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A used BMW 3 Series provides German sports car engineering in an affordable compact luxury car package. At 10 years old, the 2013 BMW 3 Series finally dips into the $15,000 price range and still offers substantial value and reliability. So, is a used 3 Series model the best luxury-sports compact choice for the money?

2013 BMW 3 Series specs and features

Autotrader rates the 2013 BMW 3 Series at the top of its “Best Used Performance Cars On a $15,000 Budget” list but only specifies two models. Those two models are the 328i with a 240-horsepower four-cylinder engine and the 335i with its 300-hp six-cylinder engine. Additionally, Autotrader claims that either model provides “a beautifully balanced chassis, great steering feel, and excellent brakes.”

U.S. News says the 2013 BMW 328i sedan comes standard with a 240-hp turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine backed by either a six-speed manual transmission or an eight-speed automatic. The 2013 BMW 335i sedan, coupe, and convertible models feature the 300-hp turbocharged 3.0-liter inline six-cylinder and a choice between automatic or manual shift transmissions. Rear-wheel drive comes standard on the 2013 BMW 3 Series, but an optional all-wheel drive system for sedans and coupes provides increased traction while accelerating or driving in inclement weather. 

Although outside the $15,000 budget cap, the 2013 BMW M3 coupe or sedan features a 414-hp 4.0-liter V8 with 295 lb-ft of torque. The 2013 M3 came with a six-speed manual transmission or an optional seven-speed automatic, and it has an “electronically-limited top speed of 155 mph.” Finally, the M3 accelerates from 0 to 60 mph in as little as 4.5 seconds.

The U.S. News review notes that the 3 Series sedan handling suffers a little from its increased size over the coupe and convertible. Additionally, while most test drivers found the sedan’s steering adequate, there are reports of excessive body roll in highspeed turns. Nevertheless, the 2013 BMW 3 Series lineup provides a “smooth ride and confident handling.”

Is the 2013 3 Series reliable?

The 2013 BMW 3 Series received an average predicted reliability rating from J.D. Power and five recalls by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), according to U.S. News. The recall notices include issues with the car’s airbags, exterior lighting, and hydraulic brake systems. While other vehicles in the class have higher reliability ratings, the 3 Series is reliable enough to provide solid value for a 10-year-old car. 

Is a used BMW 3 Series worth it?

A 2013 presentation of the BMW 3 Series Gran Turismo luxury sports car model
A 2013 presentation of the BMW 3 Series Gran Turismo | GASPA/ullstein bild via Getty Images

Kelley Blue Book (KBB) says that a “true driving enthusiast” will enjoy the BMW 3 Series driving dynamics and value retention when it comes time to resell. There’s also a certain level of prestige and self-image that goes along with owning a BMW. However, KBB points out that looking “beyond the vaunted BMW badge” reveals other luxury sports compacts for “similar or significantly less money.” 

Examples of worthy competitors include the Audi A4, Mercedes-Benz C-Class, Infiniti G37, Lexus IS, and Cadillac ATS, according to KBB. While none of these luxury models made the Autotrader list, it provided other more affordable options, including:

  • 2014 Chevrolet Camaro
  • 2014 Ford Focus ST
  • 2014 Ford Mustang
  • 2013 Mazdaspeed3
  • 2013 Mazda MX-5 Miata

Of course, none of these options include the BMW badge, but they all offer a manual transmission option and corner-carving performance. 

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