Some of BMW’s Best Drivers Are the Least-Expensive Models

These seem like overlooked diamonds in the rough.

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Some of BMW’s Best Drivers Are the Least-Expensive Models ©Some of BMW’s Best Drivers Are the Least-Expensive Models

The 2014-2021 F22 BMW 2 Series is fairly light, dimensionally small, uses rear-wheel drive, and can be found with a manual gearbox. Surely, this is a recipe for small car fun that’d make its base model predecessors proud.

  • Car: F22-Generation BMW 2 Series
  • Location: Unknown
  • Photog: Unknown (used with permission from BMW)
  • Camera: Unknown

I don’t want to jinx it, but they’re not too expensive, either, at least comparatively in our current market. Sure, they suffer some weird reliability issues like catastrophic chain guide failures, but that was apparently remedied for the 2015 model year and they’ve been better since.

I’m drawn to this car because I really like the idea of turbocharged, rear-wheel-drive, stick-shift motoring with a blue and white Bavarian roundel on the hood. I recall Car Autance and The Drive Editorial Director Patrick George once saying that he really dug the base 230i with a stick for its fun-to-drive nature. I’d opt for a base 2015+ 228i or 230i myself and wouldn’t even bother with any M Sport package amenities.

I’d simply find as clean of an example as I could for a decent price and worry about aftermarket springs, dampers, sway bars, and tires later. Oh, and a limited-slip rear differential. Every BMW I’ve ever driven with a good diff bolted up is an utter joy to slide around, and I bet it’d translate to control and poise on track. As far as stock power goes, 241-248 horsepower sounds like plenty, but I know there are numerous aftermarket methods for bumping those figures up a to an even healthier number.

I recently drove the new G42-generation 2022 230i and it was playful, well-equipped, and plenty fast. My main gripe is that it can’t be optioned with a manual transmission, which it so desperately needs. The automatic is good, don’t get me wrong, but there’s something special about a base Bimmer with rear-wheel drive and a stick-shift. It’s the final piece of the puzzle to create a car that does its joyous and beloved E21, E30, and 2002 ancestors proud.

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