Whether you're after four-wheel drive to tackle any snow, or simply looking for a great deal, here's our guide to buying wise this winter
26 December 2015

Whether you have been naughty or nice this year, it’s still worth asking Father Christmas for the car you really, really want to drive. There are so many great used cars out there and many of them represent excellent value for money.

Just think how much happier you will be with a sports car than, say, a pair of hand-knitted socks. And why fill a stocking with chocolate money and satsumas when a dinky little supermini would be a much better present (to yourself)?

Just remember that a good used car is not just for Christmas. It will most likely keep you entertained at least until the MOT runs out.

We politely suggest that you leave this web page open in a prominent position in your family home, just in case Santa doesn’t get the message.

Our top 20 Christmas used cars

20 - BMW M5, the super saloon

If you were sitting on Santa’s lap and he asked you what you wanted for Christmas, chances are you’d want a bit of everything. You know: supercar fast, comfy, room for all the family and dead sexy to look at. Well, that would have to be a BMW M5. The only conundrum is whether to go old school or newer school.

Our pick 2001 BMW M5, 100,000 miles, £8499

Our Verdict

Audi A6

The Audi A6 rises higher than any model before it and is now a real contender in the mid-size exec market

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19 - Audi A8, the luxo-barge

Yes, a bit of this, some of that and plenty of luxury, please. If you are going to enjoy Christmas in any meaningful way, you really need a great big, comfortable settee on wheels, ideally with four-wheel drive. A firmly upholstered Audi A8 quattro would be truly wonderful, and on the right winter tyres, it will be more than capable in the ice and snow.

Our pick 2004 Audi A8 4.0 TDI, 90,000 miles, £5000

18 - Aston Martin DB9, the super coupé

It depends on your definition of a ‘christmas cracker’, but surely something that looked like an Aston Martin would be a good start. Spectre got us all excited about Astons and Jaguars and Land Rover Defenders, but no one can afford a DB4 or DB10. If you’re on a budget then it’s a DB7. If you want to use it beyond Boxing Day, a DB9 (for lots more money) is better.

Our pick 2005 Aston Martin DB9, 60,000 miles, £36,999

17 - Toyota Land Cruiser, the 4x4

If last year was anything to go by, we are going to need some help getting through the snow drifts to get to all those parties we’ve been invited to. In the real world, it should be a Toyota Land Cruiser. If you are serious about getting anywhere in adverse conditions, you should accept no substitute, even with 200k miles on the clock.

Our pick 2004 Toyota Land Cruiser 3.0D, 220,000 miles, £5500

16 - Seat Alhambra, the Christmas pudding

Big and a bit stodgy but oh so filling. Yes, there are times when we need to stuff not just the family inside, but friends, pets, luggage and pressies, too. Lots of pressies. The Seat Alhambra is well equipped and big enough to get all the visiting relatives to the train station on the day after Boxing Day.

Our pick 2004 Seat Alhambra TDI SX, 120,000 miles, £2600

15 - Toyota iQ, the city car

It’s all very well getting these exciting cars, but all we really need is something for buzzing down to the shops on a frantic last-minute mission to get brandy butter and turkey stuffing. For such tasks, there’s nothing better than the frankly quite brilliantly bonkers Toyota iQ, which will do a claimed 65.7mpg, leaving you spare cash to spend on food and presents.

Our pick 2010 Toyota iQ 1.0, 69,000 miles, £3000

14 - Rover 45, the Christmas turkey

There’s always one, isn’t there? We won’t name names, but just imagine you bought a [insert most old bangers here] and you found out that it had a blown head gasket. So be very, very careful out there. Ask your garage to do a colour change test to see if there are exhaust fumes in the cooling system. Or just look at the coolant for white paste and the oil for any moisture.

Our (cautious) pick 2003 Rover 45 1.6 Club, 126,000 miles, £495

13 - Mercedes-Benz CLK500, the piece of tinsel

Something a bit blingy, but great value? That would be a Mercedes-Benz CLK, then. These are incredibly cheap now and an early model should have had any problems sorted out by previous owners. Seek out a convertible if you feel optimistic that the new year will be bright and dry. Certainly, you should have enough money left over to spend on a set of chrome wheels.

Our pick 2002 Mercedes-Benz CLK500, 114,000 miles, £3500

12 - Honda Jazz, Santa's little helperWe all need a little hatchback that we can rely on to run the errands, do the shopping and just keep on running over the Christmas period. The Honda Jazz will perform that role perfectly. It will also give you around 50mpg all day long and, of course, a Jazz is as reliable as Rudolf.

Our pick 2010 Honda Jazz 1.4 Si, 35,000 miles, £5495

11 - Daihatsu Copen, the tiny coupé

A cute little roadster could make a loved one very, very happy. There is certainly no shortage of bijou CCs around these days, but one of the most overlooked is the Daihatsu Copen. These are wonderfully buzzy little things, and they don’t just look great; they rarely break down, either.

Our pick 2006 Daihatsu Copen, 47,500 miles, £2950

10 - Ford Mondeo, the family car

Nothing fancy, just five doors, a lot of kit and a nice low price please, Santa. That would have to be the very-nice-to-drive-and-live-with Ford Mondeo. We would go for the estate, which has absolutely bags of room. Titanium specification will give you everything you really need. There’s even a heated screen, which is the best invention ever to deal with frosty winter mornings.

Our pick 2008 Ford Mondeo Titanium Estate, 125,000 miles, £3500

9 - TVR Cerbera, the noisy supercar

TVR is trending, so be ahead of the rejuvenation curve. Almost as old as Santa himself, the TVR Cerbera would be a truly wonderful addition to the frontline reindeer team. Pretty unwieldy on ice, although never less than fun, this great big noisy toy will make you the centre of attention well into 2016 and beyond.

Our pick 1999 TVR Cerbera, 45,000 miles, £16,999

8 - Jaguar XJ6, the big, luxurious saloon

Although Jaguar’s design has moved into the 21st century now, there is absolutely nothing wrong with an older XJ, which continues to look the luxury car part and now has a low, low price to match. Even the previous-generation, aluminium-bodied one is truly affordable. Spoil yourself.

Our pick 2006 Jaguar XJ6 2.7 TD, 110,000 miles, £6995

7 - Citroën Xsara Picasso, the mince pie

Some things are perfectly packaged, like a mince pie. So are some vehicles, like compact MPVs in general, and the Citroën Xsara Picasso has to be the best-value example out there. It doesn’t need to seat seven and, thanks to that egg shape, you can cram loads of stuff in it. Plenty to choose from on the second-hand market, too.

Our pick 2010 Citroën Xsara Picasso 1.6 HDi, 50,000 miles, £5000

6 - Skoda Octavia vRS, the ice queen

Four-wheel drive is the recurring theme this year and what better way to go out and enjoy yourself than a Skoda Octavia vRS, which is truly underrated and rather more classy than a Subaru. There isn’t a great deal of room in the back, but there is a big front spoiler to plough the snow out of the way.

Our pick 2004 Skoda Octavia vRS, 113k miles, £2295

5 - Toyota MR2, the fairy lights roadster

Something small and lightweight really ought to be a Caterham Seven, but they are a bit pricey and haven’t got proper doors or a proper roof. For that reason, we recommend the Toyota MR2, which is light, economical and almost as impractical as a Seven, but with a better hood. At least it is not another Mazda MX-5. These are only going up in value.

Our pick 2002 Toyota MR2, 76,000 miles, £2495

4 - Mitsubishi Shogun, the small 4x4

There are times when you need a pocket-sized off-roader, and we really do think that the Mitsubishi Shogun Pinin is really cute. It is also tough and reliable, even if many think it is not very refined. Off road, though, it is truly brilliant - like a mini Shogun, which it is, of course.

Our pick 2005 Mitsubishi Shogun Pinin, 66,000 miles, £2495

3 - Porsche 911 4S, the GT for long distances

Apparently, Santa has it written into his contract that he really must have access to a full-on performance-focused driving machine. He is one of us, you know, and despite his girth, he can chuck a motor about just like he does the reindeer and sleigh. So he needs a Porsche 911 with handy four-wheel-drive traction.

Our pick 2007 Porsche 911 4S, 48,000 miles, £35,995

2 - Honda Insight, the green option

Prove to Santa that you’ve been good by going hybrid with a Honda Insight. But it depends on whether you are going to do a lot of stop-start driving, or some big miles. For long distance, it has to be one of those nasty diesels. Best to get one from a private seller who is still a bit confused by it.

Our pick 2010 Honda Insight 1.3 SE, 63,000 miles, £5500

1 - Ferrari FF, the Italian sports car

A fire engine would be nice, of course, maybe even an ex-Parcel Force Sherpa. But hey, it’s Christmas, so let’s go absolutely mad and get a Ferrari. As it is Crimble, it can be an FF because we ran one and loved it. It’s the closest that Modena will ever get to making a 4x4 and just as practical, because there is room for at least two elves in the back.

Our pick 2012 Ferrari FF, 20,000 miles, £149,895

Join the debate


26 December 2015
The Octavia vRS pictured is not 4 wheel drive. You could only get 4wd on the 150bhp petrol or 1.9 diesel Mk.1s.

26 December 2015
If only UK had the ruddy wheel on the correct side - MEANING LEFT - I would happily come over and pick up the A8 and stick a towbar on it buy a trailer and load the Daihatsu Copen, on it and drive back to St. Pete.
Round trip plus trailer and a good Christmas tour for less than 10k
wow I am seriously piddled about that 5th wheel. And yes I have driven RHD cars here - there are many especially from central Russia and over towards Asia because they bring them in by ferry loads from Japan at prices to make your eyes water. Similar to the above prices -car range shown here except 6 or more years younger!!
But it is hard enough avoiding clowns and stupidity in a LHD - in a RHD you are just an accident waiting to happen

what's life without imagination

26 December 2015

The Copen looks better every year. Maybe Peugeot-Citroen UK could be convinced to import the Mark 2 to offer 207CC owners a replacement now that a 208CC looks unlikely?

Although I'm not sure I'd agree on the Picasso.

27 December 2015
I would also recommend the Shogun Pinin, have had mine for 6 months now and it's fantastic. Drives great, comfy and great off road. Decent mpg as well despite what you read online. Of course I would love a DB9 though but Santa couldn't stretch to one of those unfortunately!

currently a happy owner of a Mitsubishi Shogun Pinin :)


27 December 2015
.. I'd lace his mince pie with Po 210.

2 January 2016
Who needs to exercise more caution? The banger buyer who is considering splashing £495 on a Rover 45, which will be run till it breaks then thrown away, or the person who can afford a £3500 car who is tempted towards spending it on a five litre V8 Mercedes with parts costs which are way out of the league of most buyers in that price sector? Putting a set of good quality tyres on it would cost roughly the same as two of those Rovers. It's one thing to buy such cars, it's another thing entirely to run them. But what is really concerning is how even run-of-the-mill family saloons these days are being equipped with parts and tyres which will cause such consternation for used buyers in the future. People will be faced with throwing away cars they have paid a three or four thousand pounds for because they can't afford a repair bill for half as much again. Or more likely they will simply refuse to risk buying such cars, which will end up on the scrapheap anyway. It's an unsound path for the industry to be taking.

I don't need to put my name here, it's on the left


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