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Used test: Audi A4 vs BMW 3 Series interiors

These used executive saloons both give you sharp looks, superb quality and plenty of badge appeal for a bargain price. But which should you choose?...

Used test: Audi A4 vs BMW 3 Series


Driving position, visibility, build quality, practicality

Historically, Audi is the master of the well-appointed interior, but rather than rest on its laurels, it really pushed the boat out with this A4. The finish is exquisite and the switches feel almost aviation-grade in quality. The rotary heater controls, for example, have a particularly satisfying precision. Mind you, BMW gave the 3 Series a major upgrade in 2015, and there’s little wrong with its interior – it's just that Audi sets the bar higher.

Used test: Audi A4 vs BMW 3 Series

Both cars have decent driving positions, although the pedals are offset slightly to the right. Otherwise, the ergonomics are sound and forward visibility is good. The view behind is more limited because of their thick rear pillars, but they come with rear parking sensors to help out.

The 3 Series’ front seats have larger side bolsters that grip you tighter in corners, while the A4’s standard lumbar adjustment offers better lower back support. There’s plenty of head and leg room in both, but the A4’s interior is slightly wider and feels more airy.

New Alfa Romeo Giulia vs Audi A4 vs BMW 3 Series

Audi and BMW made some of the best infotainment systems on the market back then. Both have crystal-clear screens with excellent graphics, navigated using a simple rotary controller by the gear selector. However, the BMW system just edges it thanks to snappier responses and slightly more intuitive menus.

Despite Audi emphasising the extra space on offer in the A4, the saloon still can’t quite match the rear leg room in the 3 Series – although it’s still fine by class standards. Both have adequate rear head room, but if you’re much more than six feet tall, you’ll find your head brushing the ceiling. You wouldn’t want to be three abreast for long in the back of either, though. There’s a shortage of shoulder room, and the middle passenger has to straddle a high central tunnel and sit on a firmer raised seat.

Used test: Audi A4 vs BMW 3 Series

Both boots have a 480-litre capacity, which is enough space for a large suitcase with room to spare. However, the A4’s boot is squarer, with a very usable one-metre width throughout, while the 3 Series’ boot narrows towards the rear seats. You had to pay extra for split-folding rear seats in the 3 Series, while Audi gave you them as standard.

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