The 2011 BMW 335i Is The Best Fast Cheap Luxury Car for Under $25,000

The idea of a fast, cheap, luxury car certainly sounds enticing. Maybe even too good to be true. Once again, BMW has proved they have the answer for that. Rather, the brand proved that ten years ago with the 2011 BMW 335i. It’s everything a fast, cheap, luxury car should be.

The E92-generation BMW 335i was well-liked by RCR | Regular Car Reviews

The best part? Now, these once $50,000 machines are worth half that. You can easily find a clean one for under $25,000 even with the chip shortage. Moreover, reviewers loved it, and the 335i stands the test of time.

Is the 2011 BMW 335i reliable?

A white 2011 BMW 335i coupe is a hell of a luxury car, seen here in white shot from the front 3/4 view
The 2011 BMW 335i coupe | National Motor Museum via Getty Images

Of course, the biggest question with the 2011 BMW 335i is that of its reliability. Obviously, the expression “there’s no such thing as a cheap BMW” exists for a reason. However, there ought to be an asterisk at the end of that phrase. Often, cars like this are pegged as unreliable after someone goes out and buys one sight unseen for 5 g’s with no maintenance history.

That maintenance history is key. Cars like the 2011 335i are fickle things, for one reason or another. Having owned a number of “unreliable” cars (a 2010 GTI and a 2004 BMW M3), it’s simple to find a reliable example of just about any car nowadays. You’ve got to get the nicest one your budget allows for, dedicate 20% or so of the purchase price to upfront maintenance, and make sure the car has good history. Easy, right?

A silver 2011 BMW 3 Series sedan shot from the front 3/4 on a back road
The 2011 BMW 335i sedan is a handsome thing | BMW

We have an instinct to distrust popular things- Regular Car Reviews

Supposing you’re able to accomplish that, expect to spend right around $25,000 for a good 2011 BMW 335i. “Good” meaning under 50,000 miles and a clean Carfax with some maintenance history. As a bonus, you can have your 335i in just about every flavor imaginable. Coupe, convertible, automatic, or stick. There’s even optional AWD, leaving you a set of winter tires away from a very fun winter.

And the 335i is fun. Car and Driver said the only thing better was an Audi S4. High praise. Then again, 300 hp and 300 lb-ft from a turbocharged inline 6 is pretty impressive. So is the handling, but you’ll find that out for yourself soon I suspect.

BMW was on top of their game in the mid-2000s

The interior of an E92 3 Series with tan leather
iDrive aside, BMW’s interiors were on it in 2011 | BMW

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However, despite how nice the interior was ten years ago, it has inevitably aged. Modern infotainment blows the old iDrive unit out of the water, and some used models will no doubt be showing some wear on the seats and leather surfaces. Then again, those things highlight how important it is to find a nice one.

That said, it’s hard to get a nicer luxury car for this kind of money. You’ll get all those nice luxury bells and whistles in something that costs as much as a Honda Civic Si. You’ll have to be prepared for some higher maintenance costs, but doing a little work yourself can negate that. In short, the 2011 BMW 335i is a real bargain, and a real fun car.