Why have four cylinders when you can thrive on five? Here's a selection of interesting cars with five-pot engines that can be had for around £5000

1. Ford Focus ST (2006-2010)

This Focus ST is a real treat. It’s fast, sounds great, is easy to live with and immensely capable across country. Power comes from a Volvo-sourced 2.5-litre turbocharged engine that produces 225bhp and 236lb ft, allowing for a 0-60mph time of 6.5sec.

For £5000 you’ll be able to pick up an early 2006 or 2007 example with around 70,000 miles on the clock. Beware of cars with a lumpy idle or ‘invisible’ coolant leaks, because that can indicate cracked cylinder liners.

2. Mercedes-Benz 300D (1976-1985)

It’s a luxury saloon, with a three-pointed star perched proudly on its prow, from an era when the company majored on remarkable quality and engineering. More prominently, besides the W123 generation of 300D looking quietly imperious in the way that only German saloons can, it featured Mercedes-Benz’s OM617 five-cylinder diesel.

This engine isn’t a powerhouse, by any stretch, but it’ll simply soldier on forever. Cockroaches and cars running OM617s: that’s all that will be left in a post-Armageddon world. Mileage is almost irrelevant, consequently, so just buy on condition.

3. Volvo 850 T-5R (1995-1996)

Most T-5Rs for sale might be an odd colour, and the car itself may look like it was designed using just a set square, but don’t doubt the high-performance Volvo. Under the bonnet lies a 2.3-litre five-cylinder engine that, in standard form, churns out 242bhp and 258lb ft.

That allows this subtle-looking front-wheel-drive Volvo to sprint to 60mph in about six seconds. The engine can make much more with a few tweaks, too. The T5-R was sold in limited numbers, but patience will secure a low-mileage one within budget.

Our Verdict

Ford Focus ST

The Ford Focus ST has a new four-pot motor and a diesel added to the range, but does it have what it takes to gun for the Volkswagen Golf GTI and Golf GTD?

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4. Fiat Coupé 20v Turbo (1996-2000)

You might immediately think ‘trouble’ and ‘bankruptcy’ but, if you buy a good example, Fiat’s sleek Coupé should prove an enjoyable car to own. Its 2.0-litre five-cylinder engine puts out a stout 220bhp and the flighty Fiat can sprint from zero to 60mph in as little as 6.3sec.

The cambelt needs changing every 72,000 miles or six years, if not sooner, so check that it has been done and make sure the car comes with the red ‘master’ key. You’ll get a beautiful example for £5k and, if cared for, it shouldn’t depreciate.

5. Land Rover Discovery TD5 (1998-2004)

The turbocharged 2.5-litre TD5 diesel engine might not be the most symphonious around but it’s a good choice in a Discovery, producing plenty of low-end torque. It’s an improvement on the older 300 TDi, too, albeit a more complicated, occasionally finickity one.

Maintain it properly and it should soldier on without undue grief, though. For £5000 you’ll get a lovely, high-specification Discovery from 2003 with about 80,000 miles on the clock. It's an ideal choice for the odd spot of towing or off-roading.

6. Audi Coupé quattro (1984-1988)

“No, it doesn’t have a turbo” might be something you have to get used to saying if you buy one of these Audis. It’s not the fabled Ur-Quattro, after all, but it’s still a fine piece of five-cylinder machinery — and it’ll cost you a fraction of the price.

Your £5000 will buy a stunning example with fewer than 80,000 miles, as opposed to the £15k-£20k required for a Quattro. The naturally aspirated 2.2-litre engine puts out a decent 134bhp as well, allowing for 0-62mph in 8.8sec. Don’t buy a tatty one, though, because parts can be difficult to find and corrosion hard to battle.

Read more: Five affordable ways to go fast

Join the debate


9 March 2015
My main concern is the balancer shaft.



9 March 2015
Although wonderful to look at (in my eyes, anyway), the thought that the whole engine/drive/suspension assembly has (as far as I know) to be dropped out every 6 years/72k miles to change the cambelt (so the first may have been done in 2003, but the second and third?), and the likely cost, unfortunately puts me off. Definitely a project for somebody with (free) access to a workshop, sufficiently enamoured of the car to take out an overdraft or with more money/income than strictly necessary.

27 August 2015
The cambelt can be changed at a number of specialist garages across the country with the engine in the car for circa £400. It was only the FIAT dealers that did the engine out thing and, to be honest, if you took a Coupé to a FIAT dealer, they’d likely not know what it was anyway!

9 March 2015
Unusually, I've driven / owned most of these. Some thoughts:

W123 300D - lovely cars but catastrophically slow. Trying to overtake anything quicker than a milk float requires much forward planning. They are built like bank vaults though.

Volvo / Fiat - both can have their problems but if you find a well-cared for one, are ace. A coupe 20V with a loud exhaust is spectacular. Watch for 'barried' versions as there are lots about.

Disco - don't even contemplate buying one without find a specialist mechanic who can (a) service it cheaply and (b) go over any potential purchase with a fine-tooth comb.

Audi - lovely little cars - a mini quattro without the price tag (or the 4WD). Great styling, great sound.

9 March 2015
What, no mentin of any cars with Alfa's 5 cylinder diesel ? Man those engines sound great.

XXXX just went POP.

9 March 2015
You get more kicks with six, said the wittiest person on the forum.

9 March 2015
VW also made a V5 unit, a vr6 minus one pot. A corrado would probably have been the best home for a V5 if they sold one here. ?

9 March 2015
Fiat Coupé is the pick; but it's not for the feint-hearted or those that want to play pub Top Trumps. A car that is by turns exhilarating and exasperating. Once owned, never forgotten. I expect nowadays it would very difficult to find a good example. But no matter how rough, a far better prospect for investing say £200pm in maintenance than 99% of news cars you could get for that on PCP. Just make sure you have a K11 Micra on the drive, just in case...
  • If you want to know about a car, read a forum dedicated to it; that's a real 'long term test' . No manufacturer's warranty, no fleet managers servicing deals, no journalist's name to oil the wheels...

10 March 2015
I had both the Coupe GT and the Quattro (the original) at the same time (his and hers - dont ask me which was mine lol) and BOTH were the two finest jalopies I have ever had for fun sound and fabulous reliability which in that era was something ALL the others mentioned failed to have
Surprising that the GT was not a hatchback or lift back - but the boot was extremely deep and usable. Great car - I cant praise these two babies enough (oh the original GT was 2 liter not 2.3 and you wnt be disappointed

what's life without imagination

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