Currently reading: The best used cars for enthusiasts
After a few years of inflated prices, used car values are sliding – we look at the best bandwagons to jump on

Everyone loves a bargain. Whether it’s a ‘buy one get one free’ supermarket offer, a closing-down sale, unearthing a hidden gem in an antique shop, or finding some of the best used cars on the market today, the thrill of beating the system is hard to top, and all the more so in the midst of a cost of living crisis. 

It’s no different when buying something second-hand – and the good news is that, following a few years of sticky new car supply chains forcing up the values of second-hand stock, prices are finally starting to drop.

As a result, there are some real steals to be found when scouring the showrooms or combing through the classifieds. To give you a taste of what’s possible, we’ve picked out the best candidates from a number of popular sectors including supercars, hot hatches, estates, super-saloons and convertibles.

Each have a number things in common: they cost at least half as much as they did when new, and they're tailored toward the thrill-seeking enthusiast. They also have their own unique selling point to help them stand out from other bits of metal in the car park, can be bought with less than 50,000 miles, are compliant in a low-emissions zones and aren't powered solely by electricity.

The best used cars for enthusiasts 

1. Toyota GR Yaris Circuit Pack


Best used hot hatch

Okay, we’re cheating a bit here, because values of the tearaway Toyota remain pretty strong. Even so, just over £26,000 for a used Circuit Pack model looks like cracking value when the current WRC-themed Ogier and Rovanperä editions cost an eye-watering £60,000.

Either way, you will get much the same driving experience, which means neck-straining performance from the 267bhp turbocharged triple and Scalextric-like handling.

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2. Audi RS6


Best used fast estate

The Audi RS6 isn’t any old fast estate – it’s the fast estate. The third-generation machine is the pick of the bunch (although that’s open to debate), combining a malevolently powerful twin-turbo V8 and the firm’s trademark Quattro all-wheel drive with more subtle looks than its overtly aggressive successor.

However, it’s the multi-tasking Audi’s ability to slip seamlessly into your life that makes it so satisfying to own. Expensive to run, yes, but considering it’s doing the job of five different cars, you could argue it’s actually saving you money...

3. Lamborghini Aventador LP700-4


Best used supercar

Ask anyone to draw the archetypal supercar and something like an Aventador will probably spring to mind. Eye-poppingly wedgy looks, scissor doors, a ferocious mid-mounted V12 and white-knuckle limit handling combine for an adrenaline-fuelled driving experience few can match.

As Lamborghini eyes an electrified future, the LP700-4 is a nailed-on future classic, so buy now before prices rise.

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4. Jaguar F-Type


Best used coupe

It’s a given that the Jaguar F-Type coupé looks good, but in V6 S guise it sounds the part, too. The cultured snarl from its twin-exit exhausts evoke the sonic signature of Jaguar’s hallowed E-Type, while the addition of a supercharger ensures kidney-compressing pace. Flaky infotainment and the odd leaky rear diff are the only concerns.

5. Mercedes-AMG C43


Best used super-saloon

While the shouty, V8-powered C63 steals all the high-performance headlines, it’s the more sober-suited C43 that makes a better used buy. It’s certainly no slouch thanks to a 362bhp V6, while the four-wheel-drive chassis serves up a compelling blend of poise and plushness. And because it lacks its big brother’s street cred, prices are much lower.

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6. Porsche Macan GTS


Best used SUV

There was a time when investing in a Porsche Macan was a safer bet than pouring your cash into gold bullion. However, supply eventually caught up with demand, bringing the Porsche into half-price hero territory. Early four-cylinder cars start at £15,000, but the V6-powered GTS best exemplifies the Macan’s many strengths.

Spacious, comfortable and refined enough to play the family car, it also has hot hatch-baiting handling and a serious turn of speed.

7. Caterham Seven 1.6 Roadsport


Best used sports car

If you want the ultimate connection between car and driver, then look no further than the evergreen Seven. Roadsport trim throws in a few creature comforts so you could – and should – use it every day, while the 1.6-litre Ford engine serves up more than enough poke in a car weighing just half a tonne. This is almost as low as Caterham values go, so you will be quids in should you ever want to sell (you won’t, though).

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8. Toyota GT86


Best Autocar five-star car

Could the GT86 be the biggest half-price bargain of the lot? After all, supplies of its closely related and equally brilliant successor, the GR86, are limited, which makes current prices for the older Toyota seem criminally low.

There’s no sting in the tail with running costs, either, because the unstressed engine, solid quality and low kerb weight mean the GT86 not only is dependable but also doesn’t chew through consumables. Whether it’s box-fresh or has been around the block, the Toyota continues to deserve is five-star rating.

9. Porsche 911 (991) Cabriolet

Best used convertible

A convertible Porsche 911 is a machine with a split personality, something with both the luxury and refinement of a fantastically engineered product, but also the driving prowess of a true sports car.

Couple this with the fact that when you drop the roof and get overly-friendly with the throttle, you're greeted by a raspy, screaming flat-six mounted just behind you, that is both spine-tingling and grin-inducing. Sure, you also get this with the coupe, but now you can pose on continental seafronts in the comfort that you're driving something truly desirable.

The Mazda MX-5 might provide a cheaper - and possibly more charismatic – way of getting drop-top thrills, but it’s difficult to think of alternative convertibles that offer as much as this one does.

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10. Porsche Panamera


Best luxury car

The question everybody asked when the Panamera launched was: Can it really do what is expected of a Porsche? It was a huge gamble when it launched, partly because Porsche had never made a four-door saloon before but also because the swooping, hatchback-bodied four-door had never been done before.

It basically created a sector, then, and to this day is one of its dynamic benchmarks. It can't match a 911 for outright cornering appeal, but it still holds a candle to cars like the Jaguar XFR and Mercedes CLS. For the best drive, we would recommend the rear-wheel-drive S version.

While its looks divide opinion, it undeniably has road presence. It takes several design cues from the 911, including the shutline of its bonnet, the high-set front wings, and the falling side window line, and combines those with a 1231mm width - longer than the then Land Rover Discovery.

On the move, though, it doesn't feel as large as that, with precise and fulsome steering shrink-wrapping the car around you and making it feel more like a four-door 911 than shrunk Cayenne.

Jonathan Bryce

Jonathan Bryce
Title: Editorial Assistant

Jonathan is an editorial assistant working with Autocar. He has held this position since March 2024, having previously studied at the University of Glasgow before moving to London to become an editorial apprentice and pursue a career in motoring journalism. 

His role at work involves writing news stories, travelling to launch events and interviewing some of the industry's most influential executives, writing used car reviews and used car advice articles, updating and uploading articles for the Autocar website and making sure they are optimised for search engines, and regularly appearing on Autocar's social media channels including Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube.

James Disdale

James Disdale
Title: Special correspondent

James is a special correspondent for Autocar, which means he turns his hand to pretty much anything, including delivering first drive verdicts, gathering together group tests, formulating features and keeping topped-up with the latest news and reviews. He also co-hosts the odd podcast and occasional video with Autocar’s esteemed Editor-at-large, Matt Prior.

For more than a decade and a half James has been writing about cars, in which time he has driven pretty much everything from humble hatchbacks to the highest of high performance machines. Having started his automotive career on, ahem, another weekly automotive magazine, he rose through the ranks and spent many years running that title’s road test desk. This was followed by a stint doing the same job for monthly title, evo, before starting a freelance career in 2019. The less said about his wilderness, post-university years selling mobile phones and insurance, the better.

Join the debate

Add a comment…
joshgtv 5 June 2024

Surely no enthusiast would ever buy a convertible 911. Removing the roof, which is structural, says "I will never drive this car hard, but I hope to be noticed driving a 911."

si73 3 June 2024
This should be listed as the best used cars for the wealthy enthusiast.
I think only the GT86 can be bought and run relatively affordably.

On that note I think I'd go Hyundai i20 or 30N for hot hatch, loads of fun for an enthusiast and available at lower prices than the GR so open to more enthusiasts.

Best convertible would have to be an mx5 with honourable mention to the MK3 MR2, both actual affordable,over a wide price range, convertibles. The Boxter deserves mention as well, as it can be bought quite cheaply in regards 986/7s but is still a Porsche so has suitable running costs.
These could also cover off the best sports car

si73 3 June 2024
Re the Porsche 911 convertible,

You say,

Couple this with the fact that when you drop the roof and get overly-friendly with the throttle, you're greeted by a raspy, screaming flat-six mounted just behind you, that is both spine-tingling and grin-inducing.


The Mazda MX-5 might provide a cheaper - and possibly more charismatic – way of getting drop-top thrills, but it’s difficult to think of alternative convertibles that offer as much as this one does.

How difficult is it to think of a flat six Boxter?