Certified Benz & Beemer Compares 2003 BMW 3 Series VS 2003 Audi A4 Near Scottsdale, AZ

Responsive image

2003 BMW 3 Series

Responsive image

2003 Audi A4

Safety Comparison

For enhanced safety, the front seat shoulder belts of the BMW 3 Series 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 Audi A4 Cabriolet doesn’t offer height adjustable seat belts.

The 3 Series offers all wheel drive to maximize traction under poor conditions, especially in ice and snow. The A4 Cabriolet doesn’t offer all wheel drive.

The BMW 3 Series has Daytime Running Lights to help keep it more visible under all conditions. Daytime Running Lights decrease the chances of collisions. Canadian government studies show that driving with lights during the day reduces accidents by 11% by making vehicles more conspicuous. The A4 Cabriolet doesn’t offer Daytime Running Lights.

The 3 Series offers an optional Park Distance Control to help warn drivers about vehicles, pedestrians or other obstacles behind their vehicle. This collision warning system uses radar to detect obstacles behind the rear bumper. The A4 Cabriolet doesn’t offer a rear collision sensor.

The 3 Series offers optional BMW Assist, which uses a global positioning satellite (GPS) receiver and a cellular system to get driving directions or send emergency personnel to the scene if any airbags deploy. The A4 Cabriolet doesn’t offer a GPS response system.

Both the 3 Series and the A4 Cabriolet have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, plastic fuel tanks, four wheel antilock brakes and electronic stability systems to prevent skidding.

Warranty Comparison

There are over 30 percent more BMW dealers than there are Audi dealers, which makes it easier to get service under the 3 Series’ warranty.

Reliability Comparison

The camshafts in the 3 Series’ engine are driven by a hardened steel chain, with no maintenance needs. The A4 Cabriolet 1.8T 1.8 turbo DOHC 4 cyl.’s camshafts are driven by a rubber belt which eventually needs to be replaced. If the A4 Cabriolet’s cam drive belt breaks the engine could be severely damaged when the pistons hit the opened valves.

The battery on the 3 Series is in the trunk, which protects it from hot underhood temperatures which can degrade battery life. By keeping the 3 Series’ battery 20 to 30 degrees cooler, its life is increased by years. The A4 Cabriolet’s battery is in the hot engine compartment.

J.D. Power and Associates’ surveys of new car owners provide the statistics that show that BMW vehicles are better in initial quality than Audi vehicles. J.D. Power ranks BMW fourth in initial quality, above the industry average. With 21 more problems per 100 vehicles, Audi is ranked 14th.

J.D. Power and Associates’ surveys of the owners of eight year old cars provide the long-term dependability statistics which show that BMW vehicles are more reliable than Audi vehicles. J.D. Power ranks BMW 10th in reliability, above the industry average. With 111 more problems per 100 vehicles, Audi is ranked 22nd.

Engine Comparison

The 325i’s standard 2.5 DOHC 6 cyl. produces 14 more horsepower (184 vs. 170) and 9 lbs.-ft. more torque (175 vs. 166) than the A4 Cabriolet 1.8T’s standard 1.8 turbo DOHC 4 cyl. The 330i’s standard 3.0 DOHC 6 cyl. produces 5 more horsepower (225 vs. 220) than the A4 Cabriolet 3.0’s optional 3.0 DOHC V6.

Brakes and Stopping Comparison

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



A4 Cabriolet 1.8T

A4 Cabriolet 3.0

Front Rotors

11.8 inches

12.8 inches

11.3 inches

12.3 inches

Rear Rotors

11.6 inches

12.6 inches

9.6 inches

10 inches

The 3 Series’ standard front and rear disc brakes are vented to help dissipate heat for shorter stops with less fading. The rear discs on the A4 Cabriolet 3.0 are solid, not vented.

Tires and Wheels Comparison

The 330i’s optional 225/40R18 front and 255/35R18 rear tires provide better handling because they have a lower 40 series front and 35 series rear profile (height to width ratio) which provides a stiffer sidewall than the A4 Cabriolet’s optional 45 series tires.

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the 330i offers optional 18 inch wheels. The A4 Cabriolet’s largest wheels are only 17 inches.

The 3 Series offers an optional tire pressure monitoring system, which will alert the driver to a drop in tire pressure before damage to the tire or an accident might occur. The A4 Cabriolet doesn’t offer a low tire pressure warning system.

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

Suspension and Handling Comparison

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the 3 Series’ wheelbase is 2.8 inches longer than on the A4 Cabriolet (107.3 vs. 104.5 inches).

The 3 Series’ front to rear weight distribution is more even (50.1% to 49.9%) than the A4 Cabriolet’s (58% to 42%). This gives the 3 Series more stable handling and braking.

Chassis Comparison

The BMW 3 Series may be more efficient, handle and accelerate better because it weighs about 100 to 450 pounds less than the Audi A4 Cabriolet.

The 3 Series is 6.3 inches narrower on average than the A4 Cabriolet, making the 3 Series easier to handle and maneuver in traffic.

Passenger Space Comparison

The 3 Series Convertible has 7.1 cubic feet more passenger volume than the A4 Cabriolet (80 vs. 72.9).

Cargo Capacity Comparison

The 3 Series’ optional rear seats fold to accommodate long and bulky cargo. The A4 Cabriolet doesn’t offer folding rear seats, only a ski pass-through.

Ergonomics Comparison

The 3 Series’ optional rain-sensitive wipers adjust their speed to the amount of rainfall on the windshield. This allows the driver to concentrate on driving without constantly adjusting the wipers. The 3 Series’ standard speed sensitive intermittent wipers speed up as the car does, so that the driver doesn’t have to continually adjust the speed of the wipers. The A4 Cabriolet’s intermittent wipers have to be constantly adjusted.

The 3 Series offers an optional automatic headlight on/off feature. When the ignition is on, the headlights automatically turn on at dusk and off after dawn. When the ignition turns off, the headlights turn off after a delay timed to allow you to securely get to your front door. The A4 Cabriolet doesn’t offer automatic headlights.

When the 3 Series with available tilt-down mirrors 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 Cabriolet’s mirror doesn’t automatically adjust for backing.

Economic Advantages Comparison

The headlight lenses on the 3 Series are made of plastic to be lighter, more resistant to damage and less expensive to replace than the glass headlight lenses on the A4 Cabriolet.

© 1991-2016 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved. Who We Are
Click here to view the disclaimers, limitations and notices about EPA fuel mileage, crash tests, coprights, trademarks, and other issues.