2020 BMW 3 Series Sedan vs. 2019 Audi A4

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

Both the 3 Series Sedan and the A4 have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, driver and front passenger knee 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, rearview cameras, available all wheel drive, blind spot warning systems, around view monitors and rear cross-path warning.

For its top level performance in IIHS driver and passenger-side small overlap frontal, moderate overlap frontal, side impact, roof strength and head restraint tests, its standard front crash prevention system, and its headlight’s “Good” rating, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety grants the 3 Series Sedan its highest rating: “Top Pick Plus” for 2019, a rating granted to only 46 vehicles tested by the IIHS. The A4 is only a standard “Top Pick” for 2019.

Warranty

BMW pays for scheduled maintenance on the 3 Series Sedan 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 A4.

There are over 13 percent more BMW dealers than there are Audi dealers, which makes it easier should you ever need service under the 3 Series Sedan’s warranty.

Reliability

To reliably start during all conditions and help handle large electrical loads, the 3 Series Sedan has a standard 720-amp battery. The A4’s 420-amp battery isn’t as powerful.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2019 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 20th in initial quality. With 4 more problems per 100 vehicles, Audi is ranked 22nd.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2019 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 7th in reliability, above the industry average. With 2 more problems per 100 vehicles, Audi is ranked 8th.

Engine

The 330i’s standard 2.0 turbo 4-cyl. produces 67 more horsepower (255 vs. 188) and 59 lbs.-ft. more torque (295 vs. 236) than the A4 40 TFSI’s standard 2.0 turbo 4-cyl. The 330i’s 2.0 turbo 4-cyl. produces 7 more horsepower (255 vs. 248) and 22 lbs.-ft. more torque (295 vs. 273) than the A4 45 TFSI’s standard 2.0 turbo 4-cyl. The M340i’s standard 3.0 turbo 6-cyl. produces 134 more horsepower (382 vs. 248) and 96 lbs.-ft. more torque (369 vs. 273) than the A4 45 TFSI’s standard 2.0 turbo 4-cyl.

Fuel Economy and Range

On the EPA test cycle the 3 Series Sedan gets better fuel mileage than the A4:

MPG

3 Series Sedan

RWD

330i 2.0 turbo 4-cyl.

26 city/36 hwy

AWD

330i 2.0 turbo 4-cyl.

25 city/34 hwy

A4

FWD

TSFI 40 2.0 turbo 4-cyl.

27 city/34 hwy

AWD

TSFI 45 2.0 turbo 4-cyl.

23 city/34 hwy

Regenerative brakes improve the 3 Series Sedan’s fuel efficiency by converting inertia back into energy instead of wasting it. The A4 doesn’t offer a regenerative braking system.

Transmission

An eight-speed automatic is standard on the BMW 3 Series Sedan, for better acceleration and lower engine speed on the highway. Only a seven-speed automatic is available for the A4.

Brakes and Stopping

For better stopping power the 3 Series Sedan’s brake rotors are larger than those on the A4:

330i

M340i

A4

A4 Quattro

Front Rotors

13 inches

13.7 inches

12.4 inches

13.3 inches

Rear Rotors

13 inches

13.6 inches

11.8 inches

13 inches

Tires and Wheels

The 330i’s standard tires provide better handling because they have a lower 45 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the A4’s standard 50 series tires. The 3 Series Sedan’s optional 255/30R20 rear tires have a lower 30 series profile than the A4’s optional 35 series tires.

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the 330i has standard 18-inch wheels. Smaller 17-inch wheels are standard on the A4. The 3 Series Sedan’s optional 20-inch wheels are larger than the 19-inch wheels optional on the A4.

Changing a flat tire near traffic can be dangerous and inconvenient. The run-flat tires standard on the 3 Series Sedan can be driven up to 50 miles without any air pressure, allowing you to drive to a service station for a repair. The A4 doesn’t offer run-flat tires.

Suspension and Handling

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the 3 Series Sedan’s wheelbase is 2.2 inches longer than on the A4 (112.2 inches vs. 110 inches).

For better handling and stability, the track (width between the wheels) on the 3 Series Sedan is .4 inches wider in the front and 1.7 inches wider in the rear than on the A4.

The 3 Series Sedan’s front to rear weight distribution is more even (51.5% to 48.5%) than the A4’s (56% to 44%). This gives the 3 Series Sedan more stable handling and braking.

For better maneuverability, the 3 Series Sedan’s turning circle is .7 feet tighter than the A4’s (37.4 feet vs. 38.1 feet).

Chassis

The front grille of the 3 Series Sedan uses electronically controlled shutters to close off airflow and reduce drag when less engine cooling is needed. This helps improve highway fuel economy. The A4 doesn’t offer active grille shutters.

Passenger Space

The 3 Series Sedan has .7 inches more front legroom, .1 inches more front shoulder room, .2 inches more rear headroom and .1 inches more rear shoulder room than the A4.

Ergonomics

The 3 Series Sedan offers a remote vehicle starting system, so the vehicle can be started from inside the driver's house. This allows the driver to comfortably warm up the engine before going out to the vehicle. The climate system will also automatically heat or cool the interior. The A4 doesn’t offer a remote starting system.

If the windows are left open on the 3 Series Sedan the driver can close them all at the outside door handle or from a distance using the remote. On a hot day the driver can lower the windows from a distance using the keyless remote. The driver of the A4 can’t use the remote to operate the windows.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) conducts detailed tests on headlights for their range both straight ahead and in curves and to be certain they don’t exceed acceptable amounts of glare to oncoming drivers. The 3 Series Sedan’s available headlights were rated “Good” by the IIHS, while the A4’s headlights are rated “Acceptable” to “Marginal.”

The A4’s cornering lamps activate a lamp on the front corner when the turn signal is activated. The 3 Series Sedan’s optional adaptive cornering lights turn the actual headlight unit up to several degrees, depending on steering wheel angle and vehicle speed. This lights a significant distance into corners at any speed.

When the 3 Series Sedan 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 A4’s mirror doesn’t automatically adjust for backing.

To quickly and conveniently keep personal devices charged without cables tangling and wearing out, the BMW 3 Series offers an optional wireless phone charging system (Qi) in the center console. The A4 doesn’t offer wireless personal charging.

The 3 Series Sedan’s optional Parking Assistant Plus can parallel park or back into a parking spot by itself, starting, stopping and changing direction automatically. The A4 doesn’t offer an automated parking system.

Model Availability

The BMW 3 Series comes in sedan, four door hatchback and station wagon bodystyles; the Audi A4 isn’t available as a four door hatchback or station wagon.

Recommendations

The BMW 3 Series outsold the Audi A4/S4 by 29% during 2018.

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

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