16 October 2008

Credit crunch: big saloons

Our money-saving buyers guide continues with the big saloons

Skoda Superb

It’s day four of Top Gear’s Credit Crunch Week. So far, we’ve imparted some especially useful consumer advice, to help you negotiate the tricky international fiscal climate… And make sure you’ve still got some nice wheels on your driveway.

Yesterday we brought you our kind of credit-crunch-busting diesels. Today, it’s the turn of big saloons. You might think big, cheap motors can be boxy, squishy, boring things. And you’d be right. But look deeper, think creatively, and you’d be surprised what’s out there…

Skoda Superb: It’s a Skoda, get over it. And the name’s not ironic – it actually is very good, and you can pick one up for under 20 grand. We reckon that’s good value, considering it’s huge, rides nicely and does a great impression of something much more expensive.

Vauxhall Signum: OK, so it’s officially out of production. But there’s bound to be a few knocking around the dealer network, seeking homes. So have a little charity and pay one a visit. If you can get past its utter pointlessness you’ll notice it has a thrummy V6 and loads of extras.

Citroen C6: But whatever you do, don’t buy new. Let some other sucker take the hit on the depreciation, then buy used. You’ll probably find a fully loaded and ready-to-be-haggled example quite easily. Exec saloons don’t come much cheaper than that.

Chrysler 300C: As much as it hurts, you’ll have to ignore the Hemi V8 and go for a diesel (it’s a Merc unit). You still get over 200bhp, plus fairly respectable mpg. And go for privacy glass, just to scare people as you drive past, blazing out your gangsta rap.

Cadillac CTS: Another entry from the States. You can get a fully loaded, 2.8-litre model for £26,995, though you’d be better off with the 3.2-litre. That’s a lot of bang for your buck, so you can smirk at 5-Series drivers as leftover cash literally spills from your pockets.

Volkswagen Phaeton: Steer clear of the big engines, and VW’s luxo-barge can be yours for £25,000 – if you buy used. Even when new, a base V6 is just over £40,000, which undercuts its major opposition by about a half.

Jaguar XJR: The big Jag costs £60,357, but if you get bartering, you’d soon knock a few grand off that. Which is a deal, when you consider an equivalent V8 S-Class costs around 10 grand more. Britain 1, Germany 0.
Mitsuoka Galue: This is the thing that James drove around Tokyo, and it’s like a Roller, only cheaper and much more rubbish. Don’t bother chauffeuring sumo wresters around in yours though - the extra heft will screw up your fuel economy.

Lamborghini Estoque: Yes, we meant to put this here. Because if the rumours are believed, Lambo will drop a hybrid powerplant into its family saloon. So you’ll save on running costs… Cheap, see. And no squirrels/polar bears will die as a result.

Vauxhall VXR8: A big, bruising M5-beater, for half the price of the BMW. If you get it really warm, you can cook sausages on the rear tyres. The burnt rubber goes excellently well with a juicy Cumberland. Go for own-brand snags to save further cash.

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