Certified Benz & Beemer Compares 2012 BMW 3 Series VS 2012 Audi S4 Near Phoenix, AZ

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2012 BMW 3 Series

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VS

2012 Audi S4

Safety Comparison

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The 3 Series Sedan’s optional front seatbelts will tighten automatically in the event the vehicle detects an impending crash, improving protection against injury significantly. The S4 doesn’t offer pre-crash pretensioners.

The 3 Series Sedan offers an optional collision warning system, which detects an impending crash through forward mounted sensors and flashes a bright light and sounds a loud, distinctive tone to warn the driver to brake or maneuver immediately to avoid a collision. The S4 doesn't offer a collision warning system.

The 3 Series Sedan’s optional lane departure warning system alerts a temporarily inattentive driver when the vehicle begins to leave its lane. The S4 doesn’t offer a lane departure warning system.

The 3 Series Sedan offers an optional Surround View to allow the driver to see objects all around the vehicle on a screen. The S4 only offers rear parking sensors that beep or flash a light. That doesn’t help with obstacles to the sides.

The 3 Series Sedan offers optional BMW Assist, which uses a global positioning satellite (GPS) receiver and a cellular system to 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 S4 doesn’t offer a GPS response system, only a navigation computer with no live response for emergencies, so if you’re involved in an accident and you’re incapacitated help may not come as quickly.

Both the 3 Series Sedan and the S4 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

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BMW pays for scheduled maintenance on the 3 Series Sedan for 3 years and 45000 miles longer than Audi pays for maintenance for the S4 (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

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To reliably power the ignition and other systems and to recharge the battery, the 3 Series Sedan has a standard 170 amp alternator. The S4’s 140 amp alternator isn’t as powerful.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2011 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 13th in initial quality. With 4 more problems per 100 vehicles, Audi is ranked 18th.

Engine Comparison

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For more instantaneous acceleration and better engine flexibility in any gear, the 3 Series Sedan’s engines produce their peak torque at lower RPM’s than the S4:

Torque

328i 2.0 turbo 4 cyl.

1250 RPM

335i 3.0 turbo 6 cyl.

1300 RPM

S4 3.0 supercharged V6

2900 RPM

Fuel Economy and Range Comparison

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Regenerative brakes improve the 3 Series Sedan’s fuel efficiency by converting inertia back into energy instead of wasting it. The S4 doesn’t offer a regenerative braking system.

In heavy traffic or at stoplights the 3 Series Sedan’s engine automatically turns off when the vehicle is stopped, saving fuel and reducing pollution. The engine is automatically restarted when the driver gets ready to move again. (Start/Stop isn’t accounted in present EPA fuel mileage tests.) The S4 doesn’t offer an automatic engine start/stop system.

Brakes and Stopping Comparison

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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 S4 are solid, not vented.

The 3 Series Sedan stops shorter than the S4:

3 Series Sedan

S4

70 to 0 MPH

164 feet

167 feet

Car and Driver

Tires and Wheels Comparison

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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 S4 doesn’t offer run-flat tires.

Suspension and Handling Comparison

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For better handling and stability, the track (width between the wheels) on the 3 Series Sedan is 1.3 inches wider in the rear than on the S4.

The 328i goes through Road & Track’s slalom faster than the S4 (69 vs. 68.4 MPH).

Chassis Comparison

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The BMW 3 Series Sedan may be more efficient, handle and accelerate better because it weighs about 350 to 450 pounds less than the Audi S4.

The 3 Series Sedan is 3.2 inches shorter than the S4, making the 3 Series Sedan easier to handle, maneuver and park in tight spaces.

As tested by Road & Track while cruising at 50 MPH, the interior of the 328i is quieter than the S4 (70 vs. 71 dB).

Passenger Space Comparison

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The 3 Series Sedan has 5 cubic feet more passenger volume than the S4 (96 vs. 91).

The 3 Series Sedan has .3 inches more front headroom, .7 inches more front legroom, .2 inches more rear headroom and .8 inches more rear shoulder room than the S4.

Cargo Capacity Comparison

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The 3 Series Sedan has a larger trunk than the S4 (13 vs. 12.4 cubic feet).

Ergonomics Comparison

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The 3 Series Sedan offers an optional heads-up display which projects speed and other key instrumentation readouts onto the windshield, allowing drivers to view information without diverting their eyes from the road. The S4 doesn’t offer a heads-up display.

If the windows are left down on the 3 Series Sedan w/Comfort Access 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 S4 can’t use the remote to operate the windows.

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 S4 doesn’t offer headlight washers.

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 S4 doesn’t offer automatic dimming high beams.

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 S4’s mirror doesn’t automatically adjust for backing.

Both the 3 Series Sedan and the S4 offer available heated front seats. The 3 Series Sedan also offers optional heated rear seats to keep those passengers extremely comfortable in the winter. Heated rear seats aren’t available in the S4.

Optional BMW Apps for the 3 Series Sedan allows the driver and passengers access to select programs on their smartphones, including reading text messages aloud, playing internet radio stations, tagging songs to buy them later, following twitter accounts and other online activities without taking their eyes off the road or their hands from the wheel. The S4 doesn’t offer factory integrated smartphone program access.

The 3 Series Sedan’s optional Parking Assistant can parallel park or back into a parking spot by itself, with the driver only controlling speed with the brake pedal. The S4 doesn’t offer an automated parking system.

Economic Advantages Comparison

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Insurance will cost less for the 3 Series Sedan owner. The Complete Car Cost Guide estimates that insurance for the 3 Series Sedan will cost $890 to $1835 less than the S4 over a five-year period.

Intellichoice estimates that five-year ownership costs (depreciation, financing, insurance, fuel, fees, repairs and maintenance) for the BMW 3 Series Sedan will be $5110 to $10798 less than for the Audi S4.

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