This writer had to scrap his trusty Peugeot 406 recently, after an MoT test showed that the all the tyres, brakes, exhaust and much more besides were shot.
So I’m in the market for a new car. I’ve set myself a budget of £6,000 to find a replacement and the choice at that price point is astonishing.
Whatever kind of car you need, you will be able to find it for £6,000. In fact, six grand will buy a good example of just about every contender in any given sector. Though it seems like a pretty arbitrary number, it turns out £6,000, is the sweet spot of the used car market.
Here, covering every eventuality I could think of, are the top five best buys for £6,000.
About-town run-around: Toyota Aygo
Toyota’s innovative city car was specifically designed to be as cheap and simple as possible using big, simple components instead of small, complicated ones.
The Aygo isn’t the most sophisticated of cars – interior material quality isn’t great and the three-cylinder petrol engine is a constant presence. But it’s a peppy performer in town and acceptable on the open road, there’s just about enough space for four, it’s dirt cheap to run and incredibly tough.
£6,000 buys a two- or three-year old example. There are many different specs to choose from, but I would buy on colour and door count – three or five. Also consider: Hyundai i10
Family bus: Volvo V70
Family life generates a lot of stuff. Everyone is buying SUVs these days, both new and used, so the good old estate is often overlooked. Which is odd, because you get all the space of an SUV – often more – with none of the compromises on handling and economy.
Estates don’t get more estate-y than the V70, Volvo’s biggest and squarest. It’s probably the only car ever designed around an Ikea wardrobe. It goes without saying there is a massive amount of space for family detritus and the family itself. It’s supremely comfortable and surprisingly capable in bends and Volvo’s safety record is unimpeachable.
As such, V70s are always in demand, so prices can seem a bit random. But there’s loads of second-gen cars at our budget, so buy on condition rather than age.
You could get a twin-turbo, four-wheel-drive T6, but sense dictates a diesel. Doesn’t really matter which diesel, though the 1.6 D2 is very slow. 2.4 D5s are best with an automatic gearbox. Also consider: Ford Mondeo estate
Luxuriant luxury: Citroen C6
It’s in this sector that the choice for £6,000 is most astonishing. Audi A8, BMW 7-Series, Mercedes S-Class, Jaguar XJ, Lexus LS, even a ropey Rolls-Royce – all can be found for our budget.
While those are all fine cars, they’re a bit obvious. Or come with… baggage. Rightly or wrongly, an old S-Class does project a certain image. The only luxury car I can think of that has neither of those problems is the magnificent C6. Not only is it rare, it is quite incredibly cool.
As comfortable as bathing in liquid silk, too, thanks to hydropneumatic suspension. And spacious, generously equipped, whisper quiet, elegant – everything a French luxury car should be. The handling isn’t great, but who cares? Fundamentally reliable, but suspension needs proper servicing and make sure all the electrics work. Also consider: Volkswagen Phaeton
Ultimate utility: Late-90s Range Rover
You probably think I’ve taken leave of my senses at this point, but there is method in my madness. I think we can all agree that the Range Rover is the ultimate do-anything car, classy and luxurious with estate practicality and the ability to dispatch the toughest terrain.
But surely a Range Rover of at least 20 years vintage is going to be a minefield of rust and unreliability? Not if you buy wisely. The trick is to buy the best, least complicated example you can find. As such, six grand buys a good, usable example. Parts are surprisingly cheap and there are dozens of specialists to look after it.
Find one that’s still regularly used and maintained and you will realise even a 20-year old Range Rover is just as capable now as it was new. Chock-full of character, too. You could buy a more recent generation for our budget, but they really can be a Pandora’s box of problems. Also consider: Toyota Land Cruiser
Weekend wheels: Nissan 350Z
After a week hard at work you want to cut loose, let your hair down, go a bit mental. That is the 350Z’s default setting. In fact, it’s much like that bloke you only see down the pub at weekends – loud, uncouth, kind of exhausting but a lot of fun to be around.
Nissan called the 350Z a sports car, but it’s really more of a muscle car that handles properly. Brawny is the best way to sum it up – everything from the styling to the gearchange. The engine is muscular and the handling hefty. Not to say it’s imprecise, far from it. There is real precision in the chassis, it just takes a bit of effort to get the best from it. It’s a proper sideways monkey, too.
On the debit side, the interior is nasty, the ride harsh, the boot useless and the engine unrefined. It would probably be a bit too much to live with everyday, much like that bloke at the pub. But for a weekend blast there isn’t much better. Also consider: Honda S2000
By Only Motors