Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Best used cars for £25,000 and under

Not to create the wrong impression: it’s still a Mercedes C-Class, which is to say you can use it every day. But because it was developed to rival the E92 BMW M3, it’s a C-Class with a 6.2-litre atmospheric V8 that hurls 451bhp and 443 lb ft to the rear wheels and has come to define itself as one of the most characterful cars in Affalterbach’s history. Its power is sent through a seven speed torque-converter automatic and it weighs 1655kg.

Inside, early models look slightly more dated, with a pop-up infotainment screen, grey plastic and air-conditioning vents that look like they’ve come from a Volvo. Later cars got a nicely integrated screen, redesigned multifunction steering wheel and a layout that remained ergonomic but was easier on the eye.

If you abide by these service intervals, you will have one reliable C63. Make sure the air filter is replaced every 30,000 miles; the spark plugs every 45,000 miles; the brake fluid every two years; the oil every 10,000 miles; and the engine coolant every 150,000 miles. Oh, and check the rear tyres. It’s an AMG, remember.

Porsche Cayman S (2005-2012)

With a starting price of £45,000 when new, the Porsche Cayman S was meant to compete with the Audi TT, BMW Z4 and Nissan 350Z. But what it ended up competing with was its big brother, the Porsche 911.

It wasn’t faster, even though its 291bhp 3.4-litre flat six was still good for a 0-62mph time of 5.4sec and a top speed of 170mph.

It remains finely balanced, offers handling as sweet as sherbet and body roll so minute that it’s basically not there. And best of all, it suits the UK’s cratered, cramped, crap roads like salmon fits rosemary. 

This attention to handling prowess came with a surprisingly practical cabin and visibility that was good enough for hammering along risk-it-for-a-biscuit roads.

Elsewhere inside, earlier 987-generation Caymans were quite bare, but that’s probably a good thing, because it means there’s less to go wrong and you’re left to get on with driving it.


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