2019 Audi A3 Sedan vs. 2019 BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

The A3 Sedan’s pre-crash front seatbelts will tighten automatically in the event the vehicle detects an impending crash, improving protection against injury significantly. The 4 Series Gran Coupe doesn’t offer pre-crash pretensioners.

For enhanced safety, the front and rear seat shoulder belts of the Audi A3 Sedan are height-adjustable to accommodate a wide variety of driver and passenger heights. A better fit can prevent injuries and the increased comfort also encourages passengers to buckle up. The BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe doesn’t offer height-adjustable seat belts.

The A3 Sedan has a standard Secondary Collision Brake Assist, which automatically applies the brakes in the event of a crash to help prevent secondary collisions and prevent further injuries. The 4 Series Gran Coupe doesn’t offer a post collision braking system: in the event of a collision that triggers the airbags, more collisions are possible without the protection of airbags that may have already deployed.

To help make backing safer, the A3 Sedan’s optional cross-path warning system uses wide-angle radar in the rear bumper to alert the driver to vehicles approaching from the side, helping the driver avoid collisions. The 4 Series Gran Coupe doesn’t offer a cross-path warning system.

Both the A3 Sedan and the 4 Series Gran Coupe have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, driver and front passenger knee airbags, side-impact head airbags, plastic fuel tanks, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, daytime running lights, rearview cameras, available lane departure warning systems, blind spot warning systems and rear parking sensors.

For its top level performance in all IIHS frontal, side, rear impact and roof-crush tests, its standard front crash prevention system, and its available headlight’s “Acceptable” rating, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety grants the A3 Sedan the rating of “Top Pick” for 2018, a rating granted to only 85 vehicles tested by the IIHS. The 4 Series Gran Coupe has not been tested, yet.

Reliability

The Audi A3 Sedan’s engines use a cast iron block for durability, while the 4 Series Gran Coupe’s engines use an aluminum block. Aluminum engine blocks are much more prone to warp and crack at high temperatures than cast iron.

To reliably power the ignition and other systems and to recharge the battery, the A3 Sedan has a standard 320-amp alternator. The 4 Series Gran Coupe’s 170-amp alternator isn’t as powerful.

From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ December 2018 Auto Issue reports that Audi vehicles are more reliable than BMW vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks Audi 1 place higher in reliability than BMW.

Engine

As tested in Car and Driver the A3 Sedan 45 TSFI is faster than the 430i Gran Coupe:

 

A3

4 Series

Zero to 30 MPH

1.9 sec

2 sec

Zero to 60 MPH

5.4 sec

5.7 sec

Zero to 100 MPH

14 sec

14.9 sec

5 to 60 MPH Rolling Start

6.3 sec

6.8 sec

Passing 30 to 50 MPH

3.2 sec

3.6 sec

Passing 50 to 70 MPH

4 sec

4.3 sec

Quarter Mile

14 sec

14.3 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

100 MPH

98 MPH

Top Speed

129 MPH

127 MPH

Fuel Economy and Range

On the EPA test cycle the A3 Sedan 40 TSFI FWD gets better fuel mileage than the 430i Gran Coupe RWD (26 city/35 hwy vs. 24 city/34 hwy).

To lower fuel costs and make buying fuel easier, the Audi A3 Sedan uses regular unleaded gasoline (premium recommended on A3 Sedan 45 TSFI for maximum performance). The 4 Series Gran Coupe requires premium, which can cost 20 to 55 cents more per gallon.

Environmental Friendliness

In its Green Vehicle Guide, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rates the Audi A3 Sedan higher (7 out of 10) than the BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe (3 to 7). This means the A3 Sedan produces up to 24.5 pounds less smog-producing pollutants than the 4 Series Gran Coupe every 15,000 miles.

The EPA certifies the Audi A3 Sedan as a “Partial Zero Emissions Vehicle” (PZEV). The BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe is only certified to “Super Ultra Low Emissions Vehicle” (SULEV) standards.

Transmission

The A3 Sedan offers a standard sequential manual gearbox (SMG). With no clutch pedal to worry about and a fully automatic mode, an SMG is much more efficient than a conventional automatic but just as easy to drive. The 4 Series Gran Coupe doesn’t offer an SMG or a conventional manual transmission.

Brakes and Stopping

The A3 Sedan stops much shorter than the 4 Series Gran Coupe:

 

A3

4 Series

 

70 to 0 MPH

156 feet

186 feet

Car and Driver

Tires and Wheels

For better traction, the A3 Sedan Premium Plus/Prestige’s optional tires are larger than the largest tires available on the 4 Series Gran Coupe (235/35R19 vs. 225/45R18).

The A3 Sedan Premium Plus/Prestige’s optional tires provide better handling because they have a lower 35 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the 4 Series Gran Coupe’s optional 40 series front tires.

The A3 Sedan has a standard space-saver spare tire so you can replace a flat tire and drive to have the flat repaired or replaced. A spare tire isn’t available on the 4 Series Gran Coupe; it requires you to depend on its run-flat tires, which limits mileage and speed before they are repaired. If a run-flat is damaged beyond repair by a road hazard your vehicle will have to be towed. Some models of the 4 Series Gran Coupe don’t even offer run-flats.

Suspension and Handling

The A3 Sedan Premium Quattro handles at .94 G’s, while the 430i Gran Coupe pulls only .89 G’s of cornering force in a Car and Driver skidpad test.

For better maneuverability, the A3 Sedan’s turning circle is 1 foot tighter than the 4 Series Gran Coupe’s (36.1 feet vs. 37.1 feet). The A3 Sedan’s turning circle is 2.6 feet tighter than the 4 Series Gran Coupe xDrive’s (36.1 feet vs. 38.7 feet).

Chassis

The Audi A3 Sedan may be more efficient, handle and accelerate better because it weighs about 500 to 550 pounds less than the BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe.

The A3 Sedan is 7.2 inches shorter than the 4 Series Gran Coupe, making the A3 Sedan easier to handle, maneuver and park in tight spaces.

Servicing Ease

J.D. Power and Associates surveys of service recipients show that Audi service is better than BMW. J.D. Power ranks Audi third in service department satisfaction. With a 14% lower rating, BMW is ranked 8th.

Ergonomics

Heated windshield washer nozzles are standard on the A3 Sedan to prevent washer fluid and nozzles from freezing and help continue to keep the windshield clear in sub-freezing temperatures. The 4 Series Gran Coupe doesn’t offer heated windshield washer nozzles.

To shield the driver and front passenger’s vision over a larger portion of the windshield and side windows, the A3 Sedan has standard extendable sun visors. The 4 Series Gran Coupe doesn’t offer extendable visors.

Economic Advantages

Insurance will cost less for the A3 Sedan owner. The Complete Car Cost Guide estimates that insurance for the A3 Sedan will cost $1485 less than the 4 Series Gran Coupe over a five-year period.

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the A3 Sedan is less expensive to operate than the 4 Series Gran Coupe because typical repairs cost much less on the A3 Sedan than the 4 Series Gran Coupe, including $212 less for a water pump, $265 less for a muffler, $50 less for front brake pads, $104 less for a starter, $136 less for a fuel pump, $555 less for a timing belt/chain and $78 less for a power steering pump.

IntelliChoice estimates that five-year ownership costs (depreciation, financing, insurance, fuel, fees, repairs and maintenance) for the Audi A3 Sedan will be $8674 to $8696 less than for the BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe.

Recommendations

Consumer Reports® recommends the Audi A3 Sedan, based on reliability, safety and performance.

J.D. Power and Associates rated the A3 Sedan first among small premium cars in owner reported satisfaction. This includes how well the vehicle performs and satisfies its owner’s expectations. The 4 Series Gran Coupe was rated third in its category.

© 1991-2018 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved.

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