BMW Hungary gave me a brown diesel wagon so I can go the NĂĽrburgring 24 without dying in my Autobianchi on the Autobahn. A week later, I gave back the car with an additional 1,636 miles on the clock, and a heavy heart.

The 3 Series is the benchmark of its segment and that has been the case for a while. That’s why Jaguar keeps talking about beating BMW with the new XE instead of Audi or Mercedes-Benz. The wagon version is the most practical of the lot (thanks Max!), and Europe’s 318d is the second least powerful diesel option, plus the cheapest you can get with all-wheel drive as well.

With the 2.0 tuned to produce a modest 143 hp and 236 pound feet of torque, it’s still fast enough and I averaged 40 mpg while doing close to 100 mph on the German side whenever possible. The eight-speed ZF gearbox did its job effortlessly, and while I would still buy the 320d for its extra speed, overall, I loved this car. The looks, the handling and the way it made me feel. I even liked the iDrive infotainment.

Having said that, the interior is nothing to write home about, and while the Luxury trim that adds wooden bits to the cabin, the standard leather steering wheel felt really plasticky. Just go for the M version, it’s not much more expensive and feels miles better exactly where it matters.

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With the leather seats and the metallic paint, the final figure for this rear-wheel drive diesel wagon is $37,451 in Hungary. And that made me think. A lot.

It just happened that a friend of mine, a 24-year-old girl finished her internship at a vineyard and needed a ride with all of her stuff back home. Since I was in the neighborhood, I came to her rescue with my cool brown wagon.

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There we were, having a glass of champagne at 10 am because why the hell not, with the car waiting for its turn dusty and packed full of junk like a proper family wagon. That’s when I realized this could actually happen if I moved to Germany.

I don’t speak German, and I’ve never really thought I’d like living there. However, I find the country beautiful and the people friendly enough to make all of my visits pleasant there. But that’s not the point.

I live in a nice city in the middle of Europe in a country that’s the member of the European Union since 2004. I’m also paid pretty well by Gawker. Yet at 28, I could never afford to buy an almost entry level BMW 3 Series. That’s just way, way off at $37,451. But I wouldn’t even have to go all the way to Germany to change that. Wien, the capital of Austria is 150 miles from where I live. Being one of the richest countries in Europe, having a job there at the same level would buy me a brand new 318d Touring, no question about it.

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Budapest is a lovely city, but being 150 miles East means what I could actually afford here is a 318i Touring. From the year 2000.

It’s only natural I would go for a red one.

Photo credit: Máté Petrány/Jalopnik and BMW

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Contact the author at mate@jalopnik.com.