New BMW 3 Series & Mercedes-Benz C-Class vs Audi A4

BMW has reinvented its 3 Series with new underpinnings, fresh styling and a revised interior in a bid to reclaim leadership of the executive car class against the Audi A4 and Mercedes-Benz C-Clas...

New BMW 3 Series & Mercedes-Benz C-Class vs Audi A4

Our verdict

Mercedes has improved the C-Class markedly since its launch, and this facelift maintains that momentum. It now rides well, even in sporty AMG Line trim, and feels better put together, while its upgraded infotainment system is more user-friendly. It doesn’t quite do enough to beat its rivals here, but it isn’t far off. 

That’s all the more impressive when you consider just how polished the Audi A4 is. Sure, it might look a little staid, but you won’t find a better-made car in this class, nor a better-riding one (if you add adaptive dampers). In fact, it remains consistently good across the board.

Not quite good enough, though, because it has been beaten by the fantastic new 3 Series. BMW has succeeded in its aim of making the best-handling car in the class, and while this is the standout feature, it’s also more practical than its rivals, has a better driving position and costs less to run as a company car.

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1st – BMW 3 Series

BMW 3 Series rear

For Best driving position; lowest BIK tax; infotainment is intuitive; hugely rewarding to drive

Against Very firm ride; inconsistent brake pedal feel; many infotainment features require a yearly subscription

Recommended options Driving Assistance Pro (£1250), lumbar adjustment (£265)

Rated 5 out of 5

Read our full BMW 3 Series review

Find a great BMW 3 Series deal

2nd – Audi A4

Audi A4 rear

For Beautifully made; easy-to-use infotainment; quietest, smoothest engine; surefooted handling 

Against Firm ride on standard S line suspension;  jerky automatic gearbox; imperfect driving position

Recommended options Technology Pack (£1395)

Rated 4 out of 5

Read our full Audi A4 review

Find a great Audi A4 deal

3rd – Mercedes-Benz C-Class

Mercedes C-Class rear

For Softest ride; cheapest to lease; easiest to drive smoothly; appealing interior

Against Noisiest at speed; tightest rear seats; poor reliability record; compromised driving position

Recommended options Premium equipment line (£2275)

Rated 4 out of 5

Read our full Mercedes-Benz C-Class review

Find a great Mercedes-Benz C-Class deal

Specifications: BMW 3 Series 320d M Sport auto

Engine size 4cyl, 1995cc, diesel

List price £38,200

Target Price £38,200

Power 187bhp @ 4000rpm

Torque 295lb ft @ 1750-2500pm

Gearbox 8-spd automatic

0-60mph 7.2sec

Top speed 149mph

Gov't fuel economy 52.3mpg (WLTP)

CO2 emissions 112g/km

Specifications: Audi A4 40 TDI S line S tronic

Engine size 4cyl, 1968cc, diesel

List price £37,335

Target Price £34,419

Power 187bhp @ 3000-4200rpm

Torque 295lb ft @ 1750-3800rpm

Gearbox 7-spd dual-clutch automatic

0-60mph 8.1sec

Top speed 150mph

Gov't fuel economy 50.4mpg (WLTP)

CO2 emissions 120g/km

Specifications: Mercedes-Benz C-Class C220d AMG Line 

Engine size 4cyl, 1950cc, diesel

List price £39,160

Target Price £35,707

Power 191bhp @ 3800rpm

Torque 295lb ft @ 1600-2800rpm

Gearbox 9-spd automatic

0-60mph 7.1sec

Top speed 145mph

Gov't fuel economy 52.4mpg (WLTP)

CO2 emissions 117g/km

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