Germany's expertise in engineering is undeniable. Their engineers are world leaders in their field, recognized for their dedication to function, creativity, and precision. In 2004, Germany led the market in an astounding twenty-one out of thirty-one areas of the engineering industry worldwide.
In automobile manufacturing, German engineering expertise produces some of the highest-performance cars on earth, and many are known for their reliability. As a result, three of the top five best-selling luxury car brands in the U.S. are German. Their cars are unsurpassed for performance and innovation.
These characteristics are also manifested in the mottos of German car companies: Porsche, “There Is No Substitute”; BMW, “The Ultimate Driving Machine”; Mercedes-Benz, “The Best or Nothing.”
The sticker price on new luxury German cars can be daunting. However, for buyers shopping on a budget who still want a first-class ride, the best used German vehicles under $10,000 offer a broad range of attractive choices.
Here are 19 of the sickest German cars you can buy for under $10,000
19 2001 Porsche Boxster: $9,995
While the Boxster doesn't have the high-performance characteristics of its big brother, the 911, the convertible (sometimes classified as a “chick” car) is a blast to drive.
It boasts a naturally aspirated 164 cu. in. mid-engine that generates 217 horsepower @ 6500 rpm and 192 lb-ft @ 4500 rpm. The original MSRP is $39,980, but models with less than 60,000 miles are available under $10,000.
18 2007 Mercedes S550: $10,000
The S500-series Mercedes-Benz automobiles are generally driven by corporate executives, high-income wage-earners, and professional athletes. The MSRP of an S550 4Matic, when sold new in 2007, was $90,525.
While it's not a supercar, the average buyer would look somewhere else. So, it’s a bit surprising that the same luxury top-end Mercedes can now be purchased used for under $10,000.
17 1984 Porsche 944: $5,900
Porsche purists claim the 944 isn’t really a Porsche, mainly because the engine is in the front. By today’s standards, it's not particularly fast either. The Porsche factory published an acceleration time of less than 9.0 seconds, and according to Scott Faragher of "Porsche the Ultimate Guide," 8.3 seconds is more reasonable with a top speed of 157.9 mph.
Nevertheless, the 944 is still a Porsche with an aerodynamic body style that pleases the eye that goes for under $10,000.
16 2009 Audi A3: $5,523
At a resale price of under $6,000, the 2009 Audi A3 is a bargain by any standard. The hatchback features a well-made cabin and appealing performance. Audi offered two engine options in a new A3: a turbo four-cylinder and a supercharged V6. Experts claim the base engine has performance close to the V6, but with better fuel economy.
The A3 offers a practical choice with its optional all-wheel drive and ample cargo space.
15 1999 BMW M3 (E36): $9,500
A 1989 first-generation M3 E30 in excellent condition with under 60,000 miles on the odometer can bring a resale price of nearly $90,000. However, its successor, the E36 doesn’t get anywhere near the same price.
A 1999 M3 E36 sold in the U.S. with a less powerful engine than the models available in Europe can be found for under $10,000.
14 2007 Volkswagen Touareg: $6,678
Although the 2007 Volkswagen Touareg does not appear to be an off-road vehicle, its performance in the dirt is respectable and, on city streets, it's a pleasure to drive. All-wheel drive is standard, and the spacious cabin holds five passengers.
Volkswagen offered the Touareg with three engine options: A V6, a more powerful V8, and a fuel-efficient diesel V10. A Touareg with one of the upgraded engines can be found for under $10,000.
13 2009 BMW X3: $6,442
The well-constructed cabin with five accommodating seats and a 3.0-liter I-6 engine that produces 260 hp and 225 lb-ft of torque, connected to a 6-speed w/OD manual transmission is enough to impress even the most skeptical critics.
It would be difficult to find a better used luxury compact SUV than the BMW X3, and at $6,442, it's a real bargain.
12 1989 Porsche 928 S4: $6,400
Featuring a 1989 Porsche 928 in both Scarface and Risky Business in 1983 helped boost the sportscar’s pop culture status. But for die-hard Porsche enthusiasts, the front-engine V8 designed to replace the aging 911 was an unacceptable deviation. However, the car was a success with its gas- and oil-hungry 5.0-liter. It was certainly an improvement over the other Porsches (924 and 944) with front engines.
11 2010 Audi A6: $8,945
A used 2010 Audi A6 with the supercharged V6 engine offers respectable power, decent fuel economy, standard all-wheel drive, and a vibrant driving experience. The luxurious cabin boasts ultra-comfortable seats for five passengers, and the 2010 Audi A6 made high marks in crash tests.
The MSRP for a new Audi started at $46,000 and the A6 3.0 Quattro model at $51,000. Any A6 model under $10,000 is a good buy.
10 2009 Mercedes-Benz E-Class: $7,552
The midsize luxury 2009 Mercedes-Benz E-Class is an exceptional buy at $7,552. The elegant and comfortable interior has ample room for five passengers and the trunk is one of the largest in its class.
The E-Class offers a relaxed ride, excellent handling, good safety scores, and powerful engine options with the V6, V8, and fuel-efficient turbodiesel.
9 2010 BMW 5 Series: $10,000
The 5 Series model available for under $10,000 appeals to luxury car buffs with its upscale interior accents such as genuine wood, heated windshield washers, and in-console beverage coolers. The 2004 to 2010 models feature the iDrive controller interface and a standard 6-cylinder engine in an inline configuration.
Current BMW 5 Series prices exceed $50,000, making fifth-generation models a great buy.
8 2007 Audi A4 Cabriolet: $10,000
For buyers looking for a high-performance cabriolet, they would be hard-pressed to find one better than the 2007 Audi A4 for under $10,000.
The 3.1-liter V6 engine produces 255 horsepower and 243 lb.-ft. of torque and connects to Audi’s performance-oriented Quattro all-wheel drive via a 6-speed automatic transmission. The heated leather seats make winter days more tolerable and extend the open-air driving season.
7 2001 Mercedes-Benz S 500: $10,000
A Mercedes-Benz S 500 had a sticker price when new in 2001 between $70,800 and $114,000. The 5.0-liter engine produces 302 horsepower but has an EPA-rated fuel efficiency of only 19 mpg combined.
Who cares if frequent stops at the gas station are required to fill the tank when it’s done in a luxurious S-class Mercedes that was purchased used for less than $10,000?
6 2006 Volkswagen Phaeton: $9,950
Perhaps best known for its economical automobiles (Volkswagen means “people’s car” in German), the largest car manufacturer in Germany also produces luxury cars that can be purchased used for a reasonable price.
The Phaeton is a full-size sedan that boasts a massive 12-cylinder engine, supple leather seating throughout, premium audio and navigation, and combined wood and metal-alloy trim in the cabin.
5 2009 Audi A4 2.0T Quattro: $9,990
The A4 features the Audi Drive Select system, which gives the owner the option to select one of several different driving modes: Dynamic, Auto, Comfort, or customized. A shopper may find a model equipped with options like heated seats, dual-zone A/C, and cruise control with distance pacing. For those who love to drive in the open air though, the convertible A4’s for under $10K are available but require some perseverance to find.
4 2008 BMW 3-Series: $10,000
Car and Driver described the 2008 BMW 3-Series as “almost flawless. It is the best to drive in its class—fast, fairly fuel-efficient, smooth-riding, and roomy.” At a base MSRP of $34,445 when new, the fun to drive, 3-series is one of the best-selling luxury cars in the U.S. The “Beamer” also ranks highly for stability control and safety.
3 1987 Porsche 924 S: $10,000
Although the 924 has been called a “poor man’s Porsche” by hardcore rear-engine 911 enthusiasts, it's still a Porsche. With the front-mounted, inline 4-cylinder OHC engine, it’s not a car to compete at the local drag strip. However, it's a great driver’s car with underrated handling characteristics.
In recent years, the prices have been rising so purchasing one now for under $10,000 may also be a wise investment.
2 2008 BMW 7 Series 750i: $9,995
While the BMW 7-Series has a respectable acceleration for a big car – 0 to 60 mph in less than six seconds – it's the handling that gets high praise. It weighs over half a ton more than its closest competition, such as the Lexus LS, yet Forbes describes its agility as a car that "defies its size with athletic moves."
1 2002 Porsche 911 Carrera: $10,000 Plus
If the Porsche 911 – one of the finest high-performance sports cars ever made – is a must-have, then it will require some searching to find one under $10,000. Most 2002 models sell for $20,000 and higher, while a Turbo with low mileage can bring as much as $70,000. Even 911 models with 100,000 miles have an asking price of $12,000 or more.
Sources: gearpatrol.com, digitaltrends.com, roadandtrack.com, autobytel.com