Audi A4 vs. BMW 3-Series

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Automotive Editor

Based out of the Washington, D.C. area, Joel Patel is an automotive journalist that hails from Northern Virginia. His work has been featured on various automotive outlets, including Autoweek, Digital Trends, and Autoblog. When not writing about cars, Joel enjoys trying new foods, wrenching on his car, and watching horror movies. 

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, Automotive Editor - October 15, 2018

Since its arrival to the US market in 1977, the BMW 3-Series has been the benchmark for the luxury compact segment. The model's excellent driving dynamics have made it the vehicle to beat in its competitive class. With the release of the redesigned 2019 model, the 3-Series builds upon its sporty dynamics with more powerful engines, more technology features, and updated styling.

While the 3-Series has always been the obvious choice for drivers, competitors, like Audi, have not only injected their compact vehicles with athleticism to match the 3-Series' character, but have also brought more to the table than ever before. It's a bold decision that has the Audi A4 standing out as the clear option for tech-savvy consumers, while the 3-Series continues to appeal to those that want an enjoyable driving experience. Are there more differences that'll have you leaning toward one option over the other?

See a side-by-side comparison of the 3-Series & A4 »

What the A4 Gets Right

The A4 may be the more expensive option of the two, but it's the car that comes out on top when it comes to standard features. The vehicle comes with a seven-inch display, a five-inch driver information display, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, heated exterior mirrors, three-zone automatic climate control, and heated front seats as standard.

The A4's standard powertrain is more potent than the 3-Series' engine. The A4 comes with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder turbocharged engine that makes 190 horsepower and 236 pound-feet of torque. The 2018 3-Series also comes with a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder motor that's rated to make 180 hp and 200 lb-ft of torque. Unlike the 3-Series, which can be configured with rear- or all-wheel drive, the A4 is available with front- or all-wheel drive via their quattro setup.

What the 3-Series Gets Right

The 3-Series is the clear winner when it comes to pricing. Models from the 2018 model year start at $35,895, including destination, and we don’t expect 2019 models to be much more expensive. The 2018 Audi A4 is priced at $36,975. While the 3-Series has a lower price tag than the A4, it's not like it's a stripped-out model, as it comes with 17-inch wheels, LED headlights, a nine-speaker audio system, an 8.8-inch center screen, a 5.7-inch digital display in the instrument cluster, and automatic climate control as standard.

When it comes to having options, the 3-Series shines, too. The 2018 3-Series is available in three body styles: a sedan, wagon, and Gran Turismo (a coupe-like design with a hatchback trunk). Not including all-wheel-drive trims, there are seven options to choose from with the 3-Series, which outweighs the three different options for the A4 sedan.

Those seeking performance will naturally gravitate toward the 3-Series. The 2019 model year brings more powerful engines for the 330i and M340i models. The 330i features a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 255 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque. The new M340i gets a turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-six that produces 382 hp and 369 lb-ft of torque. The most powerful engine for the A4 generates 252 hp and 273 lb-ft of torque.

Is it All About Driving Experience?

If you're looking for something fun to drive, the 3-Series is the clear choice. With rear-wheel drive, the vehicle clearly appeals to enthusiasts. It's also the better option for consumers looking for a diesel powertrain, a spacious wagon, or a versatile coupe-like hatchback. With new high-tech features, a more upscale interior, and a new look for 2019, the 3-Series continues its reign as the option to beat.

Our Verdict: BMW 3-Series

The BMW 3-Series may be the option that pulls at our heartstrings for its ability to take a corner, but the refreshed model is the complete package. It’s more powerful, more high tech, and better looking than before, which makes it the better option over the Audi A4. It’s definitely a close call between the two, though.

Take a closer look at the BMW 3-Series »

Take a closer look at the Audi A4 »

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

, Automotive Editor

Based out of the Washington, D.C. area, Joel Patel is an automotive journalist that hails from Northern Virginia. His work has been featured on various automotive outlets, including Autoweek, Digital Trends, and Autoblog. When not writing about cars, Joel enjoys trying new foods, wrenching on his car, and watching horror movies. 

Follow On: Twitter | Website