If you’re looking to spend between $30,000 and $40,000 on a BMW, chances are you’re looking at buying something a bit newer – perhaps a daily driver. However, it’s also an excellent price point for well-kept older BMWs that may serve as weekend or collector cars. If you love BMW but have no idea where to start, you’re in luck – we’re looking at the best BMWs at a budget of $40,000.
E36, E46, E90/E92/E93 M3
Older BMW M3 models still deliver a powerful enough driving experience to be worthy of your $40,000 – and people will, in fact, pay even considerably more than that. At this price point, you get your choice of E36 M3 – any color, any interior. You could even find a RoW (rest-of-world) E36 M3, giving you a lot more power, a thousand more revs, and individual throttle bodies – just to start.
It’s a similar story with the E46 M3 – consult our E46 M3 buyer’s guide, find a desirable color combination, and you’ll have no problem finding a great $40,000 weekend driver. Try to look for higher miles – under 60,000 miles or so and you’ll probably be over budget. The V8-powererd E90/E92/E93 M3 made our list at a $30,000 budget, and it’s still a solid choice here. Though they all share the “M3” nameplate, realize these three cars span nearly two decades and all do very different things well. Research and buy accordingly.
G20 3 Series
The G20 330i is a fantastically versatile vehicle. It’s got “enough” room for most, handles “well enough”, and has “enough” power. It also looks pretty good. Introduced in 2019, you can pick up a well-equipped example for just under $40,000. Even better news? The wonderful M340i is depreciating and will soon be within range – so it might be worth holding off on purchasing until you can fit it into your budget.
That’s not to say the 330i is a bad car – if you don’t need 382 horsepower, the 330i is the perfect fit. Find one with the M Sport Package for the best looks and drive.
I find the BMW X2 M35i to be a delightfully ridiculous car on paper. The little 2.0 liter turbo-four cranks out a respectable 301 horsepower at 5000 rpm, and 331 pound-feet of torque deliverable from a delightfully obscene 1750 rpm. Unfortunately, in practice, this makes it mostly a torque steering mess. But if you need a zippy style statement and don’t necessarily care about rear wheel drive bias or chassis balance, the X2 M35i might work for you.
To its credit, it weighs in on the right side of 4,000 pounds (3,800 or so), has decent sport seats, and most of the options you want are standard. But sadly, most enthusiasts will still find this to be a hot hatch that is barely even lukewarm. It’s a shame that BMW felt the need to build this on the UKL platform; imagine what this could’ve been if it shared the rear-wheel drive F22 2 Series chassis.
Technically, the new BMW 2 Series Coupe starts at $37,345 after destination fees. Realistically, it’s easy to spend a lot more than that. But the new 2 Series is a great car and staying light on the options only builds the value proposition that this car offers. You can’t get into an M Sport car without stretching your budget, but it doesn’t really need it – especially if this is just a workhorse car for getting you to and from work. Storage space is low, but driving engagement is high, and it’s a nimble little car that works great if you don’t need the space a sedan or crossover offers.
Though aging since its debut in 2014, the F15 X5 makes for excellent daily-driver duty. It comes in a variety of flavors; most interestingly, the xDrive35d diesel. Just like its predecessor the E70, the BMW X5 35d represents a high-water mark of reliability for BMW, and of course offers all the usual versatility that the X5 provides. It will also hold its value better than the rest of the X5 lineup available at this price point. Alternatives include gas-powered xDrive and sDrive 35i models, the V8-powered xDrive50i model, and even a plug-in xDrive40e model.
With so many options it should be easy to find an F15 X5 that fits your lifestyle and needs, and you can’t go wrong with any of them (the V8 models are typically less reliable, and a pre-purchase inspection is highly recommended).
E39 M5 and E6X M5/M6
Just like a vintage M3, and older M5 or M6 still offers up a $40,000 driving experience, but different chassis will offer different things. You get your pick of E39 M5s at this price point, excluding very low mile collector grade cars. Which you wouldn’t want anyway, because then you couldn’t enjoy the fantastic naturally-aspirated V8 and balanced driving dynamics that made the car famous.
An E60 M5 or E63 M6 can be found at this point too, where you’ll experience the divine scream of the S85 V10. Get a post-2008 model for the better iDrive, if that matters to you – and of course opt for the manual transmission when possible!
E31 8 Series
Definitely the most unique choice on this list, the original E31 8 Series is a wonderful choice for a second car or weekender. It’s a little more unique than the usual suspects (M3s or M5s), and offers a distinct driving experience – think more Gran Tourer than canyon carver. You shouldn’t have too much trouble finding a V8-powered six-speed manual 840i car in this price range, and you might get lucky and find a V12 850i.
The 8 Series reportedly cost BMW nearly a billion DEM (German Marks), or half a billion EUR to develop and, while the E31 6 Series was used to test some equipment, the 8 Series chassis was built completely from scratch. Find a six-speed version of either a V8 or V12 car – they’re both wonderful and beautiful – but don’t skimp on a pre-purchase inspection because these can be expensive to maintain.
F10 M5 and F13 M6
While the F10 M5 will always be my least favorite M5, it’s becoming a very attractive option for those unafraid of higher miles and thirsting for the 560 horsepower twin-turbo V8 under the hood. And why not? It’s a great sounding, admittedly good (if not exciting) looking executive sedan with all the modern accoutrement in good ol’ fashioned rear-wheel drive.
This burnout factory even got an available manual transmission, but there’s nothing wrong with the quick-shifting dual-clutch. And if you’re the tinkering type, 600 horsepower is right around the corner with about $2,000 worth of modifications. I think the M6 coupe looks better and is aging more gracefully – but you can decide for yourself.
Neither is cheap to maintain, so like most of the other old M cars on this list, make sure you get a pre-purchase inspection.
The outgoing 2 Series is a bit of a “Goldilocks”. You can find faster cars, or more practical, and maybe some that are more comfortable, or better looking – but very few can do all of the above, competently. Responsive but never harsh, fast but never jarring, and good looking without being ostentatious, the M240i is a smart way to spend your $40,000.
You can choose between automatic and manual, xDrive or rear-wheel drive, convertible or coupe. But they all get the B58 inline-six, and they’re all great options for a fun daily driver or a weekend warrior. Roughly the size of an E46 M3, the M240i is best had in manual and rear-wheel drive in my opinion, but the familiar eight-speed automatic certainly does some favors in the 0-60 department and daily driver versatility.
If you’re looking for great driving dynamics and can make it work with only two doors, the M240i is a no-brainer.
G01 X3 sDrive30i or xDrive30i
But as much as I love the M6 coupe’s styling, and the general “Goldilocks” charm of the F22 M240i, the top spot on this list goes to something much more practical. The outstanding G01 X3 is no stranger to high praise, and it’s all deserved. Introduced in 2018, you’ll have no problem finding early production models with decent equipment for just a bit under $40,000.
You can even find a few X3 M40i models out there with higher miles, but that wouldn’t worry me. The turbocharged inline-six cylinder under the hood is one of the most reliable powerplants BMW has ever developed.
For the four-cylinder X3, I’d try to find one with Navigation and Comfort Access (keyless entry). xDrive, the M Sport Package, and a heads-up display would be nice too, but they’re not necessities for everyone. The X3 M40i comes standard with a lot of the stuff I’d opt for in a 30i, so it might provide a better value if you can stretch your budget a little bit.
The G01 X3 is the perfect intersection of classic BMW styling, practicality, reliability, and driving dynamics – and that’s why it’s my favorite at this price point.
There it is folks – what I would buy if I was looking for a BMW at $40,000. Daily driver or weekend warrior, you’ve got no shortage of good options. But it’s possible we forgot something. If we did, let us know in the comments below!