The B-side saloons | Six of the Best

From AMG to GSI, these fast four-doors didn't make the PH25 poll – but they're good'uns nonetheless

By Matt Bird / Saturday, 1 April 2023 / Loading comments

Jaguar S-Type R, 2007, 68k, £12,995

The PH25 vote could have featured many more Jags if we’d been feeling more generous; it’s produced more than its fair share of sumptuous super-saloons over the past 25 years. Were it not for the XFR being as brilliant as it is, the S-Type R it replaced might have got the nod: loads of supercharged V8 power, a finely honed Jag chassis, and a smart styling overhaul that almost made sense of the base car’s retro vibe. No wonder many now see the appeal in a supercharged S-Type, especially with values drastically undercutting rivals like the BMW M5 it always ran so close. This late one is low mileage and comes with a ‘very good service history’ – there are sillier ways to spend £12,995.

Vauxhall Vectra GSI, 2000, 58k, £12,995

When did you last see one of these?! Back in the day, the hotted-up repmobile was big business, the fight for sales as competitive in the showrooms as it was on the BTCC rankings. And while cars like the Vectra GSI, Volvo S40 T4, Ford Mondeo ST200 and Nissan Primera GT were always rare – because buyers often preferred a lower-powered 3 Series to a flagship Mondeo – they’re now almost impossibly hard to find. Thank scrappage schemes and the fact that so many were so cheap for so long – they weren’t worth saving. All seems a pity. Makes this one even more interesting though, with fewer than 60,000 miles, lovely Velvet Green paint and even some period Irmscher accessories for a bit of early-2000s Max Power glamour. A V6 Vectra will be not better to drive now than it was 23 years ago, but since when did nostalgic lust care for that?

BMW 550i, 2006, 54k, £9,995

What was once a crazily futuristic (and widely criticised) 5 Series now looks like a very tempting slice of classic BMW ubersaloon. The 550i was seldom seen even when new; those who wanted the 5 Series flagship had a mighty M5 to satisfy their every desire, and back when diesel was king the 535d was as fast – and far cheaper to run. Of course, the epic M car had to make the PH25 list, but those 550is still around now are intriguing, the 4.8-litre V8 and auto less notorious than the 5.0-litre V10/SMG combo and far more melodic than a diesel equivalent. This one, black wheels notwithstanding, seems especially good, debadged for maximum Q-car kudos and with some nice options like the sunroof, front and back heated seats and upgraded audio. Just 54k on it, too. With the even rarer manual, this E60 would tick every box. Still, a lot of BMW V8 for a fiver less than £10,000…

Mercedes-Benz C55 AMG, 2005, 79k, £9,900

The Germans are good at this, aren’t they? The C55 may have been from AMG’s early-2000s era of stuffing fantastic engines in less than stellar cars – the C63 that followed this was better in every regard – but it’s hard to argue the small details when a 5.4-litre C-Class is being offered up at a four-figure sum. The W203 C55 looked musclebound when the equivalent Audi S4 toted a mere 4.2-litre V8; 20 years after the fact it seems borderline unbelievable. With 367hp and 376lb ft attempting to turn the C-Class inside out, the 55 was capable of 0-62mph in 5.2 seconds – some going for a rear-wheel drive car with a five-speed auto. This particular one isn’t perfect – apparently the air con needs attention – but the interior looks to have held up well, the gold looks great, and small saloons with humongous V8s will always tickle the PH pickle – especially at £9,900.

VW Passat CC 3.6 V6, 2008, 48k, £12,995

We were always going to be dealing with rare cars here, but here’s a true unicorn: the Passat CC 3.6 V6. VW’s niche four-door coupe thing, powered by the R36’s sonorous V6, albeit with none of the sporting pretence. Cool thing now, but a miracle any found buyers a decade and a half ago. Somehow there is a brace of them available on PH, and the appeal of that engine for £5k will be plain to anyone with hearing. The boat has been pushed out for this one, however, more than double the price of the cheap one but with fewer than half the miles. It’s a Japanese import, too, which would explain the funky spec: Fluid Brown Metallic (yes, really), small wheels, wood and aluminium inside… it’s a find alright. As is often also the way with JDM-sourced cars, though, it looks in fine fettle, a wallet-draining sight for sore eyes (and sound for sore ears?) for many years to come.

Alfa Romeo 156 2.5 V6, 2000, 60k, £6,990

The 156 GTA was always going to make the PH25 saloons shortlist: a car that looks and sounds as it does was guaranteed a spot. But there remains plenty to like about the ordinary 2.5 V6 variant, not least the fact it probably had the appropriate amount of power (190hp vs. 250hp) for the chassis to handle. It can be hard to recall all these later, but when the 156 launched (just a short time before PH, in fact) it was a real contender in the compact exec class, blessed with zesty engines, great handling plus, of course, those suave good looks inside and out. Even this one’s ludicrous spoiler and dubious wood can’t spoil that. Another real rarity (GTAs were always prized; these not as much), this V6 benefits from a recent clutch and cambelt. With just 60,000 miles and in what seems like really nice condition, there’s a lot to like. Almost half the price of the Vectra, too…

Please don’t forget to have your say in the latest PH25 poll – cast your vote for the best saloon here!

Latest Six Of The Best articles

The B-side saloons | Six of the Best

Convertibles for under £10k | Six of the Best

Source: Read Full Article