Germany has long been associated with achievement and sports carsand as such, some of the best, most powerful and respected performance cars ever produced have come from there – offering not only a great selection of new cars to drool over, but also a sublime back catalog of forgotten heroes and downright legends.
The classic counterparts to today’s powerhouses may not be as versatile or reliable, and almost certainly wouldn’t work for everyday drivers, but they would certainly still be the garage floor filler of choice. This article takes a look at the latest and greatest from some of Germany’s most renowned performance car manufacturers, then takes a look back at their greatest hits – which one will you choose?
10 BMW M4 CSL
German manufacturers are well established as producers of modern sleeping carswith models like the RS6 and M5 being long-running 200 mph beasts that fly under the radar for most people.
The 2023 M4 CSL isn’t that kind of car though, with wings and canards popping out of the corners, plenty of carbon fiber trim and a super-purposeful rear diffuser – the new CSL isn’t hiding from anyone, it has 550 horsepower, does 0 – 62 in 3.7 secondsand it wants everyone to know!
9 BMW 3.0 CSL from 1973
Anyone with a love for the new M4 CSL owes a word of thanks to this 1970s icon; the original M car! With a lightweight aluminum construction, 206 hp and flared body (with which this Bavarian beast his’batmobile‘nickname) this was a seriously purposeful car in its day. Nothing was left to chance — wind-up windows, lightweight racing seats and even perspex windows all helped make the original CSL the successful road and race car it was.
Surviving examples fetch a healthy sum todaybut any serious collector should definitely make room for one of these – the blueprint for the modern M car.
8 Audi RS6 Tribute Edition
The Audi RS6 has built a solid reputation as the ultimate daily driver and this Tribute Edition has an extra über-cool punch thanks to the special Nogaru Blue paint job. This latest version of the The RS6 does it with a 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 that delivers 591 hp capable of propelling this 5,000-pound behemoth from 0 to 60 in less than 3.5 seconds – exactly the same as the RS’ sportier sister, the V10 R8.
Not impressed? It will take you, your whole family, all your luggage and even the family dog everywhere in perfect comfort – the RS6 really is the ultimate one-car garage.
7 Audi RS2 Avant from 1993
Still, we prefer to buy this! Few cars truly deserve icon status, but the RS2 is one such car. A true pioneer at birth, the RS2 is often heralded as the first high-performance station wagon Audi pulled out all the stops to make sure it was a serious offer.
Manufactured in collaboration with Porsche, the RS2 was equipped with a 315 hp 2.2 five-cylinder engine with a large turbocharger slapped on the side, and to keep the rest of the car tame, Audi borrowed a big brake set and super-light 17-inch alloy wheels from the more performance-oriented Porsches of the time. Fitted with the revolutionary Quattro all-wheel drive system, this Boxy family car could accelerate from 0 to 30 quicker than a McLaren F1 – how’s that for bragging rights?
6 Brabus 700 Widestar
Prefer a little more ‘shout’ with your performance car? Then look no further than tuning house Brabus. These guys have built a fantastic reputation for building some of the loudest Mercedes based performance cars all over the world, and this latest G-Wagon sure is loud – in every sense of the word.
700 horsepower gives this 4×4 the ‘go’ to match the abrasive styling, that fully customizable of course to your exact taste, depending on how much carbon fiber you want strapped to your $300,000 G63.
5 Brabus G Wagon V12 Bi-Turbo from 2003
There are many reasons why you should not or should not buy this Brabus. For starters, these previous-generation G-Wagons were unreliable and prone to corrosion, the drivetrain was more like a tractor than a luxury SUV, and it’s not like you can get spares from your local parts dealer.
However, there are a few reasons why you may be tempted to buy this. Twelve reasons in fact. It takes a crazy company like Brabus to slap a twin-turbocharged V12 into an aging 4×4, and therein lies the charm. You certainly won’t see another one at the lights, and you also have a good chance of beating anything you see at the lights as well. It’s also pretty badass.
4 Porsche 911 GT3 RS Carrera RS 2.7 Tribute
A clear theme of this modern German offering is playing with the company’s heritage, and Porsche isn’t skipping a trick either. Striking in every specification, the latest GT3 RS is a clear track car for the road, and this 50th anniversary model looks immaculate with nostalgic splashes of green as a respectful nod to the icon that inspired it.
GT3s have long been the king of the Nürburgring, and this latest is eager to follow in the footsteps of its predecessors with a cracking time of 6 minutes and 49 seconds – cementing its status as a true RS. Adjustable suspension and carbon-ceramic brakes help shave seconds in corners, and a characterful 4.0-liter six-cylinder with 518 hp helps to ensure that you don’t run out of puff pastry on the straights as well.
3 Porsche 911 Carrera RS 2.7 from 1973
So, how can a 50-year-old 911 ever compare to a record-breaking 518 horsepower monster like the GT3 RS above? In many ways it can’t. The original here only has 213 horsepower, accelerates to 60 in 5.6 seconds and tops out at 150mph thanks to the 2.7-litre flat-six under the hood. That’s a far cry from the numbers Porsche managed to rack up in the new RS – so what makes this 911 so special?
Only 1,580 units were ever produced to homologate the 2.8 RSR Porsche entered the Group 4 race series‘, which makes this a very important 911 indeed. The ultimate racer with all the charm of a 1960s 911, but with the grunt of a real racer. For collectors and enthusiasts, the 2.7 RS is the holy grail, and they charge a serious premium on the rare occasion that one actually comes up for sale.
2 Mercedes Benz E53 AMG
Another more practical entry, the E53 AMG is a sublime offering from Mercedes that combines the latest in luxury and comfort with a healthy amount of poise and performance. A relatively sensible (at least for AMG) 3.0-liter six-in-line turbo delivers a not too insignificant 429 hp to the rear wheels, earning this super saloon that infamous three-letter badge on the boot.
Inside you’ll find massaging leather seats, heated armrests and power rear window blinds alongside a host of other modern conveniences you’ve never heard of. The cost for all this? $75,000 – at least that’s the starting price, and that’s a lot of car for the money.
1 Mercedes Benz 500E from 1991
You wouldn’t be alone in thinking the E53 is missing something though, many wouldn’t look twice at it in a parking lot or on the road. With soft, flowing lines, it’s certainly a handsome car, but the subtle styling gives no hint of the power that lies under the bonnet. However, roll back 30 years and we think Mercedes did better with the 500E. Now a modern classic with its own super status, the 500E simply ticked all the boxes.
The stormingly great V8 under the hood delivered a solid 322 HP (that’s more than a Ferrari 348) and the huge flared arches, gaping grilles and wide diamond-cut alloy wheels leave a lasting impression on anyone lucky enough to spot one. The perfect super saloon, and just modern enough to still be a viable daily driver – Mercedes can keep their massage seats, heated armrests and soulless straight-six as we see this biggest hit of the 90s over a week every day of the week. would get E53.