A Note on Pricing: The going prices for these cars are accurate at the time of publishing but may change the longer the classified ads are live.
Sport sedans have a unique place in the automotive world: they’re normally either complete flops or absolute legends. The legends end up resigned to “instant classic” status because they’re sleepers (i.e. they’re subtle, yet deliver unabashed performance) or their level of class is so legendary, performance takes a y comfortable back seat. The complete flops…well, they usually wind up gathering dust on used car lots.
The problem with used performance sedans, however, is they’re usually either beat to hell…or they cost as much as a newer, better car in good condition. So since $10,000 is a realistic budget for a used car, we set out to find the best, used sport sedans we’d buy right now for that price. Don’t judge us.
2009 Pontiac G8 GT
The Pontiac G8 sedan was supposed to be a beachead for the brand’s performance aspirations, the first of a series of V8-powered performance cars that would expand to a G8 station wagon and even a G8 ‘ute for us in the States. Sadly, Old GM’s fiscal failings and the Great Recession mean Pontiac’s plans were put on hold, then the whole brand was put on ice. Still, we scored this beauty of a rebadged Holden Commodore, complete with a 355-horsepower 6.0-liter V8, a six-speed automatic, rear-wheel-drive, and fairly entertaining handling…at least, for a Pontiac.
Original MSRP: $31,000+
2009 Subaru Legacy 2.5GT Limited
Back in the days when the Subaru Legacy was the driver’s choice of Japanese family sedans instead of the safest choice, Subie offered up a version packing a version of the engine found in the WRX. 250 horses from a turbocharged boxer-four mean this AWD beast has plenty of go, and a five-speed manual, multiple drive modes and a sweet-ass hood scoop all add to the appeal.
Original MSRP: $39,500+
2006 Volkswagen Phaeton V8
VW’s Phaeton was a big swing for the company: a Mercedes-Benz S-Class rival of a sedan, wearing the same badge as a Beetle. In spite of being good to drive and well-made, it never sold in great number, especially here — which is a shame, considering it shared its bones with the original Bentley Continental GT. This one may have the lesser 4.2-liter V8 instead of the big W12, but that’ll likely make it cheaper and easier to fix when it breaks. Also, you will have to go to Alaska to claim it, but man, talk about a great road trip car to make that drive home.
Original MSRP: $74,350+
2014 Chevrolet Caprice
If power’s what you crave above all else, why not spring for an old cop car? This Caprice is basically identical to the Pontiac above, but it’s five years newer, has a beefed-up suspension that can take the worst of potholes, and the extensive service history you’d expect of a single-owner fleet vehicle owned by a police department. Also: it still has a spotlight.
Original MSRP: Ask your local comptroller
2010 Jaguar XF Premium
The Jaguar XF played a big role in JLR’s renaissance of the Aughts, proving that the company was serious about building cars that could scrap it out on back roads and tracks with BMW, Audi and other sporty Germans. Granted, it still suffers from the usual English car bugaboos, but with a 5.0-liter V8 to serve up smooth power, you’ll be more than able to distract yourself from any worries about future electrical repairs.
Original MSRP: $57,000+
2012 Hyundai Genesis 5.0
Hyundai’s first-generation Genesis was a big, resolute luxury car at a cut-rate price. Outfitted with the 5.0-liter V8 that puts out 429 horses, however, it becomes a big, fast luxury car at a cut-rate price. The 2012 model’s improved suspension means this is the first-gen Genesis to get…and at this price, why wouldn’t you?
Original MSRP: $9,995
2001 BMW 540i
One Bimmer before we go: the beloved E39-generation 5 Series, seen here in V8-powered 540i form. No, it doesn’t have the six-speed stick that we’d prefer, but that automatic is still a fine way to deal with the 282-hp eight-pot. The listing suggests that the owner treasured the car and took good care of it, so odds are good that if you do the same, it’ll be part of your life for quite a while.
Original MSRP: $53,900+
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