The best German cars

German brands are renowned for making the finest luxury cars, high performance models and affordable hatchbacks. Here are some of the best

Sam Naylor
Dec 2, 2021

Fancy an upmarket hatchback, a plush SUV or a desirable sports car? Chances are that a good number of your best options are going to be German. The German car industry routinely grabs headlines around the world, and there are plenty of good reasons for that. German car brands have become some of the biggest and most recognisable in the world; look down your street and you can pretty much guarantee that there’s at least one German car there.

This popularity is largely because you can find a German car to suit virtually any situation. From the straightforward Volkswagen Up to the luxurious Mercedes S-Class, no matter what type of car you're looking for, there'll be a German option to suit - typically of very high quality, too. German cars are traditionally known for their robustness which allows them to truly ast for decades - provided that they are properly maintained. In more recent years, greater desirability has made them even more popular.

Another reason the German car industry is so successful is because of its huge range of upmarket brands. Audi, BMW and Mercedes are the trio of car makers that many think of as being more desirable than Ford, Peugeot or Hyundai, for instance, and that means they can charge more for their products.

However, with a vast majority of drivers paying with PCP finance - where the car's predicted value at the end of the contract is just as important in determining your monthly payments as the initial cash price - German cars, whether new or used, can often cost less per month than less desirable cars that can lose value quicker, regardless of the initial price.

German cars typically have sharp looks, a stylish interior with plenty of technology and excellent build quality. Some brands focus on different areas more than others, so you’ll find some German brands build cars that are fun to drive, while others are more comfort oriented, for example.

In our list of the best German cars you’ll find anything and everything. We’ve included SUVs, hatchbacks and sports cars, among others, so you’re sure to find the perfect car.

German cars

1. Mercedes A-Class

Best German car for affordable luxury

Our pick Mercedes A200 AMG Line automatic
Used deals from £20,700
Monthly finance from £315*

The latest generation of Mercedes A-Class is a great choice if you’re looking for a car with an upmarket interior packed with the latest technology, but without the huge price tag. There are plenty of used models to choose from, so you’re spoiled for choice - you could have a 2019 A-Class with less than 20,000 miles for under £300 per month on PCP finance.

Many of these more affordable A-Classes are in ‘Sport’ trim, which includes two seven-inch infotainment screens, a DAB radio, sat-nav with real-time traffic information, active safety equipment, LED headlights and automatic climate control - in other words, plenty.

The real selling point of the A-Class is the interior, though, and especially the media system and its slick voice controls. The A-Class’ modern interior features also include smartphone connectivity and digital dials. There’s even a mode that uses a camera and augmented reality to point out exactly which turn to take next - but this is an optional extra.

MERCEDES A-CLASS BUYERS' GUIDE

2. Volkswagen ID.3

Best German car for zero-emission commuting

Volkswagen ID.3 front three quarters view

Our pick Volkswagen ID.3 Life
Used deals from £35,991
Monthly finance from £546*

The ID.3 is the first of an upcoming range of ‘ID’ branded electric Volkswagens. Something of a successor to the e-Golf, the ID.3 is a hatchback that is designed to meet most day-to-day requirements.

The ID.3 is similar in size to the Golf but, thanks to some very clever design, interior space is closer to the bigger Volkswagen Passat and should seat four adults in comfort. Boot space is also larger than the Golf at 385 litres. Battery range varies depending on whether you opt for the 45kWh, 58kWh or 77kWh battery pack. With ranges from 205 miles to 341 miles respectively, even the lowest of these should still prove plenty for day-to-day use.

In regards to trim, the ID.3 lineup can be a bit overwhelming. Every trim level has been named with its intended use in mind - Life, Style, Family, Max, Tour, Business and Tech- and each comes with its own added features. Whichever you choose, though, your ID.3 will come with LED headlights, all-round parking sensors, adaptive cruise control, sat-nav, keyless start, lane keep assist, heated front seats and even a heated steering wheel as standard.

VOLKSWAGEN ID.3 BUYERS' GUIDE

3. Volkswagen Up

Best German car for young drivers

Our pick Volkswagen Up 1.0 High Up 5dr
Used deals from £5,300
Monthly finance from £0*

The Volkswagen Up is a small, humble city car, but there’s a very valid reason why it appears on this list. We think it is one of the best German cars of the past decade. It might not look it, but the Up drives just as well as cars several times larger, brilliantly combining a comfortable ride and fun handling.

The Up manages to do all this along with having an ultra-economical 1.0-litre engine, a slick gearshift and way more space inside than you’d expect. To top things off, it’s even the cheapest car here. That’s why we think it’s so great: you can drive one for less than £150 per month, yet it does everything you need from a small car.

We’d go for a five-door model as it’s more practical, but the year doesn’t matter too much. All versions of the Up have the same basic traits - it’s worth noting, though, that later models actually did away with the mini sat-nav that appeared in earlier Ups.

VOLKSWAGEN UP BUYERS' GUIDE

4. Audi TT

Best German car for showing off

Audi TTS Coupe front three quarters view

Our pick Audi TTS Quattro
Used deals from £22,991
Monthly finance from £0*

The launch of the original Audi TT was a big moment for the German brand, as it looked unlike anything that had come before. The latest version of the Audi TT isn’t such a revolution but it’s still a fantastic choice for those looking for a bit of style who don’t want to sacrifice technology or comfort.

The Audi TT’s interior is a real highlight, with a fantastic minimalist screen-free dashboard and high build quality. Don’t worry about missing out on a media system, though, as it’s all contained in a clever digital dial set-up in front of the driver. You can display everything from radio to sat-nav info right in between the speedometer and rev counter.

A 2017 2.0-litre petrol model should prove particularly good value because it delivers strong performance for around £360 per month, but there’s no shame in picking the less powerful 1.8-litre model or even the diesel if fuel economy is a concern. These are still very desirable machines.

AUDI TT BUYERS' GUIDE

5. BMW 5 Series

Best German car for comfort

Our pick BMW 520d M Sport
Used deals from £20,600
Monthly finance from £385*

The large BMW 5 Series won’t work for everyone, but if you’ve got space for one on your driveway, it’s bound to be an excellent choice. That’s because it’s a true all-rounder, with few faults and so many great aspects.

Even the base model 520d SE is a superb choice, especially as you can get one that’s nearly new for around £450 per month. It’s one of the most comfortable cars on the road thanks to plush seats and supple suspension, yet it’s also excellent to drive. The 2.0-litre diesel engine is frugal yet also punchy and fun to use.

The 5 Series is good in just about every other area, too: it’s practical thanks to a big boot and loads of passenger space, standard equipment is extensive, the media system is as good as they get and the car looks sharp, too.

BMW 5 SERIES BUYERS' GUIDE

6. Mercedes S-Class

Best German car for luxury

Our pick Mercedes S350d L AMG Line Premium
Used deals from £18,000
Monthly finance from £0*

If you need something small and easy to park, the Mercedes S-Class isn’t for you, as it’s a rather large saloon car that won’t easily fit down many of Britain’s tight country lanes. However, if you’re buying a car to do a lot of motorway miles, the S-Class is unmatched.

The biggest reason for this is how comfortable it is. The suspension is set up perfectly for this - it can make a really bumpy road feel like brand new tarmac. Few cars can match how well the S-Class rides, and the smooth six-cylinder diesel in the S350d model is ultra-quiet as well.

The S-Class is packed with technology, is really luxurious inside and has plenty of performance, too. Be aware that the S-Class loses value quickly from new, though. This means you can buy a 2017 car for the price of a family hatchback - saving you tens of thousands compared with a new model, but the value will keep dropping for a while, so do expect to make a loss when you come to sell, whether that’s in a year or two or a decade down the line. Either way, it's still a bargain for the amount of comfort on tap.

MERCEDES S-CLASS BUYERS' GUIDE

7. Porsche Macan

Best German car for practicality

Our pick Porsche Macan S Diesel
Used deals from £30,000
Monthly finance from £0*

German carmakers all have a wide variety of SUVs in their line-ups, and you can’t go too far wrong with any of them. The best of the bunch, however, is the Porsche Macan. It’s smaller than the supersized Cayenne, but is nearly as practical, while also being better value.

The reason the Macan is our pick as the best German SUV is that it manages to be good to drive as well as being excellent for families. Many SUVs feel heavy and lead-footed, but the Macan is agile and fun to drive, while also being comfortable, even on rough roads.

Few people ever actually use their SUVs to go off-road, so on-road handling and comfort matters a lot. We’d go for the diesel version as it will be cheaper to run than the thirsty petrol models, and it’s still more than fast enough.

PORSCHE MACAN BUYERS' GUIDE

8. Volkswagen Golf

Best German car for general use

Volkswagen Golf front three quarters view

Our pick Volkswagen Golf 1.5 TSI Life
Used deals from £21,000
Monthly finance from £0*

We couldn’t recommend a list of German cars without including the Volkswagen Golf, could we? It’s an icon throughout the worldwide car industry, and there's a good reason for that, as it really is the car of the people. There’s a model in the range to suit nearly all tastes, it’s affordable and can perform well at all the most important tasks you ask of a car.

We reckon a 1.5-litre petrol in Life trim is really good value for those who just want a practical, comfortable family car with up-to-date tech like smartphone connectivity. It’s good to drive, frugal and has lots of room inside.

Alternatively, there’s the Estate version for those needing more room, the GTI model for those who love driving, the e-Golf for electric car fans, the Bluemotion diesel for those with long motorway commutes and the GTE model for people looking to dip their toes in the electric vehicle waters with a plug-in hybrid. Further proof that there is indeed a Golf for everyone.

VOLKSWAGEN GOLF BUYERS' GUIDE

VOLKSWAGEN GOLF GTI BUYERS' GUIDE

VOLKSWAGEN GOLF ESTATE BUYERS' GUIDE

*Representative PCP finance - Ford Fiesta:

48 monthly payments of £192
Deposit: £0
Mileage limit: 8,000 per year
Optional final payment to buy car: £2,923
Total amount payable to buy car: £11,926
Total cost of credit: £2,426
Amount borrowed: £9,500
APR: 9.9%

Buyacar is a credit broker, not a lender. Our rates start from 6.9% APR. The rate you are offered will depend on your individual circumstances.

 

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