Certified Benz & Beemer Compares 2011 BMW 3 Series VS 2011 Audi A4 Near Scottsdale, AZ

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2011 BMW 3 Series

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2011 Audi A4

Safety Comparison

The 3 Series Sedan offers optional Park Distance Control to help warn the driver about vehicles, pedestrians or other obstacles behind or in front of their vehicle. The A4 doesn’t offer a front parking aid.

The 3 Series Sedan offers optional BMW Assist, which uses a global positioning satellite (GPS) receiver and a cellular system to get driving directions, 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 A4 doesn’t offer a GPS response system, only a navigation computer with no live response for emergencies.

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

Warranty Comparison

BMW pays for scheduled maintenance on the 3 Series Sedan for 3 years and 45000 miles longer than Audi pays for maintenance for the A4 (4/50,000 vs. 1/5000).

There are over 33 percent more BMW dealers than there are Audi dealers, which makes it easier to get service under the 3 Series Sedan’s warranty.

Reliability Comparison

The camshafts in the 3 Series Sedan’s engine are driven by a hardened steel chain, with no maintenance needs. The A4’s camshafts are driven by a rubber belt that needs periodic replacement. If the A4’s cam drive belt breaks the engine could be severely damaged when the pistons hit the opened valves.

To reliably power the ignition and other systems and to recharge the battery, the 3 Series Sedan has a standard 180-amp alternator. The A4’s standard 120-amp alternator and largest (3.2) 150-amp alternator aren’t as powerful.

A reliable vehicle saves its owner time, money and trouble. Nobody wants to be stranded or have to be without their vehicle while it’s being repaired. Consumer Reports predicts that the BMW 3 Series Sedan 2WD 328i’s reliability will be 14% better than the A4.

J.D. Power and Associates’ surveys of the owners of three-year-old cars provide the long-term dependability statistics that show that BMW vehicles are more reliable than Audi vehicles. J.D. Power ranks BMW 17th in reliability, above the industry average. With 17 more problems per 100 vehicles, Audi is ranked 26th.

Engine Comparison

The 328i Sedan’s standard 3.0 DOHC 6 cyl. produces 19 more horsepower (230 vs. 211) than the A4’s 2.0 turbo 4 cyl. The 335i Sedan’s standard 3.0 turbo 6 cyl. produces 89 more horsepower (300 vs. 211) and 42 lbs.-ft. more torque (300 vs. 258) than the A4’s 2.0 turbo 4 cyl.

The 3 Series Sedan’s 3.0 turbo diesel produces 54 more horsepower (265 vs. 211) and 167 lbs.-ft. more torque (425 vs. 258) than the A4’s 2.0 turbo 4 cyl.

As tested in Consumer Reports the 328i Sedan is faster than the Audi A4 (automatics tested):

3 Series Sedan


Zero to 60 MPH

6.9 sec

7.3 sec

Quarter Mile

15.3 sec

15.5 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

94.6 MPH

92.3 MPH

Fuel Economy and Range Comparison

On the EPA test cycle the 335d Sedan gets better fuel mileage than the A4 FWD CVT (23 city/36 hwy vs. 22 city/30 hwy).

Brakes and Stopping Comparison

For better stopping power the 335’s brake rotors are larger than those on the A4:



Front Rotors

13.7 inches

12.6 inches

Rear Rotors

13.2 inches

11.3 inches

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

The 3 Series Sedan stops shorter than the A4:

3 Series Sedan


70 to 0 MPH

160 feet

165 feet

Car and Driver

60 to 0 MPH

116 feet

118 feet

Road & Track

Tires and Wheels Comparison

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 Comparison

The 335i Sedan handles at .95 G’s, while the A4 2.0T Sedan Quattro pulls only .83 G’s of cornering force in a Car and Driver skidpad test.

The 335d Sedan goes through Road & Track’s slalom 1.4 MPH faster than the A4 2.0T Sedan Quattro (70.5 vs. 69.1 MPH).

For better maneuverability, the 3 Series Sedan’s turning circle is 1.3 feet tighter than the A4’s (36.1 feet vs. 37.4 feet).

Chassis Comparison

The 3 Series Sedan is 7 inches shorter than the A4, making the 3 Series Sedan easier to handle, maneuver and park in tight spaces.

As tested by Road & Track, the interior of the 335d Sedan is quieter than the A4 2.0T Sedan Quattro:

3 Series Sedan



71 dB

71 dB

50 MPH Cruising

62 dB

67 dB

70 MPH Cruising

67 dB

71 dB

Passenger Space Comparison

The 3 Series Sedan has 2 cubic feet more passenger volume than the A4 Sedan (93 vs. 91).

The 3 Series Sedan has .2 inches more front legroom and .8 inches more rear shoulder room than the A4.

Cargo Capacity Comparison

With its coupe, convertible or sedan body style, valet key, locking rear seatbacks and remote trunk release lockout, the 3 Series Sedan offers cargo security. The A4’s non-lockable remote release defeats cargo security.

The 3 Series Sedan’s rear cargo window opens separately from the rest of the liftgate door to allow quicker loading of small packages. The A4’s rear cargo window doesn’t open.

Ergonomics Comparison

If the windows are left down on the 3 Series Sedan the driver can raise them all using the key in the outside lock cylinder. On a hot day the driver can lower the windows from outside the vehicle using the key in the outside lock cylinder or the keyless remote. The driver of the A4 can’t use the remote to operate the windows.

The 3 Series Sedan’s rain-sensitive wipers adjust their speed and turn on and off automatically based on the amount of rainfall on the windshield. This allows the driver to concentrate on driving without constantly adjusting the wipers. The A4’s standard manually variable intermittent wipers have to be constantly adjusted.

In poor weather, headlights can lose their effectiveness as grime builds up on their lenses. This can reduce visibility without the driver realizing. The 3 Series Sedan offers available headlight washers to keep headlight output high. The A4 doesn’t offer headlight washers.

The 3 Series Sedan has a standard automatic headlight on/off feature. When the ignition is on, the headlights automatically turn on at dusk and off after dawn. The A4 only offers an automatic headlight on/off feature as an extra cost option.

While driving with high-beams on, sensitive light sensors available for the 3 Series Sedan detect other vehicles which could be blinded and automatically switch to low-beams. The A4 doesn’t offer automatic dimming high-beams.

To help drivers avoid possible obstacles, the 3 Series Sedan offers optional cornering lights to illuminate around corners when the turn signals are activated. The A4 doesn’t offer cornering lights. The 3 Series Sedan also offers optional adaptive headlights to illuminate around corners automatically by reading vehicle speed and steering wheel angle.

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

Economic Advantages Comparison

The 3 Series Sedan will cost the buyer less in the long run because of its superior resale value. Kiplinger’s estimates that the 3 Series Sedan will retain a greater percentage of its original price after two and four years than the A4.

3 Series Sedan


Four Year

38% to 41%

34% to 36%

Two Year

54% to 59%

51% to 53%

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the 3 Series Sedan is less expensive to operate than the A4 because it costs $714 less to do the manufacturer’s suggested maintenance for 50,000 miles. Typical repairs cost much less on the 3 Series Sedan than the A4, including $55 less for a starter, $69 less for fuel injection and $297 less for a timing belt/chain.

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