Home Cars We Drove Them All: Our Choices for Best German Cars

We Drove Them All: Our Choices for Best German Cars

by Chris Butsch
2019-Mercedes-AMG-GT

Germany is the only country without a general speed limit on its highways. But when you pull off the autobahn, things get even better: between you and the next stunning medieval burg lies an exquisite ribbon of twisting asphalt.

To take advantage of this automotive playground, the Germans produce some of the best driving cars in the industry. Here is our roundup of the best German cars.

The 2019 Mercedes-AMG GT S is Goldilocks’ choice

One day, Goldilocks skipped into a Mercedes-Benz dealer with $200k she’d stolen from the home of the bears.

She test drove the AMG GT, but found it a little too slow for the money and curiously quiet at low revs. She then drove the range-topping AMG GT R and found it too fast and scary.

Finally, she flung the AMG GT C around the track and found that it was juuust right. The “German Corvette” boasted a throaty AMG growl from idle to redline, sublime dynamics, and an exquisite interior. She happily paid her $151k and rode into the sunset.

The 2019 BMW M850i: the $112,000 GT bargain

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2019 BMW M850i convertible

Grand touring (GT) cars are hybrids between sports cars, luxury cars and supercars, offering performance, comfort and looks all in one (which is why they’re so expensive).

The M850i’s MSRP of $111,900 sounds nuts, but it’s an absolute steal compared to its rivals: the Aston Martin DB11 and Bentley Continental GT. These British GT legends both start over $200k.

What do you miss by “cheaping out” on the Bimmer? One could argue the “wow” factor; the M850i looks handsome, but not exotic. The interior lacks rare woods and diamond stitching. But are those really worth $100k extra to anyone?

The 2019 VW Jetta offers a shockingly smooth ride

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Volkswagen VW Jetta

Adaptive suspension is a wonderful invention. It allows you to adjust the firmness of your ride on the fly, so you can have a soft ride for smoothness or a taut ride for handling.

However, such fancy tech is mostly reserved for expensive cars. When designing the $20k Jetta, VW had to pick one suspension setting: soft and cushy, or firm and fun?

Most manufacturers pick somewhere in between, but not VW. They went full cushy, making the new $18k Jetta as silky smooth as a $70k Audi. If you’re unwilling to break the bank for comfort, drive a Jetta.

[See related story: VW Beetle Says Farewell – For Now]

The 2019 VW Jetta GLI is a record player

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In 2019, records will outsell CDs for the first time since 1986. For purists, no amount of technology can replace the raw and essential sound of a needle on vinyl.

That’s why I love the Jetta GLI so much. Clearly a love letter to enthusiasts, the GLI sheds weighty and intrusive modern tech for a pure and analog driving experience. Like an E36 M3, the GLI offers a manual, taut handling, plenty of power and no distractions.

Why buy the GLI over the GTI? Little separates these siblings apart from body style. You might simply prefer a stately sedan shape.

For the best German cars, 2019 BMW X2 M35i is missing one thing

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2019 BMW X2 M35i x2m35i

Driving the X2 M35i is like eating a bacon burger without ketchup. Tasty, but adding a single ingredient would’ve made it taste so much better.

Good stuff first: this car’s peppy engine, slick transmission and generous tech are its bacon, beef, and bun. Handsome looks and sub-$50k affordability are the lettuce and tomato.

However, the missing ketchup is adaptive suspension. This car rides harsh, like a Ferrari fixed on TRACK mode. Given the X2 was clearly geared for daily driving, this is a curious omission by BMW. With a softer suspension setting, the X2 M35i would be a winner.

Chris Butsch, The Travel 100 contributor

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