BMW 3-Series vs. BMW 4-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

A few years ago, BMW made the odd decision to separate its sedan and coupe body styles for the popular 3-Series family. The 3-Series would remain a four-door, sedan-only affair, while the 4-Series would mostly have a two-door, coupe-only lineup. With the introduction of a Gran Coupe model for the 4-Series, the lines between the 3-Series and the 4-Series are blurred more than before. So, which model should you go with? That's what we're here to answer.

See a side-by-side comparison of the 3-Series & 4-Series »

What the 3-Series Gets Right

Coupes are usually more expensive than traditional four-door sedans, and that holds true with the 3-Series. The 2018 3-Series costs $35,895 (including destination) and we don’t expect pricing for the all-new 2019 models to be much higher. The 2019 4-Series has a starting price tag of $45,595, making it $9,700 more expensive.

The 3-Series is the obvious choice for consumers looking for something versatile, as it's available as a sedan, wagon, and Gran Turismo, which is a sedan with a hatchback rear design. The 4-Series is available as a coupe, Gran Coupe (a four door-sedan variant), and convertible. If you want a vehicle that can handle a Costco run and take the dogs to the vet, the 3-Series is the better choice. With the 3-Series Gran Turismo, you get 56.6 cubic feet of cargo capacity, which is better than the 4-Series' 45.9 cubic feet of space in the Gran Coupe.

What the 4-Series Gets Right

When it comes to looks, the 4-Series is the vehicle that gets the nod. The model has sleeker, more athletic lines than the 3-Series. The design also translates to a sportier ride. Plus, the 4-Series comes with a more powerful base engine. While the 3-Series has a 180-hp, 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine, the 4-Series features a 248-hp variant of the same engine as standard.

The 4-Series Gran Coupe is the darling child for BMW's compact family. It's got dashing good looks, the usability of a sedan, and a large hatchback-like opening that makes it versatile. It also brings some extra suspension tweaks over the 3-Series sedan, even though it looks similar, which makes it a little more enjoyable to drive.

Style or Versatility?

The choice between the 3-Series and the 4-Series is pretty simple and only requires answering on question: do you want a coupe? If the answer to that is no, the 3-Series is the better choice. If the answer is yes, then the 4-Series coupe and convertible will only do. The 4-Series Gran Coupe is a conundrum, as its awfully similar to the 3-Series sedan, but offering more versatility and style. Whether it's worth the extra cost is a case-by-case basis.

Our Verdict: 3-Series

With the launch of a refreshed model for 2019, the BMW 3-Series is a better package than before. With more powerful engines, better driving dynamics, a new look, and more high-tech features, the 3-Series is sportier than before, while being a more complete package. The 3-Series is also the more versatile machine, as it’s available in Gran Turismo and wagon body styles. And with the new exterior design, you don’t have to compromise too much on styling, either.

Take a closer look at the BMW 3-Series »

Take a closer look at the BMW 4-Series »

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