Like most automakers, Cadillac has had the BMW 3 Series in its sights as the benchmark of the entry-level luxury sport sedan segment. For over a decade now, Cadillac’s key competitor to offerings like BMW’s 328i has been the CTS. So, does the CTS have the right stuff to take on the segment-dominating Bavarian?
What the Cadillac CTS Does Right
When it came to designing the CTS, Cadillac knew it couldn't be indecisive. The CTS commits fully to Cadillac's "art and science" design language both inside and out, with sharp creases and strong lines. Cadillac also didn't skimp on the grunt under the hood: 274 horsepower from the standard 3-liter V6, or 304 horses from the optional 3.6-liter V6.
GM worked hard to give the CTS handling to match the BMW, and it shows. The car has athletic and agile handling that befits a serious competitor in its class, as well as excellent, well-weighted steering. A choice of either transmission -- an easy-shifting six-speed manual or a responsive six-speed automatic -- confirms that the CTS was meant to be a driver’s car.
What the BMW 328i Does Right
BMW has this game down to an exact science. The 328i has a near-perfect combination of features, style and handling prowess. Both inside and out, the 328i has a look that is unmistakably BMW, with the fit and finish we've come to expect from German automakers.
On the road is where the 328i truly excels. Especially in Sport mode, an eight-speed automatic transmission uses all its tricks to make the most of the turbocharged four-cylinder engine's 240 horsepower. A balanced chassis and sharp steering complete the package.
Has the CTS Beaten the Benchmark BMW?
It’s a close race, and it’s not going to be won based on availability of features. Both the CTS and the 328i can be loaded up with navigation, keyless entry and all-wheel-drive. Both can be had with either an automatic or manual transmission, although the Cadillac gives up 2 gears in its slushbox to the BMW.
The Cadillac, however, gives shoppers more power for a lower price, while delivering similar fuel economy. The final results of this comparison can mostly be attributed to age. The BMW was redesigned for 2012, while the CTS has been around in its current form since 2008. Although still competitive, the CTS just can’t help but feel a bit dated when compared to the BMW.
Our Verdict: BMW 328i
The BMW 328i just barely edges out the CTS thanks to being a newer, fresher design with more sophisticated mechanicals.