Sensible Wagons with a Wild Side
Found: 4 German Performance Wagons at Dangerously Tempting Price Points
It’s incredibly ironic that wagons are widely accepted as versatile, useful and handsome cars: in the US, wagon sales are poor to say the least. (That could change.) Crossovers and compact SUVs dominate markets worldwide, but even when automakers try to make them cool, they always seem to miss the mark. But wagons, especially modern wagons, seem too practical to be uncool, despite the settled-down-family-life-reputation they’ve built up. Now, add a healthy dose of performance to that equation, and you’ll have an easily justifiable sports car. Here are four performance wagons — two stock, two modified — that will be hard not to at least consider.
Modified 2012 Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG Wagon
Location: Medina, Ohio
What we like: The E63 AMG Wagon is a beast straight from the factory, with 550 hp and 590 lb-ft of torque. This E63 AMG Wagon has 850 hp and 960 lb-ft — it would put a Ferrari 812 Superfast to shame while bringing home the groceries in between school runs.
From the seller: “More than $50k has reportedly been spent on cosmetic and mechanical modifications, including Kleeman Stage 3 tuning that is said to increase output to 850 horsepower and 960 lb-ft of torque. Suspension and cooling upgrades from Renntech have also been added along with their limited-slip differential.”
What to look out for: The E63 wagon’s transmission can develop a “jerkiness” over time, but can easily be fixed with a plug-in computer reset at the dealer. Spark plugs may cause a misfire, though Mercedes issued a recall to fix the problem.
Expert opinion: “So complete is the joy of ripping off 12.1-second quarter-mile times in a wagon with room for five and the family dog that you’ll actually look forward to long excursions. It’s as if ‘Big Daddy’ Don Garlits had a drag car purpose-built for Take Your Children to Work Day.” — Andrew Wendler, Car and Driver
2009 BMW 535iX M-Sport
Location: Satellite Beach, Florida
What we like: Despite the 5-Series being larger and heavier than the crowd-favorite 3-Series, the bigger Bimmer is still a performer — it’s simply a well-balanced machine (if you can get past the polarizing design). This particular example is a bit of a sleeper; even though it comes with AWD, the M-sport package and the factory rated 300 horsepower, it’s been de-badged and the windows have been tinted for that super stealthy look.
From the seller: “This 2009 BMW 535iX Wagon shows 93k miles and has been owned by the seller for four years and 30k miles. The wagon was optioned with the M-Sport and Cold Weather packages, all wheel drive, an N54 twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-six and a six-speed Steptronic automatic transmission.”
What to look out for: There was a massive recall concerning the fuel pump with this generation 5-Series.
Expert opinion: “The 535i handles — and rides — incredibly well for a 3700-pound biggish luxury sedan. The steering is very sweet and smooth (not surprising in a Bimmer), and overall the car is a super comfortable highway (and, one would also assume, autobahn) mile-eater.” — Rusty Blackwell, Automobile Magazine
Modified 2001 Audi A4 Avant
Location: Steamboat Springs, Colorado
What we like: Even though the seller has addressed most of the maintenance issues and has heavily modified the car, I wouldn’t expect the selling price to go too high. It’s a well-traveled beast with a lot of mechanical upgrades, so it has the potential to be fun as hell — but also a complete headache after a few hundred miles. Worst case scenario: you could sell it for parts and probably make your money back.
From the seller: The seller has added around 60K miles since acquiring the car in 2009. Over $20K was spent on modifications in the last 20,000 miles.
What to look out for: 20,000 miles have been put on this modified Audi, so the specific mods will need a closer look. But,other problems with this year A4 include valve covers/cam adjuster gaskets that leak around 120,000 miles and vacuum lines that may need replacing depending on the car’s mileage.
Expert opinion: “The ride remains Euro-firm but supple, never punishing. The steering system offers an appropriate level of heft and lightly filtered feedback as to what’s happening down at the Dunlops, with plenty of little twitches to indicate road-surface texture and grip.” — Frank Marcus, Car and Driver
2013 Audi A4 Allroad
Location: Rolling Meadows, Illinois
What we like: You’ll have to excuse the ‘RS4’ badge on the back of this A4 Allroad: it’s not real, though I doubt you’ll be able to get the price knocked down because of it. The Audi Allroad has and continues to be one of the most versatile wagons on the market. It’s just as adept on a light dirt road or in the snow as it is on city streets, and something about Audi’s design translates just so damn well to wagon architecture. [It should be said: officially, Audi called this the “allroad” with a lowercase ‘a,’ but, well, that’s annoying and unnecessary. – Ed.]
From the seller: Premium Plus trim-level with the optional Sport package. The majority of mileage is highway travel.
What to look out for: It seems to be hit or miss with the B8 generation A4 Allroad but one thing that does look like a common issue is excessive oil consumption.
Expert opinion: “For starters, the Allroad is a packaging champ. It’s trim, nimble and easy to nip and tuck through urban traffic, yet it’s also impressively roomy on the inside. Rear-seat room is quite decent; there’s a generous cargo floor in back, and, with the flip of a few latches, the 60/40 split rear seats drop to produce a plentiful storage space (50.5 cubic feet) for that antique dresser you just snagged at the flea market.” — Arthur St. Antoine, Motor Trend
If we had a [limited] blank check, this is what we’d pick up. Read the Story