Are BMWs Good First Cars? (And Which Is Best?)

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BMWs have been around since the early 20th Century, and in that time, they’ve come to be associated with luxury, power, and performance.

If you’re looking for something flashy to show off your success, or something that provides a little boost of power on the highway, BMWs are definitely worth considering.

But if you’re a new driver there are several things you should know before making this purchase… so, are BMWs good first cars?

BMWs are not good first cars as they are expensive to run, have more power than most new drivers can safely handle, and are costly to insure. However, if the new driver has a larger budget then there are some merits to buying a BMW as a first car.

For most new drivers it would be unwise to consider a BMW, but there are some cases where it can be a relatively sensible purchase.

In this article we’ll investigate the pros and cons of buying a BMW as a first car, and look at which BMWs are the most sensible choices for beginners.

Is a BMW good for beginners?

BMWs are definitely not the best choice for beginners. There are far more suitable cars that are cheaper to run and have less power for those who are new to the roads.

Whilst there are some BMWs that could be considered a reasonable choice for beginners, the vast majority would cause more trouble than they are worth.

A green BMW 4 Series
BMWs can be expensive to buy and maintain

Most beginners tend to choose cars that are affordable and easy to drive with good reason; so that they’re not bankrupted by the cost of maintenance, and so they don’t end up crashing the car.

Only after driving for a few years and banking some experience behind the wheel should a new driver consider buying a BMW, especially if the person in question is a young driver. Which brings us to our next point…

Is a BMW a good first car for a teenager?

A BMW is a particularly poor choice for teenagers. Teens tend to be inexperienced behind the wheel and are often unable to afford the costs associated with owning such a car.

Passing your test and shopping for your first car is an exciting time, but there’s a reason people suggest teenagers buy an economical car to start with, rather than a flashy BMW.

Statistically, teenagers are more likely to be involved in a crash than any other age group, and that risk increases if they are behind the wheel of a powerful car, such as a BMW.

Teens may not have the experience to deal with the power a BMW can produce, and a resulting accident could be costly to the teen, their passengers, or other drivers.

Also, if the worst does happen it’s better to be in a car that’s cheap to repair, rather than writing-off a $40k+ motor within a year or two of passing your test.

Whilst some teens are financially independent, many continue being supported by family members until their early 20s, and the additional expenses involved in running a BMW can soon mount up.

This means that for many teenagers, it’s better to buy an economical car at first and save up for something flashier when they’re older, have more experience, and more spare cash.

Why would a BMW be a good first car?

We’ve investigated some of the reasons that BMWs can be seen as bad first cars, but in some situations buying a BMW as a first car can be a good idea.

If you have a larger budget and the right experience and attitude, then the following factors may persuade you that a BMW is right for you:

  • BMWs have a good safety record
  • BMWs are equipped with high-spec technology
  • BMWs have plenty of driver aids
  • BMWs are luxurious and comfortable
  • BMWs look cool!

As long as the person in question understands the costs involved in buying, maintaining, and insuring a BMW as a new driver, and understands that a powerful rear-wheel drive car can be more challenging to control than a front-wheel drive car with a tiny engine, then it could be considered a reasonable option.

Is it better to buy a new or used BMW as a first car?

As a rule of thumb, it’s better for new drivers to buy a used BMW rather than a new one as a first car. Not only are used BMWs cheaper to buy, but new drivers are also more likely to be involved in minor bumps and scrapes.

If these unfortaunte scrapes do happen, it’s much more preferable to be in an older car than to have to shell-out thousands of dollars repairing a pristine brand new one.

A beige BMW E34 5 Series
Used BMWs tend to be much cheaper than new BMWs

But the number one reason to buy a used BMW rather than a new one as a first car is the cost. New BMWs are seriously expensive pieces of kit, and depreciate in value significantly over the first few years of ownership.

Cost is of the essence for most new drivers, so buying a BMW that has already suffered most of its depreciation seems the sensible thing to do. Plus, you can find some great deals in the used car market!

If you do decide to buy a BMW as your first car, it’s wise to pick one that’s older (and therefore cheaper), and has a smaller engine. New drivers should avoid high-performance BMWs at all costs.

What is a good starter BMW?

A 1 Series, 2 Series, or 3 Series is the best starter BMW. They are the least expensive to buy and own, and are the best options for those who haven’t owned a BMW before.

Is a BMW 1 Series a good first car?

A silver BMW 116i

Of all the BMWs available, the 1 Series is the best choice for a first car. It’s small, nimble and easy to drive which makes it a good choice for new drivers who are inexperienced behind the wheel.

Unlike many other cars in its class, it’s not underpowered or lacking in features, and is still fun to drive.

It’s affordable to buy, cheaper than most BMWs to run and insure, and due to its size is easier to control and maneuver.

As with all BMWs, there are a range of engines to choose from. The most sensible for a new driver is the 1.5 or 1.6l engines which still have enough kick to be fun, but also won’t cost too much to run.

Is a BMW 2 Series a good first car?

A white BMW 220d

A BMW 2 Series is a good choice for those in the market for their first car who are looking for a sporty coupe that handles well and is exciting to drive, without the costs associated with a larger BMW.

The 2 Series comes in a number of different body-types, and all of them have something to offer for new drivers.

The coupe is our favorite, and we think it’s a great option for new drivers who want something a little different to the rest of the crowd for their first car.

There is also a convertible version, which looks even better with the roof down!

The range of engines is slightly more limited than the 1 Series, but the original 2 Series (F22) still had a 1.5l straight-three petrol engine and a 2l straight-four diesel engine available, both of which are ideal for new drivers.

Is a BMW 3 Series a good first car?

BMW 320d

A BMW 3 Series is a good first car if the driver’s budget can stretch to it. It can easily fit five people in comfort, so it’s the best starter BMW to choose if practicality is a priority.

The 3 Series is more expensive than the 1 or 2 Series, and that means that the buyer will need to plan for higher overall ownership costs. But we still think it still offers great value for money, particularly in the used car market.

It’s larger than the 1 and 2 Series which is something for new drivers to consider, as it can be more of a handful to park and maneuver around town.

Although it’s an executive sedan, it does thankfully come with some engine options that can be considered suitable for new drivers, such as the smaller engines fitted to the 318i or even the 316i models from previous generations of 3 Series.

To conclude – do BMWs make good first cars?

Overall BMWs are not good first cars thanks to their cost, but there will always be some new drivers who can reasonably afford one.

If that is the case, there are some great BMWs to choose from, such as the 1, 2, and 3 Series ranges we’ve mentioned above.

If you do decide to buy a BMW as your first car, be sure to research all the costs involved in maintaining one to the correct standard, particularly if you’re buying a used BMW.

It’s important to know that it will be more expensive than other first car options, but if you’re happy with that, enjoy the drive!

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Adam Chinn writes about the intersecting worlds of classic cars, driving pleasure, and smart investment strategies. Starting his journey at 26, he’s proven that one doesn’t need to be wealthy to begin investing in classic cars.

Adam’s insights have been recognized on platforms such as MoneyInc, Swagger Magazine, and Top Speed.

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