German cars tend to dominate the luxury car sales in most markets thanks to their combination of cutting-edge technology and superior performance capabilities. And being well engineered (on the most part) they also tend to weather the years better than most too. This does set the scene for some great classics too, especially ones hailing from the last two decades, cars that can still deliver serious performance while still being modern enough for regular use.
Pick well and your modern classic can even be a well-priced daily driver. There are plenty of great choices out there and we have taken an alphabetical gander through the German back catalogue to unearth some of the best ones.
From luxurious Autobahn racers to world-beating sports cars, there are a lot of great performance cars on offer, not all here are affordable or particularly cheap to run but they are all as impressive today as when they were new.
Audi’s modern-day all-wheel-drive revolution started with the rally bred UR Quattro, a turbocharged 5-cylinder monster that changed the face of rallying forever.
The road car that followed was quite impressive too but it is the early ‘90s RS2 Avant, produced in conjunction with Porsche that still drives and feels as if it was built yesterday.
The 2.2-litre 5-cylinder turbocharged engine made 311-bhp which gave it 911 rivalling acceleration and the quattro drivetrain allowed it to outperform most supercars when the road conditions turned nasty.
Audi RS4 B7
Now Audi may have built its name on turbocharged AWD sports cars but one of the very best cars they have built is the naturally aspirated 420-bhp 4.2-litre V8 Audi RS4.
Nerdy car fans will know this as the B7 variant, to the rest of us it is the one that sounds absolutely fantastic, handles like a RWD car but with the security of AWD and still looks stunning today.
The original R8 shared its engine with that B7 RS4, although in this application it sat in the middle and was wrapped in junior supercar clothing. Manual versions are becoming quite sought-after these days and dynamically even an early R8 is still an impressive machine.
Audi RS6 V10
Now the type of sports car Audi is more commonly known for is the massively over-powered turbocharged AWD estate. The V10 RS6 was available in saloon form too and under its bonnet sat one of the craziest engines ever to be fitted to a production car.
Namely a 571-bhp 5.0-litre V10 which was aided by not one but two turbochargers. It was not quite a Lamborghini Gallardo motor with turbos as some might assume but it was indecently quick and could handle even more power with some tuned examples producing well over 800bhp.
BMW is just about to release its latest 8-Series almost 20-years after it ended production of the last one. That original version was a beautiful GT car that must have looked quite futuristic when it first went on sale in 1989.
They still look great now but it is the 282-bhp 840Ci with its 4.0 (or later 4.4-litre) V8 that makes the most sense as a used buy. Of course, for the collector only the rare 375-bhp V12 850CSi will do.
BMW M3 E46
High-revving naturally aspirated engines were the backbone of all M cars until the arrival of the controversial X5M performance SUV in 2009. Until then cars like the E46 M3 used magnificent atmospheric engines like the 333-bhp 3.2-litre inline-6.
Well-kept examples of these models are already rising in value and despite lacking the low-end torque we have come to expect in our performance cars, they provide an immersive driving experience that is still thrilling, few turbocharged cars can match the sound and fury of an old M-car at its red line.
BMW M5 V10
The last non-turbo M5 is another superb modern classic, it drives and sounds like a full-blown supercar although it uses a similar amount of fuel and is as temperamental as one too.
Aside from the jerky auto ‘box there is not much to dislike here and the star of the show is that 500-bhp V10, it is unlikely that we will see another M car quite so insane as this one ever again.
Mercedes has always been a fan of a bit of forced induction, they were already using superchargers to boost performance way back in the 1930s, yet one of their best models in recent years, the E63 AMG came fitted with a hand-built V8 that relied on good old cubic capacity to produce the goods.
This 6.2-litre V8 went on to power many fast Mercs but in the E63 it made an even 500-bhp which made it one of the fastest production saloons of the time and used ones today can be real performance bargains.
Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren
The ultimate performance Mercedes was built in conjunction with McLaren automotive, the resultant SLR was a luxurious GT-style coupe yet with performance that matched stripped-out supercars.
ts 617-bhp 5.4-litre supercharged V8 is a thoroughly reworked version of the engine found in lesser models and the SLR is still an immensely quick car even when it is compared to contemporary performance machinery.
While the collaboration between the two manufacturers ended after one model, the unique character of the SLR makes it a unique modern classic in the supercar world. This one is however not quite as affordable as the rest of our choices.
Porsche tends to build sportscars that regularly top comparison charts, the first water-cooled 911 was no different at launch, receiving praise for its performance and handling.
The looks took a while for people to accept and some issues with the new running gear kept used prices depressed for years, these sentiments have slowly changed and the 996 is fast becoming the savvy and still affordable choice in Porsche’s modern classic offerings.
Turbo cars never suffered from the engine issues that affected the base Carrera models and their elevated prices reflect this, performance levels too are still very impressive considering that the earliest cars are now almost 20-years old.
The motoring world is full of praise for 911s of all ages yet there are a range of accomplished front-engined Porsches that remain largely under the radar.
One of the best is the 968, a car with an unusual 4-cylinder 3.0-litre engine configuration and handling that eclipsed contemporary 911s. Club Sport and Turbo models are the most desirable but even the base 237-bhp cars are good fun.
VW Golf 5 GTI
The GTI has been around since 1974 and while most have been class-leaders there have also been a few duds along the way.
The Golf 5 GTI was one of the good ones, it was a welcome return to form as the previous Mark IV GTI had lost much of what made these little hot hatches so desirable.
The Golf 5 version looked and went like a real GTI should and even the latest version bears a lot in common with this 2004 model.