The BMW brand isn’t one just for the Uber wealthy. The Bavarian brand has a loyal following that consists of all kinds of folks. Some young, some old and of all kinds of wage classes. No all BMW fans can afford a brand new M3 every generation. In fact, I’d say that about half of the Bavarian following has to buy pre-owned, cars that are a few generations older than new. And many of these fans have to save and save, pinch their pennies, just to accomplish their dream of one day owning a new BMW. And much of the time, getting a new BMW for these fans requires buying something on a budget, likely a lower-end model. But buying a lower-end model doesn’t mean getting a bad BMW. There are still some great BMWs for less than $35k. So let’s take a look at some of the great cars that can be had on a budget.
5. BMW 320i – The BMW 320i used to be the enthusiast’s choice of BMW, as it allowed customers to get a 3 Series, with a turbocharged four-cylinder engine, a six-speed manual and a sport package all for under $35,000. This was an excellent deal and the 320i is still a great car. Sure, it’s only got 180 hp, which is minute in today’s world. But it’s more than enough to have fun in, especially with a manual, as it still has the great 3 Series chassis. Plus, a simple tune could take the 320i up to 328i levels of power. However, with BMW’s latest LCI treatment for the 320i, the price bumped up a bit. So to get a 320i with the M Sport package and the manual (a no cost option), it will set you back $35,495 after destination, which is just a tick over our $35,000 budget. So it’s close, so close, but being that it just crests our budget, it has to be last on the list.
4. BMW 2 Series Active Tourer – Only available to the European market, the 2 Series Active Tourer is one of BMW’s least expensive cars. While hated by the majority of BMW enthusiasts, the 2 Series AT is actually a better car than most people think. It rides smoothly, has crisp handling, has loads of space, is decently quick and can come with a manual gearbox. If you have a young family and want to get into an affordable and practical BMW, it’s hard to ignore the do-it-all capability of the 2 Series AT at its price range. Sure the 3 Series Touring is better, but it’s also much more expensive. This is cheap, fun and practical and can be had with a manual. Not a bad gig, if you ask me. It’s not really a looker, but for the price it’ll do just fine.
3. BMW X1 – Okay, again, we go over the budget ($35k can be tough in a new Bimmer), however, this time there’s a bit of a work-around. The BMW X1 is going to be a very popular car for the Bavarians, especially in America where crossovers are king. So, naturally, there will be plenty of special deals and sales and incentives to bring the price under $35,000 for customers. As it stands now, though, a base X1 with no options comes to $35, 795. And for that, you actually get quite a lot of car for your money. You’re getting the 2.0 liter B48 turbo four-cylinder, an eight-speed Aisin automatic, all-wheel drive and 18″ wheels. Plus, the X1 is a really good-looking, fun-to-drive crossover that has plenty of space for people and for luggage. When BMW starts throwing out incentives, this is going to be one of BMW’s best deals.
2. BMW 1 Series Hatchback – Still only available in Europe (damn us Americans, for being so stubborn with hatches), the BMW 1 Series is one of the most popular enthusiast BMWs. It’s not hard to see why at all, either. It’s incredibly fun to drive, one of BMW’s most enjoyable cars and it’s by far the brand’s least expensive car. Almost all of the three-door models start at under $35,000 (USD converted), even the 125i with a manual. It’s fast, fun, cool-looking, practical and cheap. There’s no flaw in it’s game, it’s quite possibly the perfect hatchback and nearly the perfect BMW at the price. The only thing keeping it from being the number one car on this list is the fact that there’s just one BMW that’s a bit better.
1. BMW 228i – The BMW 228i, one of the most forgotten BMWs, as the M235i steals all of its spotlight. The 228i is one of BMW’s best looking models (being a 2 Series in general), comes in a stylish coupe body style, is available with a manual transmission (or a no cost eight-speed automatic), is awesome to drive, downright fast and can be had with a moonroof for under $35,000 even after destination. It’s also available all over the world. It’s the best bang-for-your-buck BMW that I can think of. Normally, when buying the budget car of any luxury brand, you’re not getting something stylish or exciting. You get something that’s both of those things with the 228i. The only compromises you’ll make with the 228i, to keep it under $35,000, will be with certain options. If you don’t want a moonroof, you can get heated seats plus a Harmon Kardon surround sound system, or get rid of the heated seats and get a fancy metallic paint color. There’s plenty of great combinations of the 228i that can be had at our budget. It’s the perfect BMW for any young person that wants to get into the brand.