A fast, luxurious saloon doesn't have to cost the Earth. As these used examples show, you can be posh - and quick - on a budget.
1 - Jaguar XJR (2003-2007)
If you want grace and pace in one package, look no further than the aluminium-bodied XJR.
For pace, the XJR has a 390bhp 4.2-litre supercharged V8, which is good enough to propel the relatively lightweight Jaguar from zero to 60mph in 5.4sec and on to a top speed of 155mph.
It’s graceful, too, and agile, with strong roadholding and entertaining handling. Despite some stiffening, it still rides like a Jaguar should.
So grace, pace - and space? Not quite. The wood-lined, leather-trimmed cabin is not the roomiest, but it still feels a special place to be.
Prices start at about £10k, with later facelifted models about £15k. Running one can be costly, though.
2 - Maserati Quattroporte (2003-2012)
Here’s a four-door saloon with one of the most emotive badges in motoring history attached to a gorgeous Pininfarina-designed body.
The fifth-generation Quattroporte packs a 394bhp 4.2-litre V8 punch that takes it to 171mph and dispatches 0-62mph in 5.2sec. It has a lavishly leathered interior, tolerable rear seats and even a decent boot, but most of all it has style. There are some drawbacks, though. Avoid the automated manual gearbox and check that you can tolerate its fidgety ride.
The car is potentially temperamental and expensive, so insist on a full service history. Early cars start at £15k, but it’s worth spending more to get a later one.
From some angles, this butch-looking beast is positively handsome. From others, it’s ugly enough to make you feel queasy. Either way, its thuggish lines bring a hint of hoodlum to suburbia.
Best to opt for the V8 versions; the 340bhp 5.7-litre car is good for 0-62mph in 6.4sec and a top speed of 155mph, while the 425bhp 6.1-litre SRT-8 will do 168mph and 0-62mph in 5.0sec.
So performance is good, but the ride is restless and the handling soggy. On top of that, the interior is a plasticky nightmare, the fuel economy is dreadful and it’s a very difficult car to see out of.
Buy one in black, though, and you might forgive it. Prices? From £6k for the 5.7 car or £15k and up for SRT-8s.
Sometimes, a car is even greater than the sum of its considerably great parts. And the RS4 has some great ingredients: a glorious 414bhp 4.2-litre V8 that revs to 8250rpm, a slick six-speed Getrag gearbox, a clever Torsen four-wheel drive system with a rear bias, and a low body, wide tracks and a stiff chassis.