Commonly believed to be the best in terms of quality and reliability, many German cars fail to live up to expectations. In fact, many German premium models appear in the lower half of customer satisfaction surveys.
This can be bad news for the average Gearhead, buying a new car is both one of the most exciting and stressful experiences they will encounter. The far-reaching consequences of buying a turkey is all the time and money that’s been wasted.
Searching the internet for information on the cheapest or easiest sports cars to maintain can reap huge benefits, we all want car ownership with the minimum fuss, in short cars that are a breeze to maintain.
10 Volkswagen Golf R – 2012 – 18
The original Golf GTi claimed to be all things to all men, sporty and compact while remaining a practical everyday car. There were some technical issues along the way, notoriously frail cambelts causing no end of headaches for speed addicts.
In 2012, everything changed, Volkswagen launched the Golf R with 292 HP from a turbocharged 2-liter engine, swapping cambelts for more robust timing chains, the new performance Golf had a much simpler service schedule needing just oil and filters, handy for the DIY mechanic.
9 BMW 540i – 2016 – Onwards
Fast sedans are a specialty of German automaker BMW, the mid-range 540i presents the best performance for money in the seventh generation line-up, best of all routine servicing aside they are reliable and easy to maintain.
Any Gearhead still tempted by the M-badged model should think again, the 540i has all the performance anyone could need daily. Under the hood, BMW’s expertise is apparent with a 3-liter turbo six-cylinder unit delivering 335 HP to the rear wheels, dashing to 60mph in under 5-seconds.
8 Audi TT RS Coupe – 2006 – 14
Arguably, the second generation model looks much better than the predecessor, the addition of Audi’s meaner corporate grille and lights finally make the TT look like a proper sports car. More importantly, Audi introduced the insane RS model aimed at serious drivers.
Greatly improved in terms of build quality and style, the RS also packs a bigger punch in the form of Audi’s 2.5-liter in-line five-cylinder motor, power output climbing to 395 HP puts the TT RS on par with Porsche’s Cayman. Aside from a few minor trim rattles the only annoyance to speak of being brake squeal, easily fixed by a quick DIY pad change.
7 Mini Cooper S – 2019 – Onwards
Smaller cars are usually trickier to work on, engines and running gear are crammed into a much smaller space, making life hard work for your average home mechanic. As an example, the front engine Mini would usually require dropping the engine out for any serious maintenance.
The Mini Cooper S might not be the fastest hatchback in its class needing 6.5-seconds to reach 60mph, but with an impressive 4th place in the JD Power Survey for reliability in 2019 means more on-road fun and less time in the garage.
6 Porsche Boxster (986) – 1996 – 2004
A mid-engine Porsche sports car for the masses, the 986 Boxster launched in 1996 to global praise among critics, if only purists could have looked beyond the cheaper pricing they would’ve experienced Porsche’s best-balanced car in decades.
Originally, Porsche offered a choice of two flat-six engines, the larger, more powerful 2.7-liter unit producing 217 HP being the more common with owners, but both are supremely reliable and maintenance should be a breeze.
5 Mercedes SLK (R171/R172) – 2004 – Onwards
Ask any Mercedes owners from the last two decades which years were the worst, and most will claim 2000-05 was the German automaker’s dark periods of poor build quality. Fortunately, the SLK 350 seems to have been exempt with the most common faults being leaky trunk seals and stiff roof motors, both cheap and easy fixes.
In a worst-case scenario, a couple of hours for the average home mechanic in the trunk, in return one of the best handling Mercedes sports cars ever produced. With so few common faults, the SLK350 is the best choice for performance junkies, the 3.5-liter V6 chucks out 268 HP, delivering a top speed limited to 155mph.
4 Audi RS4 Sedan (B7) – 2006 – 08
Looking much like any other Audi A4 sedan, the 2006 RS4 launch did little to advertise its performance credentials, wearing only discrete badging to hint that this was no ordinary sedan. Under the hood, one of the finest V8 engines ever built, Audi’s 4.2-liter 400 HP provided the grunt normally associated with supercars.
The best was yet to come, Audi also produced the RS4 in other body styles, a cabriolet and station wagon completed the line-up, all offering sub-5-second 0-60mph times. Despite the massive performance, routine servicing consisting of oil and plugs is pretty much all the RS4 needs, anyone Gearhead can manage that.
3 Volkswagen Karmann Ghia – 1955 – 1974
The simplicity of construction made the Karmann Ghia extremely popular among gearheads, its ease of access to the otherwise reliable drive train means even the most novice of mechanics can carry out maintenance and repairs.
In a genius move, Volkswagen cleverly re-bodied their Type 1 chassis and power unit, under the skin the Karmann Ghia was just another Beetle based car, adopting the same air-cooled engine that proved to be so reliable for half a century.
2 BMW 325i (E30) – 1982-91
Classic BMW performance cars are skyrocketing in value, the highly sought-after M3 commands prices over $100,000, for considerably less, the 325i represents excellent value for money and much simpler maintenance.
A major selling point for any Gearhead, the 2.5-liter inline six-cylinder motor has a reputation for durability and reliability, and being built long before the complex electronics of modern engines, it should be a breeze for the home mechanic. Admittedly, performance is not on par with the M3, but with 168 HP on tap a sub-7-second o-60 mph is achievable.
1 Porsche 968 – 1991 – 95
German carmaker Porsche had met with limited success with their range of 4-cylinder front-engine cars, these budget offerings lacked the drama of the more desirable 911 range. Launched in 1991, the 968 carried on from where the 944 left off, more evolutionary than revolutionary. Again, a lack of demand spelled the end of Porsche’s entry-level model.
Retaining the same engine options, the 968 was a well-sorted car when it went on sale, earlier drive train issues have already been ironed out made it a great daily driver with impressive reliability. Properly maintained the 968 should give gearheads few service issues, oil, coolant, and filters are easy home mechanic tasks.
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