If there’s no business like show business, then there’s no depreciation quite like European luxury-car depreciation.
But for those with a penchant for performance cars with a double-digit cylinder count, read on before you sign for that new turbo four-cylinder.
With a fictitious buying budget of between $15,000 and $150,000 for vehicles built within the last 15 years, here are our top V10 and V12 used car buys – for when a V8 just won’t do.
$15,000 – 2003 BMW 760Li
Bangle may have bungled BMW styling with AU Falcon-esque polarising designs, but time arguably has treated them very well. The E66 7 Series was first, and a 6.0-litre V12-engined 760Li can now be purchased for less (much less) than an E46 M3 or E39 M5 of the same era.
The big girl cost an astonishing $335K new, but today can be purchased with change from $20K. With all the luxury items expanding its mass to 2230kg, even strong outputs – 327kW at 6000rpm and 600Nm at 3950rpm – only permitted a 5.8-second 0-100km/h claim.
$30,000 – 2007 Audi S6
Remember when Audi first lowered a Lamborghini-derived 5.2-litre V10 engine into its R8 supercar? Well, a few years before that it was already in the demure S6 four-door sedan.
This stealth bomber made 320kW at 6800rpm and 540Nm between 3000rpm and 4000rpm, for a claimed 5.2sec 0-100km/h.
Blame quattro all-wheel drive and a 4.9-metre-long body for the portly 1910kg kerb weight, but at least the styling holds up today. This slice of soaring, free-breathing V10 cost $200K new – but a decade later, it’s yours for $30K.
$45,000 – 2007 BMW M5
For a lesson in medium sedan versus large car depreciation, look at BMW’s E90 M3 and E60 M5. The former cost $150K, the latter $250K, yet if anything the epic 5.0-litre V10-powered model is now more affordable, at $40K-plus; though leave plenty of dough in the wallet to run it.
If the unthinkable happens and you feel sad, just remember how much 373kW at 7750rpm and 520Nm at 6100rpm is worth. Sadly it was single-clutch auto-only for Oz, but it’s not bad in manual mode, and the M rear-driver delivers a still-brisk 4.7sec 0-100km/h.
$60,000-plus – 2010 Mercedes-Benz S600 L
Enter the era of turbocharging. Times two. Of a 5.5-litre V12 engine to produce 380kW at 5000rpm and 800Nm between 1800rpm and 3500rpm. That is life in the driver’s seat of a seven-year-old long-wheelbase Merc S-Class that humbles its 2180kg mass with 4.6sec 0-100km/h performance.
Not exactly the most sporting drive, but sleepers don’t come much faster and more luxurious, all for the price of a new diesel-four C-Class. Also, the S600 L cost $400K new, and now trades from around $75K – which means depreciation of $46K per year…
$100,000-plus – 2006 Lamborghini Gallardo
Rarely can a Lamborghini be described as a bargain. Look to the classifieds, however, and a decade-old Gallardo is now trading for around the same price as its blood brother, an original Audi R8.
The Lambo snared the 5.2-litre V10 from 2003, with 368kW at 7800rpm and 510Nm at 4500rpm, priced $400K new, and the 4.2sec 0-100km/h manual now asks $125K-plus for a 2006 model; or the same price as the 4.2-litre V8 Audi made from 2008. A V10 R8, meanwhile, is pricier than the Lambo on which it’s based. Go (do the) figure(s).