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As the weather heats up, the want for a cheap sports car rises with the mercury. And while models like the Mazda Miata and Subaru BRZ offer their own great experiences, there are other cheap sports cars out there that can be an even better bargain. One of those is the BMW 228i, and used models are cheap enough to feel like a steal.

BMW 228i
BMW 228i | BMW

Turbocharged performance in a used BMW 228i

The BMW 228i is the base model in the 2 Series lineup, but that doesn’t mean it falls short on performance. Used 228i models from 2014 to 2016 feature a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine and rear-wheel drive. With 240 horsepower and 255 lb-ft of torque, the 228i is competitive with cars like the Golf GTI and Veloster N. However, the BMW’s rear-drive setup means more potential performance and agility, making this the more exciting choice overall.

Comparing the BMW 228i Coupe and Mazda Miata in the Cheap Sports Car Category

The BMW 228i, a cheap sports car
BMW 2 Series Coupe | BMW

Even compared to modern Miata models, this era of BMW 2 Series holds up. The rear-drive characteristics and available six-speed manual transmission deliver all the cheap sports car thrills of the Miata, but with more power. The 181 horsepower and 151 pound-feet of torque from the naturally-aspirated four-cylinder won’t satisfy you speed demons out there. However, the punchy turbo torque of the 228i should do the trick.

Add the M Sport package and the baby Bimmer even hangs onto the nimble Miata through the corners. It’s lighter than the six-cylinder M235i, and sharper M Sport suspension and brakes provide premium performance to compliment the turbo-four powerplant.

According to MotorTrend, this cheap BMW sports car weighs in at just over 3,300 pounds, so it certainly has some heft over the Miata. But as a grand touring sports car, the comfort of the 228i can’t be denied. Where the Miata is buzzy and raw, the BMW is comfy and refined. The back seat and nearly 14 cubic feet of trunk space make it a more versatile performer than the Mazda as well.

Overall, as a cheap sports car you can use every day, a used BMW 228i is far and away a better choice than the Miata. However, if it’s an autocross weapon you’re after, the lightweight Mazda will still have the edge. Still, a new Miata runs between $30,000 and $35,000 while a used 228i with low miles checks in at around $20,000.

The Gran Coupe is not a sports car

The BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe is not a sports car
The BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe | BMW

One baffling thing you might notice while searching for a BMW 228i is the overlap between the two-door and four-door cars. Unlike the 4 Series models, where the coupe and Gran Coupe ride on the same architecture, the 2 Series models couldn’t be more different.

Dubbed by Hagerty’s Jason Cammisa as the BMW “Gran Corolla”, the four-door 228i is a front-wheel drive four-door sedan based on the Mini Cooper. Meanwhile, the 228i two-door comes from the previous 1 Series platform, complete with the classic rear-drive BMW sports car setup.

A standout cheap sports car

Overall, a used BMW 228i isn’t just a cheap sports car, it’s a standout in the category. Its compact size and interior luxury far outstrip the current market for these cars. In short, the baby 2 Series is fun, functional, and fast, and comes at a price that won’t leave you reeling.

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