BMW 320 vs. Volkswagen CC

January 21, 2015

The near luxury market is an interesting place to be. It's where premium brands like BMW compete with mainstream brands like Volkswagen, usually on an equal footing.

See a side-by-side comparison of the 320 & CC »

BMW introduced the 320 for two specific buyers: Those looking for the lowest price of entry to 3 Series ownership, and those who think a proper sports sedan should be free from unnecessary extras. The Volkswagen CC, meanwhile, brings the four-door coupe to a segment where high style is rarely found.

Which does a better job of appealing to customers with around $35,000 to spend?

What the Volkswagen CC Gets Right

The Volkswagen CC is the least expensive way to get a sleek body style that typically appears on Audis, BMWs and Mercedes-Benzes. Unusually for an American-market Volkswagen, the CC is built in Germany. The interior uses upscale materials and benefits from a high level of fit and finish.

The CC comes with an available 3.6-liter V6 engine that makes a healthy 280 horsepower and 265 pound-feet of torque. Despite this output, the Volkswagen still manages 17 mpg city and 25 mpg highway.

What the BMW 320 Gets Right

You can look at the BMW 320i as a "stripped" model or as a return to BMW's performance-oriented roots. Many enthusiasts will actually welcome a 3 Series that forgoes the extra weight of luxury options.

The 2-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine supplies a smooth 180 horsepower and 200 pound-feet of torque. The 320 also boasts exceptional fuel efficiency: 24 mpg city and 36 mpg highway.

The Subjective Choice

The Volkswagen CC and BMW 320 deliver very different experiences at a similar price point. If you need a premium badge, the BMW is your only option. If you'd like a more luxurious cabin, the Volkswagen is a natural choice.

Our Verdict: The BMW 320

We can't resist the appeal of a BMW that carries on in the tradition of the early -- and iconic -- 2002 coupes.

Take a closer look at the BMW 320 »

Take a closer look at the Volkswagen CC »

Side-by-side comparison of features, pricing, photos and more!