For many motorists, the appeal of the compact entry-level luxury sedan is quite apparent. These cars are beautiful and they are truly fun to drive as well. You are cocooned in luxury, and you’ve got lots of options to choose from. Yet even though you get the comfort, performance, and brand recognition, the price is actually quite reasonable.
While there are quite a few options in this category, you really ought to look at the top contenders. For many experts, the fight is essentially BMW 3 Series vs. Audi A4 vs. Lexus IS350.
BMW 3 Series
For many automobile enthusiasts, the BMW 3 series is perhaps the car which truly symbolizes the appeal of the compact entry-level luxury sedan. Since it was introduced in 1975, it has come to define what this particular segment is all about. It has won a slew of awards, and it is BMW’s best-selling model. Every other car that came after it has one standard to measure against, and that’s the standard set by the BMW 3 series.
For the latest models, BMW offers the usual coupe, convertible, and high-performance M3 variants, and there’s even a 320i version that allows people to drive a BMW at an even more affordable price tag. Driving any BMW 3 is a pleasure, and its features are topnotch. The standard BMW luxuries are all here, as well as safety features which include stability and traction controls and anti-lock brakes. You get 8 airbags and active head restraints. There’s even a parking assistant! For the engine, you can choose between the 2-liter turbo-4, the 3-liter inline turbo 6, and the V8 in the M3 that offers 414 horsepower.
The BMW 3 is just about ideal, with the brand name recognition, the driving features, and the formidable resale value. But perhaps its main disadvantage is that it is possible to get the same kind of driving experience for perhaps a smaller price tag by getting another brand, as long as you are willing to give up the prestige of the BMW name.
Since it debuted, the A4 has styled itself as a major competitor for the BMW 3 series. The styling is superb, the interior is top-notch, and even the fuel efficiency is impressive. The A$ seems to value precision handling and driving over obvious comfort, but it’s not as stiff a ride as the BMW 3.
The look of the A4 is quite stylish, and perhaps even elegant. Even after 4 years in the market, its basic look has remained very tasteful in the eyes of motorists. Inside, the feeling is quite posh, and the design and the materials are all excellent. But the 4-cylinder turbocharged engine is the real come-on here. The 2-liter engine is very efficient, and yet it also offers an attractive fuel economy.
The base trim is called Premium, and a quick look at the features shows you why you can’t really call it a basic package. There are lots of comforts to be had, including power front seats, leather seats, and 17-inch wheels. There’s even a Sirius satellite radio. With the Premium Plus, you get even more features such as Bluetooth connectivity, navigation, and a superb stereo system.
While the MSRP for the 2013 Audi4 starts at around $33,000, that figure rises quickly when you start piling on the options. With the Prestige trim, that price tag will jump to $43 K. and the resale value doesn’t really do as well as with the BMW 3 series.
There’s a new Lexus IS coming in 2014, and it first made its debut in the 2013 Detroit auto show. But it’s not really new under the hood. It’s the same 3.5-liter DOHC V-6 from the previous model, so you can expect the same 306 horsepower and 277 pound feet of torque. What’s different is the interior, though. Earlier versions were a bit cramped inside, but the new version is quite spacious, which makes it more practical. The cargo space is bigger as well.
You can also choose between rear-wheel drive and all-wheel drive. For the rear-wheel drive, the 8-speed automatic transmission is standard. The AWD version uses a 6-speed automatic. You’ve got lots of options to choose from, but the standard equipment is already enticing. It comes with keyless ignition, power front seats, 17-inch wheels, xenon headlights, Bluetooth, and USB integration.
All in all, the Lexus IS 350 is perfect for daily driving in style and comfort. It’s satisfyingly quick, and the handling is great.
So which one would you choose? It really boils down to personal preferences, but in the end no matter which one you choose among the three, you’ll end up with a luxury sedan that’s both fast and comfortable, and prestigious to boot.
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