Australia’s luxury compact sedan segment has been on pace with overall new car sales growth, increasing 18% since 2004. Two cars leading the charge in this segment are the Audi A4 and BMW 3 Series. Both of these German sedans have something unique to offer, but which one is the better choice? Read on for our detailed Audi A4 and BMW 3 Series review to find out.
With the A4, there are 7 different sedan options to choose from, while the 3 Series has 4 different models and a total of 32 different options in the A4’s price range. For this comparison, we’ll focus on the mid-priced sedans of each line-up: The 328i and the A4 2.0 T Ambition.
Exterior and Styling
The 3 Series and A4 have a similar look with their bold yet elegant lines and curved roof lines. The 3’s kidney grille and headlight design are unchanged, although the grille is now more prominent from the side view. The A4 has the same design that features a sculpted, 3-dimensional bonnet, and its wheels are set back further than the 3’s in the front. The A4’s wheels are available in a 5-spoke star, 5 double-spoke, or 10-spoke design, while the 3 Series features a star-spoke wheel design.
Interior and Comfort
The A4 Ambition and BMW 328i offer a good comparison because although the Ambition is more affordable, many of the features that come standard on the BMW are options on the A4. For example, the BMW has a 9-speaker sound system, and in order to upgrade the A4 from a 6-speaker system to a 10-speaker system, you’ll have to pay an extra $600. You’ll also have to pay an extra $800 to get Google 3D view, which comes standard on the BMW.
There is no upgrade, though, that can increase the size of the A4’s 7.0″ navigation screen to match the BMW’s 8.8″ screen. The BMW’s iDrive is also superior to the A4’s navigation system. But the A4 does have its German sibling beat when it comes to the quality of interior materials, ergonomics, and a more comfortable back seat, which has a wider bench and more leg room than the BMW.
Under the Bonnet
Although the 328i and 2.0 T Ambition each have a 4-cylinder turbocharged engine, the 328i is slightly more powerful (180 kW compared to 165 kW). This translates into a 0-100 Km/hr time of 5.9, which is 0.6 seconds faster than the Audi. And despite being faster and more powerful, the 328i still has slightly better fuel economy (6.3 L/100Km compared to 7.0). The A4 does offer a pair of diesel options in its line-up, but BMW’s 320d model is slightly more efficient and faster than those as well.
On the Road
Adding an extra $2,200 to the BMW 3 Series price tag will give you adaptive suspension with Comfort and Sport settings for a much-improved ride that offers better driving dynamics than the A4’s Manual and Sport modes. Overall, the BMW is the more satisfying of the two to drive, though the A4 is the quieter, tighter ride. Because it has sports automatic transmission and four-wheel drive, the A4 also handles better and is faster in the snow and on wet roads than the rear-wheel drive 3 Series.
The A4 and 3 Series both have a 5-star safety rating and several safety features. The 328i’s standard features include surround-view cameras, semi-automatic reverse parking, and head-up display, all of which are upgrades on the Ambition.
Value for the Money
The Audi A4 price range is $55,500-$70,800, while the 3 Series is $52,800-$81,000. The 2.0 T Ambition is $11,500 cheaper than the 328i we compared here, but as mentioned, the 328i has many standard features that are options on the Audi. Overall, both cars are a good value for the money.
The Audi has a lot of things going for it including a higher-quality, more comfortable interior and a quieter ride than the 3 Series. However, the edge here goes to the 3 Series because it has better technology, is more efficient, and has better driving dynamics for a more enjoyable ride.