As a young car enthusiast, the temptation to buy a fun, interesting and often premium car is hard to resist. It can be tempting to get into something exciting at a young age, even if it’s not the best idea, financially. Premium cars and sports cars are often expensive to buy and equally as expensive to own and maintain, which is typically a problem for young enthusiasts. So we thought we’d help out any young car buyers looking to get into an Audi on a budget.
While Audis are premium cars, they’re more likely to be affordable than their German competitors from BMW and Mercedes-Benz. Since Audi is owned by Volkswagen, most Audis share a ton of Volkswagen parts. So, more often than not, engine and suspension parts are interchangeable, allowing enthusiasts to find bargains if they’re willing to do their research. So let’s take a look at some of the Audis that can not only be found for cheap but also maintained on the cheap (relatively speaking).
Best Budget Audi Sports Car — Mk1 Audi TT
The original Audi TT is seeing a bit of an enthusiast resurgence at the moment. While the Mk1 TT wasn’t exactly beloved when it debuted, as it was seen as a bit of a hairdresser’s car (not that there’s anything wrong with hairdresser’s, of course). It lacked proper sports car handling and was, ultimately, a Volkswagen Golf underneath. However, its fantastic styling, funky interior and retrospectively-fun driving dynamics and given it new life.
Not only can you find Audi TTs for under $5,000 in your local classifieds with no problem, they’re actually likely to appreciate. Obviously, they’ll never appreciate to sell-one-and-retire value but the new enthusiast-demand for the Mk1 Audi TT could see your car appreciate a few thousand dollars in the next couple of years. So you could buy one, fix it a bit, mod it a bit, sell it and even make a profit.
Plus, because the M1 TT was built on the MkIV Golf chassis and uses the same engine and transmission, many parts are interchangeable, allowing it to be relatively easy to maintain.
Best Budget Audi Luxury Car — C6 Audi A6
When it comes to buying luxury cars, depreciation is a bitch for first time buyers but a blessing for every buyer thereafter. The C6-generation Audi A6 is a great example of that. When it was new, more than ten years ago, it was an expensive, premium sedan that only wealthy execs could afford. Now, you can find one for less than some new Macbooks.
In your local classifieds, you should be able to find a nice quality C6 A6 for around $5,000, give or take a thousand dollars or two, depending on mileage and condition. For that money, you’re getting a car that still looks fantastic and modern more than a decade later, has a wonderful interior, tons of space and a lovely driving experience. Few luxury cars of the time drove as well as the C6 Audi A6 and, honestly, some modern luxury cars could learn a thing or two from it.
Only one caveat: get the 3.2 liter V6 and not the 4.2 liter V8. The latter of which is the same V8 as the B6/B7 Audi S4 and it suffers catastrophic timing chain guide issues, which will cost almost as much as the car to replace. The 3.2 V6 is a solid engine with direct injection and none of the costly issues. Plus, it sounds great with an aftermarket exhaust. The C6 Audi A6 can also be found as a five-door Avant wagon but those are typically a bit pricier, due to their rarity.
Best Budget Non-Quattro Audi — Audi A3
Personally, I don’t see much of a point in buying any Audi without Quattro all-wheel drive. If you’re okay with front-wheel drive, get a Volkswagen. However, if you live in a warm, dry climate year ’round and don’t need all-wheel drive but still want Audi style, a great interior and some extra luxury over the equivalent VW, the second-generation Audi A3 hatchback is tough to beat.
It was only available after its facelift for the US market but that’s a good thing. It looks modern, even after more than a decade later, has a great interior, a 2.0 liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine and hatchback practicality. It was only offered in front-wheel drive here in the ‘States, so you can’t find it with Quattro, but that doesn’t matter for customers in warm climates.
It’s also a fun little car to drive. It’s essentially a Volkswagen GTI in a tuxedo, so it’s peppy, sharp and engaging when you want to have some fun. They can also be found for around that magic $5,000 mark in classifieds, are relatively fuel efficient and decently reliable. So for young enthusiasts that want to pack their friends in, load stuff in the trunk and have a cool looking, fun-to-drive car while doing it, the Audi A3 is a great choice.
Best Overall Budget Audi — B5 Audi A4
If you’re not picky on which sort of Audi you want, the B5 Audi A4 will cover all of your budget Audi bases. It can be found in either sedan or wagon body styles, it’s incredibly cheap, with prices ranging from $2,000 – $5,000 depending on condition, and is incredibly easy to source parts for. Not only are parts readily available, they’re also relatively cheap.
Both of its engine options are excellent. The 2.8 liter V6 is smooth, punchy, makes a great noise and is overall rather reliable. The 1.8 turbocharged four-cylinder has its issues but it’s easy to work on and fix and has immense tuning potential. A few hundred dollars can net you almost 100 additional horsepower and if you spend closer to $1,000, you can put out enough power to rival modern sports cars.
There’s also the fact that the B5 can be found as an Audi S4, if you’re willing to spend the extra money. While the S4 is more expensive, and less reliable, its 2.7 liter Bi-Turbo V6 (as problematic as it can be) is one of the most fun engines of its time.