Currently reading: Performance cars for the price of a Fiat Panda - used car buying guide
You could buy Fiat’s supermini new for £10k, or you could have something a bit more exciting
3 mins read
13 April 2015

For just £10,000, Fiat's Panda represents great value for money. But what else can be had for the same amount? Here are some of our alternatives.

1 - BMW M6 (2005-2010)

The regular BMW 6 Series is a swift and luxurious grand tourer, but put it through the firm’s M division and what emerges is the extremely rapid and rather exciting M6.The headline news is the 5.0-litre V10 engine, which produces 500bhp at a screaming 7750rpm and propels the car to 62mph from rest in just 4.4sec and to 100mph in an impressive 8.7sec.

The M6 shares this engine, and much of its underpinnings, with the contemporary M5 saloon, so there are plenty of thrills to be had. With a lower centre of gravity and less weight, however, the M6 coupé is even sharper than the four-door car.

When new, it cost more than the M5 and didn’t sell as well. Shop around today and you can find one for as little as £12,000.

2 - Jaguar XKR (1998-2007)

Before the Jaguar F-Type V8 there was the XKR, a sexed-up version of the XK coupé with a 370bhp supercharged 4.0-litre V8 under its bonnet.

A mid-life tweak in 2003 upped the capacity to 4.2 litres and the power to 400bhp. Performance was suitably wild: top speed was limited to 155mph, but the Jaguar would accelerate from 0-62mph in just 4.9sec. 

It was great to drive, too: butch but delicate, agile and compliant. The second-generation car, launched in 2007, was even better, and with power boosted to 420bhp and the limiters off, the top speed rose to 174mph.

As little as £5k can buy you an earlier car, but expect to pay £10k-£15k for a good 4.2-litre car and upwards of £18k for a second-generation model.  

3 - Maserati 3200GT (1998-2002)

You could bag yourself an Italian coupé with one of the most desirable badges in automotive history for the price of a new Panda. You’ll also get a 370bhp 3.2-litre twin-turbo V8, a 175mph top speed and a 0-62mph time of just 5.1sec.

The 3200 GT marked the return to form of Maserati, after years in the performance car wilderness. It was well received but, such are its potentially massive running costs, it’s possible to find a good one today for less than £10k.

There were a few niggles, though. Some weren’t so keen on how it drove. That complex V8 is a thoroughbred, and particular attention needs to be paid to oil changes and cambelts, otherwise it could end up costing you more than the car is worth. Running costs will be huge, and you’ll have to watch for rust.


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Fiat Panda

A very fine multi-use little car that offers an enticing ownership proposition

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4 - Mercedes-Benz CL600 (1999-2006)

Think of the CL as a coupé version of the S-Class with added road presence. 

It’s even faster, too, being lighter and lower. Buy the CL600 and you’ll get a mighty 5.5-litre bi-turbo V12, all 493bhp and 590lb ft of it. Performance is storming, with 0-62mph in 4.8sec, and it’ll waft up to its (limited) maximum speed of 155mph in near silence. The ride is soft and pillowy and the handling surprisingly agile. Technology is top drawer and the CL is dripping with driver aids, while inside is a heavily luxurious interior stuffed with goodies.

It cost a fortune new, but you can buy a good example of this second-generation car for £10,000. Push the boat out and you could find the even more opulent 510bhp third-generation CL for not much more.

5 - Porsche 911 (1998-2005)

The 996-generation 911 was the first water-cooled model and the first with four-valve heads. Purists’ concerns about all this modernity were pushed aside in a 0-62mph 5.2sec rush and silenced by a civilised top speed of 174mph. In time, the engine was enlarged and the power upped, too.

It was great to drive and faster and more comfortable than previous 911s, and anyone with any doubts about the rear-engined handling could always opt for a Carrera 4 with four-wheel drive.

There were some issues with the seals and shafts surrounding the flat six engine, so careful inspections are advised and a full history is desirable. At around £10k, though, the 996 is superb value for money. Chosen carefully, it’s a great way to get into Porsche ownership.

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13 April 2015
Give me something that works (like the Panda) any day. It will not cost a fortune to run and it will get you to your destination. But then if you already have a, a BMW M6 would look rather cool on the driveway!

13 April 2015
The Porsche 911 is my favourite car of all time. I'm often checking the classifieds for a used 911 but not sure is I have the nerve to buy one for about £10k. That said, putting aside my sensible head and letting man maths take over, a £10k Panda would probably be worth £5k after 3 years. A £10k 911, if looked after, would probably be worth about £10k after 3 year. Worst case is that your £10k 911 does need expensive engine during your owning of it, but using a good, independent specialist, could mean that any repairs could cost less that the depreciation of the Panda. Looking at it this way, a gamble on a £10k 911 begins to make sense. Just... Maybe...

13 April 2015
It's not quite there yet (£10k headline of the article), but there are some Cayman S examples to be had for £13-14k. I think a mid-late noughties example might just be a better bet in the fun versus risk stakes than a late nineties 911. However I guess for a lot of people, nothing compares to a 911.

13 April 2015
. . . does purchase a performance car on the dirt cheap with really a large number of miles. But these cars are going to be real expensive to fix - if they go seriously wrong. You could be effectively bankrupting yourself through repair bills.

13 April 2015
Einarbb wrote:

. . . does purchase a performance car on the dirt cheap with really a large number of miles. But these cars are going to be real expensive to fix - if they go seriously wrong. You could be effectively bankrupting yourself through repair bills.

My first thought reading this was that it was unduly pessimistic: you've only put £10k at risk in the first place, so even if the worst happens, say an engine or gearbox failure, you'll get back the salvage or spares value of what remains. Thinking about it further, there is some risk that you'll throw good money after bad by paying out for a series of expensive repairs, without knowing when to call it a day. I agree with Outoftowner1969 that it makes sense not to be too ambitious in your choice. Incidentally, my 2006 Boxster, two owners and 37k miles, which I've owned for five years and cherished, is now worth not a great deal over £10k. I'm thinking about trading it in for a new one next year and whoever buys it will be getting a teriffic car for the money. (But I would say that, wouldn't I!)

13 April 2015
I wish nothing but the best of luck to you all, but they're are reasons why these cars are now shame to purchase!

13 April 2015
jason_recliner wrote:

I wish nothing but the best of luck to you all, but they're are reasons why these cars are now shame to purchase!

Effing autospell!

13 April 2015
You would have to be a lunatic to buy one of these cars if you only had a £10k to £15k budget. If, however, you might have been considering spending near £30k on a new hot-hatch, the money saved on the purchase price and potential depreciation losses, unless you are very unlucky with your flash car, will go a long way to make up for the high running costs.

14 April 2015
How much does a service on a BMW V10 cost?

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