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Top 10 cheap luxury cars

What would you choose from our top 10 cheap luxury cars, available for under £2,500?*

Want to discover the best cheap luxury cars to buy? Here’s our list of the best bargain cars that can still make you feel like a king of the road, without forking out more than the price of a used motorbike.

The price of these cars – some of which would have cost almost £100,000 new – is truly staggering, and all can be found cropping up for sale at £2,500 or under!

Of course, the servicing costs, replacement parts and running costs reflect the original prices so these won’t be cheap to own – but for a taste of the high life, often with premium leather, hand-built interiors, gadgets galore, wafty motors and cosseting suspension these bargain cars can’t be beaten.

Let’s start with number 10 on the list, and build up to our pick of the crop – and see what you could end up with if you’re willing to take the risk of buying a cheap luxury car.

* All models suggested showed at least one genuine example for sale in the UK via autotrader.co.uk in January 2017

No.10Mercedes E-class 2003-2009

It was good enough for the Men in Black’s slick second film and sent shockwaves through the industry with it’s super-sleek redesign, moving out from the shadow of its staid predecessor and suddenly becoming the big executive car that everyone desired.
Nowadays £2,500 can get you a choice of petrol or diesel versions but, for this kind of modern look and teutonic tech, you’ll have to accept that your car will have travelled to another galaxy and back.
Low mileage examples just don’t crop up at this price – but will the neighbours ever know what’s on the odometer?

No.9Audi A6 2004-2010

If you want your luxury to be understated and efficient, an A6 gets you an amazing amount of car for your money.
Available with Audi’s rally-born Quattro system this car can really prove its worth in the winter.
The badge on the grill doesn’t shout get-out-of-my-way-peasant as much as some, but if you want understated opulence and well thought-out design then the A6 looks to be an incredible bargain – especially when you can get one with £2,500 in your pocket and still expect some change.

No.8Jaguar S-Type 2000-2009

The most amazing thing about a Jaguar S-Type for £2,500 or under?
The sheer number of them available. It’s staggering how many of these super-smart luxury cars are now so readily available for bargain-hunters. What colour would you like? There’s probably one available.
And which engine? As long as you aren’t looking for the tyre-shredding ‘R’ version there’s choice there too.
An interior designed to comfort, relax, and impress could be yours for less than the price of a three piece suite.
Worth it for the key fob alone? Possibly.

No.7BMW 5-series 2004-2010

The Chris Bangle designed 5-series certainly bucked the carefully-crafted design trends BMW had developed over decades when the sharp-suited 5 series broke cover and took the company in a new design direction.
This bold approach means the car looks much fresher than the previous generation, and despite some examples now reaching 12 years of age the car’s smart design does not look ready to be labelled a ‘teenager’.
With rear wheel drive and great weight distribution you’ll also feel like you’re in a sports car, one where you’re surrounded by incredible gadgetry.
And all that could be yours for £2,500. A great bargain car, but still only number 7 on our list…

No.6Lexus LS 2000-2006

This generation of LS gets you a fantastically reliable 4.3 litre V8 engine and a car so well-finished that the occupants barely hear it burbling away. A car designed to lock out the outside world and transport you around in a precision-engineered sanctuary away from the elements.
It can also send you to 60mph from standstill in well under seven seconds yet retain its status as a ‘ULEV’, which is reserved for ultra-low emissions vehicles.
Given all that, it’s really hard to believe you can net one of these luxury cars for under £2,500 – we’ve even seen some at £1,500 – but, if you’re willing to go for a high-mileage example, there’ll be a choice of examples of this great cheap luxury car to be found.

No.5Alfa Romeo 166 1998-2005

Alfa Romeo did not sell many 166s.
At the time the brand was struggling with a reputation of unreliability, with the annual JD Power survey results usually causing dealerships to shed a tear or two.
For that reason, the 166 very rarely crops up for sale – but when it does it’s often available for under £2,500.
Any friend of yours who knows their Humber Hawk from their Hummer H4 will tell you that an old, big, tech-laden Alfa Romeo is a very brave choice – and it is – but if you’re feeling brave then this slightly unusual-looking Italian masterpiece could be yours for a bargain price.

No.4Jaguar XJ 1997-2003

If you thought the S-Type in 8th place on this list could not be beaten for true opulence then you’ll be amazed to see it’s more expensive stablemate on this list.
An elongated three-box profile that stayed unchanged from the ‘70s has been letting everyone know you were doing well for decades – but it still gives no clue as to the owner, everyone from Royalty to the Kray twins have stepped from this iconic silhouette.
For £2,500 the choice is more limited than for the S-Type, so you may need to travel to get the car you want, but the ride back home would be the most pleasant of your life.

No.3Mercedes S-Class 1998-2006

A top three slot for the car that consistently redefined what’s possible on four wheels.
Technology other manufacturers barely imagined found its way onto the S-Class before anywhere else.
This era of the ultimate luxury car gets you a cabin that you wouldn’t believe is 20 years old, with gadgets galore clothed in finest leather and wood.
As you might imagine, larger engines cost a rather considerable amount to run, but because of this you can see some truly amazing power-plants falling into your price range – just be prepared to explain to your other half that it might be cheaper to replace the whole car than repair something if it goes wrong…

No.2BMW 7-series 2002-2008

More German presence in the top three as the Munich brand’s luxury choice steps ahead of the more ostentatious Mercedes.
A close call between these two as they’re similar in so many ways, but by somehow managing to become a Bond car, the 7-series was a way to show not only were you keen to be wrapped in luxury, but you wanted a nod to sportiness too.
Somehow we couldn’t see the S-Class being used to jump off the top of a multi-story car park, but for Bond the BMW just about made sense.
The BMW at this price might also be a year or two newer than the Mercedes, too, so a little bit of extra value in keeping the number plate original and resisting a 007-based private plate.

No.1Audi A8 1994-2002

Beating both its biggest rivals into top spot is the Audi.
We were staggered to see this for £2,500 or less as it’s acknowledged to be one of the finest cars ever made.
A study in understatement, its pursuit of excellence means it was built without compromise.
A new one would have cost you enough to consider a mortgage, and to think that 20 years later the price would be more akin to a nice shed just beggars belief.
If you want the ultimate cheap luxury car, then the Audi A8 makes everything else look compromised.
Tell your friends you paid £10,000 for it and they’ll believe you, and for us that makes this one of the greatest bargain cars on sale.

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