U.S. automotive magazine, Car and Driver, continues their usual comparisons of some of the most popular premium automobiles. In their latest edition, C&D puts to test the entry-level models in the premium compact car class: 2010 BMW 328i facelift, Audi A5 2.0T Quattro, Infiniti G37 and Lexus IS350C.
The above listed are all fine automobiles and one could be in difficulty when choosing a winner, but since one of them needs to prevail, Car and Driver chooses the …….well, let’s not spoil this and have a look at an excerpt from their comparison.
Let’s dispense with jingoism right here at the starting line. There aren’t any American entries in this four-seat-droptop derby because there aren’t any that fall into this price category. Okay, almost none. The base MSRP for Ford’s Shelby GT500—$53,575—does slide in below the as-tested ticket for one of our four contestants. But even though it has rear seats, the super-Mustang lacks an automatic-transmission option, whereas our four test cars were all self-shifters with manumatic function.
In our 2007 comparo, the Bimmer prevailed over an Audi by a similar points margin and for the same reasons. We cited a “parley of traditional BMW virtues: classic good looks, superior dynamics, autobahn ride quality, and an exceptional sense of partnership with its driver.”
So was it written, so is it now. Though there are some differences. For example, at 3820 pounds, that ’07 BMW weighed 105 pounds less than this one and was equipped with a manual transmission, which made it substantially quicker: 6.6 seconds to 60 compared with 7.3 seconds for the current car, the slowpoke of this roundup.
What does weight add to braking performance? Distance. In 2007, our test car stopped from 70 mph in just 155 feet. In this comparison, the best the BMW could manage was 170 feet, although we should add that this number was best in test, recorded at a different venue. However, the tires—Bridgestone Potenza RE050A RFTs, 225/40-18 front, 255/35-18 rear—are the same, and the latest car laid down a better skidpad number, 0.89 g versus 0.86, which topped the charts in this case.
If the Bimmer felt a little sluggish on the Nissan proving ground (altitude: about 1400 feet)—remember, however, that we correct our test results for atmospheric conditions—it was positively suckin’ wind on the high and winding highways west of Prescott. Yet that environment was precisely where the BMW established itself as top sun dog.
To be accurate, there were portents of the BMW’s dynamic edge before we got to mile-high territory. Not only was it best in braking and on the skidpad, it trumped the others in the lane-change exercise as well. So when the pace picked up, heading out toward the charmingly named Skull Valley, no one was really surprised when the BMW emerged as the car that was easiest to guide through fast corners, decreasing-radius turns, and rapid transitions.
It’s true that the Bimmer required more gearchanges than the others to keep up in the occasional straight stretches, and the manumatic responses of its six-speed automatic were somewhat casual (though this is true of all these transmissions). But when real driving resumed, the BMW was the pacesetter.
A logbook comment summed it up: “There’s just something about the way the 3-series goes over the road that’s so magical, so connected, so involving.”
So, who comes next after the BMW 328i? Let’s have a look at their full review and photo gallery.