I have been analyzing the lease vs own argument for a year. I 'bought' my last 325cic 04 convertible (USED) with 18k miles from private owner. I then sold it at 65k miles few years later. The amount of money I lost in depreciation, I could have added a little more money and leased a NEW coupe. But if I had kept it and drove it till 120k + miles, it would have been the most bang for my buck.
If you want to make the MOST of your money and really stretch it, get the LEAST expensive car, try to finance it as low as 2% from credit union, and plan to drive it for 7 + years and to 100k miles. Heck if your car is running with no problems, you can then do a DINAN mod down the road, even track it and continue to keep as long as it lasts.
Lease is a great win win option, ONLY and IF the lease terms are 'FINANCIALLY SOUND' meaning it makes sense. What do I mean you ask ? Say a F30 328i customer configured costs 36k. Now your dealer is telling you that you can give 3k down, with $600 lease for 15k miles for 3 years. You would pay 21k total in 3 years, and won't have a car at the end. Whereas for 15k + interest% more you could have owned the car. Also would your car depreciate 21k in 3 years ? I don't thinks so.
Now if the same dealer offered you a lease payment of $400 with 3k down. It would amount to 17,400. Would your 35k car depreciate $17,400 with 45k miles in 3 years if you owned the car ? Chances are yes. So even if you had bought it, you would be out the same amount of $ if you decided to sell it 36th month.
Reality is that most likely after 3 - 4 years of driving the same car you will have an itch to get another one. If you get a low enough lease, where it almost equates to actual depreciation of your car had you owned it, it would be a great option, since if you decide to keep it, you can finance your residual. You will have low payments all along, and you will stretch your $.
My conclusion for me, get the lowest lease possible, which is why I am doing ED with 15k miles per year. At the end of the lease I will re evaluate my financial situation, I may just finance my residual or get a different car.