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

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

The 4 Series Gran Coupe has standard Active Headrests, which use a specially designed headrest to protect the driver and front passenger from whiplash. During a rear-end collision, the Active Headrests system moves the headrests forward to prevent neck and spine injuries. The A3 Sedan doesn’t offer a whiplash protection system.

The 4 Series Gran Coupe offers an optional Side and Top View Cameras to allow the driver to see objects all around the vehicle on a screen. The A3 Sedan only offers a rear monitor and front and rear parking sensors that beep or flash a light. That doesn’t help with obstacles to the sides.

The 4 Series Gran Coupe has standard BMW Assist, which uses a global positioning satellite (GPS) receiver and a cellular system to remotely unlock your doors if you lock your keys in, help track down your vehicle if it’s stolen or send emergency personnel to the scene if any airbags deploy. The A3 Sedan doesn’t offer a GPS response system, only a navigation computer with no live response for emergencies, so if you’re involved in an accident and you’re incapacitated help may not come as quickly.

Both the 4 Series Gran Coupe and the A3 Sedan 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 all wheel drive, crash mitigating brakes, lane departure warning systems and blind spot warning systems.

Warranty

BMW pays for scheduled maintenance on the 4 Series Gran Coupe for 3 years and 36,000 miles. BMW will pay for oil changes, lubrication and any other required maintenance. Audi only pays for the first scheduled maintenance visit on the A3 Sedan.

There are over 13 percent more BMW dealers than there are Audi dealers, which makes it easier should you ever need service under the 4 Series Gran Coupe’s warranty.

Reliability

The battery on the 4 Series Gran Coupe is in the trunk, which protects it from hot underhood temperatures that can degrade battery life. By keeping the 4 Series Gran Coupe’s battery 20 to 30 degrees cooler, its life is increased by years. The A3 Sedan’s battery is in the hot engine compartment.

J.D. Power and Associates rated the 4 Series Gran Coupe first among compact premium cars in their 2018 Initial Quality Study. The A3 Sedan isn’t in the top three in its category.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2018 Initial Quality Study of new car owners surveyed provide the statistics that show that BMW vehicles are better in initial quality than Audi vehicles. J.D. Power ranks BMW 11th in initial quality, above the industry average. With 18 more problems per 100 vehicles, Audi is ranked 25th, below the industry average.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2018 survey of the owners of three-year-old vehicles provides the long-term dependability statistics that show that BMW vehicles are more reliable than Audi vehicles. J.D. Power ranks BMW 8th in reliability, above the industry average. With 14 more problems per 100 vehicles, Audi is ranked 13th.

Engine

The 430i Gran Coupe’s standard 2.0 turbo 4 cyl. produces 64 more horsepower (248 vs. 184) and 37 lbs.-ft. more torque (258 vs. 221) than the A3 Sedan 40 TSFI’s standard 2.0 turbo 4 cyl. The 430i Gran Coupe’s 2.0 turbo 4 cyl. produces 20 more horsepower (248 vs. 228) than the A3 Sedan 45 TSFI’s optional 2.0 turbo 4 cyl. The 440i Gran Coupe’s standard 3.0 turbo 6 cyl. produces 94 more horsepower (322 vs. 228) and 74 lbs.-ft. more torque (332 vs. 258) than the A3 Sedan 45 TSFI’s optional 2.0 turbo 4 cyl.

Fuel Economy and Range

On the EPA test cycle the 430i Gran Coupe xDrive gets better highway fuel mileage than the A3 Sedan 45 TSFI Quattro Auto 2.0 turbo 4 cyl. (228 HP) (33 hwy vs. 31 hwy).

Regenerative brakes improve the 4 Series Gran Coupe’s fuel efficiency by converting inertia back into energy instead of wasting it. The A3 Sedan doesn’t offer a regenerative braking system.

In heavy traffic or at stoplights the 4 Series Gran Coupe’s engine automatically turns off when the vehicle is stopped, saving fuel and reducing pollution. The engine is automatically restarted when the driver gets ready to move again. (Start/Stop isn’t accounted in present EPA fuel mileage tests.) The A3 Sedan doesn’t offer an automatic engine start/stop system.

The 4 Series Gran Coupe has 2.6 gallons more fuel capacity than the A3 Sedan 40 TSFI’s standard fuel tank (15.8 vs. 13.2 gallons), for longer range between fill-ups. The 4 Series Gran Coupe has 1.3 gallons more fuel capacity than the A3 Sedan 45 TFSI Quattro’s standard fuel tank (15.8 vs. 14.5 gallons).

Transmission

An eight-speed automatic is standard on the BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe, for better acceleration and lower engine speed on the highway. Only a seven-speed automatic is available for the A3 Sedan.

Brakes and Stopping

For better stopping power the 440i Gran Coupe’s brake rotors are larger than those on the A3 Sedan:

 

440i Gran Coupe

A3 Sedan

Front Rotors

13.4 inches

12.3 inches

Rear Rotors

13 inches

10.7 inches

The 4 Series Gran Coupe’s standard front and rear disc brakes are vented to help dissipate heat for shorter stops with less fading. The rear discs on the A3 Sedan are solid, not vented.

Tires and Wheels

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the 4 Series Gran Coupe has standard 18-inch wheels. Smaller 17-inch wheels are standard on the A3 Sedan.

Changing a flat tire near traffic can be dangerous and inconvenient. The run-flat tires available on the 4 Series Gran Coupe can be driven up to 50 miles without any air pressure, allowing you to drive to a service station for a repair. The A3 Sedan doesn’t offer run-flat tires.

Suspension and Handling

The 4 Series Gran Coupe offers an optional driver-adjustable suspension system. It allows the driver to choose between an extra-supple ride, reducing fatigue on long trips, or a sport setting, which allows maximum control for tricky roads. The A3 Sedan’s suspension doesn’t offer adjustable shock absorbers.

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the 4 Series Gran Coupe’s wheelbase is 6.8 inches longer than on the A3 Sedan (110.6 inches vs. 103.8 inches).

For better handling and stability, the average track (width between the wheels) on the 4 Series Gran Coupe is 2.7 inches wider in the rear than the track on the A3 Sedan.

The 4 Series Gran Coupe’s front to rear weight distribution is more even (50% to 50%) than the A3 Sedan’s (58.1% to 41.9%). This gives the 4 Series Gran Coupe more stable handling and braking.

Chassis

The design of the BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe amounts to more than styling. The 4 Series Gran Coupe has an aerodynamic coefficient of drag of .29 Cd. That is lower than the A3 Sedan (.32) and many sports cars. A more efficient exterior helps keep the interior quieter and helps the 4 Series Gran Coupe get better fuel mileage.

As tested by Car and Driver while at idle, the interior of the 430i Gran Coupe xDrive is quieter than the A3 Sedan Premium Quattro (40 vs. 41 dB).

Passenger Space

Because it has more passenger and cargo room, the EPA rates the 4 Series Gran Coupe a Compact car, while the A3 Sedan is rated a Subcompact.

The 4 Series Gran Coupe has 6 cubic feet more passenger volume than the A3 Sedan (92 vs. 86).

The 4 Series Gran Coupe has 3.4 inches more front headroom, 1 inch more front legroom, .8 inches more rear headroom and 1.3 inches more rear shoulder room than the A3 Sedan.

Cargo Capacity

To make loading and unloading groceries and cargo easier when your hands are full, the 4 Series Gran Coupe’s power liftgate can be opened or closed just by kicking your foot under the back bumper, leaving your hands completely free. The A3 Sedan doesn’t offer a power or hands-free opening trunk.

Servicing Ease

The engine in the 4 Series Gran Coupe is mounted longitudinally (North-South), instead of sideways, as in the A3 Sedan. This makes it easier to service and maintain, because the accessory belts are in front.

The 4 Series Gran Coupe has a maintenance free battery for long life without checking the battery’s water level. The A3 Sedan doesn’t have a maintenance free battery, so the water level in the battery’s cells must be checked often to prevent damage.

Ergonomics

When two different drivers share the 4 Series Gran Coupe, the memory system makes it convenient for both. Each keyless remote activates different, customized memories for the driver’s seat position, outside mirror angle, climate settings and radio stations. The A3 Sedan doesn’t offer a memory system.

The 4 Series Gran Coupe offers an optional heads-up display that projects speed and other key instrumentation readouts in front of the driver’s line of sight, allowing drivers to view information without diverting their eyes from the road. The A3 Sedan doesn’t offer a heads-up display.

Comfort Access standard on the 4 Series Gran Coupe allows you to unlock the driver’s door, trunk and start the engine all without removing a key from pocket or purse. This eliminates searching for keys before loading groceries, getting in the vehicle in bad weather or making a hurried start to your trip. The Audi A3 Sedan’s available Audi Advanced Key doesn’t unlock the trunk.

To help drivers see further while navigating curves, the 4 Series Gran Coupe offers optional adaptive headlights to illuminate around corners automatically by reading vehicle speed and steering wheel angle. The A3 Sedan doesn’t offer cornering lights.

A power rear sunshade is optional in the 4 Series Gran Coupe (except 320i) to help block heat and glare for the rear passengers. The A3 Sedan doesn’t offer a rear sunshade.

When the 4 Series Gran Coupe is put in reverse, the passenger rearview mirror tilts from its original position. This gives the driver a better view of the curb during parallel parking maneuvers. Shifting out of reverse puts the mirror into its original position. The A3 Sedan’s mirror doesn’t automatically adjust for backing.

Both the 4 Series Gran Coupe and the A3 Sedan offer optional heated front seats. The 4 Series Gran Coupe also offers optional heated rear seats to keep those passengers extremely comfortable in the winter. Heated rear seats aren’t available in the A3 Sedan.

On extremely cold winter days, the 4 Series Gran Coupe’s optional heated steering wheel provides comfort, allowing the driver to steer safely and comfortably before the car heater warms up. The A3 Sedan doesn’t offer a heated steering wheel.

Economic Advantages

Insurance will cost less for the 4 Series Gran Coupe owner. The Car Book by Jack Gillis rates the 4 Series Gran Coupe with a number “1” insurance rate while the A3 Sedan is rated higher at a number “5” rate.

The 4 Series Gran Coupe will cost the buyer less in the long run because of its superior resale value. The IntelliChoice estimates that the 4 Series Gran Coupe will retain 47.49% to 50.4% of its original price after five years, while the A3 Sedan only retains 47% to 47.42%.

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the 4 Series Gran Coupe is less expensive to operate than the A3 Sedan because it costs $432 less to do the manufacturer’s suggested maintenance for 50,000 miles. Typical repairs cost less on the 4 Series Gran Coupe than the A3 Sedan, including $149 less for fuel injection and $77 less for front struts.

Recommendations

The 4 Series was chosen as one of Car and Driver’s “Top Ten” in 2014. The A3 Sedan has never been a Car and Driver “Top Ten” pick.

The 4 Series was chosen as one of Automobile Magazine’s “All Stars” in 2014. The A3 Sedan has never been an “All Star.”

The BMW 4 Series outsold the Audi A3/S3 by 71% during 2018.

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

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