I’m a huge fan of buying cars used.
Not only can you save a lot of money buying new, but fixing the things that break and upgrading them with better components is the fun part for an enthusiast like me.
Sometimes that mentality bites you if you pickup a total basket-case, but most of the time it means you save over half the cost of buying new. This savings more than covers the cost of repairs and upgrades, and you end up with a car that is more personalized to your tastes at a fraction of the cost.
Since my TTRS has been inoperable since late October due to a motor issue, I’ve been browsing for potential daily driver cars to add to my fleet…and thanks to the rapid depreciation of German engineering, it turns out there are a ton of Audis under $20K that are a ton of fun, still look great, and make for an awesome choice for enthusiasts like me.
While this isn’t an exhaustive list, here are my top 5 candidates for used Audis under $20K (in USD).
2002-2004 Audi RS6 (C5)
The RS6 is still in production, but this car is so cool even the original models still hold up.
The C5 – that ran from 2002-2004 – boasted a stout V8 that took the Avant-class from 0-60 in just over 4 seconds thanks to a bi-turbo setup.
Better yet, the styling still looks great, and the inside isn’t bad for it’s age either. In the US we only got an automatic transmission and sedan variant, which is a bummer, but you can swap the transmission when it goes bad to a manual and there are plenty of junkyard donors to make this fairly cost effective.
These sleek, powerful cars are a great value, and you can find them online for around $16,000-20K depending on condition.
Audi 200 Turbo Quattro
Long time readers of this blog may remember the 82 Audi Coupe that I co-owned with some friends back in the 24 Hours of LeMons series.
We’d drive it a few races, blow something up (typically a motor, transmission, or both), then fix it and race it again.
It was the most unreliable car ever, but also the most fun.
We swapped out the original engine from that of a 200 Turbo Quattro wagon, which is the iconic 5 cylinder motor although the 10 valve version rather than the highly sought after 20 valve. Despite the fewer valves, you can find these motors for practically free, and often you can even find them attached to running cars for a few thousand bucks at most. Slap a bigger turbo on them and you’ll be shocked how much power you can get for such a small investment.
D3 Audi A8 or D2 S8
If you’re looking for something that will act as a great luxury vehicle, with all the suaveness and smoothness that comes with buying an Audi, look no further than an old A8 or S8.
Honestly, they’re not even that old, especially if you check out the D3 body style (2006-2010). The model still looks great to this day and holds onto that classic Audi look and feel. Plus the heaving V8 and lighter body make this a car that’s as fun to drive as it is relaxing.
The D3 A8 is a great investment and would last years. Better yet it’s a great value, as you can find these for as low as $15,000.
If you want something sportier, go one generation earlier for the D2 Audi S8 (96-02). They’re known to have transmission issues, but you can pick them up dirt cheap and drive it until the transmission fails, and then either manual swap it or find another donor car and start the process all over again.
2007 Audi RS4 Quattro Sedan
Everyone knows I’m a huge fan of the B7 body style, as I’ve owned both an A4 and S4 (both from 2006, funny enough).
I haven’t owned the RS4 variant, which is a shame since it’s the best of the bunch.
The OEM wide-body is arguably one of the best designs Audi has done in a long time, and the high revving V8 that only came in a manual transmission is known for being pretty reliable, too.
B8/B9 Audi A4
For the person looking for a reliable daily driver with all of the modern creature comforts, the B8/B9 Audi A4 might be the car. You can pick up the B9 body style (2016+) for a very reasonable price, or go one body style back to the B8 or B8.5 and scoop the supercharged V6 S4 edition or an avant/allroad depending on mileage.
The A4 lacks much of the power that some of the older Audi models have, but it makes up for that with common sense features.
The most glaring of which is the nearly 30 mpg fuel-efficiency it boasts. However, the quality craftsmanship and attention to comfort really stand out once you get inside.
This ride isn’t fast, or flashy. It’s the elder statesman. The classic. This will get you where you need to go in style for the next 15 years, and it’s only $20,000.
I’ve also always loved the 2.0T, which is an incredibly peppy and fun to drive motor, and since Audi has been running this power-plant for well over a decade now, it’s pretty reliable and time-tested as well.
Coolest Used Audis for Under 20k
There’s a lot of options when it comes to online car shopping.
When you’re looking for deals, it’s important to know exactly what it is you’re looking for. Whether something fast, something unique, something reliable or something cheap, you can usually find it if you look hard enough.
For everything you get, there’s usually a trade-off.
Find what’s most important to you first, then start looking, and it will make your choice easier.
The above list holds some of the best options I found, but undoubtedly there are a lot of other good choices ranging from a B6 USP to a MK1/2 TT, and even the Q5/Q7 SUVs are starting to be found under $20k depending on condition. The first generation A3 is also available for a bargain, which is another great option if you want to tune it.
What would you get with a $20K budget and a need for a more reliable daily driver while your high performance TTRS is getting rebuilt?