Tips and advice

Top 3 used four-seat coupes for £20,000

“Dear Carbuyer, I want a petrol-powered four-seater coupé with decent performance. What are my options for £20,000?”

While the four-seat coupe is something of a niche in 2020, it remains a good choice for drivers who want a decent blend of sporty performance and practicality in a car they can drive every day. 

Traditionally, a coupe has always had two doors, four seats and a swooping roofline with enough luggage space for weekends away. More recently though, manufacturers have diversified the format with the introduction of four-door models such as the BMW M235i Gran Coupe, and even high-riding coupe-SUV models like the Audi Q8

Nearly every four-seat coupe is based on a saloon or hatchback model, with saloons like the BMW 3 Series and Audi A4 sharing underpinnings with the BMW 4 Series coupe and Audi A5 coupe respectively. This platform-sharing means that coupe models are generally offered with a similar range of petrol and diesel engines, resulting in similar running costs and fuel economy.

Coupes are generally lighter due to having fewer doors, and their low rooflines and low-slung driving position mean they feel more sporty. They also tend to sit higher in their respective manufacturer line-ups, so they usually come with an extensive list of extras such as leather seats, a premium stereo system, large alloy wheels and a sporty body kit. Practically on most models is good too, so expect decent boot space and rear seats that are usable on shorter journeys when you need them.

Our reader is looking for a used petrol-powered coupe with good performance. For their budget of £20,000, there are several interesting upmarket models available with a common theme; they’re all from German brands. 

Read on for our top three picks and our recommendation.

The driver’s choice: BMW 435i coupe

  • For: sharp handling, best infotainment, neat cabin 
  • Against: not as relaxing to drive as the Mercedes 

While four-cylinder engines are increasingly replacing six-cylinder units in BMW’s range, the straight-six, rear- wheel-drive 435i is a really appealing coupe, offering much of the performance of an M model, but with greater comfort. it’s also significantly cheaper than the M4. 

The BMW 4 Series Coupe has now been replaced by the next-generation but it’s a newer model than the Audi and Mercedes. We found a 16-plate 435i in Luxury trim with 16,000 miles, and a 15-plate M Sport Sport with 32,000 miles, for £18,500. 

There is a sense of solidity about the 435i’s cabin, plus clear instrumentation and an excellent driving position. It also has impressive technology thanks to the iDrive infotainment system, while all the major controls are intuitive to use.

The stylish choice: Audi S5 coupe

  • For: classy looks, four-wheel drive brings extra grip 
  • Against: stiff ride compromises comfort 

Like the BMW, the Audi S5 coupe offers a blend of power and comfort, bringing six-cylinder performance, but without the hardcore nature and high price of a fully fledged Audi RS model. 

This previous-generation S5 model may not be as up to date as the BMW, but its sleek looks have aged well, and the cabin, although not quite as fresh as the 435i’s, feels more contemporary than the Mercedes’ interior. We found a 16-plate S5 Black Edition, with 36,500 miles and a Bang and Olufsen premium stereo system, for £19,500. 

The bottom half of the S5’s dash is superb, with knurled knobs and dials that have a high-quality feel and are easy to use. The recessed infotainment screen feels a little dated, but Audi’s MMI system is full of features and easy to use. 

Pairing the S5’s 328bhp 3.0-litre V6 with Audi’s quattro four-wheel drive system brings a 0-62mph time of just 4.9 seconds. Like all the models here, the S5 is electronically limited to 155mph. Do check you’re happy with the S5’s ride, though, because you may find the Audi is a little too firm for true comfort. 

The luxurious choice: Mercedes E 400 Coupe

  • For: comfortable, smooth and effortless to drive 
  • Against: Button-heavy cabin showing its age 

As you might expect from a car bearing the three-pointed star, the Mercedes E 400 is slightly more geared towards refinement and long-distance comfort than the Audi and BMW, and is perfect for grand tours. 

For just under £19,000, you can pick up a 15-plate E 400 AMG Line with 28,000 miles. If you want to get your hands on an E 400 AMG Sport Plus model, the lowest-mileage one we found was a 14-plate model with 31,900 miles on the clock, and a price tag of precisely £17,000. 

With so many buttons, the cabin of the Mercedes E-Class Coupe looks a little dated, but it’s well built using high-end materials. As in the Audi and BMW, boot space is around 450 litres, while the rear seats are a bit tricky to access, but offer okay space for adults. 

Like the S5, the E 400 has a 328bhp 3.0-litre twin-turbo V6, although its power is sent to the rear wheels only, as in the BMW. Performance is strong, though, with 0-62mph taking 5.2 seconds. Although the Mercedes lacks the BMW’s agility, it’s more comfortable and relaxing to drive than the Audi. 

Carbuyer’s choice, as picked by deputy editor Ben Hodges - Audi S5

The Audi S5 is my pick as it edges out the others as the best all-rounder. Thanks to the combination of quattro four-wheel drive and a raucous V6 engine, it’s also the best to drive whatever the weather.

It’s plushly equipped, has a relatively spacious boot and rear seats and, despite a 328bhp power output, that V6 engine is capable of reasonable fuel economy when driven carefully. The automatic gearbox helps make it a relaxing car to drive on longer journeys or when commuting.

Read our top picks for the best four-door sports cars you can buy

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