We’ve done comparisons for Audi’s, Volkswagen’s, and competing brands. Today, we’ll be going over competing brands, the Audi A4 vs BMW 3 Series. These two vehicles have some things in common, but also many things that are different. Therefore, we will be comparing the size, price, performance, reliability, common problems, and more between the two. The Audi A4 and BMW 3 Series have both been around for over 2 decades and are extremely popular still to this day.
Audi A4 vs BMW 3 Series – The Basics
The Audi A4 was first introduced in 1994 and is still being produced today. It is classified as a compact executive car for Audi. Since its inception, the A4 has had 5 different generations: B5, B6, B7, B8/B8.5, and B9. The B5 A4 was built on the PL45 platform, the B6 A4 & B7 A4 were built on the PL46 platform, the B8/B8.5 A4 was built on the MLB platform, and, lastly, the B9 A4 was built on the MLB Evo platform. There have been many body styles since it was created: 2-door cabriolet (convertible), 4-door sedan, and a 5-door avant. For the 2022 model year, there are three different styles: 4-door sedan, 4-door allroad, and, a sport variant, S4.
The BMW 3 Series was first introduced in 1977 and is still being produced today. It is classified as a compact executive car for BMW. Unsurprisingly, the 3 Series is the BMWs best-selling model and makes up 30% of BMWs total sales. Since the 3 Series was introduced it has had many body styles: 2-door saloon, 4-door saloon, 2-door convertible, 2-door coupe, 5-door estate, 5-door liftback, and a 3-door hatchback. However, many of these body styles have been spun off the 3 series badge. For the 2022 model year, there is only one body style and it is a 4-door sedan, but multiple different options. There’s the regular core models (330i), electric (330e), and sport variant M models (M340i & M3 M).
Audi A4 Generations
BMW 3 Series Generations
- E21 3 Series (1977-1983)
- E30 3 Series (1984-1991)
- E36 3 Series (1992-1998)
- E46 3 Series (1999-2005)
- E90/E91/E92/E93 3 Series (2006-2012)
- F30/F31/F34/F35 3 Series (2013-2019)
- G20/G21/G28 3 Series (2019-Present)
Audi A4 vs BMW 3 Series Price
In this portion, we will be going over brand new 2022, as of this writing, model prices and used prices for the A4 and 3 Series.
New Audi A4 Price
In this section, we will be going over the new A4 2022 model year prices. There are two engine options featured in the A4: a 40 TFSI and a 45 TFSI. Both versions are a 2.0T TFSI engine and are found on all A4 trims. The Premium 40 TFSI A4 starts at $39,900, a Premium Plus 40 TFSI A4 starts at $44,600, and a Prestige 40 TFSI A4 starts at $50,200. The Premium 45 TFSI A4 starts at $42,000, a Premium Plus 45 TFSI A4 starts at $46,200, and a Prestige 45 TFSI A4 starts at $50,900.
The A4 allroad also features the 2.0T TFSI (45 TFSI) for all trims. A Premium A4 allroad starts at $45,500, a Premium Plus A4 allroad starts at $49,700, and a Prestige A4 allroad starts at $55,400. If you are wanting to up the performance aspect, an S4 starts at $51,900.
If you are curious about the trim differences with Audi’s, here is an article we wrote about the different Audi trims.
New BMW 3 Series Price
In this section, we will be going over the new 3 Series, as of this writing, model year prices. There are many different models that BMW offers for the 3 series, so we will make sure to include all of them. A base 3 series, or the 330i sedan, starts at $41,450 with the option of upgrading to xDrive, BMW’s AWD tech, for an extra $2,000. The electric 3 series, or 330e sedan, starts at $42,950 also with the option of upgrading to xDrive for an extra $2,000.
There are two sports variants with the 3 series: M340i and M3. The M340i starts at $54,700 with the option of upgrading to xDrive for an extra $2,000. Lastly, the highest tier in performance, the M3 has three different trims: sedan, competition sedan, and competition xDrive sedan. The M3 Sedan starts at $70,100, The M3 competition sedan starts at $73,000, and the M3 competition xDrive sedan starts at $77,100.
Used Audi A4 & BMW 3 Series Prices
When it comes to used Audi A4s vs BMW 3 Series’, pricing is pretty much consistent with new prices. Since both models have been around for over 2 decades, we will be basing prices on the last two generations. So, a used B8/B8.5 & B9 A4s price ranges from $4,995 – $59,999* with an average price overall of $32,497, depending on model year and mileage. A used F30 &G20 3 series’ price ranges from $6,795 – $53,550* with an average price overall of $30,175, depending on model year and mileage. Therefore, when it comes to price, the two brands are keeping them relatively similar because they are competing models. So, what are the real differences between the two? Let’s go into more detail.
*At the time of writing this article, we believe we are in a market where used vehicles are inflated, so consider that when seeing the used prices above.
General Audi A4 & BMW 3 Series Topics
Audi A4 vs BMW 3 Series Size
Below are some basic details about the size and weight differences seen between the 2022 Audi A4, 2022 Audi A4 allroad, and the 2022 BMW 3 Series.
Audi A4 vs BMW 3 Series
Again, the two models are very similar. In fact, the exterior dimensions are off by a couple of inches maximum. However, the reason we included the A4 allroad is that if a consumer is looking for a sedan that has more cargo space, it is a viable option. The BMW 3 Series offers 5ft³ more than the A4 if you aren’t looking for a hatchback. The next category, performance, is where these models start to become a little different.
Audi A4 vs BMW 3 Series Performance
For consistencies sake, we will be using the 2022 Audi A4 and 2022 BMW 3 Series factory performance specs.
Engines, Drivetrain, & Fuel Economy
Audi A4 Performance
The A4 has two available engine options: a 40 TFSI, and a 45 TFSI. The 40 TFSI, a 2.0T TFSI, quattro® engine puts out 201hp and 236 lb-ft of torque. It gets 26mpg in the city and 34mpg on the highway for a combined mpg of 29 with a 15.3gal fuel tank. The 45 TFSI, a tuned 2.0T TFSI, quattro® engine puts out 261hp and 273 lb-ft of torque. It gets 24mpg in the city and 31mpg on the highway for a combined mpg of 27 with a 15.3gal fuel tank. Both engines come standard with Quattro®, Audi’s AWD system, and a 7-speed S Tronic dual-clutch automatic transmission. The A4 allroad features the same 45 TFSI.
For those wanting more performance, the S4 has a bigger 3.0T TFSI V6 engine that puts out 349hp and 369 lb-ft of torque. It gets 21mpg in the city and 30mpg on the highway for a combined mpg of 24 with a 15.3gal fuel tank. It comes standard with Quattro®, but instead an 8-speed Tiptronic automatic transmission.
BMW 3 Series Performance
The base 3 Series, or the 330i Sedan, only has one engine option for all trims: a 2.0L TwinPower Turbo engine. It puts out 255hp and 294 lb-ft of torque, comes with standard RWD, and it features an 8-speed automatic transmission. It gets 26mpg in the city and 36mpg on the highway for a combined mpg of 30 with a 15.6gal fuel tank. xDrive, which is BMW’s AWD technology, is an upgrade that all models can have for an extra $2,000. For those wanting more performance, the BMW M3 Sedan has a bigger 3.0L BMW M TwinPower Turbo V6 engine that puts out 473hp and 406 lb-ft of torque.
Is the Audi A4 reliable? The Audi A4 has a reliability rating of 3.5 out of 5, according to RepairPal. This places the A4 in the middle of the pack, at 14th out of 31 luxury midsize cars. Used Audi A4s we would advise avoiding are 2009-2014 model years. Annual ownership costs are $739, which is spot-on for the average annual maintenance costs for all luxury midsize cars.
Since the A4 has been around for a while, we have compiled some common problems that are seen across all generations. Those are PCV valve failure, excessive oil usage (2011), faulty pistons (2012), HPFP (high-pressure fuel pump) failure, engine misfires due to premature ignition coil or spark plug failure, and more. We have seen MANY A4s last over 200,000 miles or more depending on how well they are maintained. Read below for specific A4 generation common problem posts we have written.
BMW 3 Series
Is the BMW 3 Series reliable? Unlike the Audi A4, the BMW 3 series’ reliability is below average. RepairPal rated it a 3 out of 5, which is below the average for all luxury midsize vehicles. This puts the 3 Series 19th out of 31. Annual ownership costs for a 3 Series are $773, which is slightly above the average annual ownership cost of $859 for all luxury compact SUVs. Used 3 Series model years we advise avoiding are 2002-2003, 2007, and 2009-2011.
Since there are many 3 Series generations, we compiled common problems seen across all of them: engine oil leaks, electrical issues, cooling system issues, engine misfires due to premature ignition coil or spark plug failure, and Vanos issues. If a 3 Series is well maintained, it can easily last up to 200,000 miles. However, preventative maintenance is very important over 100,000 miles.
Audi A4 vs BMW 3 Series – Which is Better?
Which one is better: the Audi A4 vs BMW 3 Series? We can give our personal opinion, but we understand that consumers have different lifestyles and vehicle needs. We may be a little biased, but we choose the Audi A4. The A4s interior is superior, provides a more comfortable ride, and you get more value for your money. The BMW 3 Series provides an electric alternative, gets better gas mileage, and has more cargo space. Both have 5-star safety ratings and similar safety and tech features. So, again, it goes back to consumer needs.
Audi A4 vs BMW 3 Series Conclusion
In conclusion, we know that purchasing a vehicle, especially a luxury vehicle, is a daunting task. So, we hope the information provided above assists anyone in their purchasing decision. Both of these models have their pros and cons, it all depends on what the consumer is needing in a vehicle. Better gas mileage? More performance? Cheaper? These are all questions that consumers have. If you are reading this and happen to have first-hand experience with either model, please let us know your experience in the comments below. This will help us in our research and future readers in their purchasing journey’s.