General

5 Most Reliable European Sports Cars to Buy Used (5 Best Avoided)

BMW E46 M3 CSL one of handful of CSL in US

Buying a used car is often a risk. You do not know how the previous owner drove the car. It can also be difficult to fully understand the condition of the car as the most expensive and important details are normally hidden.



This risk is even greater when you look at sports cars, especially European sports cars. This is because if something went wrong, repairing the used sports car could be incredibly expensive. Parts would be rarer and more expensive to obtain properly. That’s why it’s so important to look for something reliable.

Looking for a list of reliable European sports cars to buy used? Here are 5 sports cars that are perfect to buy used, along with 5 that you should avoid at all costs.

10 Reliable: E46 M3

When it comes to classic European sports cars, nothing comes close to the E46 M3. Although the E92 M3 had a V8 engine, the E46 model is often considered the best M3 ever. This two-door sports car came with 343 horsepower and 269 lb-ft of torque, making it one of the most exciting cars to drive.

The E46 is still widely known today as a reliable sports car. With very few vehicle complaints, the maintenance of the E46 is relatively inexpensive. BMW also released some limited-edition variants of the car, including the world-famous CSL model. This model came with an SMG gearbox and a lighter body. Despite being a BMW, the CSL is widely accepted as an essential car for any collector.

9 Best to Avoid: Mercedes-Benz SL600

Mercedes recently released an all-new SL. While the new SL is packed with modern technology and a new powertrain, it doesn’t come close to the elegance and iconic stature of the 2004 SL600. This older SL sold for around $120k, but you can get a good one for the car these days. half the price.

While this may sound like a lot, you should know that SL600 owners have a lot to say about the maintenance costs associated with owning one of these beauties. The SL600 can cost owners between $4k and $6k each year.

8 Reliable: Audi TT

The Audi TT is a dynamic and compact sports car. This two-door car comes with four seats, but has been completely designed with the driver in mind. The latest generation of the TT dates from 2015. This means that you can get a used one for a relatively affordable price.

This 2015 model comes with everything you need from a compact sports car. The powertrain may not be the best, but it’s more than enough to compete with the BMW 2 Series and even the 718 Cayman. The TT comes with a KBB rating of 4.9, making it one of the most reliable cars Audi makes.

Related: Why the Audi TT is a very misunderstood sports car?

7 Best to Avoid: BMW Z4

The BMW Z4 was and still is an iconic coupé. BMW has released a new version of the sports car with the latest technology, making the older versions an even more affordable option. While you might jump to take advantage of this, there are quite a few reliability issues to consider.

The old Z4 came with an older engine that was prone to oil leaks, engine failure and coolant leaks. This could end up costing you more to maintain than buying a brand new Z4. The new Z4 seems to have solved all of these issues, making it well worth the price.


6 Reliable: Lotus Elise 32

The Lotus Elise came out in the early 2000s. This compact sports car was considered a mini-supercar because it delivered brilliant performance in a lightweight design. The Lotus came with a Toyota I4 engine that paired perfectly with premium brakes and suspension.

This made the Lotus Elise one of the best handling cars of the time. The sports car came with a dynamic manual transmission, making it the dream of a gearbox. While the sports car isn’t the most practical purchase, its reliability makes it a great option if you’re looking for a weekend car.

Related: Here’s What Makes the 1997 Lotus Esprit GT3 the Coolest Sports Car of the 90s


5 Best to Avoid: Jaguar XJS V12

Jaguar has long been an elite manufacturer. Although their dominance in sports cars dates back to the original E-Type, the XJS was a modern take on what a British sports car should be.

While the XJS had an impressive V12 engine and a modern exterior design, the car was plagued with reliability problems. This classic coupe would only cost you about $15k now, but could easily cost you the same amount in maintenance costs. From engine failure to transmission problems, you can expect it all.

4 Reliable: Audi R8

If you are looking for a supercar that you can reliably buy second-hand, the R8 from Audi is the right choice. The R8 comes with a V8 engine capable of producing over 420 horsepower. Better yet, it comes with an AWD system that gives you seemingly unlimited grip from the line.

While other supercars may not stand the test of time, the Audi R8 has aged like fine wine. The supercar has not had any major reliability issues and is a fairly reliable European supercar.

Related: Here’s What The First Generation Audi R8 Is Worth Today

3 Best to Avoid: Alfa Romeo 4C

When Alfa Romeo first announced the 4C, fans around the world were immediately enthusiastic about the coupe. Pre-orders from around the world were filling up as many gearboxes had waited years and years for Alfa Romeo to finally make a two-seater sports car in the modern era.

While this may seem like a good deal at first, buyers were incredibly disappointed with the car. The controls were shaky and unpredictable, making the ride very uncomfortable. This also contributed to the car’s reliability issues, as most buyers reported sensitive suspensions and loss of power after a few thousand miles. This makes the 4C a car to avoid used.


2 Reliable: Volvo C70

The Volvo C70 was released in 2006. Although many may not think that Volvo makes sports cars, the C70 convertible is a reliable and sporty weekend car. The car is heavy but comes with a very reliable engine that has stood the test of time.

The car is also available in a coupé version. This model comes with better balance, handling and acceleration. This makes it a great choice if you are looking for something reliable, dependable and affordable to use as a daily driver.

Related: How the 2013 Volvo C70 Rekindled Our Love for Convertibles

1 Best to Avoid: Ferrari F430

If you want to buy something rare and exotic, many Ferrari owners will advise you to stay away from the F430. While the car is absolutely beautiful from the outside, the F430 was plagued with reliability issues that can make owning a car a very expensive ordeal.

The Italian manufacturer is known for making fast cars, and the F430 doesn’t disappoint. The 483 HP F430 can accelerate from 0 to 60 in just 3.5 seconds. However, this doesn’t mean much if the transmission packs in and ends up skipping gears. Therefore, it might be better to increase the budget a bit and buy the 488 GTB.