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The best kiloWatts-per-dollar used cars

By Daniel DeGasperi, 21 Sep 2018 News

Best kW-per-dollar used cars news

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.