Luxury Sports Sedan Challenge: Is the BMW 3 Series Still Best?

Even if you’ve never owned a luxury sedan, you know the big players because they’ve been around so long: Audi A4, BMW 3 Series, Mercedes-Benz C-Class. These veterans of the compact luxury sports sedan class have fresh targets on their backs from the all-new Alfa Romeo Giulia and Jaguar XE.

Now with more choices than ever, we gathered seven luxury sports sedans to see if the segment stalwarts still have the goods. The BMW 3 Series won this Challenge in 2013, but could redesigns from Audi and Mercedes trump the Bimmer, or could the new Italian Alfa Romeo Giulia or British Jaguar XE throw a — what’s that classic German idiom? — oh, yes, throw a spanner into the Germans’ sausage?

We focused on the turbocharged four-cylinder that’s ubiquitous to sports cars in this class and is, for most models, the volume-selling engine. The 2017 competitors were the Alfa Romeo Giulia Ti, Audi A4 2.0T Quattro, BMW 330i, Cadillac ATS 2.0T Luxury, Jaguar XE 25t Prestige, Lexus IS 200t and Mercedes-Benz C300. Our price requirement was a max of $55,000 including destination charges and options, and that got us a range of sedans from $45,830 to $53,025 with a mix of drivelines: The A4, Giulia and C300 had all-wheel drive and the rest rear-wheel drive. Infiniti declined to participate with a Q50 2.0t, and Mercedes didn’t have a car available that fit our requirements, though we procured one, which we explain in the C300 summary below.

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