Sports cars are expensive – as are luxury sedans and coupes. But if you want, you can get a lot of driving dynamics and status into your own garage for little money. For a maximum of 15,000 euros, there are countless extremely entertaining ways to escape automotive boredom.
Time is money? Are you kidding me? Are you serious when you say that. For under 15,000 euros, it doesn’t have to be a boring thing that spoils your mood behind the wheel on the weekend. Maybe a dynamic powerhouse is exactly the right thing to let your feelings speak for you, especially as an alternative to the boring company car with a diesel engine and sales equipment that earns pity from your friends. Why not simply replace the practical SUV with a cool sedan with a lot of power under the hood and save the leasing fee? And if you really want to be sporty, you shouldn’t do things by halves and let the horsepower trample. 300 hp and more are definitely possible for 10,000 to 15,000 euros.
Full steam for little money
The Audi S4 of the B6 / B7 generation is a true sports cannon. The 4.2 liter V8 engine with its 253 kW / 344 hp is a real all-purpose weapon that only sounds good, but also shamelessly accelerates the all-wheel drive vehicle – available as a sedan, convertible or Avant station wagon version. Despite all the dynamism, the appearance is decidedly subtle, because apart from the 18-inch wheelset, double exhaust and spoiler lip, it could also be a boring off-the-shelf Audi A4 TDI. The standard equipment of the Audi S4 was in a class of its own at the time and most customers happily ordered electric leather seats, xenon lights, automatic climate control, sports suspension, sunroof or navigation system. The screen navigation system can be replaced with a similar retrofit solution for little money. A traceable maintenance history is more important than ever for the S4, because if there are problems with the all-wheel drive or electronics, it quickly becomes expensive. However, the 4.2 liter eight-cylinder is just as reliable as the manual transmission, which makes every trip on the country road a pleasure. Stay away from the often tuned versions with more power or retrofit chassis. Then there is hardly anything standing in the way of driving pleasure with a well-maintained model and a mileage of less than 200,000 kilometers for less than 15,000 euros.
Sporty and BMW – the BMW three-series immediately comes to mind. And if you have a three-series and not the much more expensive BMW M3, then the standard top version of the BMW 335i is best. Its in-line six-cylinder is a powerful drive variant and the 225 kW / 306 hp not only impresses with its sporty performance, but also in casual everyday driving outside the left lane. The smooth running of the six-cylinder naturally aspirated engine is impressive and has lost none of its fascination even in a used car that is more than ten years old. The real consumption – regardless of whether it is a six-speed manual gearbox or an automatic transmission – remains within acceptable limits. The BMW 335i is particularly stylish in the coupe version, which is from the late 2000s and costs between 12,000 and 16,000 euros with good equipment. If you need more space or doors, you can also opt for a 335 as a station wagon or sedan, then the head of the family won’t be the only one to shine. The BMW 335i is more casual with the six-speed automatic, but the manual switch is noticeably more fun. However, both versions can reach 250 km/h. When it comes to quality, the three models of the E90 / 91 / 92 generation set top values and there are no noticeable weak points. However, the overall agile package meant that many owners improperly tinkered with the engine and especially the chassis. In this case, simply: stay away! There are enough other models and the weaker BMW 330i, which is hardly less dynamic than the 335, also does the job.
Would it be a little bigger, a little more solid and perhaps still in the dress of a discreet Mercedes E-Class? The E-Class of the W211 generation offers a lot of car, a lot of everyday use and comfort and here the eight-cylinder of the E 500 is a truly top choice. Solid models with good equipment and mileages of less than 150,000 kilometers are available from 2004/2005 for less than 10,000 euros. The interested person has the freedom to choose whether they opt for the elegant sedan or the more practical T-model as a station wagon version with a generous loading compartment. Before the facelift, the five-liter eight-cylinder naturally aspirated engine delivers 225 kW / 306 hp and is mandatory combined with a five-speed automatic transmission. After the facelift, there are detailed improvements, 388 hp and a seven-speed automatic transmission, which was noisy at the beginning. If you want, you can also get the Mercedes E 500 as a 4matic all-wheel drive version, which makes the luxury model even more versatile. The 500 also cuts a great figure as an everyday car and no one notices it as a sports version. The Elegance version in particular, in a subtle color such as silver, black or gold, suggests a tired E 200 / E 240 before the 500 revs up a lot on the motorway. The standard equipment on the top model without the AMG signet is usually top-notch, while the all-wheel-drive avant-garde versions are particularly popular with interested parties. Tuning risks are rare; However, the buyer should keep an eye on technical achievements such as air suspension, SBC brakes and automatic transmission. A solid maintenance history is not rare and minimizes most risks.
When Porsche introduced its first Cayenne in 2002, sports car fans turned up their noses with little appreciation. But the Cayenne (internal name E1 – developed together with the VW Touareg) became a gigantic success for the Zuffenhausen company – worldwide. However, you should stay away from the lame entry-level model with a V6 engine. Things look completely different with the Porsche Cayenne S with its 4.5 liter eight-cylinder. A model from the years 2003 to 2006 with 250 kW / 340 HP and the obligatory luxury equipment leaves little to be desired. The consumption is quite high when driving at a sporty pace, but the performance shines accordingly. Prices for vehicles with a mileage of less than 170,000 kilometers start at around 12,000 euros. The Cayenne models are popular after the model revision, which makes the front more delicate and the interior a little more valuable. The air suspension, the optional panoramic roof and the electrics/electronics sometimes cause problems, especially in early models. Regular maintenance is more important than ever for such a luxury SUV with numerous technical comfort features, because anyone who buys a model at a bargain price without regular maintenance and workshop visits will sometimes experience a nasty surprise despite the sonorous V8 sound and very good performance. Tires, brakes and other wear parts are anything but cheap.
I’m a recent graduate of the University of Missouri with a degree in journalism. I started working as a news reporter for 24 Hours World about two years ago, and I’ve been writing articles ever since. My main focus is automotive news, but I’ve also written about politics, lifestyle, and entertainment.