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Expensive to maintain but divine to drive, many of Germany’s cars come to our shores with their high-speed autobahn manners intact, making them some of the most solid, best handling cars on the road. Germans know cars should be driven fast and driven well. That’s why I declare the month of October to be Cartoberfest!

Yes, yes... I know Oktoberfest, the beer-soaked celebration of all things German, actually begins in September, but it’s never too late to slosh a stein in honor of lederhosen, sauerkraut, and Germany’s exquisite car culture. Here is quick run-down of the latest teutonic machines, just in time for a little fall fahrvergnügen (“driving enjoyment”). Prost!


BMW2015 BMW 2-Series Convertible

It is almost a truism in the world of cars that what sells well must get bigger. Car models grow in size year over year, and the only antidote, it seems, is to create new, smaller models a size below their no-longer-compact compact car. This is BMW’s strategy as the company’s once svelte 3-Series has ballooned in weight and features, a bevy of small cars has proliferated at the “affordable” end of BMW’s price scale. 

The latest pint-sizer out of Bavaria is the 2-Series convertible, a tidy, rear-wheel drive ragtop boasting a line of pert engine options and handling excitement not usually found with the top-down set. Pricing is not yet announced, but expect to pay a premium over the $33,050 of the 2-Series coupe.


2015 Mercedes Benz2015 Mercedes Benz C-Class

Whereas BMW prides itself on making the “Ultimate Driving Machine,” Mercedes Benz needs no such motto - their cars have long been synonymous with luxury and wealth. Though many other automakers have tried to claim that mantle, buying a Benz is a clear signal to all that one has “made it.”

But just like BMW, small is now “big” and Mercedes is cramming evermore luxury into its smallest offerings.The latest is the new 2015 C-Class. While the outgoing C-Class, like many entry-level offerings, betrayed its budget roots with a sub-par interior and inferior dynamics, the 2015 edition is every inch a Benz. 

The exterior is a fitting homage to its $96,000 big brother, the S-Class, while the interior is a class-leading collage of brushed metal accents, piano black finishes, and stunning wood textures. If any doubt remains, an available cabin perfume sprayer proves Mercedes is intent on maintaining its status as the first name in luxury, at any price point. MSRP for a C-Class is $39,125.


Audi A32015 Audi A3

Not to be left out, Audi is also fielding a new contender in the bantam-weight class of German sports sedans, the A3. In Europe the A3 comes as a hatchback but Americans, for some reason, vastly prefer sedans for their transportation needs. Americans like their automotive storage options waist-height, cramped, and sealed securely away from the passenger compartment, and Audi was happy to oblige with a sedan-ified version. 

Like BMW, Audi leans more toward sport then luxury, with taut driving dynamics and available all-wheel drive “Quattro” versions, a nod to their rally racing heritage. Audi promises that more A3 variants are on the horizon, including a convertible, hybrid, and hatchback style. A base A3 will set you back $30,795


2015 Porsche Spyder2015 Porsche 918 Spyder

If small sedans don’t tickle your schnitzel, then I guarantee the Porsche 918 Spyder will. This $845,995 dollar convertible packs a hybrid gas-electric drivetrain packing a walloping 887 horsepower, good enough to get the car up to 60 miles per hour in 2.4 seconds and then send it screaming beyond any sane speed. 

So how do you option up a car already costing 846 big ones? If your biggest problem is wallet obesity, check the boxes for the liquid metal chrome paint ($64,000) and the lightweight magnesium wheels ($32,000) for an off-the-lot price closing in on a million. In return you’ll receive one of the fastest and most advanced production cars ever built - and the only car in the class capable of cruising on pure electric power.


2015 Volkswagen2015 Volkswagen GTE

Although VW already has a line of efficient diesels, tightening European efficiency standards have finally ushered Volkswagen into the gas-electric hybrid business. European fans will soon be able to pick up the GTE plug-in hybrid. The name conjures comparisons with the sporty GTI and GTD lines of Golf-based hatches but even with 200 total horses on tap, the hybrid system’s extra weight leaves it a step behind its GT siblings. However in return for that added weight (and a tidy price premium), European drivers can walk away with a car both pleasurable to drive and able to travel 31 miles on battery power alone.

Don’t look for this electrified “people’s car” on American roadways anytime soon. Volkswagen says a state-side release is possible, but unlikely.
 / Issue 163 - September 9084
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