Everybody knows that German cars are the most rad in the world, what with their quality build and efficiency. Germany is home to the modern car with more than 120 years since the birth of the first automobile that was marked in the country. Its automotive industry is, in fact, one of the largest employers in the world with a workforce that stood at more than 710,000 by 2011.
Since 1886, when Karl Benz first registered his gas-powered ‘vehicle,’ Germany has been and still is home to the world’s first four-stroke internal combustion engine, and it continues to lead in the global automotive industry. In fact, an Ernst & Young’s European Automotive Survey placed Germany as the world’s most competitive automobile production location, and it's now a leading investment location. Furthermore, cars designed in Germany have gone on to scoop accolades such as European Car of the Year, World Car of the Year, International Car of the Year, and Car of the Century awards, which just goes to show the excellence that goes into production. Also, when you think of Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Volkswagen, Audi, and Porsche, it's not uncommon to picture their prestige, elegance, safety, longevity, and power. That's because a German-designed car is made to serve you for years on end, but you’ve also got to treat it right.
The point is that Germany ranks high among the top countries with the most beautiful cars worldwide, and these 20 best cars (a mix of classic and modern) Germans have ever produced proves just that.
20 Audi RS 7
This sleek car packs a twin-turbocharged 560 hp V8 engine coupled with an 8-speed automatic transmission, hitting top speeds of up to 190 mph within 11 seconds of starting. For its price, you get a car that'll deliver prestige, performance, safety, and a steady yet smooth drive all in one. The Germans did their country proud on this one, both with the exterior and the interior, seeing as there aren’t as many cars that pack that much power. Furthermore, its interior is spacious – both front and rear - with 22-way adjustable and leather-bound sports seats, and there’s no middle seat as it were. Instead, the rear seats can accommodate only two people, while the center section is meant to be storage space.
If you have the budget to buy a supercar with the specs of a family car, then the Audi RS7 will give you value for every dollar.
19 Porsche 718 Boxster S
This supercar is the latest version of its predecessor, the Porsche 718, and just like the latter, it's built for top performance, safety, and prestige. Underneath its sleek design, the Boxster packs a powerful 3-liter engine, 350-horsepower, and 309 torque that’ll take you from 0 to 60 in just 4.7 seconds and reaches a top speed of up to 177 mph, shaving off 0.5 seconds off the generation that preceded it. Also, the Boxster may look expensive and complex, but in reality, it's affordable and very practical, with an efficient fuel economy at 21 mpg (in-city) and 28 mpg (on-highway). Furthermore, since its introduction to the market in 1996, every part of this car has experienced some improvement. Plus, it looks more aggressive and powerful and is much faster than ever before. It's among the fastest German-designed and manufactured sports vehicles with the convertible-style body. This is what you'd expect with a German car – prestige, power, beauty, and safety in one package.
18 Volkswagen GTI
This is a 210 hp German beauty that packs a 2.0 turbocharged 4-cylinder engine mated with a 6-speed manual or automatic transmission that deliver power to its front wheels. Being a hatchback, its performance and handling deliver a smooth ride, and you can get extra accessories like power seats, keyless entry, and navigation - but for a little something extra. Despite the backlash experienced by the brand after the emissions saga, the Volkswagen is still in the top echelon of Germany’s best cars. Also, while the GTI may not be as powerful as some of the supercars mentioned here, it's still strong enough and perfect for anyone looking for a German machine that'll perform and is easy on the pocket. Its design also strikes a delicate balance between a sports car and compact car. Plus, the interior and the aesthetics generally don’t disappoint.
17 Mercedes-Benz AMG GT S
Mercedes has got to be the number one brand name that comes to the minds of car enthusiasts because it's synonymous with Germany. Besides building a name for itself in the automotive industry, this German-designed car has continued to deliver on its promise and keeps moving from glory to glory.
The first thing you notice about the Mercedes-Benz AMG GT S is its wide bonnet, but underneath is a 4-liter V8 twin-turbo engine, with a 7-speed automatic transmission that delivers a thrilling ride, taking you from 0 to 60 in 3.7 seconds. Furthermore, the interior is the closest thing to flawless, fitted with everything you could possibly dream of in a luxury vehicle. This car is the epitome of luxury, lifestyle, and the good life!
16 BMW M4
This car replaced its predecessor, the M3, back in 2014. Its twin-turbocharged 6-cylinder engine delivers 406 torque and 415 horsepower, but you can upgrade to the Competition Package that adds 19 hp to the engine so you get 444 horsepower to go with the signature BMW M-series driving experience you crave.
When it comes to speed, the M4 goes from 0 to 60 in 3.8 seconds, which is a result of the carbon fiber-reinforced plastic found on the engine’s brace and roof and the lid of its trunk that's meant to reduce the car’s weight while enhancing strength, and maneuverability. Another unique feature is its self-parking, and its 10-way performance-oriented power front M sport seats, which boast 4-way lumbar support and a backlit M logo featured prominently on the backrest. No doubt, the Germans just keep getting it right with each version upgrade.
15 Porsche 911 Turbo S
Remember how Jeremy Clarkson used to rank cars according to top speeds done on the track by The Stig? Well, the same happens for the Porsche when it comes to ranking the top cars Germans have ever produced. The Porsche 911 is one of the most reviewed and discussed cars in the world, and for all the right reasons. With more than five decades of research and development, the 2017 Porsche 911 Turbo S model was birthed, and like its predecessors, it delivers top performance, and its iconic styling makes it stand out from the crowd, effortlessly.
If you’re planning to buy a brand new German-designed and manufactured sports car, consider this model. It reaches up to 205 mph and delivers 580 horsepower, taking you from 0 to 60 in a record 2.8 seconds with the Sports Chrono Package.
14 Mercedes Benz 300 SL
This classic beauty is touted as the fastest and finest production car of its day. It was built by Daimler-Benz AG and introduced in 1954 at the New York Auto show, from an idea suggested by Max Hoffman to create a tone-down Grand Prix car. This two-seat coupe, which was later offered as an open roadster from 1957 to 1963, came with gull-wing doors, a 3.0-liter engine, and the first-ever production fuel injection, delivering the world’s fastest top speed at the time. It would later be succeeded by the Mercedes 230 SL, and today, this successful yet iconic car has a modern-day version: the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG, which maintains the distinctive gull-winged doors of its predecessor.
The 300 SL is an automotive masterpiece that defies modern sports-car rules by offering much in terms of comfort and nice refinements. It has a rich finish and a timeless design concept that will continue to influence the automotive industry for years to come.
13 BMW M1
This is a product of German automaker, BMW, and was in production for about three years from 1978 to 1981. The story behind it is one of courage because initially, Lamborghini had agreed with BMW to build a racing car, but due to conflicts between the two powerhouses, BMW opted to produce the car on their own. Thus, the BMW M1 was born.
This hand-built coupe comes with a twin-cam 3.5-liter and six-cylinder engine, each with four valves, mechanical fuel injection, and six throttle bodies and produces 273 horsepower with a top speed of 162 mph. Its design was inspired by the 1972 BMW Turbo show car; however, only about 453 M1s were built, so it's one of the rarest BMW models in the world. It isn’t in any way related to the BMW 1-Series or the BMW 1-Series M Coupe, whose production began in 2004 and 2010 respectively.
12 Opel GT
Unlike the 2007 Opel GT model, this particular classic Opel GT has seen two generations of manufacturing with a 34-year hiatus in between after having begun with the first generation in 1968. The Opel GT was introduced in 1965 during the Frankfurt and Paris Motor Shows as a concept, where it was hailed for its semblance to the Corvette. But while it may look small, this car had a modest performance powered by its 60 bhp OHG four-cylinder engine, going from 0 to 60 in 10.8 seconds, which was quite fast considering technological advancements hadn't yet reached the levels they're at today. The hidden headlights were manually operated and flip sideways with four taillights but no trunk, as it had to maintain its structure.
11 Volkswagen Beetle
If it weren’t for the Germans, we’d probably never have been introduced to Herbie, the intelligent Volkswagen beetle that had a mind of its own. The Beetle aka Volkswagen Type 1 or Käfer (German for ‘beetle’) is a five-passenger car whose rear engine made it unique because everyone was accustomed to the front-engine type. This truly came as a surprise.
The car was formulated by the then Nazi leader, Adolf Hitler, who wanted a simple car that would be mass-produced for use on the new roads. Originally, it had 25 horsepower with a top speed of 62 mph designed for the system at the time, but after the Cold War, its speeds were boosted to 36, and up to 40 hp. Also, it's the most manufactured car with over 21 million units produced and is also the longest running. But in later years, it was succeeded by the Golf model.
10 Audi Quattro
The Quattro in this Audi is Italian for "four," derived from the car’s four-wheel-drive feature. It was produced by German automaker Audi, which is part of the Volkswagen group, but its released caused quite a stir in the market. As a four-wheel-drive car, this Audi took advantage of the change of rules in competition racing to be the first rally car using the 4WD system, which saw it win one competition after another year-on-year. Since then, all Audis are built with the Quattro technology, with over 7 million to date, putting Audi at the top of the list of premium cars with permanent all-wheel drive. No matter how strong a car’s engine is, however, power is channeled via the wheels before it reaches the road, so the Quattro system splits this power between the front and rear wheels for optimum effect, sure handling, and driving pleasure.
9 Mercedes Benz W116 S-Class
Like the 300 SL, this Mercedes-Benz is in a class of its own. The S-Class is synonymous with automotive luxury, and this car is a throwback to any successors in this range. Born in 1972, the W116 ushered a new and distinct class of luxury saloon cars, boasting an 8-cylinder engine with the highest torque at the time that could take the car from 0 to 60 in just 7.4 seconds. It was also the first luxury saloon of its kind with a diesel engine (saves on the bucks) and recorded high sales of about 470,000 units from 1972 up to 1980. Furthermore, it's the first Mercedes-Benz model to officially be named as "S-class" aka Sonderklasse or "special class," and it's indeed a special class car.
8 Porsche 911 2.7 RS
This car is older than your average millennial, but it still delivers the signature 911 experience. It's a favorite in the collector-car market, with prices holding steady for this particular model, so if you have one, you can still sell it and enjoy the returns. It's a two-door, high-performance classic German sports car produced in 1963 by Porsche AG in Stuttgart, Germany and packs a 6-cylinder boxer engine mounted on the rear end.
Over the years, the 911 has undergone modifications to make it suitable for racing, rallying, and other automotive competitions, and so far, it's been one of the most successful cars on the track. It's also one of the oldest cars in production, unlike the original Beetle, whose production ceased in 2003. As of May 2017, over one million units have been manufactured.
7 BMW 2002
This is a part of the 02 Series, which was produced by BMW as a compact executive car, and it did pretty well, as it made a mark in the automotive industry, establishing BMW as a global brand. The first 02 series was the 1602 produced in 1966, and it was replaced by the E21 3Series. Over time and with more research and developments, its 1.6-liter engine was switched to the 2.0-liter engine, hence the BMW 2002. This latter version had 130 horsepower resulting in a top speed of 115 mph, but it didn’t last because production ended in 1974. On the other hand, the 2002 Turbo, BMW’s first turbocharged production car, was launched in 1973, and this model produced 170 horsepower (40 more hp than its predecessor). However, because it was introduced before the oil crisis, only a few units were built, but it remains a game changer in the history of German-made cars.
6 Volkswagen Golf MK1
The Volkswagen model succeeded the Beetle and currently is in its seventh generation. It's a front-engine and front-wheel-drive car manufactured by Volkswagen and sold in 3-door and 5-door hatchback. But there was an option to buy the two-door convertible, though this came much later between 1979 and 1993. Born in May of 1974, the Golf MK1 debuted with its front-wheel-drive technology and water-cooled engine and was an influential car in its time around the world. Wherever it was introduced, like in America, Japan, and other countries where other models and brands saw limited success, it sparked a lot of interest. For this reason, this model came as a relief to the Volkswagen brand after taking over from the Beetle, ensuring continuity and survival for the company, which was facing financial difficulty in the early '70s.
5 BMW M3 E30
The BMW M3 range of cars consists of high-performance versions developed by the brand’s motorsport division, and from this came the E30, E36, E46, E90/92/93, and F80 models. Initially, the iconic M3 was a coupe, but it was also available in sedan or convertible styles. Subsequent models such as the F82/83 took the BMW M4 name, but the M3 name remains for the saloon version.
The E30 series is a 1986 model that was only available in coupe or convertible body styles. It later birthed the Evolution model (EVO2), which had larger wheels and an additional rear spoiler, as well as the Sport Evolution model (EVO3), which promises more power through an increased engine displacement, an enlarged front bumper, and a rear wing. Thus, the BMW M3 remains a first-generation legend, having influenced the design and development of subsequent M3s, and was the most successful touring car.
4 Audi Rs2
This car may look like more of a beater, but it's a German stalwart that's still considered high performance to date. It was manufactured between 1994 and 1995 in a collaborative venture between Audi AG and Porsche. It's Audi’s first RS2 vehicle and first high-performance car in the Avant category (or station wagon, if you like). It used the most powerful and thoroughly developed 5-cylinder turbocharged internal-combustion engine and had a global following, as it established the Audi brand as a high-performance vehicle producer. This car would make for a great daily-drive vehicle, especially as a family car or for the stay-at-home soccer mom. Plus, the signature Quattro technology from Audi ensures legendary traction on the roads, making it a strong car in any weather or on any road.
3 Mercedes 230 SL
The 230 SL always turns heads wherever it goes, and if you happen to see a photo of one on Instagram, you’ll definitely scroll back for a second gaze and double tap. There are few cars in history with a design as timeless and with lines and elegance as impeccable as the Mercedes 230 SL's, a factor that always fascinates car enthusiasts and automotive experts. However, Paul Bracq, the star designer of this model, changed the creative direction for the design of the 230 SL, which is also known as the Pagoda. Its production started in June of 1963 and was completed in January of 1967. It packs a 2.3-liter M127.II inline 6-engine with 150 horsepower, mated with a 4-speed manual transmission or an optional 4-speed automatic transmission. Beginning in 1966, an optional 5-speed manual transmission was made available as an addition, and this was common in Italy. More than 19 million units of the 230 SL model were produced.
2 BMW 328 Roadster
This car would pass for an Italian-designed vehicle, but it's actually a BMW, which means it's German born and bred. It was made by BMW between 1936 and 1940 (those days, production times were much longer than they are today) as a sports car by Peter Szymanowski, who became the chief of design after Fritz Fiedler designed the car.
Fast forward to 1999, and the car was named as a top 25 finalist for the Car of the Century award – an international award given to the most influential 20th-century car in the world. This award is judged by a global panel comprising of automotive journalists and is overseen by the Global Automotive Elections Foundation.
The vehicle also won races, such as the Eifelrennen race in 1936, and has over 100 class wins, including the RAC Tourist Trophy (1937), the Alpine Rally, Mille Miglia, and the La Turbie hillclimb, among others.
1 Porsche 356 Speedster
And the winner is... no, not really. This stunning luxury sports car was produced by Germany’s Porsche GmbH between 1950 and 1965, and it was the first of Porsche’s production cars. It's a lightweight, 4-cylinder rear-engine- and rear-wheel-drive car with its two-door version available in coupe and open shapes. Initially, its production was in Austria, and at the time, only 50 cars were built. Germany began production in 1950 when the Austrian factory relocated to Zuffenhausen and continued until April 1965 after its successor – the 911 – checked in. It's said that only about half of the 76,000 units that were originally produced survived. However, the 356 is special, as it was created by Ferdinand Ferry Porsche, the son of the founder of the German Porsche company, and is renowned for its aerodynamics, excellent build, and safe handling.
Sources: Top Gear; Car and Driver; Wikipedia