For decades, the BMW 3 Series has been a dominant force in the sport sedan market, inspiring many competitors who dare to take on the benchmark. From Audi, that competitor is the A4.
They're still very different cars, though. Does the 328i still reign over the A4?
What the Audi A4 Gets Right
The A4's engine compartment plays host to a 2-liter engine that is lauded as one of the best four cylinder engines in the world. It's known for smooth power delivery, a cool mix of horsepower and torque (211 and 258 pound-feet in this application), and respectable fuel economy. The Quattro all-wheel drive with which Audi shaped rally racing with is still a major draw, too.
Buyers choose between three transmissions: a continuously variable transmission (CVT) for base front-wheel drive models, and a six-speed manual or eight-speed automatic when the box for an all-wheel drive Quattro is checked. The six-speed Quattro and CVT are rated for 32 mpg highway, while the eight-speed Quattro drops to 29 mpg.
What the BMW 328i Gets Right
BMW emphasizes more classic sports car ideals with the added practicality of a sedan. It’s been over a decade since a four-cylinder 3 Series has come to the U.S., and the first time for a turbo. Compared to the Audi's 211 horsepower, the BMW spins out a healthy 240 horsepower. Though BMW’s 255 pound-feet of torque is slightly less than the Audi's, the BMW driver can access the torque at lower rpm.
BMW doesn't offer a CVT -- buyers opt for a six-speed manual or eight-speed automatic transmission that transfers power to the rear wheels. Getting 34 mpg highway, the 328i bests the Audi by 2 mpg thanks in part to being lighter.
Can the A4 Beat the 328i?
Audi's Quattro adds the benefit of grip, but without it the A4 is a front-driver that can't handle as well as a rear-wheel drive BMW. The BMW also gets better fuel economy with equal -- or better -- performance, while still benefiting with a larger back seat and trunk.
Our Verdict: BMW 328i
The BMW continues as the segment's benchmark.