The best used Mercedes-AMG cars to buy in 2021

AMG's vast back catalogue means there's one for almost every budget – here are our top picks

By PH Staff / Friday, February 19, 2021 / Loading comments

No method proves the speed of AMG's growth better than scouring the classifieds for them. At the turn of the century it didn't make much more than the 'bahnstormers it had built its reputation on: saloons, coupes and occasionally convertibles with as much engine as possible stuffed up front. Even 10 years later that had changed pretty drastically, with AMG's first bespoke supercar on sale (complete with dual-clutch gearbox), and a host of Black Series cars and turbocharged options redefining buyer expectations.

Now consider Mercedes-AMG in 2021: in the current line up there's a four-cylinder hot hatch producing more than 200hp per litre, a Nurburgring lap record holder and perhaps the best supersaloon yet made. There's more to come, too, when the AMG One finally sees the light of the day. The range is vast, yet also brimming with star quality.

As well as the rate of progress, the secondhand market also serves to reveal what good value a lot of AMG Mercs are. Obviously the very newest remain expensive, and the limited-run cars will always command the big bucks, but the popularity of new AMGs also serves to help those who want one further down the line.

So that's what we're going to consider here, the used AMGs worthy of your money in 2021. Starting from £10,000 we have coupes, saloons, hatchbacks and convertibles, four, eight and 12 cylinders, plus more besides. They say beggars can't be choosers; those after a used AMG, on the other hand, can be almost as picky as they like…

Up to £10,000…

  • CLK55 AMG (C209)

If the modern AMG is multi-faceted performance car, something fast and accomplished across the board, then cars like the CLK55 possessed a less comprehensive – if still mighty charming – array of talents. They looked good, went very fast and sounded superb in the process. Back in the day they didn't quite handle as adroitly as a BMW or deliver all-seasons performance like an Audi, but an AMG could capture hearts and minds like little else.

Today, more than a decade after the last CLK was produced, it isn't hard to see why an engine like the M113 5.4 might tempt someone to part with just a few thousand pounds. Because, Mustang aside, V8s like the one in the CLK just don't exist anymore, blessed with bountiful power and torque as well as that unmistakable soundtrack.

This era of CLK is best known, of course, for the bewitching Black Series – and even the regular 63 AMG will cost you £20k – so the plain old 55 AMG looks something of a bargain. A car like this one, seemingly doted on by its current owner with a lot of recent work, is for sale at just £7,500. As an entry point to some AMG mischief, our money wouldn't go anywhere else.

Up to £15,000…

  • C63 AMG (W204)

As the foundation of modern AMG, where titanic performance finally met handling prowess, it's a surprise that the original C63 can still be bought for £15k. That'll mean an early, higher mileage car – £20k opens up many more options – but to have a car as good as the C63 available for supermini cash is impossible to ignore. It's a great car, the W204, a great AMG, and right now it looks a great buy as well.

The star of the show, as is the AMG way, was to be found under the W204's bonnet; the 6.2-litre M156 as mesmerising as you'd expect a bespoke Affalterbach-built V8 to be. Where the '63 was different, though, was in at last having a chassis to properly harness the power, giving the contemporary M3 the fright of its life and laying the foundation for AMG as we now know it. Though plenty were made during its lifetime, the C63's status as a classic seems guaranteed.

In 2021 circa £15k will get you into a '63 wagon like this one (with a bit of haggling); a limited-slip diff really enhances the AMG's driving appeal, yet was somehow an option from the factory, so is well worth looking out for in a search. A Mercedes C-Class with an engine larger than a Ferrari Enzo's is never going to be cheap to run, but seldom will all that fuel, tyre and tax money have felt like such a good investment.

Up to £25,000…

  • A45 AMG (W177)

Though now an established part of the AMG range – and with an A35 beneath it in the hierarchy – the original A45 caused shockwaves when it was announced in 2012. Hot hatches just weren't the AMG way, leave alone those with a mere two litres of swept capacity and only four cylinders. In fact, the A45 wasn't anybody's thing, with both Audi and BMW going with more cylinders in their A45 rivals.

Still, that was the chosen path, and the car that resulted was nothing if not meticulously honed in finest AMG tradition. The A45 was potent and focused and tirelessly capable in a way no hot hatch (or fast Mercedes) had been previously, able to cover ground at a phenomenal pace. Perhaps it wasn't the most interactive hot hatch out there, but the A45 proved beyond any doubt that AMG could make four-cylinder A-Classes worthy enthusiast machines – a point doubled down on with the current iteration.

It's now possible to pay less than £20k for an A45, which is very little given the level of performance on offer. At up to £25k, the choice is there between the latest pre facelift cars, and updated A45s like this one, which brought in more power and revised gearing, as well as the options of adaptive dampers and a front limited-slip diff. And if the A45 is too new school AMG for your tastes, £25k buys one of the very best SLK55s instead – just don't expect to keep up with the A-Class, even with a V8.

Up to £35,000…

  • AMG C63 S (W205)

For all the reasons listed earlier, there was a real danger of second album syndrome for the C63 follow-up. Could the formula really be successfully updated given how popular the first attempt proved? And what chance did the turbo V8 really have of matching its 6.2-litre predecessor for emotional appeal?

As it turned out, we need not have worried. The W205 was a more complex and capable AMG C-Class, yes, but it also retained the roguish charm that comes from delivering an awful lot of V8 in not much Mercedes. The hot-V 4.0-litre engine made more than 500hp and huge vats of torque, ensuring a level of performance far beyond the old '63, as well as a sound that six-cylinder rivals just couldn't match.

As a result, the current C63 was very easy to recommend new – and even more so secondhand. Offered as either a 476hp standard car or 510hp S, with coupe, saloon, estate and convertible bodystyles, buyers aren't short of C63 choice. Our cash would go into something like this C63 S four-door, with just 35,000 miles recorded.

Up to £50,000…

  • SL65 AMG (R230)

If AMG's reputation was forged from putting extraordinary engines in improbable places, nothing perhaps better sums that approach up than the SL65 AMG. Which is exactly why it's on the list: £50,000 buys all manner of contemporary, accomplished AMGs, but those after a real hit of Affalterbach mayhem surely can't do better than the SL armed with a twin-turbo V12.

The '65 originates from that era of the 2000s when manufacturers went a bit berserk with which engines went where – Mercedes chief among them – which makes it especially likeable. There was no need for it to exist, with the cheaper and nimbler SL55 and 63s doing fine jobs as flagships, but some people just won't settle for less than 12, and so there was an SL65. Eventually this would become the Black Series, of course, with a fixed roof, outrageous bodywork and enough torque to pull a planet, but there was plenty barmy enough about the standard SL65: with more than 600hp and 700lb ft, there really wasn't much quicker around. Once that power had got to the road, of course…

All of the 65-engined cars (Mercedes finally called time on V12 production in 2019) are rare because of their initial expense. Some are still depreciating; some, like this early R230, have seemingly become collectible. With 25,000 miles, it's for sale at £50k; an SL63 eight years newer and with fewer miles could be had for less. But then there's no V12 in that…

Up to £65,000…

  • AMG E63 S Estate (W213)

Though AMG has unquestionably branched out into other areas with considerable success, the heartland is in big, fast, moody four-door saloons. Cars like the Hammer are AMG icons, and it's the uber E-Classes that continue to show off what the brand does best to this day. Clearly AMG is rather fond of it, too – this E63 generation launched with more power from the M177 V8 than the AMG GT…

The W213 was not without its contentious points at launch – this being the first E63 with four-wheel drive, most notably – but, again, AMG proved that introducing such technology need not be at the expense of character. Not only by introducing a hold-my-beer-and-watch-this Drift Mode, but through making a 4Matic+ system that really did feel like rear-drive with extra traction – not some dim-witted all-wheel drive. Tough ride notwithstanding, the '63 was a triumph.

Just a few years after and with a facelift now on sale, those first cars are alluringly affordable. Less than £50k gets you into a saloon, and little more buys a wagon; like early C63s, this E-Class AMG was available as standard car (with 563hp and without a Drift Mode) or as an S, with 612hp and the rear-drive option. With £65k to spend, there are wagons like this available, used only enough to have their first service and with almost £40k off the original price.

Up to £85,000…

  • AMG GT

Building on the reputation established by the SLS, the AMG GT was launched in 2014 to a warm reception. It was a more modern sports car than the SLS hot rod, ushering in the twin-turbo V8 that's now seen throughout the range as well as an electronically activated diff and more configurability than had ever been known for AMG. It came together almost seamlessly, though, and provided the foundation for increasingly wilder GTs down the line – who could have imagined models like the GT R Pro and Black Series being quite the cars they are back in 2014?

Early AMG GTs have now dropped awfully close to £50,000, a fine alternative for the obvious Porsche 911 option at the money. With £85,000 to play with, the later, better GTs become available: this GT C, which brought more power and rear-wheel steer, plus the wider tracks and tyres from the GT R, is in budget with just 7,000 miles. It's a convertible, too, and MB Approved. Plus, if that's not tough enough for you, see how much a GT R is available for…

Up to £100,000…

  • AMG GT63 4-door

Old AMGs like the R63 MPV and the GL63 SUV didn't need to exist, and nobody was tremendously glad that they did. On the face of it, the AMG GT63 4-door looked like another for the manufacturer's gratuitous side: it clearly wasn't a two-door sports car like its GT namesake, it had barely more power than an E63 and it cost as much as an S-Class. So where on earth did it fit in?

But if the GT 4-door didn't make sense on paper, it absolutely did on the road. Not only did it feel faster than an E63 by a margin greater than the stats would suggest, it also felt far closer in spirit to the GT coupe than you would assume is possible for something E-Class derived. There won't be many who need or want a car that's even better than an E63, but that's exactly what the GT63 is: better than the best E-Class AMG ever. Which is quite the achievement.

So liking a 4-door is easy – finding one is rather harder. Because, as mentioned, it caters to a very small niche, and thus not many have found homes. Or, perhaps, thousands have been sold and every owner is so content that the cars are never for sale. Whatever the case, of the 55 GTs currently on PH just six are 4-doors, and you'll need at least £95k for the privilege. Hopefully rarity will keep residuals strong; if not, there aren't many more captivating cars to drive while losing a frightening amount of money…

Sky's the limit…

  • SLS Black Series

Couldn't be anything else, really, could it? The Mercedes-AMG SLS Black Series was a swansong for both AMG's first supercar and the storied M156 V8 (or M159 in the SLS, technically, as the dry-sumped version), and thus a guaranteed Affalterbach legend from the off.

Even with that in mind, though, nobody expected the BS to be quite the car it was. Up to that point the Black Series AMGs had veered from the sublime (CLK), to the ridiculous (SL) to whatever the SLK could be called, so it was unclear quite what the SLS would deliver. As it transpired, it was an exquisite supercar experience, the 6.2 V8 thundering out more than 630hp and revving to beyond 8,000rpm, as fitting a finale for it as could be imagined. There was 70kg taken from the kerbweight and a renewed track focus for the Black Series, making it even more thrilling to drive than any other SLS as well.

With only 350 ever built, the Black Series is rarer than a Ferrari F50. This one is extra special, though, as one of what is believed to be just 15 right-hand drive cars. Last time we wrote about one of those, in 2017, a dealer wanted half a million – place your bets now on what the figure could be four years later…

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