The used car market has become increasingly expensive over the past two years, mainly due to the pandemic, the shortage of semiconductors and the fact that people are sticking to their cars longer.
While there are still new cars for sale, most people prefer to look for a better price on the used market, especially if the car they are looking for is more upscale – thanks to the depreciation of luxury cars. One region in the world that makes some of the best luxury and sports cars is Europe – including BMWs like BMW, Maserati, Volvo and Alfa Romeo. European sports cars are among the most sought after in car enthusiast circles and often outperform comparable cars from the US, Japan and Korea. like ChevroletHonda and Genesis.
While there are many great European sports cars, not all of them are necessarily cheap to buy or cheap to maintain – in many cases quite the contrary. With that, here are five great European sports cars everyday people can afford and five that are best avoided when buying on a budget.
10 We would have – Volvo C30 T5 R-Design ($11,000)
The Volvo C30 was a compact 2-door hatchback for sale between 2006 and 2013. It was based on the same platform as the second generation Ford Focus and shared many of the engines, but was also available with some of Volvo’s own engines.
The top-of-the-range car was the T5, which had a 2.5-litre inline-5 turbo mated to either a 6-speed manual or a 5-speed automatic. Power was sent to the front wheels and the car produced 227 horsepower and 230 lb-ft of torque. The C30 T5 was a hot hatchback without the typical hot hatch styling, making it a bit of a sleeping car – as Volvos usually are.
9 Best avoided – BMW M5 E60 ($19,000)
The BMW M5 E60 made one of the best BMW motorcycles ever. Unfortunately, that’s about where the good aspects of the car stop. The engine, while brilliant, likes to eat up its own rod bearings, requiring near-constant maintenance and resulting in expensive repair costs if they go wrong.
The SMG transmission was also a bad part of the car, hampering performance and almost ruining the ride at low speeds. Fortunately, the American version of the car was available with a manual transmission, which largely solves the problems. Nevertheless, the E60 M5 – although a brilliant car – is a gamble when buying in the used car market.
8 We would have – Audi S5 ($12,000)
The first generation Audi A5 was nothing more than a coupé version of the A4 to compete with BMW’s 3-Series coupe and later the 4-Series and Mercedes’ C-Class Coupé. It had most of the same engines – including diesel 4-cylinders – and was front-wheel drive as standard.
The fun started when Audi unveiled the S5, which had a modified version of the RS4’s 4.2-liter V8. The engine produced 350 horsepower and sent its power to all four wheels via a six-speed manual or a six-speed Tiptronic automatic transmission. The V8 S5 was one of the coolest Audis of the past 15 years and was replaced by a 3.0-liter supercharged V6 when the A5 got a facelift in 2013.
7 Best Avoided – Alfa Romeo GTV ($25,000)
The Alfa Romeo GTV – a shortened form of Gran Turismo Veloce – was the long-awaited successor to the original GTV Alfetta. There were major differences between the cars – the main one being that the Alfetta had rear-wheel drive, while the GTV had front-wheel drive.
The new GTV was still a great car. It was usually equipped with a range of 4-cylinder engines, but the higher finishes were available with Alfa Romeo’s glorious busso V6. Unfortunately, the GTV was an Alfa Romeo, so it had many defects and problems. Hardcore fans will fix the issues, but for the rest of us it’s better avoided.
6 We would have – Mercedes-Benz SL55 AMG ($20,000)
The Mercedes-Benz R230 SL was one of the last Mercedes models to be overdeveloped, meaning it was fairly reliable for what it was: a luxury convertible GT car. The R230 was available with V6s and V8s, with the V8 AMG model as the SL55 AMGcarrying the beautifully supercharged 5.4-litre M113 V8.
The SL55 AMG produced 510 horsepower and 531 lb-ft of torque, with power going to the rear wheels only through a 5-speed automatic transmission. The SL55 AMG was one of the best cars of its time, offering relentless power and speed, not to mention the amazing sound coming from the exhausts.
5 Best Avoided – Audi TTS ($18,000)
The Audi TTS is the sportiest 4-cylinder version of the model, before moving on to the pretty fast TTRS, with its inline-5 turbo. The TTS is equipped with the 2.0-liter TFSI inline-4 that is also used in the Golf GTI, but in the TTS the engine has been modified to produce 272 hp.
The TTS was fitted as standard with Audi’s Quattro all-wheel drive, mated to either a revised close-ratio 6-speed manual transmission or a 6-speed S-Tronic automatic – also known as VW’s DSG. The TTS was a great sports car, but in a world where the TTRS exists, it just seems a little too tame.
4 We would have – BMW M3 E46 ($18,000)
The BMW E46 M3 is one of the best cars BMW has ever produced. Equipped with the great S54 3.2-litre six-cylinder, the E46 M3 is still one of the most sought after sports cars on the second hand market. The M3 produced 340 hp and 269 lb-ft of torque, with power being sent to the rear wheels only via a six-speed manual or a six-speed robotic transmission in the form of the SMG transfer.
The E46 M3 is one of the most enjoyable driving experiences thanks to the high revving engine that makes a great sound due to the individual throttle bodies and the induction noises. The M3 is available on the second-hand market, but the coupe comes at a significant premium over the convertible – which has also gone up in price.
3 Best to Avoid – Bentley Continental W12 ($28,000)
It’s hard to believe that a car that cost over $150,000 new now costs less than $30,000, especially when it’s one of the best and most luxurious GT cars out there. That said, anyone paying less than $30,000 for a Bentley Continental W12 should be willing to pay about the same amount for possible repairs.
The Toyota Camry priced Bentley looks like a bargain, but since it is a luxury car from the early 2000s, it will need repair if the car is driven at all. While depreciation helps normal people afford expensive cars, it can also become extremely expensive.
2 We would have – Porsche 911 996 ($20,000)
The Porsche 911 is the best sports car ever made. This is a fact. Porsche knows this, so they’re asking $106,000 for the cheapest 911 on sale right now. This is why looking for an older 911 is now such a bargain in the used car market.
the 911 996 can still be had for around $20,000, but prices have risen in recent months — as with most cars — meaning even the cheap Porsches are now getting more expensive. Still, there isn’t much else that offers better performance, comfort and livability than a 911.
1 Best Avoid – Maserati Coupe CambioCorsa ($15,000)
The Maserati Coupé might be a tempting alternative to the 911. After all, it has a great V8 engine in the front, a semi-automatic transmission in the middle and a drive that goes to the rear – the layout of a real sports car.
Unfortunately, the Coupé is not the most reliable car out there. The gearbox with the F1 style flappy paddles can get in trouble and are quite uncomfortable when driving around town, often jerking when shifting into a new gear, leaving occupants’ heads bobbing like a chicken. While the sound is exciting, the reliability and gearbox issues just don’t make it appealing.