We’ve previously talked about how the BMW 3 Series is facing more competition than it ever has before, with companies like Jaguar, Cadillac and Lexus giving BMW a run for its money. According to many, the Jaguar XE and Cadillac ATS have even surpassed the famous BMW 3 Series, in terms of fun and driving dynamics. But Drive has just recently compared the 3 Series with its biggest rivals to see which is best.
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According to Drive, the Mercedes-Benz C Class was its 2014 Car of the Year, when it debuted. Its combination of comfort, performance, handling and technology made it the all around best car in the segment, in their opinion, so when they got these cars together for this test, it was actually the C Class that was the car to beat. Unfortunately for Mercedes, the caliber of cars in the segment is higher than ever and there are some pretty amazing cars in this test.
First, they start out with the brand-new Audi A4 that, in its latest B9 generation, is better than ever before. It boasts an impressive combination of comfort, handling, performance and styling that, when combined with its all-wheel drive grip, makes it a difficult package to pass up. We’ve driven the new A4 and can honestly say that it’s in contention for the best car in the segment. It does have drawbacks though, as its cabin isn’t the quietest and, when in Dynamic mode, the suspension can be a bit too stiff. Minor gripes, but ones that keep it from winning.
Next up is the Jaguar XE. As newcomer to the segment, the XE is immediately exciting and different. It styling is the best of the bunch and looks fantastic and its interior is very cool, though it does lack a bit of refinement. Its steering and handling is likely the best of the bunch and its 2.0 liter four-cylinder engine is punchy. However, its lack of interior space and refinement keep the Jaguar XE from being the well-rounded car that some of its competitors are.
Following the Jaaag is the BMW 330i. With its new engine and new suspension tweaks, the updated BMW 3 Series is better that it was a few years ago. It now feels and handles like a proper 3 Series should and its engine is probably the best in the segment. However, it does lack a bit in terms of interior comfort and space and it doesn’t feel as special as the others, according to Drive. It also suffers from the worst wind and road noise in the bunch and its big wheels with low profile tires make its ride over rough pavement the most harsh. So, while the 3 Series offers an impressive package, it isn’t enough to take the win.
After the Bimmer is the Lexus IS 200t, which boasts a new four-cylinder turbocharged engine. Sadly, that engine is deemed worst of the bunch, as it feels the weakest and doesn’t return good fuel economy. It also has artificial feeling steering and its cabin is a bit too cluttered. It’s also quite boring to drive, making it the least engaging car of the group. However, it does have a ton of safety and technology features that the other’s don’t and it has the highest resale value as well as reliability rating. But those things aren’t enough to give it the win.
Luckily for the Mercedes-Benz C250, Drive still felt that it offered the best combination of performance, comfort and luxury. The C250 offers handling and steering that’s almost as good as the Jag or BMW, but with an interior and level of luxury that they can’t match. It also has a better ride than everything else in the bunch and is the most premium feeling. So despite their best efforts, all of the other cars in the test couldn’t dethrone the Mercedes-Benz C Class in Drive’s eyes.