They say the average family holiday costs £4800. But what if you swapped the flip flops for new car keys? We run through our sub £5k picks of the classifieds
13 July 2016

They say the average family holiday costs just under £5000, or £4800 to be exact. But what if you could swap the flip flops and suncream for a new motor?

Our resident used car expert does his best to tempt you away from that package holiday and onto the classifieds.

1. Audi A4 Avant (2004-2008)

For a similar outlay as a trip for four abroad you could be ferrying your family around in an Audi A4 Avant. There’s more than enough room for your other half and the kids, while the load bay will take the family retrievers.

Audi’s customary build quality and plush interiors make the A4 popular, while the Avant excels on comfort and refinement. There are plenty of engines and specs to choose from, but while S line models look great, their ride is quite firm.

Check for rear suspension bush wear and oil pump failures and get a full car check before you buy. We found a 2007 2.0 S line with 61,000 miles for £4988.

Our Verdict

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The Audi A4 zeroes in on efficiency, technology and quality - but is it enough to drive compact saloon buyers away from the BMW 3 Series and Mercedes-Benz C-Class?

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2. Fiat Panda (2003-2012) 

A European city break might provide fun for a weekend, but a European city car can be fun every day, and few are better than the Fiat Panda.

This chic little five-door Italian offers low-cost motoring in a refined and spacious package that will accommodate four adults. The Panda has excellent steering that is particularly light at lower speeds, making parking a doddle. We’d go for the 1.2-litre petrol version, which is nippy around town and should return around 50mpg if you’re careful.

Cars from 2003 to 2007 were recalled to fix an ABS system short circuit that can cause a fire, so make sure this has been done. We found a 2007 1.2 Dynamic with less than 100,000 miles for £750.

3. Ford StreetKa (2003-2006) 

Spending a week on the Cornish Riviera can be hit and miss, but on the right day when the sun’s out, there’s little to beat it. And there’s little to beat a Ford StreetKa, both for the money and for the entertainment value when the top is down and the sun is out.

It’s as stylish as a St Ives gallery, and driving one is as much fun as surfing a barrel wave in Newquay. The StreetKa is easy to drive and manoeuvre around town, although it’s less refined on motorways. Check that the roof mechanism is in good working order and there’s no water damage inside. Look for corrosion on the front subframe, too.

We found a 2003 StreetKa with 49,000 miles on the clock for £1500

4. Mercedes-Benz CLK (2002-2009)  

You could sail around the Mediterranean, or you could be cruising around in your very own two-door Mercedes coupé.

The CLK has aged well and remains attractive and stylish, and in the right spec — we’d choose Sport with AMG alloys — it continues to turn heads. It has a sporty feel, is well built and is at its best as a long-distance grand tourer, although it is a little cramped in the back. Go for the silky 3.2-litre petrol V6 with the excellent automatic gearbox.

Owners report few issues, but keep an eye out for excessive wheel arch corrosion and go for a fully serviced example. A CLK 320 Avantgarde from 2003 with 95,000 miles on the clock could be yours for £2950.

5. Lexus GS (2005-2011) 

A five-star luxury trip to the Maldives might be holiday nirvana for some (or perhaps most), but consider that for the same five-figure spend you could get a Lexus GS 450h — and being a hybrid, you’ll be doing your part to keep those sandbank atolls above the water line.

You’ll be treated to exemplary main dealer treatment, a comfortable ride, excellent refinement and strong engine performance, plus loads of standard ki,t and it’s all wrapped up in a reliable package. The GS isn’t the best on the motorway, though.

Check the wheels for early oxidisation, but other than that, few owner issues have been reported.

Prices for 2008 GS 450hs in top specification with 60,000 miles on the clock start at around £10,000.

Matthew Griffiths

Join the debate


13 July 2016
Autocar wrote:

The GS isn’t the best on the motorway, though.

How so?

13 July 2016
Autocar wrote:

BEST USED CARS FOR UNDER £5k. We run through our sub £5k picks of the classifieds. Prices for 2008 GS 450hs in top specification with 60,000 miles on the clock start at around £10,000.

How so?


13 July 2016
A couple of years back we (2 adults 2 children) did the Orlando thing. Initial outlay plus everything we spent out there totalled around £10K. That was in February, it would have been £2K more at Easter.

13 July 2016
The Street Ka may be a lot of things , but stylish?

13 July 2016
"Best used cars for under £5k"

- Great

"Prices for 2008 GS 450hs in top specification with 60,000 miles on the clock start at around £10,000."

- Eh?

13 July 2016
"...but keep an eye out for excessive wheel arch corrosion." As opposed to what? Acceptable wheel arch corrosion? I'd run a mile from any visible sign of corrosion, unless obviously caused by poor accident repair and very isolated. Modern cars simply shouldn't rust.

13 July 2016
This is a very "What Car" spec list as there are loads more enticing vehicles out there for £5k.

Using the premise of the piece, I go on holiday to have fun and a departure from the norm, surely the Audi is anything but!



It's all about the twisties........

13 July 2016
And for confirmation, the 2007 A4 Avant example Autocar gives will not be the version in the picture! In fact unless it's done a serious amount of miles you won't get the model pictured anywhere near £5k!

13 July 2016
I would love to know where they find these cars. I've been keeping an eye out myself for an A4 avant (for the dog - my excuse..!). I can't find a 2007 2.0 S line with that kind of mileage for much less than £7000 let alone £5000. Total fantasy as far as I an see...

13 July 2016
Your selection of cars 'for under 5 grand' range from £1500 to £10,000. Wouldn't it be better if they were all worth 5k? On a scale from one to ten I'd give you between 3 and 25.


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