your cake…

The Touring’s relative rarity means prices are higher than the equivalent saloon. This 2007 example has covered 67,500 miles and is advertised for £23,995. It’s fully loaded and comes with comprehensive service history, but we’d still recommend a professional inspection before you buy.

BMW M6 Gran Coupe

20 awesome BMW M cars to buy on Auto Trader

The M6 Gran Coupe is another rare-groove M car that offers plenty of pace and space, particularly for passengers. Its beautiful design makes BMW’s flagship 7 series look dull and frumpy, but it’s certainly not cheap – at around £95,000 if you buy new.

Indeed, the ad states this sleek black Gran Coupe cost ‘over £100,000 new’. Which makes its £49,995 asking price, with a modest 22,500 miles on the clock, look rather good value. An equipment list longer than your arm includes carbon fibre interior trim, soft-close doors and a surround-view parking camera.

BMW Z3 M Coupe

20 awesome BMW M cars to buy on Auto TraderThe Z3 M Coupe is the black sheep of the M family, with controversial styling and hooligan handling. It packs a 244hp straight six into a three-door ‘shooting brake’ estate body. Later, post-2001 cars had 325hp. A slow-seller when new, the M Coupe is now a sought-after classic.

This imported, left-hand-drive M Coupe has just over 50,000 miles on the clock and is advertised for £22,990. The Darka Yellow paint won’t be to everyone’s taste, but we think it suits the extrovert character of the hot Z3. Another M car that is appreciating fast.

BMW Z4 M Coupe

20 awesome BMW M cars to buy on Auto Trader

The Z3 M Coupe was followed by this – a car with less divisive looks, but equally punchy performance. A 343hp in-line six gives 0-62mph in 5.0sec and a top speed limited to 155mph. Interestingly, BMW has never made an M version of its successor, the current (E89) Z4.

Rarity and a reputation for being fun to drive mean Z4 M values have stayed strong. This 2006 car has covered 54,000 miles and is advertised on Auto Trader for £17,489. A red leather interior is a nod to German sports cars of old. Or maybe a tribute to TOWIE, depending on your point of view.

BMW Z4 M Roadster

20 awesome BMW M cars to buy on Auto Trader

We haven’t forgotten the open-top version of the Z4 M either. In fact, we think the once-controversial, Chris-Bangle-penned lines of this roadster look better with every passing year. A range of petrol engines was available, from a 150hp 2.0 upwards. But the brawny Z4 M is the one we really want.

This 2006 Z4 looks fantastic on 19-inch alloy wheels, and the vendor promises it ‘sounds superb’, too. It’s offered at £12,495 with 85,000 miles on the clock. This, or a Lotus Elise with less than half the power?

BMW M4 Convertible

20 awesome BMW M cars to buy on Auto Trader

Staying with drop-top M cars, here’s the latest M4 convertible. With 425hp coursing through its rear tyres, it’ll hit 62mph in 4.3sec (4.6sec with a manual ’box) and blow-dry your hair faster than, well, a hairdryer. The M4 isn’t the sharpest tool in the box when it comes to handling, so the convertible version makes sense. It’s a cruiser AND a bruiser…

The M4 was only launched in 2014, so it’s still a relatively pricey used buy. This 2015 car has covered 4,000 miles and is offered for £54,994 – a useful saving after all the extra-cost options, such as memory seats, a reversing camera and BMW Professional navigation, are taken into account. What do you mean you don’t like white with red leather?

BMW M3 Convertible (E36)

20 awesome BMW M cars to buy on Auto Trader

The E36 M3 Convertible is a more affordable way into an open-top M car, particularly as most enthusiasts prefer the coupe or saloon. Like the latest M4, it’s a slightly softer take on the M formula, with a muscular six-cylinder engine and plenty of standard kit.

Many E36 cabrios fell into the wrong hands and the car developed a bit of an image problem. Fortunately, it’s now being recognised as a credible classic. This later Evo model has covered 68,042 miles and is advertised for £12,925 – about a quarter of what you’d pay for a new M4.

BMW 1 Series M Coupe

20 awesome BMW M cars to buy on Auto Trader

Oooof – now we’re talking. The 1 Series M Coupe is another car frequently mentioned in the same breath as the new M2. Launched in 2011, only 6,309 examples of this 340hp turbocharged terror were built. Savage performance and balletic handling meant it immediately took its place among the M car greats.

The 1 Series M Coupe (often referred to simply as the ‘1M’) is famous for being completely depreciation-proof. It cost £40,000 when new and here, five years later and with 18,750 miles on the clock, is a Valencia Orange example for £47,950. Five years of fun and a tidy profit? Sounds like win-win.

BMW M135i

20 awesome BMW M cars to buy on Auto Trader

Officially, the M135i isn’t a ‘proper’ M car. Still, who can argue with the idea of a six-cylinder, rear-wheel-drive hot hatch? Especially when said hatch packs 326hp and hits 62mph in 5.1sec. The latest Ford Focus RS may have stolen its crown, but the BMW still offers plenty of driver appeal.

The M135i is also looking conspicuously good value – as a brief browse of Auto Trader reveals. This 2013 car costs less than half the £32,000 BMW asks for a new M140i – the upgraded, 2016 version of the M135i. It also has a manual gearbox, although we’d be equally happy with the excellent – and more common – paddle-shift automatic.

BMW X5M

20 awesome BMW M cars to buy on Auto TraderBMW purists, look away now: this is about to get controversial. In 2009, M division turned its attention to an SUV for the first time. And while car journalists wrung their hands in distress, many buyers loved the idea of a hot X5 to take on the Porsche Cayenne Turbo. The original X5M seen here had 555hp. The latest version has 575hp.

Described in the ad as a ‘sports activity vehicle’, this X5M certainly looks the part, with bright Monte Carlo Blue paint and 20-inch alloy wheels. Not sure how family-friendly a white leather interior is, though. A 2010 car with 45,440 miles on the clock, it’s listed on Auto Trader at £27,850.

BMW X6M

20 awesome BMW M cars to buy on Auto Trader

If you thought THAT was controversial, prepare to spit out your tea. The X6M is a coupe, SUV and M car rolled into one. Some will question the point of shoehorning a 555hp V8 into something that weighs 2.3 tonnes, but others rate the X6’s high driving position and in-yer-face styling. You pays your money…

How much money are we talking? Well, unlike some M cars, the X6 certainly isn’t depreciation-proof. This car would have cost nearly £90,000 when new in 2011, but is now advertised for a third of that price. The Melbourne Red paint suits it, we think.

Alpina D3 Bi-Turbo

20 awesome BMW M cars to buy on Auto Trader

BMW has never built a diesel M car, so the D3 Bi-Turbo fills that void. It hits 60mph in a brisk 6.9sec, yet returns official fuel economy of 50.4mpg. No petrol-engined M gets close to that. If you cover a lot of motorway miles, the rare and subtly cool Alpina makes a lot of sense.

This D3 looks fab on trad-Alpina multi-spoke alloys, and also features a rare, suede-wrapped Alpina steering wheel. The odometer reads 79,304 miles, but its condition is described as ‘excellent’. If we found £11,950 down the back of the sofa, we’d be tempted.

BMW Z8

20 awesome BMW M cars to buy on Auto Trader

Most famous for its role in James Bond film The World Is Not Enough, the Z8 isn’t an M car either. However, it is one of the fastest and most desirable BMWs ever made, which qualifies it for a place here. It borrows its 400hp V8 from the E39 M5 and cost £80,000 when new.

You’ll struggle to find a Z8 for £80,000 now, though. This lovely 2002 example has covered just 7,200 miles and is priced at £199,995. Welcome to the world of investment-grade classic cars. We love the Z8’s styling, which is heavily influenced by the classic 507 roadster, but its chintzy retro interior is perhaps a step too far.

BMW i8

20 awesome BMW M cars to buy on Auto Trader

Bang-up-to-date with the BMW i8, another car that would almost certainly wear an M badge if it wasn’t the flag-bearer for BMW’s new electric ‘i’ sub-brand. The Z8 sprints to 62mph in 4.4sec and returns an official 134.5mpg. Oh, and it looks like the Batmobile. What’s not to like?

There’s no such thing as a cheap i8 – the cheapest example on Auto Trader at the time of writing was £75,000. That’s still a useful saving over the car’s £105,000 new price, though. And just think how much money you’ll save on fuel…

20 lukewarm hatches you may have forgotten

Simmering: 20 lukewarm hatches you may have forgotten

20 lukewarm hatches you may have forgottenGolf GTI, Fiesta ST, 205 GTI, Focus RS, blah, blah, blah, yadda, yadda, yadda. The world’s best hot hatches get their fair share of airtime, but what of the forgotten gems? We took a virtual tour of Auto Trader and set ourselves a challenge to find 20 unsung heroes of the British B-road. Here’s what we discovered.

20 lukewarm hatches you may have forgottenPeugeot 205 Rallye

The Peugeot 205 GTI is regarded as the best hot hatch of all time, but prices are spiralling out of control. But there is another way to enjoy a 205 and it’s called the Rallye. Pug purists will tell you that the real 205 Rallye was a lightweight left-hooker, armed with a twin-carb 1294cc engine and enough pace to keep a GTI on its toes. What we have here is a UK-spec Rallye – essentially a rebadged XT with a single-carb 1360cc engine. But don’t let that put you off, because this will deliver the purest of B-road thrills.

20 lukewarm hatches you may have forgottenNissan Sunny ZX Twin Cam 16v

Before you scoff at the price, as the advert says, try finding another one. The Nissan Sunny ZX Twin Cam 16v is a Nissan Sunny GTI in all but name. With a 1.8-litre 16v engine, this is a decidedly 90s take on the hot hatch formula. The yellow fog lights are good for an extra 5hp. Probably.

20 lukewarm hatches you may have forgottenFiat Stilo Schumacher

The Fiat Stilo was never a big seller in the UK, which makes the Schumacher special edition a rare sight. Designed to take on the Focus ST170 and Astra SRI, a mere 200 right-hand drive cars were produced, each one finished in Ferrari Red. OK, so ideally we’d want the optional GP pack, but the 2.4-litre five-cylinder engine still appeals. We also think the styling is ageing rather well.

20 lukewarm hatches you may have forgottenLancia Delta HF

When it comes to affordable Lancia Delta Integrales, the ship has well and truly sailed. The standard Delta was a fine car – good enough to scoop the European Car of the Year award in 1980. And in Delta HF and HF Turbo guise, you’ve got the forerunner to the all-conquering Integrale. We adore this car’s understated styling and Recaro interior.

20 lukewarm hatches you may have forgottenRover Metro GTI

To paraphrase Robin Thicke: the Rover Metro GTI – you know you want it. This tiny tearaway has covered just 18,760 miles since new and, according to the description, has just been through its first MOT. The British car industry bible, AROnline, says the Metro GTI is “a cracking car, fast [and] nimble on its feet”. We’re sold, but would you pay over £4,000 for the privilege?

20 lukewarm hatches you may have forgottenTalbot Sunbeam TI

When the Performance Car Show named the top ten hot hatches of all time, the list was dominated by French and German cars. The Talbot Lotus Sunbeam flew the flag for Britain, but while we can’t offer the Lotus position, we can deliver the next best thing. This Talbot Sunbeam TI looks like an absolute peach and features a few well-chosen modifications. Just two owners from new and 78,000 miles on the clock.

20 lukewarm hatches you may have forgottenFord Escort GTI

OK, we admit the Ford Escort GTI isn’t a true hot hatch. But that RS200-style body kit ensures it looks the part and the 1.8-litre Zetec engine will deliver some old school thrills. Dare we say the Escort GTI is ageing rather well? Consider this: in 2001 there were around 14,000 on the road. Today, that number has dropped below 500.

20 lukewarm hatches you may have forgottenNissan Almera GTI

The Nissan Almera GTI captures the very essence of an underrated hot hatch. Sure, the standard Almera is about as exciting as a rice cake, but that simply makes the transformation all the more remarkable. A mere 140hp from its 2.0-litre 16v engine will deliver little in the way of fireworks, but we’re turned on by what is, relatively speaking, an untouched example of this forgotten gem* from the 90s. *might be a tad enthusiastic.

20 lukewarm hatches you may have forgottenAlfa Romeo 146 TI

Being picky, we’d prefer the ‘breadvan’ styling of the 145 to the plain-Jane look of the 146, but in 2016 beggars can’t be choosers. The 2.0-litre engine is an absolute peach, while the handling is a match for any hot hatch of the same era. We don’t like the Lexus-style rear lights or the aftermarket alloys, but the seller states the originals are available.

20 lukewarm hatches you may have forgottenVolvo C30 T5 Polestar

At the opposite end of the market you’ll find this 2008 Volvo C30 T5 R-Design. The pre-facelift C30 is arguably more attractive than the later cars, while this car benefits from the all-important R-Design trim. Furthermore, its 2.5-litre five-cylinder — which is the same as you’ll find in the Focus ST — has been boosted by a Polestar performance chip. We’re a little bit in love with this one.

20 lukewarm hatches you may have forgottenSuzuki Ignis Sport

The Suzuki Ignis Sport was introduced in 2003 – a high performance version of the three-door Ignis celebrating Suzuki’s entry in the Junior World Rally Championship. Indeed, the 1.5-litre engine was based on the Super 1600 JWRC cars and helped to deliver a 0-62 time of 8.9 seconds. We’re big fans of the Ignis Sport, but you might want to check the list of MOT advisories before you take the plunge..

20 lukewarm hatches you may have forgottenSkoda Octavia vRS

Today, the vRS badge is a fully paid up member of the fast club, but this wasn’t always the case. Fifteen years ago, when the vRS badge first appeared, the idea of a performance Skoda was a hard sell. Think of the original Octavia vRS as a more practical and slightly softer Golf GTI, with the same 1.8-litre turbocharged engine. We like the fact that this example has had just one owner from new and boasts a full Skoda service history.

20 lukewarm hatches you may have forgottenMitsubishi Colt Ralliart

Draw up a list of junior hot hatches of the past decade and it will be a while before you get to the Mitsubishi Colt Ralliart. And that’s a shame because, bonkers though it is, the little Colt has a lot going for it. A punchy 1.5-litre turbocharged engine, stiffer chassis and uprated springs are the highlights. Furthermore, that Ralliart badge will give earn you some kudos points in Japanese performance car circles.

20 lukewarm hatches you may have forgottenRover 200 VI

We wanted to bring you a Rover 200 BRM or 25 GTI, but there are none for sale on Auto Trader. So while it would be easy to switch badges to showcase the MG ZR, that seems a tad obvious. Instead, consider the Rover 200 VI. Not convinced? Here’s a snippet from the PistonHeads forum: “Had one of these for three years and loved it. Surprisingly quick, you have to use the gears more than usual and keep the revs up, but that’s all part of the fun.” We’re sold.

20 lukewarm hatches you may have forgottenDaihatsu Cuore Avanzato TR-XX R4

We ran one of these for six months and can report that they are every bit as good as the reviews make out. Nicknaming it the ‘box of frogs’ tells you all you need to know – the Cuore Avanzato TR-XX R4 is bonkers and brilliant. The CAT C classification and modifications might put some folk off, while it’s also worth noting that, as a Mira, this is likely to be a Japanese import rather than the UK-spec Cuore.

20 lukewarm hatches you may have forgottenMG ZS120

Before you say it, we’re fully aware that the ZS180 is superior to the 120, not least because of its 2.5-litre V6 engine. But the 1.8-litre ZS120 will be cheaper to run and we rather like this demo-plus-one-owner example. With only 49,287 miles on the clock, the K-Series engine has a great deal of life left yet. And the dealer warranty should provide some peace of mind when thinking about the head gasket. Just make sure this is covered.

20 lukewarm hatches you may have forgottenFiat Seicento Michael Schumacher

Face it, Michael Schumacher wouldn’t have put his name to any old city car. Well, not without some encouragement from his Ferrari F1 team. Cynicism aside, we’ve always liked the idea of the Seicento Michael Schumacher edition, which was based on the Sporting and offered ABS brakes, an Abarth styling kit and a set of Schumacher decals.

20 lukewarm hatches you may have forgottenFord SportKa

Given the choice between a Ford Puma 1.7 and the 1.6-litre Ford SportKa, we’d take Steve McQueen’s advice and opt for the Puma. But as a coupe it doesn’t meet the hatchback criteria, so a SportKa it is. Most are suffering from rot and they’re not especially cheap to run, but the SportKa is a bundle of joy to drive. And it takes us back to a time when the Ford Ka was an object of desire.

20 lukewarm hatches you may have forgottenSmart Forfour Brabus

Fancy something oddball? The Smart Forfour Brabus was based on the Mitsubishi Colt and shared the same 1.5-litre turbocharged engine, albeit with close to 180hp on tap. The Brabus makeover also managed to turn a rather cutesy car into something a little more aggressive. It’s not the sharpest hot hatch you can buy, but that Brabus badge is seriously cool.

20 lukewarm hatches you may have forgottenDaewoo Kalos Blue

Our final car is very much the joker in the pack – the red herring, if you like. Only it’s not red, it’s blue. The Daewoo Kalos Blue isn’t a hot hatch at all. OK, so it wears a hot hatch style body kit, but everything else about it is stone cold. When Evo magazine tested it in 2003, it was awarded a single star. Some ‘hot’ hatches are forgotten for a reason…