The best kiloWatts-per-dollar used cars

From $4000 to $400,000-plus, we seek out top-value 250kW to 475kW sports cars

Best kW-per-dollar used cars

Cars depreciate, that much is obvious. But as time passes the power benchmarks of sports cars have dramatically increased by enough to de-value a number of kiloWatts that once sounded big-time and major-league. So just how cheap can you buy 250kW to 475kW?

Of course Australian-made performance sedans have a hold on the lower end. Want 260kW? Head directly to a 5.7-litre naturally aspirated V8-powered WL (nee VZ) Holden Statesman for just $4000 – or $15.40 per kiloWatt. For 270kW, you will want the bigger 6.0-litre in the year-newer, 2006 VE Holden Calais from $8000 – and at $29.60 per kilo of wasps.

Holden VE Calais Jpg

From there we swap sides. HSV models hold their value better than their FPV counterparts – an early-2000s 300kW VTII GTS or VX SV300 are near-collector-grade expensive now – which means for 290kW looking to a 5.4-litre Boss 290 V8-engined 2003 BA Pursuit ute at $12,000.

Notice the neat steps from $4000 to $8000 to $12,000 here. And that trend almost continues, although here we bypass HSV and FPV to achieve 317kW from the 6.1-litre Hemi V8-powered 2008 Chrysler 300C priced from $18,000. It’s a figure not even the 307kW 6.2L VE Clubsport/Senator/Grange or 310kW 4.0-litre turbo-six FPV F6 can match for this price.

Then we leave Australia and the US – for now.

Chrysler 300 C Jpg

Enter the 331kW 4.2-litre twin-turbocharged V8 engine under the bonnet of a 2003 Audi RS6, and the 331kW 4.5-litre twin-turbo V8 motor inside a 2003 Porsche Cayenne Turbo, with each 15-year-old European available with sub-200,000km for $20,000 on the nose.

That is $60.40 per kW, double the charge of a VE Calais for 2.5-times the cost of the vehicle.

Porsche Cayenne Turbo Jpg

Now for the slam dunk, though. Forget creeping up in power output when the bad boys at Stuttgart can deliver 375kW from a 6.2-litre naturally aspirated V8 engine in a decade-old Mercedes-Benz ML63 AMG for $25,000 flat. And with ML and Cayenne arrives the era of the mega-powered SUV with mega weight (the AMG is 2310kg) and mega-steep depreciation.

That point is reinforced by the 408kW produced by the 4.4-litre twin-turbo V8 engine in the eight-year-old BMW X5/X6 M, which can now be bought for $40,000-plus with little over 100,000km showing. To be fair, though, we’re now up to $98 per kiloWatt at this lofty level.

BMW X 5 M X 6 M Jpg

Europe would also make it a high-power (relative) budget quartet with the 426kW of the 5.0-litre twin-turbo V10 in the decade-old Audi RS6 Avant, the lead-tipped arrow of which can now be purchased from $65,000 – but alas it is ousted by the 430kW of the 6.2-litre LSA supercharged V8-powered, five-year-old Gen-F HSV GTS that has fallen to sub-$60,000 now.

Indeed, so hefty is its power output that ‘400kW Club’ rivals of a similar era struggle to match it – 404kW Jaguar XF-RS, 412kW Audi RS6 Avant, 423kW BMW M5 and 430kW Mercedes-AMG E63 S – let alone for a comparable cost.

Thankfully a two-year-old RS6 Avant Performance returns to save the day with the 445kW from its 4.0-litre twin-turbocharged V8 having already depreciated to circa-$250K to just $160K. It can’t beat the 474kW from the 6.2-litre supercharged V8 in the HSV GTS W1 local-production grand-finale, but the Aussie hasn’t depreciated as hard and it probably won’t.

Audi RS 6 Avant Jpg

Heck, even the 472kW of a 6.0-litre twin-turbocharged W12-engined 2017 Bentley Continental GT has fallen faster, from $485,000 new to just $435,000 after one year.

Bargain. We’ll take two.


How are you finding our new site design? Tell us in the comments below or send us your thoughts at


Subscribe to Motor magazine

Subscribe to MOTOR and save up to 49%
The world's most thrilling performance car magazine. Delivered to your door each month.



Daniel DeGasperi

We recommend


David Coulthard Michael Schumacher flipping the bird

Opinion: The problem with villains in modern motorsport

No longer should a driver be immune from consequences for poor off-track behaviour

2 days ago
Cameron Kirby
Please enable JavaScript to view the comments powered by Disqus.