2 - Vauxhall Monaro (2005-2007)
The Monaro - now replaced by the VXR8 - caused a stir when it first arrived in the mid-2000s. Firstly, it blew away the perception of Vauxhall, and secondly, who knew General Motors could produce such a beast? It has more kick than an angry kangaroo and enough bite to make a huntsman spider appear tame. It’s also a great-looking large coupé with a big 5.7-litre V8 engine. The ride is smooth and it’ll entertain you through the corners, but leave the traction control on to keep the rear end in check.
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Fuel and insurance costs are high, but the Monaro depreciates slowly and service costs should be reasonable. We found a 2005 model that had covered 76,000 miles for £9490.
3 - Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VIII (2003-2005)
The Evo VIII landed on our shores as a war raged in its native Japan: a ferocious battle between Mitsubishi and Subaru to be crowned the maker of the best rallybred four-door saloon in the world. The Evo VIII certainly has all the credentials. It explodes off the mark, with 262bhp coming from its 2.0-litre engine and power being sent to all four wheels, while beautifully balanced, nearperfect steering, limited body roll and extreme levels of grip make the Evo a handling champion. Insurance costs are steep, though, and tyres are likely to need replacing regularly.
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Find one that’s been fully serviced and well looked after. We found an Evo VIII with 66,000 miles for sale at £8795.
4 - Jaguar XJ Super V8 (2003-2009)
If you’re after something more refined, something with a touch of class, something British, the Jaguar XJ 4.2 Super could be the car for you. Performance comes from a supercharged 4.2-litre V8 producing 400bhp, meaning it takes just 5.0sec to hit 60mph. As with all XJs, you’ll be wafted around in comfort in a luxurious interior, yet the lightweight aluminium body ensures the XJ remains one of the best-handling executive saloons.
See Jaguar XJ for sale on PistonHeads
Jaguars made around this time excelled in build quality, making the XJ reliable, so just ensure it’s fully serviced for hassle-free motoring. We found a 2004 model with 79,000 miles on the clock at an asking price of £9975.
5 - Chrysler 300C SRT-8 (2006-2010)
The 300C may be dressed like a Bentley, but it’s as all-American as a cowboy hat with matching boots. Under the hood — sorry, bonnet — is a 6.1-litre V8 that thumps out 419bhp, yet despite its bulk, the SRT-8 will catapult you from stationary to 60mph in an eye-widening 4.9sec. Compared with tamer versions of the 300C, the SRT-8 has stiffened and lowered suspension and thicker antiroll bars, meaning it keeps body lean to a minimum through the corners and there’s plenty of grip to boot.
This isn’t going to come as a surprise, but that big V8 is thirsty — 20mpg thirsty — so fuel bills will inevitably be on the high side. Ten-year-old examples that have covered 100,000 miles are now coming up for around £9995.