For the BMW faithful, the F30-generation 3 Series is a bit of a sore subject. While in isolation, the F30 Series is a great car, it lacks the tactility and delicacy of previous generations. So fans aren’t big fans of the F30-gen 3er. Its popularity isn’t helped by its age. Being the oldest car in the segment, its competitors have surpassed it in terms of both performance and luxury. However, it’s still a very competitive car in its segment and still sells incredibly well. So how does it stack up against its newest German competitor, the Audi A4? Auto Guide finds out in this latest video.
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Okay, so the F30 BMW 3 Series isn’t the last word in pure handling dynamics. But it’s still an enjoyable car to drive and hustle down a twisty road. Its steering might be devoid of meaningful feel but it’s accurate and nicely weighted for the most part. It can be a bit light and feathery but it’s very precise and that’s the most important part. The front end bits well and the chassis rotates nicely. It’s a very well balance and enjoyable car to drive if you aren’t expecting it to be an E46.
Under the hood of this BMW 330i is a 2.0 liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine that makes 248 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque. When paired with an eight-speed auto and xDrive all-wheel drive, the 330i is capable of 0-60 mph in 5.5 seconds, which is pretty brisk. It’s not light-your-hair-on-fire quick, but it gets the job done. I know that seems like damning it with faint praise, and maybe it is, but the little B48 engine is actually one of the better four-pots on the market.
By comparison, the Audi A4 also uses a 2.0 liter turbocharged four-cylinder but it makes 252 hp and 273 lb-ft of torque. Instead of the ubiquitous ZF-eight-speed auto used in almost every modern luxury car, the A4 gets Audi’s own seven-speed dual-clutch unit. It’s faster to shift and is snappy on the move but can be a bit hesitant at low speed. When paired with the punchy engine, though, it helps get the Audi A4 Quattro from 0-60 mph in 5.2 seconds, making it the quicker car.
On the road, the A4 is every bit as stable and smooth as the 3 Series, maybe even a bit more so. It’s the more comfortable car to drive in as well, with a more stable and compliant ride. However, it does lack a bit of dynamic ability to the 3 Series. Not much, as this new A4 is probably the best handling A4 yet and is actually quite fun to drive, it’s just not quite as sharp as the BMW. Though, it makes up for its relative lack of dynamics by being the better cruiser with a quieter cabin and even better performance.
Inside, the BMW 3 Series is a nice car but its cabin is beginning to show its age. The materials are lacking compared to the A4’s and the design isn’t as fresh. While the inside of the Audi A4 is really superb for the segment. Build quality is above everything else and as are the ergonomics. The technology inside the A4 is also very impressive, though even Audi’s latest MMI system lags behind BMW’s iDrive, which is the best on the market.
In the end, Auto Guide gave the win to the Audi A4. While the BMW 3 Series is the better driver’s car of the two, the Audi A4 wasn’t far behind and did more things well overall.