2019 Volkswagen Golf R vs. 2019 BMW 3 Series Sedan

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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For enhanced safety, the front seat shoulder belts of the Volkswagen Golf R 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 3 Series Sedan doesn’t offer height-adjustable seat belts.

The Golf R has a standard Automatic Post-Collision Braking System, which automatically applies the brakes in the event of a crash to help prevent secondary collisions and prevent further injuries. The 3 Series Sedan 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.

Over 200 people are killed each year when backed over by motor vehicles. The Golf R has standard Maneuver Braking that uses rear sensors to monitor and automatically apply the brakes to prevent a rear collision. The 3 Series Sedan doesn’t offer backup collision prevention brakes.

To provide maximum traction and stability on all roads, All-Wheel Drive is standard on the Golf R. But it costs extra on the 3 Series Sedan.

Both the Golf R and the 3 Series Sedan have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, side-impact head airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, plastic fuel tanks, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, crash mitigating brakes, daytime running lights, lane departure warning systems and rearview cameras.


The Golf R comes with a full 6-year/72000-mile basic warranty, which covers the entire car. The 3 Series Sedan’s 4-year/50,000-mile basic warranty expires 2 years and 22000 miles sooner.

There are over 89 percent more Volkswagen dealers than there are BMW dealers, which makes it much easier should you ever need service under the Golf R’s warranty.


The Volkswagen Golf R’s engine uses a cast iron block for durability, while the 3 Series Sedan’s engines use an aluminum block. Aluminum engine blocks are much more prone to warp and crack at high temperatures than cast iron.


The Golf R’s 2.0 turbo 4 cyl. produces 33 more horsepower (288 vs. 255) than the 330i’s standard 2.0 turbo 4 cyl.

As tested in Car and Driver the Volkswagen Golf R is faster than the 330i (automatics tested):

Golf R

3 Series

Zero to 30 MPH

1.6 sec

1.9 sec

Zero to 60 MPH

4.5 sec

5.2 sec

Zero to 80 MPH

7.6 sec

8.6 sec

Zero to 100 MPH

11.7 sec

13.9 sec

5 to 60 MPH Rolling Start

5.8 sec

6.4 sec

Passing 30 to 50 MPH

2.8 sec

3.2 sec

Passing 50 to 70 MPH

3.3 sec

3.9 sec

Quarter Mile

13.2 sec

13.9 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

106 MPH

100 MPH

Fuel Economy and Range

To lower fuel costs and make buying fuel easier, the Volkswagen Golf R uses regular unleaded gasoline (premium recommended for maximum performance). The 3 Series Sedan requires premium, which can cost 20 to 55 cents more per gallon.


The Golf R offers a manual transmission for better acceleration, control and fuel economy. The 3 Series Sedan doesn’t offer a manual transmission.

The Golf R offers an optional 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 3 Series Sedan doesn’t offer an SMG.

Brakes and Stopping

For better stopping power the Golf R’s standard front brake rotors are larger than those on the 3 Series Sedan:

Golf R

3 Series

Front Rotors

13.4 inches

13 inches

The Golf R stops shorter than the 3 Series Sedan:

Golf R

3 Series

70 to 0 MPH

156 feet

165 feet

Car and Driver

Tires and Wheels

For better traction, the Golf R’s optional tires are larger than the largest tires available on the 3 Series Sedan (235/35R19 vs. 225/35R20).

The Golf R’s standard tires provide better handling because they have a lower 40 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the 330i’s standard 45 series tires.

The Golf R 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 3 Series Sedan; 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.

Suspension and Handling

The Golf R handles at .95 G’s, while the 330i xDrive pulls only .89 G’s of cornering force in a Car and Driver skidpad test.

For better maneuverability, the Golf R’s turning circle is 1.6 feet tighter than the 3 Series Sedan’s (35.8 feet vs. 37.4 feet). The Golf R’s turning circle is 3.4 feet tighter than the 3 Series Sedan xDrive’s (35.8 feet vs. 39.2 feet).


The Volkswagen Golf R may be more efficient, handle and accelerate better because it weighs about 300 to 600 pounds less than the BMW 3 Series Sedan.

The Golf R is 1 foot, 5.3 inches shorter than the 3 Series Sedan, making the Golf R easier to handle, maneuver and park in tight spaces.

Passenger Space

The Golf R has .5 inches more rear headroom and .4 inches more rear legroom than the 3 Series Sedan.


To improve rear visibility by keeping the rear window clear, the Golf R has a standard rear wiper. The 3 Series Sedan doesn’t offer a rear wiper.


The Golf was chosen as one of Car and Driver’s “Top Ten” for 13 of the last 13 years. The 3 Series Sedan has never been a Car and Driver “Top Ten” pick.

Motor Trend selected the Golf as their 2015 Car of the Year. The 3 Series Sedan has never been chosen.

The Golf R was chosen as one of Automobile Magazine’s “All Stars” in 2016. The 3 Series Sedan has never been an “All Star.”

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

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