It seems nowadays engines are only getting smaller, with manufacturers downsizing their motors in the name of fuel economy and lower emissions. It’s not all bad – a lot of the time, thanks to the wonders of turbocharging, we’re often surprised at how punchy and quick small engines can be – just look at the newest Ford Fiesta ST.
However, there are some things that you just can’t get from small engines, even the best of them. Things like a growling exhaust note and an all-you-can-eat power buffet throughout the rev range. You can’t always achieve these traits with smaller engines, but you can from the bigger ones. And with the increasing trend of downsizing, big fire breathing engines are becoming confined to the history books. Though that is a shame for the future, on the upside it means you can get a good deal when looking for a car with a big engine on the used market.
So, in no particular order, here are the top five cars with the biggest engines for under £10,000.
Back when the three German heavyweights (Audi, BMW and Mercedes) seemed to be locked in an ever-escalating game of top trumps, Audi came out with the S6 pictured above. While it may be hard to believe, this generation Audi S6 featured a massive 5.2 litre V10 (0.2 litres more than the rival E60 BMW M5). It was Lamborghini-derived and had 429bhp, launching this executive saloon from 0-60mph in just 5.2 seconds.
Funnily enough, the top of the range RS6 was fitted with a smaller V10 that was only a 5.0 litre; however, it was turbocharged in order for it to outrun its cheaper sibling. Though there is a limited amount of decent 2006-2011 S6’s on the used market, it is possible to get your hands on one for under £10,000.
If you were surprised that you could get a V10 for under £10,000, prepare to be surprised again. This BMW 760Li above has a gigantic 6.0 litre V12, and despite the bigger engine, can sometimes be bought even cheaper than the S6. The current-generation 7-Series is still available with a V12 (an even bigger 6.6 litre one), but you have to be willing to fork out over £82,000. If you look around enough, you can find good early 2000s models for as little as £7,500. And with 445 horses under the bonnet, you really can’t go wrong. However, in saying that, just remember if the car goes wrong (which it probably will being an old V12 BMW) it will hit your wallet hard.
Yes, another German executive saloon, but they seem to have been made for this list. Cars like the S-Class are known to depreciate a lot, no matter what engine they have, meaning you can get one with a big engine quite cheaply if you look around the 12 year old mark. For a similar price to the 760Li, you can get a decent Mercedes S500 from 2006. While unfortunately the more powerful S63 is a bit out of reach for this price range, the S500 is not much of a downgrade. With a 380bhp 5.5 litre V8, you get a lot of performance for the money – similar performance to the S6 and 760Li. To be honest, the only main thing you really need to consider when choosing between the three is whether you want a V8, V10 or V12. Not a bad problem to have by any means.
Now let’s move onto something a bit different – the Jaguar XK. Compared with the three powerhouses above, the XK’s 300bhp 4.2 litre V8 is a smaller and less powerful unit. But to say the XK lacks performance is a stretch, especially at this sub £10,000 bargain price point.
Anyway, apart from performance (as that isn’t the sole focus here), what else does the XK have to offer? Well, being a grand tourer with a powerful V8 engine, you can shoot across Europe in this thing and get out still feeling as refreshed and relaxed as when you got in. Oh, and you can also tell everyone you own a Jag, which is always a bonus.
Jeep Grand Cherokee
If you want a cheap, rugged, powerful SUV for under £10,000, then the Jeep Grand Cherokee is certainly a contender. Again, even though you can’t get yourself the top of the range model (the 6.1 litre V8 SRT8) on this budget, you can still get a good fast Grand Cherokee if you opt for the slightly smaller engine – the 5.7 litre V8. Its 322bhp is sent to all four wheels, meaning it’s the most versatile car on this list. Sure, you probably won’t able to do the claimed 0-60mph time of 7.1 seconds off-road, but it’ll most likely outrun all the cars above in a rural countryside sprint.
Look for the generation Jeep Grand Cherokee pictured above (2005-2010) and you may just find yourself a good deal on the used market. With prices for 5.7’s that have less than 100,000 miles on the clock starting at around £7,000 used, you do get a lot of car for your money. Just try not to think about fuel – for this car and the rest of the cars on this list. They may be cheap to buy, but they are costly to maintain. That’s just the price you have to pay for the monstrous, massive, meaty engines these beasts conceal under their bonnets.