2011 or 2012 BMW 3 series (buy or lease)

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reallyconfused
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2011 or 2012 BMW 3 series (buy or lease)

Post by reallyconfused » Sat Oct 08, 2011 2:35 pm

Our family has historically purchased new Japanese (Honda, or Toyotas) cars and driven them until the wheels fall off.

Around 6 years ago my sister was in the market for a new car and said that she wanted to buy a BMW. I convinced her that they are really expensive and she would be better off buying a new Japanese car. She still hasn't gotten over desire to drive a BMW.

The question is what's the best option.

1) Buy new 2011.
2) Buy new 2012.
3) Lease new 2011.
4) Lease new 2012.
5) Buy a used 2009 or 2010 car. To be honest I'm apprehensive about this option because I feel that whoever drove the BMW might not have taken care of it especially well and the car might be coming off warranty soon.

Thanks for your help and suggestions,
RC

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gnosis
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Post by gnosis » Sat Oct 08, 2011 3:13 pm

I'd never buy new, that's for sure. Since it's BMW, I'd probably lease and get their comprehensive maintenance plan that covers replacement and repair of everything but the tires. As for 2011 vs. 2012, I'd go with whichever lease deal is the best... probably 2011.

Also, pretend like you're paying the monthly payment for a new 2012 and put that difference into savings or investments, or for paying down debt.
Last edited by gnosis on Sat Oct 08, 2011 3:20 pm, edited 2 times in total.

BruDude
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Post by BruDude » Sat Oct 08, 2011 3:16 pm

Depends on the lease rates. A couple years ago I was looking at leasing an M3 when the money factors were near zero, residuals inflated, and cars were selling for about $10-12k off sticker. A $70k M3 could be leased at that time for around $600/month with $0 down and all taxes and fees rolled into the lease. Today an M3 is probably around $1300/month on a lease. Check out bimmerfest: http://www.bimmerfest.com/forums/forumd ... ne=30&f=20

tim1999
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Post by tim1999 » Sat Oct 08, 2011 3:34 pm

If we weren't in a period of crazy-high used car prices, I'd suggest buying a 2-3 year old off-lease 3-series with the 6yr/100,000 mile CPO warranty. However, since the used market is nuts right now (and BMW dealers always want top dollar for CPO cars anyway), it probably makes more sense to buy new. Since the current 3-series bodystyle is getting a little "old," I imagine they have some decent financing rate offers going.

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Post by hicabob » Sat Oct 08, 2011 4:03 pm

Tell her BMW stands for Big Money Waster and that she should buy a 5yo civic ... but seriously if she is still lusting over one after all those years and has the financial wherewithall - buy a new one, they are nice cars.

leod
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Post by leod » Sat Oct 08, 2011 4:26 pm

if her savings is more than abrand new bimmer then she can afford it and buy new

jda
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Post by jda » Sat Oct 08, 2011 4:26 pm

Not going into if it makes financial sense to buy a brand new BMW because it doesn't, but to some people (me included) there are more than financial reasons to own a nice car.

2012 3 series is a brand new design with turbo charged engine for every model. 2012 328i will use a turbo charged 4 cylinder instead of the naturally aspirated inline 6 used in the current 328i. I think she can get better deals on the 2011 3 series because dealers are trying to get rid of them, but I would wait to for the 2012 3 series to come out just to see if she likes them better.

I saw on tv the other day a 2011 328i can be leased for 299/month with a few thousand down for 36 months which is quite affordable.

beareconomy
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Post by beareconomy » Sat Oct 08, 2011 6:06 pm

Make sure to buy the tire and wheel insurance. You'll be out 1000 bucks quick when you bend a rim. That is one warranty you need to buy.

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dandan14
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Post by dandan14 » Sat Oct 08, 2011 6:19 pm

My 2000 323i model is now worth about $5000. Perhaps you could find a low milage E46 (body style). You'll get the same driving experience and not have to eat so much depreciation per year.

I know I get hammered every time I take it to a mechanic, but it is a fun car. I figure I'm getting about 500 in depreciation per year and about $1500 in maintenance.

TRC
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Post by TRC » Sat Oct 08, 2011 6:29 pm

IMO, the 335xi is one of the best cars the planet. Make sure she gets the sport package.

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Post by yosef » Sat Oct 08, 2011 7:45 pm

I love Bimmers but they are ridiculously expensive to work on and seem to require work often. If I was going to get into one I guess I would buy new to get the free service though. I just can't imagine it ever making any financial sense to lease a car.

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Post by Manbaerpig » Sat Oct 08, 2011 8:47 pm

my E46 ate me out of house and home when the extended warranty expired. it was ridiculous

picked up an N54 motivated E90, not a very boglish car though

total cost to own of an off-warranty BMW may exceed a new one. YMMV

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Post by mortal » Sat Oct 08, 2011 8:58 pm

*if* I were getting a 3 series, I'd go for the 2011 328 with the inline 6. I would not go for the 335 due to the hpfp issues. I also wouldn't get the sport package with run flats.

Imho, bmw are going in the wrong direction putting turbo 4's in their new cars. I don't consider a turbo four an engine for a luxury car. If I wanted that the japanese car makers have been there and done that for far longer than bmw ever thought about.

Also, see if you can get her to cross shop an infiniti g37, which is cheaper, more reliable, and imho a better car. Several of my friends have bmw's and they don't impress me much.

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Mister Whale
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Post by Mister Whale » Sat Oct 08, 2011 9:02 pm

CPO 2009. Will come with the remainder of the factory warranty, the CPO warranty will kick in when that expires, and since these cars depreciate quickly she'll save quite a bit of money.

I own an '08 335 purchased in Feb 2011, the injectors and the HPFP have all been changed proactively under warranty. Car has been extremely reliable.
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Elysium
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Post by Elysium » Sat Oct 08, 2011 9:42 pm

I sold my 335 last year, now I drive a Prius. There is a huge gulf between both cars, but I love my Prius. I don't find any great difference between cars once you get over the new car thrill, which probably lasts 3 months. Bimmers cost way too much money, probably for singles with no family to support it may make sense.

Oh, and yes, there were several days I had to spent at the service center even with a brand new car that was under warranty. Several things failed, like Nav System, Remote access, Door locks, Windows won't close properly, Fuel Injectors failed, so on ... so make sure there is a ton of money and lot of time to spent on the car.

Lollytiger
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Post by Lollytiger » Sat Oct 08, 2011 10:00 pm

I was under the impression the BMW 3 series had an undesirable connotation of being the "30k millionaire" car, because it was the cheapest luxury car. Did something change or was it never really true in the first place?

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Post by Wolkenspiel » Sat Oct 08, 2011 10:17 pm

I would not buy a new current generation (E90) 3-series at this point. They have been around for a long time, and will be replaced soon by a significantly changed new model (F30). I was looking at buying a used 3-series (or similar car) last year, and felt that the interior was starting to look somewhat dated (but don't get me wrong - these are great cars, although in typical driving in the US one would never notice).

One of the cheapest cars I ever owned was a used 320 from the late eighties that ran flawlessly until ~200k miles (and then came apart). I also owned a 1991 325i where the only major problem was a damaged radiator in 1999 or so. I have no data on the newer models.

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CaliJim
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Post by CaliJim » Sat Oct 08, 2011 10:30 pm

I love my BMW but I will never buy another one.

Data:
1998 BMW 74i maintenance costs over last 5 years = $10,823
1999 Honda Accord maintenance costs over same period = $1,269.
Including tires, oil, regular scheduled service.

I'd rather have had a trip to Italy than pay all that maintenance.

92irish
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Post by 92irish » Sun Oct 09, 2011 1:52 am

mortal wrote: Imho, bmw are going in the wrong direction putting turbo 4's in their new cars. I don't consider a turbo four an engine for a luxury car. If I wanted that the japanese car makers have been there and done that for far longer than bmw ever thought about. ch.
I don't think this is Bmw's choice, but rather is being mandated by the government's fleet wide fuel economy standards. Thet have to get their mpg ratings up or else they are in trouble with the feds.

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OnFire
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Post by OnFire » Sun Oct 09, 2011 2:32 am

I STRONGLY second the suggestion to buy the tire/wheel insurance policy. Five tires and three wheels later, my wife is smug when I bring another wrecked one in. By the way, each tire is about $350 and so are the wheels.

If she has the extra cash, do it. If it will bring her more happiness than an Italian vacation, it's her option. I also, HIGHLY recommend getting the extended warranty that goes to 7/70 or 7/100 for about 3K. Consider it part of the purchase price. A frickin' headlight replacement was $900. I have had AT LEAST $3000 worth of warranty work on my 335i in the 27 months I have owned it. I have been to the shop at least five times.

Unless she is going to track the car, or is a performance junkie, I recommend against the sport package. The base car rides much better. I think the 335i is a much more fun to drive car than the 328i. Drive them both before deciding. AWD is great in northern climates. Rear wheel drive in the snow is horrible, and separate snow tires and wheels were another $2K.

That being said, I will not buy another BMW until they stop insisting every model comes with run flats. Can't stand them.
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Post by MossySF » Sun Oct 09, 2011 4:01 am

Lease it, drive it for 3 years, return it before it falls apart and get the BMW thing out of the system.

Looking back at my BMW experiences, it was a bit ludicrous. One of my BMWs was a E46 M3. It had regular tires but no room for a spare tire. So every time I got a flat, I had to patch the tire instantly. The alternative was to call a tow truck to take it a service station where the tires would be replaced with whatever overpriced/under-performing tire was in stock there.

I'm so over BMWs now.

reallyconfused
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Thanks

Post by reallyconfused » Sun Oct 09, 2011 9:29 pm

Wow. I am almost in full alignment with all those that posted. For the record I hate all German cars. My parents owned a Mercedes that was a money pit (over 10k in repairs 1 year).

I know the same will happen with my sister's new Bimmer because she really wants the 335 (with all of the HPFP problems). I've convinced her for now to wait until early next year to see what the new 3 series looks like. Worst case she can still pickup a 2011 at that point. She works close to home, but drives to my parents frequently so I'm not sure if the lease option would work actually. She might put on 15,000 miles or more a year.

Thanks to those that suggested the extra warranty and tire insurance - wouldn't have really considered it. She lives in California, and has a propensity to nick curbs and sidewalks.

By the way, I bought a Prius a few months ago and I couldn't be happier! Not a perfect car because there are always trade-offs, but overall very happy.

Thanks again everyone!

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Post by stan1 » Mon Oct 10, 2011 12:34 am

Well she could consider a 2011 335d (diesel). No HPFP with the diesel engine. The eco-credit should be around as long as the 2011 cars last. We don't know yet if there will be a 2013 335d in the new body style. I don't think sales have been as strong as BMW hoped, and having to get 50 state emissions recertified will take a lot of time.

A 2011 335i will have an N55 engine. There are a handful of N55 HPFP failures being reported on the BMW boards, but the bulk of the problems were with the N54 engine and previous generation HPFP designs. The combination of the N55 and the newest HPFP appear to have fixed most of the problems. I'd be more worried about new first year reliability problems in the 2013.

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Post by southerndoc » Mon Oct 10, 2011 8:05 am

beareconomy wrote:Make sure to buy the tire and wheel insurance. You'll be out 1000 bucks quick when you bend a rim. That is one warranty you need to buy.
I left the dealership thinking I got suckered into it and regretted it. I've already replaced 3 run-flat tires with it and the $500 I spent on the tire/wheel warranty has already paid for itself.

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heart_in_san_francisco
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Post by heart_in_san_francisco » Tue Oct 11, 2011 11:54 pm

I will never buy a used car again. A car is too much money to risk getting a lemon. Not to mention new cars have important safety features that can outweigh the financial savings (how much value do you place on your life?).

How long do you plan on driving it?

10+ years? Then buy. Otherwise lease. I haven't done the math on a BMW lease, so adjust if necessary.

Pay cash if you buy, unless you can get a 0% interest loan.

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Post by harrychan » Wed Oct 12, 2011 1:23 am

4) Lease new 2012

Do not buy a new or used European car. They are meant to be driven and not meant to last.
This is not legal or certified financial advice but you know that already.

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Post by Dagwood » Wed Oct 12, 2011 7:06 am

Some good advice here and a lot of nonsense.

Couple of things to keep in mind:

Many of the people with the stories of Lexi with never-ending longevity are driving the Camry-based models (ES, RX, etc.) These are good cars but they are not performance cars by any means. They are upgraded Toyotas. So while they are more luxurious, the running costs will commensurate with their cheaper siblings. Lexus makes an excellent car -- the LS and IS are fantastic cars -- but rest assured that when those cars get up to 100k miles or so it will not be like maintaining a Camry in terms of regular repair or maintenance. Not that they will be money pits, but the complexity of the platform indicates the maintenance costs generally.

Second, BMW and Mercedes make very good cars. Mercedes Benz in particular invented the car. BMW invented the modern sports sedan. That's not to say that Lexus and Infiniti didn't make the Germans re-think their running-cost assumptions and reliability expectations because the Japanese are superb engineers, but these stories come from people that for the most part haven't owned a BMW or MB for a long time or failed to appreciate, such as with the particularly high performance models, that those cars are inherently expensive to drive because they are essentially cars that you can take from your daily commute to a high performance driving school. None of that is to say that such use is necessary, or even wise, but that is what the cars are built for. So yes, the tires will be expensive, the wheels will be large and damage prone, and the overall running costs of the car will reflect the high performance abilities of the car. Now to the average idiot leasing one, all that person sees is the hood ornament and the person is surprised when he or she learns that those "pretty wheels" don't do well with potholes.

Finally, with respect to the higher end German sedans, particularly the 7 and the S class, these are and always have been fantastically expensive cars. The S class sells for 100k give or take. The 7 is not far off. These cars are technology leaders, and they preview all sorts of technology that will in time appear on less expensive cars. There is a price to that fact, both in terms of entry cost and maintenance / repair cost (first gen. technology is never the ultimate, perfected, and cheaper later version), and some reliability. It is a fact that while the Japanese make superb cars, they do not take chances with the ultimate high-end technology because their reputation in the market, as this thread shows, is based on reliability. So they let the Germans do the work here. To give people a perspective, the S class had an airbag and ABS in 1981. That being said, the German manufacturers have always taken the view -- appropriately in my view and consistent with the Boglehead worldview -- that people buying 100k cars should not be worried about repair costs, and that if they are, then there is an issue with the person, not the car. Stated differently, those cars are built to be technology and engineering benchmarks, they are not built for low running cost per mile. They are not a Prius, Corolla or Civic. This has changed somewhat with the advent of leasing, but that is still basically the posture that MB and BMW take with the S and the 7. It is what it is -- it's not good or bad, it's just that if you are in the market for a $100k car your affairs should be in order so that nothing to do with a car could be material to your finances.

As far as the original poster's question, a 3 series is a perfectly good car. I would buy an extended warranty on almost any new car, BMW included. Given what these cars can cost to repair, the likely incidence of something going wrong (our Honda just ran up a $2k AC repair on Honda's tab -- apparently a very common issue on what everyone says is the "bulletproof" CRV), and the fact that you should generally try, in my opinion, try to get 10 years or 100k miles out of a car, the extended warranty -- with the price negotiated properly -- is a no-brainer on a car that will be driven everyday. On a car that sees less frequent use, the math is less clear and the car will be "reliable" longer, obviously. Personally, I would prefer a 328i only because 240 hp is more than enough power for the average car, and turbo motors, by their very nature, are more complex and expensive to repair. This is, again, the price of such high performance. Sport package or not depends on how you want to use the car. If you want to do a HPDE once a year or so, consider the sport package. If, however, you live in the city, stay with the standard suspension. And get a manual transmission -- order if it you need to do so. It properly reflects the character of the 3 series and is far more reliable -- the automatic is a concession to the marketing people. Also, if you plan on keeping the car, once it is out of warranty try to find a BMW specialist that doesn't have flat screen TVs and latte machines. The service will be cheaper and more competent, and you'll avoid becoming one of the horror stories that people here cite when they proclaim that you should avoid BMW or MB.

HTH and good luck.

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Post by WatchinU » Wed Oct 12, 2011 8:52 am

If you buy a used BMW and do not have an extended warranty then save up some $ for repairs. I had a family member that just had to have a BMW. He bought a used BMW that did not have a warranty. It was not long before all his cash was going to repairs. He was under water and was still making payments. He finally began trying to make repairs himself because he could no longer afford to take it to the mechanic. He traded it in for a used Honda Accord, which runs great now and there is really no repair bills. I also have some other friends that I've learned from on BMWs. They seem to purchase a new BMW and then get rid of it when the warranty runs out so they do not have major unexpected repair bills.

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HomerJ
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Post by HomerJ » Wed Oct 12, 2011 9:17 am

OnFire wrote:I have had AT LEAST $3000 worth of warranty work on my 335i in the 27 months I have owned it. I have been to the shop at least five times.
Was that a new car? I thought Germans were known for their great engineering.

I bought a new Hyundai Excel back in 1994 that needed $0 in maintenance (other than oil changes) for the first 4 years I owned it. And that was back when Hyundai was pretty new to the States.

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HomerJ
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Post by HomerJ » Wed Oct 12, 2011 9:22 am

heart_in_san_francisco wrote:I will never buy a used car again. A car is too much money to risk getting a lemon.
I can understand that... but I've had pretty good luck with used Hondas so far. But I usually buy them only 2 years old with less then 30k miles on them.
Not to mention new cars have important safety features that can outweigh the financial savings (how much value do you place on your life?).
Doesn't this mean you should buy a new car every year? After all, your 1-year old car might not have that new safety feature that just came out.

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Post by edge » Wed Oct 12, 2011 9:51 am

Lease BMWs, don't buy.

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heart_in_san_francisco
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Post by heart_in_san_francisco » Wed Oct 12, 2011 4:45 pm

rrosenkoetter wrote:
heart_in_san_francisco wrote:Not to mention new cars have important safety features that can outweigh the financial savings (how much value do you place on your life?).
Doesn't this mean you should buy a new car every year? After all, your 1-year old car might not have that new safety feature that just came out.
It depends on the safety feature and its marginal improvement on safety. Antilock brakes? Airbags? Get the new one. A 3% improvement in braking speed? Pass. That's another good reason to lease instead of buy, you aren't locked into an older, less safe car.

I put my money where my mouth is on this one. I sold my car and pay a premium to live closer to work. I no longer have to face the #1 cause of death for people in my age group...

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HomerJ
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Post by HomerJ » Wed Oct 12, 2011 7:15 pm

heart_in_san_francisco wrote:
rrosenkoetter wrote:
heart_in_san_francisco wrote:Not to mention new cars have important safety features that can outweigh the financial savings (how much value do you place on your life?).
Doesn't this mean you should buy a new car every year? After all, your 1-year old car might not have that new safety feature that just came out.
It depends on the safety feature and its marginal improvement on safety. Antilock brakes? Airbags? Get the new one. A 3% improvement in braking speed? Pass. That's another good reason to lease instead of buy, you aren't locked into an older, less safe car.

I put my money where my mouth is on this one. I sold my car and pay a premium to live closer to work. I no longer have to face the #1 cause of death for people in my age group...
You also make a ton of money. Not as difficult a choice for you compared to the 95% of people who make much less than you.

For the vast majority of people out there, being financially smart when buying cars will improve their lives measurably more than buying new cars often for safety reasons.

Being frugal when buying cars and houses, just those two things, can win 90% of the battle for financial freedom.

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CaliJim
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Post by CaliJim » Wed Oct 12, 2011 7:24 pm

rrosenkoetter wrote:Being frugal when buying cars and houses, just those two things, can win 90% of the battle for financial freedom.
This sage advice should be in the wiki somewhere if it isn't already.

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Post by fishndoc » Wed Oct 12, 2011 8:09 pm

Has your sister ever driven a BMW?

I agree the styling is very nice, but I'm not so sold on the ride and performance, at least with the 3 series.
When I take DW's big BMW in to the dealer service department (too often), I always get a 3 series loaner: the ride is no smoother or quieter than my daughter's Corolla, and my youngest daughter's 7 year old turbo Beetle will run circles around the small BMWs in both handling and acceleration.

That said, if your sister has to drive a BMW, I would get a new one for the warranty, and pre-paid maintenance. Leasing would be less painful than buying.
" Successful investing involves doing just a few things right, and avoiding serious mistakes." - J. Bogle

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market timer
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Post by market timer » Wed Oct 12, 2011 8:19 pm

For people who advise against the BMW 3 Series, what is the best alternative in a similar style and price range?

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gnosis
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Post by gnosis » Wed Oct 12, 2011 8:33 pm

Audi A4 or A5
+Quattro (to get Audi to drive more like a rear-wheel drive car like BMW, quattro for 2009 and newer biases 60% of power to the rear wheels)
+Sport package or Drive Select option

That's as close to a BMW 3-series as you can get.

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heart_in_san_francisco
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Post by heart_in_san_francisco » Wed Oct 12, 2011 9:21 pm

rrosenkoetter wrote: You also make a ton of money. Not as difficult a choice for you compared to the 95% of people who make much less than you.
I never said it wasn't. If you want to take shortcuts to get rich, that's fine by me. Standard risk/reward stuff. I don't invest in 100% equities to try to get ahead either...
For the vast majority of people out there, being financially smart when buying cars will improve their lives measurably more than buying new cars often for safety reasons. Being frugal when buying cars and houses, just those two things, can win 90% of the battle for financial freedom.
100% of people who haven't died or been severely injured agree! Survivorship bias plays a role here. If you can't afford a safe car, maybe you shouldn't be driving at all if financial freedom is what you're after. Cars have insurance, taxes, maintenance, and gasoline on top of whatever up front fee you pay.

Don't pick up nickles in front of steamrollers.

Sorry to OP for derailing the thread.

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HomerJ
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Post by HomerJ » Wed Oct 12, 2011 9:39 pm

heart_in_san_francisco wrote:Don't pick up nickles in front of steamrollers.
Saving money on a car is like picking up thousand dollar bills in front of steamrollers... :) It's a worthwhile risk.

edge
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Post by edge » Wed Oct 12, 2011 10:23 pm

market timer wrote:For people who advise against the BMW 3 Series, what is the best alternative in a similar style and price range?
infiniti g37
audi a4

there are other comparables but they arent as good (c class, etc).

nothing wrong with the 3 series..well...nothing wrong with the 335i as long as you are leasing. the 328 always seemed like a slow car to me when i have driven it.

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heart_in_san_francisco
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Post by heart_in_san_francisco » Wed Oct 12, 2011 10:28 pm

rrosenkoetter wrote:
heart_in_san_francisco wrote:Don't pick up nickles in front of steamrollers.
Saving money on a car is like picking up thousand dollar bills in front of steamrollers... :) It's a worthwhile risk.
Just don't trip over a corpse, for every hundred people that manage to pick up those thousands, two of them get squashed. :shock:

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Post by fishndoc » Thu Oct 13, 2011 8:18 am

Debate here on safety seems to accept the assumption than in order to buy a "safe" car, one has to spend top dollar. While I would clearly choose a big Mercedes over a small Kia if I knew I were about to be in a collision, there are many other less expensive cars that do very well in safety.

http://www.iihs.org/externaldata/srdata/docs/sr4605.pdf
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manuvns
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Post by manuvns » Thu Oct 13, 2011 1:06 pm

If you are in the market to buy a BMW you should get the BMW . Most buyers should not be thinking about saving money when looking a bimmers .

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