I'm a little suprised that the X3 wasn't on the list since it more closely competes with the two Mercedes. Your obviously not going to get unbiased suggestions on a BMW site but I don't see those two Mercedes getting the same kind of good reviews I see on the X3 and I get almost all the car magazines. For me the X3 was too big so we went with the X1 but I can't imagine not considering it against the two Mercedes. I see locally good discounts on them so you could hit under $45. Having owned 3 M3's I find the X1 28 plenty powerful enough, it's lighter so it handles better with better fuel economy. I have nothing against Mercedes but they won't handle anywhere near as well as the X1.
1995 325i, 1996 328ci, 1997 528i, 1997 Z3 2.8,2001 X5 3.0, 2001 330i Convertible, 2002 M3 Convertible, 2003 M3 Coupe, 2004 M3 Coupe, 2004 Z4 3.0, 2004 X3 3.0,
2007 X3 3.0, 2007 335i Convertible, 2013 X1 28 sdrive,
2014 M235 manual