The Range Rover has been ploughing its own furrow since 1970, combining so successfully the qualities of a smart and refined upmarket town car and a hugely capable and capacious off-roader. This third-gen version is wonderfully furnished, handsomely equipped and beautifully proportioned.
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It can pull like a train and glide like a swan, although it comes as quite a shock to discover that the chic, stolid and innovative Rangie can occasionally handle like a boat. It also comes as a shock to learn that something so tough can occasionally be rather fragile. But for £10k, you could put a 2006 174bhp 3.0-litre diesel V6 Vogue SE on your driveway, and for 99% of the time you would want for no more.
Mazda MX-5 (2006-2015)
It doesn’t really matter which version of this diminutive drop-top you choose; from the Mk1 to the latest Mk4, you’ll enjoy driving them all. A £10k budget will buy you a 2012 Mk3 car, and what you’ll get is a quick-steering, sharp-handling roadster powered by a lively 158bhp 2.0-litre engine, enabling 0-62mph in 7.6sec and a blowy top speed of 132mph.
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But the figures tell only half the story. Even this largest of MX-5s feels lithe, and a quick roof-down punt along a sunny country lane will stir your senses, its unburstable quality matched only by its unbeatable charm. Reported problems are few, and there are plenty around. Accept no substitutes; it’s five-star fun in an immensely affordable package.
Mercedes-Benz S-Class (2006-2013)
If you’re after luxury limo comfort and innovative safety aids, the S-Class is for you — and this fifth-generation model adds bulging wheel arches and night-time vision, as well as real dynamic capability. It’s as good to drive as it is to be driven in. Choose wisely and you’ll waft along in the S 320 CDI, with its near-silent 235bhp 3.0-litre diesel engine, and enjoy 34mpg. Live a little, though, and you could bag the 517bhp twin-turbo 5.5-litre V12 S 600 petrol version, which will whoosh from 0-62mph in just 4.6sec.