More than 55,000 part 1

* What Car?'s 'fun 50' * From a Fiat 500 to a Ferrari 458... * ...we've got all budgets covered...

More than 55,000 part 1
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What Car? Staff
28 Jul 2011 10:22

10 Jaguar XJ
3.0D V6 Luxury
Price 55,500
Target Price 51,356
Used from 42,220

Most luxury limos are at their best when a chauffeur is on hand to do all the driving for you. Its different with the Jaguar XJ why pay someone else to have all the fun?

The Jag is more than five metres long, but youd never know it at the wheel. With solid body control and strong grip, the big Jag changes direction with a crispness that belies its size, while the sharp, accurate steering helps you place the car on the road with pinpoint precision. Okay, the ride isnt as cosseting as it is in some other luxury saloons, but its still smooth, particularly on the motorway.

Refinement is first class, too, not least from the powerful 3.0-litre diesel engine in our chosen version. The interior has a modern yet classy feel, and even though our favourite Luxury model sits bottom in the pecking order of trims, its stocked with plenty of electrical gadgetry.

Jaguar XJ review
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9 Mercedes-Benz SLS
Price 168,345
Target Price 168,345
Used from 143,500

Can a brand more famous for its cosseting saloons also produce a convincing 170k supercar? The SLS proves unequivocally that it can.

A thunderous 6.2-litre V8 engine provides the power. With its 563bhp and 479lb ft of torque youd expect the SLS to be quick, but 0-62mph in just 3.8 seconds is still likely to take your breath away. The SLS has poise as well as pace: body control and grip are exceptional, and the steering feeds a wealth of information to your palms.

The SLS is just as desirable as rival models from Aston Martin, Ferrari and Porsche, too. The design references Mercs lineage, but it still looks thoroughly modern, and the gullwing doors are an out-and-out showstopper. Its a similar story inside, but its the way that the SLS drives that makes it such a serious contender.

Its supercar credentials are impeccable, yet the SLS is still every inch a Mercedes: its refined, comfortable and useable every day, too.

Mercedes SLS review
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8 Aston Martin Vantage Roadster
4.7 V8
Price 98,995
Target Price 98,995
Used from 49,995

You can spend nearly twice as much on an Aston, but for us the companys smallest and cheapest drop-top model is its best.

The Vantage Roadster is certainly the most fun to drive, with a more nimble, responsive feel. The 420bhp V8 engine provides storming performance and a delicious growl.

Compared with some sports cars, the Vantage is fairly hard work, with heavy controls that require a bit of muscle. That direct physical connection makes it engaging and rewarding to drive, though, and the excellent grip and handling allow you to make the most of its searing pace.

The family resemblance is strong, but the Vantage has a well-balanced, purposeful look. Theres glamour to match on the inside, with sculpted seats, lashings of leather and a high-tech, tailor-made ambience.

Aston Martin Vantage Roadster review
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7 Mercedes-Benz CLS63 AMG
Price 80,605
Target Price 80,605
Used from 76,500

It can seem as if the big German brands are playing a numbers game. Mercedes new CLS63 AMG has impressive ones: 517bhp, 517lb ft of torque and 0-62mph in 4.4 seconds.

What the figures dont tell you is that this is the best AMG model yet. Direct steering and grippy handling make it thrilling and the pace is brutal. The CLS AMG inspires confidence, though, and it can be undemanding in town or when cruising.

Inside, the cabin is classy and elegant, and has space for four. The styling of the second-generation CLS isnt as slinky as the firsts, but gaping front air vents, massive alloy wheels and bulging front wheelarches flag up its considerable performance and ability.

Mercedes CLS review
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6 Nissan GT-R
3.8 V6 Enhanced
Price 69,950
Target Price 69,950
Used from 37,825

The GT-R list of high-tech features is seemingly endless but, when alls said and done, only two buttons matter.

One to fire the 523bhp engine into life and another on the dashboard that selects the sportiest settings, so you get the most from it.

In full-attack mode the GT-R re-defines quick. The intelligent four-wheel-drive system and twin-turbocharged V6 engine combine to give a 0-62mph time of 3.0 seconds. Even so, the electronic aids keep the car glued to the road.

With its brutish looks, firm ride and an interior thats functional rather than beautiful, the GT-R isnt to all tastes. Its performance and handling, and a price below 70,000, make it impossible to overlook, though.

Nissan GT-R review
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