Group test – The best German performance cars under £15k
Be it producing bespoke sports cars or providing vigour to otherwise ordinary passenger vehicles, the Germans have a well-established knack for producing incredible performance machines.
And thankfully, not all of them are flame-spitting supercars, which means that an enthusiast on a budget can take a digital trip to their used car site of choice and find a lot of Munich mental and Leipzig lunacy on offer for reasonable prices.
The range of choice is such that it can be hard to know where to look, but the following list should help you narrow down the market if you’re considering a German-built performance car for less than £15,000.
VW Golf R
‘R or GTI?’ That’s a question that many enthusiasts have to answer when looking at hot hatches, and both are valid answers. But, for our money, the R is the one to have.
A clean example of the outgoing MK7 Golf R isn’t quite available for under £15,000 just yet, but expect that to change within the next two years as the MK8 comes on stream.
With all-wheel drive and 266bhp on tap, the Golf R is as capable as they come when the roads get twisty.
Examples of the first-generation 986 Boxster can be found for well under £6,000, but for the purposes of this entry, all eyes are trained on its successor, the 987.
If you are willing to settle for the standard 2.7-litre version of the Boxster, producing a ‘mere’ 240bhp from its flat-six motor, then tidy examples can be found for little more than £11,000.
The Boxster S – which started life with a 276bhp, 3.2-litre version of the six-cylinder engine, and was bumped up to a 291bhp, 3.4-litre variant from 2007 onwards – can be found for roughly £1,000 extra in good condition with somewhere over 50,000 miles on the clock.
Audi RS4 Avant
Blending practicality and pace is something that the Germans have made into their own personal art, and there are few better at both than the RS4 Avant.
At this price point the pickings are slightly slim, but some sub 100,000-mile examples can be found for under £15,000, complete with the stellar 4.2-litre, 415bhp V8 that drew applause from critics and enthusiasts alike when new.
A widespread of BMW M3s are available at this price point, and which you go for is purely down to personal preference, as all are exemplary performance saloons.
The \90s E36, the E46 and the 4.4-litre V8 E90/E92 M3 can all be found for under £15,000. A lot of the examples on sale are convertibles, which do lose some of the renowned chassis dynamics thanks to less body rigidity, so carefully consider whether you value a drop-top over driving pleasure before putting money down.
While the three available generations all have their merits, the E46 might well be the wise bet; surely the last M3 with a naturally-aspirated straight-six will see a rise in value in due course?
Mercedes E63 AMG
A step above the M3 and the RS4 on the performance saloon ladder, the E63 is Mercedes’ rival to the M5 and RS6.
Appropriately, the mid-2000s examples you’ll find at this price point provide a step up in performance, with a 6.2-litre, 514bhp engine under the bonnet.
Mercedes’ reliability reputation in the 21stcentury has been a little shaky, so do be aware of the potential cost implications of taking on this car; that said, we did find a sub-50,000-mile example just under budget, and that may have a lot of life in it yet!
Now for something completely different.
Built from 1968 to 1973, a majority of examples of Opel’s compact sports car come with a 100bhp, 2.0-litre engine, which push the sub-1000kg car from 0-60mph in 10.8 seconds.
It’s a rare car – at least in these borders – with charming styling and unique rotating headlights. Fancy one? If so, we’ve found a good-looking example for less than £10,000.
BMW Z4 M Coupe
It’s another one that only just limbos under the £15,000 barrier, but the Z4 M Coupe is a wonderful car. If it’s predecessor — the Z3 M — is anything to go by, it may be due a little rise in price also.
This Coupe, which benefits from a sharper handling setup than the convertible, shares its engine with the E46 M3. The combination of the performance and soundtrack of the straight six, and the smart coupe lines, make for a wonderful second-hand buy.
Yes, even the very top of the Audi saloon line-up can be found within budget; well within budget, in fact.
The late-2000s S8 boasts a 5.2-litre V10 engine derived from that of the Lamborghini Gallardo and Audi R8 supercars, delivering an impressive 450bhp. And, as a bonus, Audi’s ‘S’ models possess compromise lacking in the more sport RS variants, meaning that this car is as luxurious and comfortable as it is pacey.
Examples of this car can be found at less than £8,000, but we’d suggest heading north of £10,000 to find one with less than 80,000 miles on the clock.