We run down some of our favourite cars capable of 150mph for under two grand
16 February 2015

High-performance cars from the 1990s and early 2000s can be snapped up for family hatchback money. We highlight our favourite 150mph-plus cars for less than two grand.

1 - BMW 535i (1996 – 2003)

The E39 BMW 5 Series saloon has a timeless design, while possessing a superb ride and decent handling. It also has a fine range of strong engines and, in 3.5-litre V8 guise, the BMW 535i is capable of topping out at 152mph.

The 535i isn’t the most common of E39s on the market, but we found a tidy 2003 model with an automatic gearbox and respectable 112,000 miles under its belt, for £1,950. The motors themselves are strong, but look out for worn rear suspension bushes and electrical niggles with the ECU.

For Elegant looks and a fabulous mile-muncher

Against Electrical problems can flare up from time-to-time

2 - Volvo V70 T5 estate (2000 – 2007)

There’s a good reason why many police constabularies across the UK employed the Volvo V70 T5 as a motorway chariot – because they’re highly durable, practical and a genuinely fast estate car.Powered by a 2.3-litre five cylinder turbocharged lump kicking out 250bhp, it’s capable of 0-62mph in 6.8sec and will keep on accelerating to 155mph.

Being a Volvo, the V70 T5 possesses thick, comfortable seats and a high safety rating. There are some leggy examples in the classifieds, but look hard and you can bag a 2003 T5 estate with respectable mileage for £1,800.

For Spacious cabin, interior quality and safety rating

Against Not the sharpest-handling estate

Our Verdict

BMW 5 Series

The BMW 5 Series offers a compelling blend of all-round abilities, but wants specifying carefully

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

3 - Lexus LS400 (1990 – 2000)

One of the most well equipped luxury saloons of the 1990s, the Lexus LS400 was arguably ahead of its time when it was launched back in 1990. The premium Japanese car firm spent six years developing the LS400, racking up US$1 billion in development costs.

It paid off, though. Six-figure mileages are a regular sight with these luxury barges and there’s even one example on record in America with 902,000 miles on the clock and still going strong. Opt for a post-1997 example and the 4.0-litre V8 engine pumps out 290bhp, helping the big Lexus hit 155mph.

For Superbly-built luxury saloon with plenty of kit

Against Expensive consumable items, such as exhaust and tyres

4 - Mercedes-Benz CLK430 4.3 V8 (1997 – 2002)

The first-generation Mercedes-Benz CLK430 is a rare beast, but a persistent scan of the classifieds can yield a genuine four-seater coupe, with all the toys and a thunderous 275bhp 4.3-litre V8 engine under the bonnet.

It’s good for 0-62mph in 6.4sec and a limited top speed of 155mph. Back in 2001, a brand new CLK430 Avantgarde would set you back £56,000. Today, the same car can be had for a fiver under two grand, with less than 100,000 miles on the clock. However, Mercs from this era are renowned for corrosion, so inspect carefully.

For Powerful engine and loads of equipment

Against Uninspiring handling, dull steering feel and some electrical issues

5 - Fiat Coupe 20v Turbo (1993 – 2000)

Designed by Chris Bangle, the Fiat Coupe was one of the controversial designer’s better-looking efforts. Launched back in 1993, it was aimed squarely at the Vauxhall Calibra and Ford Probe. With a sumptuous Pininfarina-styled interior and based on the Fiat Tipo platform, it was a sharp-handling coupe and one of the fastest front-wheel drive cars of its era.

That was mainly down to its boisterous 2.0-litre five cylinder 20-valve turbocharged motor, developing 220bhp. Buy a post-1998 Coupe with the six-speed manual gearbox and it will crack 0-62mph in 6.5sec and peak at 155mph. Clean, well-maintained examples can be had for £1,800.

For Stunning design, exploitable handling

Against Ropey build quality and engine issues

Get the latest car news, reviews and galleries from Autocar direct to your inbox every week. Enter your email address below:

Join the debate


16 February 2015
All loads of cars for the purchase money, but, as usual, the running costs, running costs, running costs....

16 February 2015
I had a brief look at Lexus LSs last year, the sub-2k examples are late 80s-early 90s.

16 February 2015
Might be good for Germany however the 535 had recirculating ball steering, you're better off with the 530 six as it had a more up to date front end.

16 February 2015
Features like this are interesting but I'd rather read them in a classic car publication...I look at Autocar for new car info and reviews. Older prestige cars are potentially great value and so much more interesting than most new cars (I've had several in the past and still own one) but they need to be purchased, maintained and driven by someone with mechanical knowledge, sympathy and enthusiasm. Do you at Autocar not think it a tad irresponsible to be promoting to anyone who can get hold of 2 grand that they go buy an old knackered powerful car and drive it at 150 mph...?

5 October 2018

.. are relevant to me! I like this kind of article, makes a change from PR driven GUFF

16 February 2015
...and have owned two of! Never thought an Autocar article would be so relevant to me. Jeez, what is happening? If more people realised what fantastic cars are available on the used market, Autocar's advertisers would be leaving in droves!

Oh, and Jensen; I have never driven at 150mph in either of my sub-£2k cars mentioned here - and clearly - I am still alive. Perhaps they are not death traps after all...

  • If you want to know about a car, read a forum dedicated to it; that's a real 'long term test' . No manufacturer's warranty, no fleet managers servicing deals, no journalist's name to oil the wheels...

17 February 2015
How about the Subaru Impreza turbo 5dr, and Saab 9-5 HOT, you can get a cracking example of either for 2k, and they start at about 700 quid.

Jag XJR also possible within budget.

19 February 2015
CWBROWN, they sound too exciting! Why have one of those when you could have a 1.6 eco-diesel for only £350pm for a month for the next three years, at the end of which you still won't own it!

Autocar, please ban me.

  • If you want to know about a car, read a forum dedicated to it; that's a real 'long term test' . No manufacturer's warranty, no fleet managers servicing deals, no journalist's name to oil the wheels...

27 May 2015
I wrote the following under the Golf R400 review a few days ago, but I feel it is sufficiently relevant to repeat it here: The Golf has been the standard setting hatchback for 40 years and the terms Golf GTi and hot hatch have been synonymous. But the way things have been going over the last few years we need to differentiate between classes of hot hatch. Just as sports cars spawned the new category of supercars, it's time for a new category of superhatches, so that hot hatches can again refer to the kind of sporty versions of a small to medium family car that a majority of people can consider owning, whether new or used. Even when these superhatches age they will be no more affordable to most than Ferraris, Lamborghinis or Zondas. You can see cars such as Mercedes that cost £60,000 or more new advertised at a couple of thousand quid or less, but most buyers in that sector wouldn't be able to put on a set of decent new tyres, never mind pay for a major fault to be fixed. More and more cars are going to fall into this bracket in the future. Expenses are getting way, way out of hand and we will end up with a huge amount of costly scrap metal because those who would buy them when they are old couldn't afford to run them. Run of the mill family saloons on 20 inch wheels is another symptom of this problem. Tyres and parts are not going to get any cheaper. Would-be final owners will not be able to afford them. It is unsustainable. I love cars. I think the Golf R400 is great. I think Zondas are fantastic. But Zondas aren't a problem, they don't reach that end of the market. Mercedes S class do, so superhatches definitely will. Too many of today's mass manufacturer cars will be redundant before they reach the end of their useful life. Somebody, somewhere, needs to start thinking about that.

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


27 May 2015
The Volvo is not a 150mph+ car. Even the T5R only got to 143mph.
The 155mph you quote was Volvo's clever advertising. "We don't know how fast it goes but it's limited to 155mph". At maximum revs in top gear it would be doing 155 mph, so technically speaking, the advertising was correct i.e. it is mechanically limited to 155mph. But it never had the power to reach that speed.


Add your comment

Log in or register to post comments

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week