Cars.com - Luxury Sports Sedan Challenge: Is the BMW 3 Series Still Best?

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Thread: Cars.com - Luxury Sports Sedan Challenge: Is the BMW 3 Series Still Best?

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    Cars.com - Luxury Sports Sedan Challenge: Is the BMW 3 Series Still Best?




    https://www.cars.com/articles/luxury...1420695984144/


    By Joe Bruzek

    July 10, 2017

    CARS.COM — Even if you've never owned a luxury car, 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. BMW 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 the 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.

    Judges for this Challenge were three Cars.com reviewers and an in-market shopper invited to get an everyman's perspective. Our man, Stan Breon, 57, currently drives a 2006 BMW 330i sedan, so he is familiar with the class. He also owns a 2013 Land Rover Range Rover Sport plus a 1967 Jaguar E-Type (we should have told him he could drive ours only if we could drive his). We recruited Breon through Cars.com's consumer panel, The Driver's Seat Community, which is where users can go to share experiences using Cars.com and get a peek under the hood of new features before they're released to the public. We focused on the turbocharged four-cylinder that's ubiquitous to the 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.

    Judges for this Challenge were three Cars.com reviewers and an in-market shopper invited to get an everyman's perspective. Our man, Stan Breon, 57, currently drives a 2006 BMW 330i sedan, so he is familiar with the class. He also owns a 2013 Land Rover Range Rover Sport plus a 1967 Jaguar E-Type (we should have told him he could drive ours only if we could drive his). We recruited Breon through Cars.com's consumer panel, The Driver's Seat Community, which is where users can go to share experiences using Cars.com and get a peek under the hood of new features before they're released to the public.



    Despite its age and its fundamental flaws, the ATS 2.0 held up well finishing 4th.

    4 2017 Cadillac ATS 2.0T Luxury ($45,830), 682 points

    The verdict: "An athletic performer that keeps up with the best of the lot but could stand to be a good bit larger," said Wiesenfelder.

    Almost as old as the BMW, the Cadillac ATS has held up well with incremental updates keeping the sedan fresh since our 2013 test. The ATS' $45,830 as-tested price was the lowest of the group this time around, which was a different approach from our previous test, where the ATS' $45,775 price was the highest. The ATS in this test was rear-wheel drive and had the optional Carbon Black Package, a racy package adding Recaro sport seats, carbon-fiber interior trim, a blackened grille and wheels, and a rear spoiler. Cadillac also checked the box for a brake upgrade package with slotted rotors and upgraded pads. In the end, the ATS scored fourth in this comparison, which was also its ranking in the last one, though perhaps more impressive because it edged out three others cars instead of two, including the 3 Series that won last time.


    What They Liked

    How it drives: The ATS' driving experience remains a strong point. "I really liked the ATS' steering tuning. It's quick, direct and engaging," said Hanley. Wiesenfelder added, "Great rear-wheel-drive handling combines with possibly the best steering of the group. Though I preferred the Jaguar XE's nimbleness and balance, the ATS was fun at lower speeds as well."

    Value: At its low price, the ATS included a heated steering wheel, real leather seats, wireless phone charging and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration, which aren't a given in this class yet, and having them is a leg up not only because other cars didn't have them but also because you rely less on using Cadillac User Experience's distracting touch-sensitive controls. "The ATS had the lowest starting price in our Challenge, and its as-tested price was far below the others, yet it delivered the goods. You can spend a little more on options — or step up to a higher trim level with more power and features for roughly the same cost as the tested competitors," said Wiesenfelder.

    Cabin design, quality: The Carbon Black Package adds real carbon-fiber trim to the interior, which was one of the interior materials that stood out to judges. Wiesenfelder explained, "Like the Lexus, the ATS dabbles in many different finishes for one cabin, but Caddy does it right. It's not loaded with real metal, but neither does it have fake stuff that fools no one. Even the seats, which I found uncomfortable, look good. A Cadillac's interior is as distinctive as its exterior."

    What They Didn't

    Multimedia system: Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are merely a bandage on a difficult-to-use entertainment system. "CUE's overreliance on touch-sensitive controls hurts the user experience," Hanley said. Breon remarked, "It's an awkward system" at first use of CUE and after evaluating all the others.

    Small backseat: The suspension may be livable, but judges didn't find as much to like in the backseat, not helped by the Recaros seatbacks that intrude into rear passenger space. "The backseat is too small," Wiesenfelder said. "To my way of thinking, if you don't want to use the backseat, buy the ATS coupe. If an automaker is going to have two versions, the four-door's backseat should be more accommodating." Hanley agreed: "The backseat is very small, with limited headroom and a knees-up seating position." Breon added that from the backseat, "My head was touching the ceiling."

    Recaro seats: While some took offense to the bulging Recaro seatbacks in the backseat, others didn't like how they fit when seated in them. Wiesenfelder explained, "Those optional sport seats have many adjustments, but none of them backed off the bolsters far enough to feel comfortable to me. Meanwhile, the head restraint isn't adjustable at all — nor is the bottom cushion length, and it's needed. Everything I've cited is the opposite in the Giulia's great seats."

    As has been repeated in numerous reviews and comparison tests, the ATS still gets lauded for its handling prowess and steering feel, but gets dinged for its cramped interior (esp. at the rear) and the CUE system.

    Seems like the upgrades to the interior with the Black Carbon package made the interior respectable (despite the age of the ATS).

    As I had stated prior, Jaguar and Alfa have followed in the footsteps of Cadillac by emphasizing performance and handling at the expense of interior space and quality (which is a mistake).

    Still don't know why the IS is outselling the ATS (at least the CTS has been outselling the GS) - as the IS is ungainly to say the least and the 200t is simply embarrassing when it comes to 0-60 acceleration times.


    https://www.cars.com/articles/is-the...1420696013303/

    2017 Luxury Sedan Challenge: Acceleration Test

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L_wR75WK1YA


    2017 Luxury Sedan Challenge: Handling Impressions

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4C8jE1dYNBU


    Note - things should be different with the new 3 Series on the way, but the outgoing 3 Series could have done better if it had been equipped with the M-Sport suspension and didn't still have winter tires (what the heck, BMW?).
    Last edited by YEH; 07-12-2017 at 07:18 PM.

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    Re: Cars.com - Luxury Sports Sedan Challenge: Is the BMW 3 Series Still Best?

    Cabin quality: The gauges were a highlight of the IS' interior. From there, however, there wasn't much praise. "Unlike the ATS, which uses many different surfaces and textures successfully, the Lexus fails," Wiesenfelder explained. "The textured black panel is OK, but the expanse of sparkly gray plastic on the center console is super cheap. The faux metal on the steering wheel and armrests is clearly not authentic and, unlike the others that include imitation metal, it's right there where you touch it and get reminded it's not genuine. I don't like the touch-sensitive temperature sliders, and though they're real buttons, the ones below are tiny and chintzy. The other cars have a nice, woven headliner. The IS' appears to be spandex."
    That was fun to read, Cadillac besting Lexus with interior design and quality. I like the design of my ATS's interior, though I know this thread will tear apart the ATS.

    I've had my ATS for 3.5 years now and I still look forward to driving it every day. Fantastic car let down by poor marketing and brand image.

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    Re: Cars.com - Luxury Sports Sedan Challenge: Is the BMW 3 Series Still Best?

    Quote Originally Posted by BlackGTP View Post
    That was fun to read, Cadillac besting Lexus with interior design and quality. I like the design of my ATS's interior, though I know this thread will tear apart the ATS.

    I've had my ATS for 3.5 years now and I still look forward to driving it every day. Fantastic car let down by poor marketing and brand image.
    I sold my 13 ATS over two years ago yet I still pine for that car. Simply sublime steering and handling!

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    Re: Cars.com - Luxury Sports Sedan Challenge: Is the BMW 3 Series Still Best?

    Quote Originally Posted by CadillacSA View Post
    I sold my 13 ATS over two years ago yet I still pine for that car. Simply sublime steering and handling!
    I wish I could recapture the feeling I had the first few times I drove it that I've lost due to familiarity. That feeling of driving a scalpel through traffic and corners, making all my past driving experiences feeling like I was using nothing but blunt equipment. The ATS is a great driving machine.

    This car is so great, there is a market for it but Cadillac has been totally unable to reach it via botched marketing. For this market, back seat size doesn't matter, CUE doesn't matter (though it is very easy to use), the fun of driving is what matters.

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    Re: Cars.com - Luxury Sports Sedan Challenge: Is the BMW 3 Series Still Best?

    Another comparison test where the aged Caddy sedan takes out a newer BMW sedan. This class is far more competitive than the midsize one yet the ATS continues to hold its own. Like I've said before the Germans had a chance to really distance itself from Caddy due to our management restructure and delayed product launch. They through Caddy a bone and they will highly regret that.
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    Re: Cars.com - Luxury Sports Sedan Challenge: Is the BMW 3 Series Still Best?

    Quote Originally Posted by Cobaltss_King View Post
    Another comparison test where the aged Caddy sedan takes out a newer BMW sedan. This class is far more competitive than the midsize one yet the ATS continues to hold its own. Like I've said before the Germans had a chance to really distance itself from Caddy due to our management restructure and delayed product launch. They through Caddy a bone and they will highly regret that.
    I think the next gen ATS, whatever it is called, will knock it out of the park.

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    Re: Cars.com - Luxury Sports Sedan Challenge: Is the BMW 3 Series Still Best?

    Interesting that the ATS blew away all the other cars in the "Worth the Money" category scoring an 8.5 with the Audi being the next closest at a distant 6.8. Yet the ATS came in 4th. Possibly I just don't understand what "worth the money" means, I interpret it as this is what the testers would buy if it were their money. To me that indicates the ATS is the winner.

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    Re: Cars.com - Luxury Sports Sedan Challenge: Is the BMW 3 Series Still Best?

    Big brother CTS did very well in a recent C/D comparo as well. They are building some fantastic cars, too bad the buying public is trending away from sedans.

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    Re: Cars.com - Luxury Sports Sedan Challenge: Is the BMW 3 Series Still Best?

    Quote Originally Posted by ranchman View Post
    Big brother CTS did very well in a recent C/D comparo as well. They are building some fantastic cars, too bad the buying public is trending away from sedans.
    Still enough people buying. Cadillac needs to improve its marketing to build brand cachet, the BMW might have bombed this review (though the snow tire thing seems a little unfair), but because of the brand image it will continue to be one of the top sellers in the segment while the arguably better ATS will continue to flounder. Dancing robots didn't do anything to build the brand image.

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    Re: Cars.com - Luxury Sports Sedan Challenge: Is the BMW 3 Series Still Best?

    Quote Originally Posted by Cobaltss_King View Post
    Another comparison test where the aged Caddy sedan takes out a newer BMW sedan. This class is far more competitive than the midsize one yet the ATS continues to hold its own. Like I've said before the Germans had a chance to really distance itself from Caddy due to our management restructure and delayed product launch. They through Caddy a bone and they will highly regret that.
    A GM with money is dangerous to anyone. They are great engineers. Just looks what they did with the small block on a shoe string budget.. its a total monster...People do not want to admit it, but they now have the best chassis in the business, Take a Z06, a RWD chassis that can hold more lateral G's than mid engine hypercars.. that's insane
    Last edited by mbukukanyau; 07-12-2017 at 12:11 PM.

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    Re: Cars.com - Luxury Sports Sedan Challenge: Is the BMW 3 Series Still Best?

    Quote Originally Posted by BlackGTP View Post
    That was fun to read, Cadillac besting Lexus with interior design and quality. I like the design of my ATS's interior, though I know this thread will tear apart the ATS.

    I've had my ATS for 3.5 years now and I still look forward to driving it every day. Fantastic car let down by poor marketing and brand image.
    Quote Originally Posted by CadillacSA View Post
    I sold my 13 ATS over two years ago yet I still pine for that car. Simply sublime steering and handling!
    The ATS-V sedan is still at the top of my short list for next car. I'm just trying to determine new vs. used, and reconcile that financially with the desire to upgrade my house.
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    Re: Cars.com - Luxury Sports Sedan Challenge: Is the BMW 3 Series Still Best?

    Quote Originally Posted by mbukukanyau View Post
    A GM with money is dangerous to anyone. They are great engineers. Just looks what they did with the small block on a shoe string budget.. its a total monster...People do not want to admit it, but they now have the best chassis in the business, Take a Z06, a RWD chassis that can hold more lateral G's than mid engine hypercars.. that's insane
    I do agree that GM is capable of consistently engineering the best components in the world. And sometimes they can actually put them together to build the best vehicles in the world. However, they need to figure out how to be the best MARKETERS in the world. The Japanese brands have proven you do not have to build great vehicles, mediocre will do, but you need to cultivate strong brand images to do that.

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    Quote Originally Posted by BlackGTP View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by mbukukanyau View Post
    A GM with money is dangerous to anyone. They are great engineers. Just looks what they did with the small block on a shoe string budget.. its a total monster...People do not want to admit it, but they now have the best chassis in the business, Take a Z06, a RWD chassis that can hold more lateral G's than mid engine hypercars.. that's insane
    I do agree that GM is capable of consistently engineering the best components in the world. And sometimes they can actually put them together to build the best vehicles in the world. However, they need to figure out how to be the best MARKETERS in the world. The Japanese brands have proven you do not have to build great vehicles, mediocre will do, but you need to cultivate strong brand images to do that.
    The company went from being a beancounter company to an engineering company, there is no marketer to be seen other than at Cadillac, and I do not know how much freedom of expression they have from the engineering types..

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    Re: Cars.com - Luxury Sports Sedan Challenge: Is the BMW 3 Series Still Best?

    Cadillac built the Ultimate Driving Machine but its marketing is better suited to selling high end purses.
    "The Artist Formerly Known As Jesda"

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    Re: Cars.com - Luxury Sports Sedan Challenge: Is the BMW 3 Series Still Best?

    Quote Originally Posted by jesda1 View Post
    Cadillac built the Ultimate Driving Machine but its marketing is better suited to selling high end purses.
    same customers no?

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