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25 Fast Luxury Cars That (Mostly) Anyone Can Afford

Cameron EittreimJanuary 12, 2022

The luxury car segment is obviously one of the pinnacles of the automotive industry. You know that you’ve made it in life when you can afford the best automotive design. Unfortunately, it’s often ludicrously costly to purchase a luxury car brand new off the lot. Yet, the luxury car segment is also one of the automotive segments that suffer from the fastest level of depreciation. This major level of depreciation is awful if you are purchasing a luxury car as an investment, but great if you are in the market for a used model.

Because luxury cars are generally designed to impress the buyer, many of these vehicles are high-performance. When you couple a high-performance car with a luxury badge, the recipe is usually a well-designed ride. Cars like the Lexus SC400 were precision-engineered and their overall quality still holds up today. Over the past couple of decades, there have been many luxury cars that are still a blast to drive. We looked back at 25 fast luxury cars that are still great rides that won’t break the bank.

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25: Lexus SC400

It should be no surprise that the Lexus SC400 is on this list. The SC400 was the first sports car to ever have a Lexus badge on it. Toyota was on a mission to make the Lexus brand stand out as much as possible. The engineering that went into the SC400 was one of the best vehicles on the road. From its performance to its sound isolation, the SC400 was one of the most well-built vehicles in the segment (via Car & Driver).

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Its 4.0 L V8 is also one of the best engines Toyota has ever built. The quality of the SC400 will leave a smile on your face every time you drive it. Surprisingly, this car is affordable and has a low resale value on the older models. But it’s not uncommon to see one with over 200,000 miles and still going strong. When it comes to automotive bargains, the SC400 is one of the best you can get.

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24: Chrysler Crossfire

A sports car released by Chrysler in the early 2000s, the Crossfire was unique, to say the least. The engineering of the Crossfire is based on the Mercedes SLK320. So drivers got a Mercedes-Benz with the price tag of a used Chrysler. The performance of the Crossfire is more adequate thanks to its lightweight design and a 3.2 L V6 (via Autoblog).

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The Crossfire had a unique feature with the spoiler, which rises after the car is going 40 mph. There is also a convertible version of the Crossfire, which is a bit rarer than the standard car. If you are feeling daring, there is also an SRT version of the Crossfire. With the variety of models and the rarity of the car, you’ll have a conversation piece. Plus, the Crossfire is still a blast to drive today and drivers can find them with low mileage.

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23: 1997 Audi A8

Cars in the 1990s were opulent and beginning to introduce new technology. Audi was a decade of redefining what the brand was to buyers. Volkswagen was in the midst of a restructuring, and this included changing the Audi brand. The A8 is a large slab of steel, aluminum, and leather that blends together to create a stellar driving experience (via Edmunds).

Photo Credit: Audi

The sale value of the A8 is almost nonexistent and the quality of the car is exceptional. You’ll get a quality German riding luxury car, complete with two options for a V8 engine. The A8 is by far one of the best cars on the road. You’ll find one with relatively low mileage, and the upkeep on these cars isn’t as bad as you’d think. Few cars drive as well as the 1997 Audi A8, even by today’s standards.

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22: Lexus LS400

If you want the power of the Lexus SC400, but you need more versatility, there’s the LS400. The LS400 is the ultimate “sleeper” car. The V8 engine is more than powerful enough to handle daily commutes and pleasurable driving. The LS400 is a car that was over-engineered, and that was on purpose. Toyota knew it needed to come with a lot more than just a rebadged Camry, and the LS400 was the vehicle it made (via Car Gurus).

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The LS400 was designed from the ground up to be a high-class luxury car from its lack of interior sound to the high-quality materials used for the interior. Few luxury cars have cultivated a reputation for quality like the LS400. Likewise, the resale price on these early models is affordable. You can find one with high mileage that still runs great for a very small price.

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21: Porsche Boxster

Here was the first “modern” Porsche model. The Boxster redefined where the brand was headed in the 1990s. The Boxster was a completely different type of Porsche model that invoked a new modern design. The price of the car was also much more affordable and introduced a new batch of young professionals into the Porsche lineup. Before the Boxster, the Porsche lineup was made up of rough cars around the edges (via Motor Trend).

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The Boxster was a modern and subtle luxury car that could appeal to men and women. When you look at the styling of the Boxster, the car is still beautiful today. It’s that timeless styling that has made the Boxster one of the most popular used Porsche models on the market. You’ll seldom find one for an outrageous price and the driving characteristics of this car are amazing to this day.

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20: Mercedes-Benz 500E

There probably isn’t a better sleeper car than the 500E. Powered by a brute-force V8 engine, the 500E was bursting at the seams with 320 hp. The interesting thing about the 500E is that it competed against many comparable luxury sedans. With the power of the V8 engine, the fact that the 500E has depreciated so much that you essentially can’t go wrong with this one (via Motor Trend).

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When someone else pulls up alongside the 500E, the first thought is it’s just an old Benz. But that couldn’t be further from the truth because the engineering that went into the 500E was phenomenal. The 500E is perhaps one of the most underrated and well-designed Mercedes-Benz models of the 1990s.

Jaguar XJS
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19: Jaguar XJS

The Jaguar XJS is sort of the unsung hero of the ’90s Jaguar scene. The two-door, V8-powered coupe is seldom seen on the road anymore. But its popularity with sports stars and the media in the early 1990s cannot be understated. That also translates into a resale price that has seemingly stayed comfortable for two decades. You didn’t break the bank getting an XJS, and the car was seemingly well-equipped for the price (via Car Survey).

Jaguar XJS
Photo Credit: Hagerty

But where Jaguars shine is performance, and the XJS wasn’t short on performance. The car would do well no matter if you took it on the track or the highway. The XJS was built as a driver’s car, utilizing a luxury sports car that feels like an exclusive piece of British heritage. That’s something that even many new luxury car models cannot live up to and the XJS was before the Ford era.

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18: Chevy Corvette C4

The fourth generation of the Chevy Corvette is often the most understated one. Released in the heels of the 1980s, the car was on the cusp of new technology. Most notably in this mix was the standardization of the fuel-injected engines. The C4 has beautiful styling even to this day, with many interesting features. You can get one with either a Targa top or a convertible top, both of which are unique options (via Car Survey).

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The legendary LT1 V8 engine is one of the best motors that GM has ever built. An older model Corvette is both reliable and cheap to maintain. Whether you get the hardtop or a convertible version, the C5 is still a good-looking car. There’s a solid foundation you can build on and there’s a loyal enthusiast base behind this car.

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17: Volkswagen Phaeton

The Phaeton is one of the least known and underrated Volkswagen models of all time. Behind this exterior is a car that’s a Bentley Continental. Released in 2006, the Phaeton was a full-size luxury car that took engineering to the next level. Volkswagen went all-out to build a completely upscale car. The Phaeton was hand-built in a factory that Volkswagen created specifically for this car (via Top Gear).

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With optional V12 power and a smooth-as-silk driving experience, the Phaeton is a well-rounded bargain in the luxury car segment. The interior is well laid-out and features some of the most luxurious aspects of a sedan. For the price of a used one, you get exceptional performance and a car that rides like you’d expect a $100,000 vehicle to.

Bentley Arnage
Photo Credit: Motor Trend

16: Bentley Arnage

Perhaps you want a Bentley but you haven’t yet made it into the millionaires club. Try to find a reasonably-priced Arnage from the 1990s. The Arnage was one of the most popular Bentley models of the decade. The car was beautiful to look at and featured many of the modern luxury options that we have today. The Arnage’s performance was modern and quite fast considering the targeted market for this car (via What Car).

Photo Credit: Bentley

The styling of the Arnage is a classic example of a luxury car done right. The maintenance and upkeep for an Arnage aren’t as bad as you’d expect. This is one of the more reliable Bentley models sold over time. If you’re into 1990s styling and the performance that came with these cars, you can’t go wrong with the Arnage.

2003 Aston Martin DB7 Vantage - Aston Martin Short Chassis Volante
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15: Aston Martin DB7

Interestingly enough, the ’90s Aston Martin models don’t get enough credit. These were the first of the truly modern Aston Martin vehicles. Featured in the James Bond movies of the ’90s, the driving public got the first glimpse of these beauties. An Aston Martin doesn’t get the same type of recognition as a Ferrari or a Lamborghini and that benefits resale value. You can get one of these for much less than you’d expect (via Car Survey).

Photo Credit: Edmunds

The DB7 is one of the best deals in used sports cars right now. And its performance is unmatched when you look at sports cars from this era. The surprising thing with the DB7 is that the styling still looks amazingly modern. This is not an ugly car by any stretch of imagination and it’s a car that you can be proud to own.

Photo Credit: Edmunds

14: Mazda 929

Mazda was transformative in the 1990s. The early 1990s announced the birth of the Miata sports car and even the first SUV for the brand. But it was still the 929, the flagship sports sedan of the brand. With a bevy of luxury appointments, the 929 is anything but a cheap used car. It’s large and in charge, and the quality of the interior appointments is still commendable to this day (via Cars.com).

Photo Credit: Edmunds

The Mazda 929 has the performance you’d expect in an Mazda sports car but the luxury of a full-sized sedan. Mazda devoted a lot of research and development to this car, to get the perfect blend of handling and ride comfort. The problem is that the 929 was pricey when it was new, and thus the sales numbers were low. Nowadays, you can snatch one up for a low price and enjoy a great vehicle.

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13: Infiniti Q45

The Infiniti Q45 is a sort of black sheep in the 1990s luxury car segment. The car did not sell well and its styling was polarizing. But when it came to performance, the Q45 was almost unmatched in terms of off-the-line speed. With a V8 engine developed specifically for this car, the Q45 was as impressive as the Lexus LS400. The interior quality of early Q45 models was above average even by today’s standards (via Consumer Reports).

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The Q45 was barely changed during its initial model run, which bodes well for buyers looking for used a model. With V8 power and a decent level of reliability, you can’t go wrong with a Q45. It’s a great looking luxury car that still provides a comfortable driving experience. You won’t find a better bargain in the used full-size luxury sedan market than the Q45.

Dodge Stealth
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12: Dodge Stealth R/T Turbo

The Stealth is underrated when you think of 1990s luxury sports cars. The car shared a platform with the Mitsubishi 3000GT, which was one of the best sports cars ever made. The first and most notable thing about the Stealth R/T Turbo is the twin-turbo powered engine. Besides that, the car also had a luxurious interior, something that was unique for a dedicated sports car at the time (via Driving Line).

Sports car - Car
Photo Credit: Edmunds

The Stealth is not your average Dodge car from this era. Its Japanese engineering is evident all throughout the car and it’s better for it. While the Mitsubishi variant holds its value well, the Stealth is generally a more affordable car. Many of this has to do with the fact that it’s a Dodge yet you still get a luxurious sports car for a bargain price.

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11: Audi S4

The Audi brand is no stranger to the harsh depreciation that most luxury cars face. The S4 was a compact luxury sedan that sold in the same segment as the BMW 3-Series. The difference between the two is that the 3-Series is experiencing a surge in used prices, while the S4 has remained a very affordable bargain. The Audi had all the engineering advances you’d expect in a car from this segment (via The Truth About Cars).

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The S4 is fast enough that you’ll get modern performance and its ride quality is signature German comfort. The performance will bring a smile to your face every time you get behind the wheel. There are few luxury cars from this era that are as good as the S4.

Alfa Romeo 4C
Photo Credit: Motor Trend

10: Alfa Romeo 4C

The Alfa Romeo 4C is a relatively new luxury car that has depreciated quite a bit over the past five years or so. Released in 2015, the 4C was the first modern Alfa Romeo to make its way back onto the shores. Taking the page from the Mazda Miata, the Alfa Romeo 4C combines a lightweight driving experience with a wonderful amount of performance (via Car & Driver).

Alfa Romeo 4c
Photo Credit: Alfa

The styling of the 4C is still attractive even after the last couple of years. The car hearkens back to a time when Alfa Romeo was on top of the sports car world. The lightweight and precision driving of the 4C makes it a standout sports car. For its price, you can’t go wrong with the wonderful amount of performance that the 4C comes with.

Photo Credit: Aston Martin

9: Aston Martin Vantage

Released in the early 2000s, the Vantage has become a sort of collector’s item but one drivers can afford. Aston Martins have never been at the forefront like a Bentley or a Rolls Royce yet there is still a lot to be said for the Vantage. The styling of the car is still very modern today, and it hasn’t aged at all. Likewise, the performance of the 420 HP engine makes drivers thankful they bought one at every stop light (via Motoring Research).

Photo Credit: Aston Martin

The Vantage is by far one of the most well-put-together sports cars in some time. The styling of the Vantage marked a new type of design language for Aston Martin and that has carried true to this day. Used car prices for a Vantage aren’t terrible considering the amount of car you get for the price.

Audi A4 via Motor Trend
Audi A4 via Motor Trend

8: Audi A4

Dubbed a compact executive car, the A4 has long been a success story for Audi. The driving characteristics of the A4 make it an exceptional piece of machinery. The drivetrain is on par with anything that BMW or Mercedes have to offer. The styling is just as attractive today as when the car was brand new. No matter which generation of the A4 you go for, prices are still relatively affordable (via Car Gurus).

Photo Credit: Audi

The build quality of the A4 was always a strong point for the car, which made many consumers happy with it. The years of experience that the Audi brand has in the rally circuit has also substantially benefited the car. Audi is no stranger to building a car that drives well and handles well and the A4 is an example of that.

Photo Credit: Audi

7: Audi A6

Stepping into the A6 is like giving the top prize fighter in the world one more fight. The A6 is a precision-built driving machine that handles beautifully and still looks great today. With an intense amount of engineering that has gone into each generation, the A6 never ceases to amaze drivers. The performance of the A6 will roar every time you step on the gas pedal (via New Car Test Drive).

Photo Credit: Audi

The A6 is one of the most well-known Audi models in the lineup and there are good reasons for that. With a spacious interior and many luxury features, the A6 has become the choice of young professionals and enthusiasts alike. The build quality of the car and seemingly perfect driving characteristics make the A6 stand out from the crowd.

BMW 850CSi
Photo Credit: Automobile

6: BMW 850CSI

The big, fast BMW supercar of the 1990s has become much more affordable in the last 10 years. Depending on the configuration, you can find an 8-series that has been well maintained for a reasonable price. The 850CSI drove like a dream when it was brand new, and many of that still holds true today. With superior sound dampening and a comfortable interior, the 850CSI is a better car than you may expect for the price (via Motor Trend).

BMW 850 CI
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The 372 HP V12 is one of the best engines BMW has ever produced. Even driving the car today, you’ll feel like you are in an expensive vehicle. Quirky features like a built-in car phone and a CD player are all standard fare for a little nostalgia in this Beamer. You’ll definitely get your money’s worth with a well-maintained 850CSI.

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5: BMW 525i

No matter which generation of the 525I you may choose, the car is relatively affordable in the used car market. Depreciation hits the luxury car segment harder than any other vehicles and that holds true for the 525i. Yet for the price, you can get a car that still has many modern luxury amenities. The 525I was a great car and the logical next step up from the 3-Series (via Cars Guide).

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If you’ve been looking at a 525I, then you can’t go wrong with a used one. The drivetrain in this car is a purpose-built endeavor that delivers exceptional performance. The sound dampening that went into the 525i makes the highway drive a great one. You’ll seldom find a used car that performs as well as the 525i.

Photo Credit: Edmunds

4: Cadillac CTS-V

The first generation of the CTS-V was a groundbreaking car. It was the first sedan that brought Corvette power into the Cadillac lineup. It also featured a six-speed manual transmission and an exhaust system that scared the best of them. The track times for the original CTS-V are amazing, and if you can find one that has been well maintained, you are in for a treat. There are very few cars that handle like the CTS-V does (via Motor Trend).

Photo Credit: Edmunds

The off-the-line performance of this car is amazing and that doesn’t even factor in its performance. The V-Series line has since become a mainstay of the Cadillac brand but was this original car that set things off. There are few cars that have turned out as well as the CTS-V did in its initial run.

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3: Mercedes-Benz 600SL

Looking for a $100,000 car without breaking the bank? Consider a used Mercedes-Benz 600SL. The car is perhaps one of the most well-known sports cars of the early 1990s. The styling was iconic just like the Mercedes brand at the time. The V12 engine is by far one of the most powerful engines Mercedes ever put into a sports car. Luxury features like its retractable top made the 600SL a stand out car for many reasons (via Car Gurus).

Photo Credit: Mercedes

The 600SL was sold in a few variations but the styling stayed the same until the 2000s. The resale value on these cars is almost non-existent, as with most older Mercedes models from this era. But that means you can scoop up quite a deal on the 600SL. You’ll have a sports car that still looks great and has a ton of unique luxury features.

Photo Credit: Toyota

2: Lexus IS250

The original Lexus IS250 was a unique car for the brand. After selling the SC400 and the LS400 for over a decade, the company decided to take on the BMW 3-Series. The answer to that car was the IS250, a compact luxury car with Toyota engineering behind it. The driving experience of the IS250 was great, and the car had excellent performance. As with every Lexus model, its interior quality also received high marks (via Consumer Reports).

Photo Credit: Toyota

If you want a great used luxury car with compact dimensions, the IS250 is it. The car still looks great, and the reliability is almost unmatched in the luxury car segment. You’ll spend less money on upkeep for the IS250 and more time driving. The car is an excellent combination of luxury and comfort that hasn’t been matched.

Photo Credit: Car Gurus

1: Porsche Cayenne

Surprisingly enough, the first generation of the Cayenne is still an affordable car. There is a lot to love about the first generation of this SUV. The styling was by far the best of the generation and it was the first Porsche SUV. The performance of the Cayenne is where it shines, and you won’t expect an SUV to perform like this. The interior was outfitted with all kinds of luxury that was still new for the time (via Car & Driver).

Photo Credit: Car Gurus

There are many automakers that have tried to copy the success that Porsche had with the Cayenne. Lamborghini and many other automakers have followed suit years later with high-performance SUV models. But the Cayenne was the first high-performance SUV model to grace city streets. The resale value on these original models is much cheaper than you’d expect and almost anyone can snatch one of these up.

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