Just because you've always wanted a German luxury vehicle doesn't mean you need to break the bank to get one. Sure you're likely not going to go after the flagship vehicle, which likely equates to a six-figure price tag after all is said and done, but that doesn't mean you have to settle for something that looks like an also-ran vehicle that's not quite ready for prime time.

The new base models from German luxury carmakers carry a swagger all their own and sport some of the nicest features in their respective segments. And no you're no longer limited to just sedans and coupes since the host of new smaller German luxury crossovers is growing by the day. Take one look at these models whose sweet spot in terms of price is right where the current average new car cost lies. Just be careful not to festoon them with every available feature, which would easily take you toward the $50K mark and over, if you're a bit too passionate about getting the entire smorgasbord. 

Audi A3 1.8 

audi a3

Some might scoff at a tiny Audi sedan, but don't criticize it until you drive this compact sports sedan that has taught and nimble handling and the same crisp German looks as its bigger brothers, the A4, A6 and A8 but at a seriously attainable price. 

  • Price: $30,900 Base MSRP
  • Engine: 1.8-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder
  • Power: 170 hp / 200 lb-ft torque
  • Great Standard Features: Xenon headlights, panoramic sunroof, heated mirrors, automatic climate control, tire pressure monitoring system, automatic windshield wipers and headlights, post-collision safety system, traction control, stability control, emergency brake assist.
  • What We Love: Its shrunken A4 look works well; it handles nimbly; a great interior for the price.
  • What You Should Consider: The back seat headroom suffers due to the sloping roofline.

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BMW 228i

bmw 228i

It might just be BMW's best driver's car because it has great balance, a more than manageable curb weight of 3,334 pounds with a nearly perfect front-to-rear weight ratio for ideal handling -- all this powered by a willing and high-revving turbocharged four-cylinder engine. Mate it with a slick six-speed manual transmission, and you have the makings of thrilling drives wherever the road takes you.

  • Price: $32,850 Base MSRP
  • Engine: 2.0-liter twin turbo four-cylinder
  • Power: 240 hp / 258 lb-ft torque
  • Great Standard Features: Dynamic Cruise Control, brake energy regeneration, traction control, stability control, rain sensing wipers, tire pressure monitor, tilting and telescoping leather steering wheel. 
  • What We Love About It: The base car has plenty of torque, can be ordered with a manual transmission, BMW's cheapest coupe might just be its sportiest car.
  • What You Should Consider: Not many standard features, and the options list can send the price to $50K

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Mercedes-Benz CLA250

mercedes-benz cla250

The CLA-Class was really Merc's new intro into great styling. In fact, when it was introduced at a sub-$30K price two years ago, there was no other car like it in terms of beauty per dollar. It paved the way for every other Merc car thanks to its sinew and sleekness, looking just as good going as it does coming. The interior was just as stunning as the exterior, too. 

  • Price: $32,050 Base MSRP
  • Engine: 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder
  • Power: 208 hp / 258 lb-ft torque
  • Great Standard Features: Remote keyless entry, 10-way adjustable front seats, driver memory seat, automatic wipers and headlights, automatic braking assist, parking assist,. 
  • What We Love About It: The CLA's stunning design even outshines its more expensive brethren, the C-Class and E-Class. Yes, it looks that good, especially the winged LED taillights. 
  • Something To Consider: Like the Audi A3, and unlike the BMW 228i, the Mercedes is front-wheel drive standard so the driving dynamics are a bit compromised with the front tires having to perform triple duties of steering, braking and accelerating.

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Audi Q3 2.0

Audi Q3

The little Audi crossover is a tidily designed vehicle that looks every bit as clean and taut as its Q5 big brother but not quite as evocative as the more squarish Q7 that just bowed recently. The result of Audi's attempt to get into the small CUV segment is an actual value, giving more standard features than its competitors. 

  • Price: $33,700 Base MSRP
  • Engine: 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder
  • Power:  200 hp /  207 lb-ft torque
  • Great Standard Features: Panoramic sunroof, HID headlights, LED taillights, heated power leather seats, dual zone automatic climate control
  • What We Love About It: Audi doesn't scrimp on the interior design and materials quality of their least expensive CUV, and it shows. You get a lot for your money.
  • Something To Consider: It's slower and less nimble than the BMW X1 and Mercedes GLA Class and less distinctive in styling than both.

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BMW X1 xDrive28i

bmw x1

BMW made the X1 more American-friendly by increasing the interior space, getting rid of the rear-wheel drive setup and essentially making it more mainstream than its original enthusiast roots that made it great for some but not for all. So, in the attempt to get more market share, BMW went about not just changing the inside but giving the outside a more sophisticated appearance. The result should prove to be more popular and still decently affordable, unless you slather it with options. The now standard all-wheel drive is a huge bonus.

  • Price: $34,800 Base MSRP
  • Engine: 2.0-liter Twin Power turbocharged four-cylinder
  • Power:  228 hp /  258 lb-ft torque
  • Great Standard Features: All-wheel drive, 8-way power adjustable front seats, tilting and telescoping steering wheel, dual-zone automatic climate control, tire pressure monitoring, power liftgate, emergency braking preparation, post-collision safety system.
  • What We Love About It: More space for rear passengers, a high-end cabin that looks every bit the BMW luxury we expect, the quickest of the base German crossover bunch here. 
  • Something To Consider: The awesome rear-wheel drive configuration is no longer available, giving the finger to driving enthusiasts who were initially drawn to the X1. 

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Mercedes-Benz GLA250

mercedes-benz gla

The GLA250 is the stilted crossover sister of the CLA250 mentioned here, and it shares the chassis and the powertrain but offers up a bit more ruggedness and ride height. The profile of the small crossover looks more shooting brake (think Euro wagon) than CUV, and that's a good thing in our book. It might just be one of the best upscale urban CUVs we've ever laid eyes on. 

  • Price: $32,500 Base MSRP
  • Engine: 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder
  • Power:  208 hp /  258 lb-ft torque
  • Great Standard Features: Leather steering wheel, 10-way power adjustable driver's seat, satellite navigation, 4-position one-touch windows, split folding rear seat, remote keyless entry.
  • What We Love About It: The sinewy lines on the body give the GLA a strong presence that gives it distinction in the segment.
  • Something To Consider:  Not as many standard features as its sedan brother and 4Matic all-wheel drive costs extra.

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