European Cars: Top 10 Most Affordable

Mike Schlee
by Mike Schlee

European cars have a certain feeling, a certain presence, a certain driving experience, that few other vehicles can replicate.

It’s not to say European cars are any better or worse, they’re just unique. They have a flavor all their own. A flavor that some prefer over anything else. The problem is, the majority of European vehicles available on our shores reside in the luxury realm. And with the best things in life, there is a price to pay for these luxury automobiles.

But not all European cars are pricey. Some are very affordable. To highlight these models, we have assembled the top 10 most affordable European cars currently on sale. And we’ve put an emphasis on cars, excluding crossovers and SUVs (mostly). The best part is there’s a little something for everyone here. Compacts, hatchbacks, sedans, coupes, and convertibles are all represented.

10. BMW 228i Gran Coupe

It may have been a shock five to ten years ago, but the big three German luxury auto manufacturers all now produce small, price-leading front-wheel drive sedans. BMW‘s entry into this segment is the 228i Gran Coupe which when equipped with front-wheel drive starts at just under $36,000. Power comes from a 2.0-liter turbocharged engine that makes 228 hp paired to an eight-speed automatic transmission. For an extra $2,000 the car can be equipped with all-wheel drive.

SEE ALSO: Top 10 Best BMWs of All Time

Just missing out on this list is the BMW 230i Coupe, which isn’t to be confused with the Gran Coupe. Besides being a coupe, it is also rear-wheel drive and features a more powerful 255 hp turbocharged engine. Pricing for the 230i Coupe begins at $36,350 USD.

Price USD: $35,700

Price CAD: $52,700 (M235i xDrive)

9. Audi A3 40 TFSI

The Audi A3 is the veteran of this segment, on our shores at least, having been around since 2005. The latest model comes powered by a 201 hp turbocharged four-cylinder engine paired to a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. The A3 begins at a price under $35,000 and like the BMW 228i, can have all-wheel drive added to it for an additional $2,000.

Being a premium compact car, the A3 comes standard with LED headlights, a panoramic sunroof, and 17-inch alloy wheels.

Price USD: $34,800

Price CAD: $38,900

8. Mercedes-Benz A 220 Sedan

The most affordable car amongst the big three German luxury auto-manufacturers belongs to Mercedes-Benz. The A 220 Sedan is another near-subcompact, rakish, four-door sedan powered by a turbocharged four-cylinder engine. It produces the least amount of horsepower, with just 188 ponies on tap, but does have the lowest price when compared to the A3 and 228i. Power is sent to the front wheels through a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission and of course there is the option of all-wheel drive for, you guessed it, an extra $2,000.

Price USD: $33,950

Price CAD: $39,500

7. MINI Cooper S Clubman

The MINI Cooper Clubman is a funky small wagon with a few unique touches, like the the dual rear barn-style doors. Starting at a price just under $30,000, like all MINIs, the Clubman is a more premium small car than most in the segment. The car is all about fun, from its styling, to user interface, to driving experience.

SEE ALSO: Top 10 Best European Sports Cars of the ’80s

Since the Clubman is one of the larger MINIs, there is no base model and the range starts with the Cooper S Clubman. That means it comes standard with a turbocharged four-cylinder engine making 189 hp. There is the option to make the Clubman all-wheel drive for an additional $3,000.

Price USD: $29,900

Price CAD: $33,990

6. Volkswagen GTI

The most performance orientated vehicle on this list comes in as the sixth most affordable German car. The Volkswagen GTI is an icon among hot hatches and the new model may well be the best one yet. It still combines that winning formula of practicality, comfort, and performance in a well executed car. Power now comes from a 241 hp turbocharged four-cylinder engine that can send power to the front wheels through a six-speed manual transmission or a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic.

Even in the entry level S trim, the GTI still includes a limited-slip front differential lock, heated steering wheel, LED headlights, and 18-inch alloy wheels.

Price USD: $29,545

Price CAD: $31,495

5. MINI Cooper Convertible

As mentioned previously, MINIs are all about having fun and this is arguable the most fun MINI there is. Although the car used for the image above isn’t the lowest priced model, we had to use it because it sums up the essence of the car. Nothing seems more natural than heading to the beach on a warm summer night with the top down on a MINI Cooper Convertible.

Power for the car comes from a turbocharged three-cylinder engine that still makes a respectable 134 hp. It can be mated to a pair of transmissions and even with the small 15-inch alloy wheels and regular suspension, the Convertible produces nothing but smiles on twisty roads.

Price USD: $27,900

Price CAD: $31,090

4. Volkswagen Passat

Coming in as the fourth most affordable German car is the largest one on our list. The mid-size Volkswagen Passat starts a price just over $27,000 for the SE trim level and is loaded with a lot equipment. Power comes from a 174 hp turbocharged four-cylinder engine paired to a six-speed automatic transmission. Standard features include LED headlights, 18-inch alloy wheels, dual zone climate control, and a power driver’s seat.

SEE ALSO: Top 10 Most Memorable Volkswagen Ads Ever Created

On the safety front it includes bind spot monitoring, adaptive cruise control, autonomous emergency braking, lane keep assist, and more.

Price USD: $27,295

Price CAD: N/A

3. Fiat 500X

Ok, so this isn’t a car and we’ve just broken our no crossovers rule. But, the 500X is the only vehicle left that Fiat sells in North America and it is a very car like crossover. So, we are giving it a pass since it’s the only way to buy a Fiat in 2022. Starting a price just over $26,000, the 500X is the only vehicle on our list to come standard with all-wheel drive. The entry level Pop trim includes a seven-inch touchscreen infotainment system, 17-inch alloy wheels, and a premium wrapped steering wheel.

All versions of the 500X come powered by a 1.3-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine making a respectable 177 hp partnered up to a nine-speed automatic transmission.

Price USD: $26,215

Price CAD: $32,245

2. MINI Hardtop Hatchback

The MINI Cooper Hardtop Hatchback is the closest thing to the original MINI Cooper, albeit in spirit and not necessarily size. Available as a traditional 2-door or a longer 4-door, the Hardtop Hatchback comes standard with the same 134 hp turbocharged-three cylinder engine as found in the MINI Convertible.

Pricing for the 2-Door starts at less than $23,000 while the 4-Door adds an extra $500 to that total. Although this may not be the most practical car out there, it is the second most affordable European car sold in North America and as we’ve mentioned a few times before, it is certain to put a smile on your face.

Price USD: $22,900 (2-Door) $23,400 (4-Door)

Price CAD: $24,490 (3-Door) $25,790 (5-Door)

1. Volkswagen Jetta

Volkswagen is the only mainstream European brand currently selling cars on our shores, so the fact the brand’s lowest priced model captures the title of most affordable European car currently on sale in American comes as no surprise.

SEE ALSO: 2022 Volkswagen Jetta First Drive Review

For 2022 the Jetta has received a minor update, most notable the inclusion of a new 1.5-liter turbocharged engine making 158 hp. There are also revised bumpers front and rear as well as new colors and wheel selections. Pricing for the Jetta starts at just above $20,000.

Price USD: $20,195

Price CAD: $22,595

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Mike Schlee
Mike Schlee

A 20+ year industry veteran, Mike rejoins the AutoGuide team as the Managing Editor. He started his career at a young age working at dealerships, car rentals, and used car advertisers. He then found his true passion, automotive writing. After contributing to multiple websites for several years, he spent the next six years working at the head office of an automotive OEM, before returning back to the field he loves. He is a member of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC), and Midwest Automotive Media Association (MAMA). He's the recipient of a feature writing of the year award and multiple video of the year awards.

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