Chasing the BMW 3-Series - Premium Sports Sedan Showcase

Chasing the BMW 3-Series - Premium Sports Sedan Showcase
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The BMW 3-Series is an icon. It stood alone as unique amongst luxury cars because of its size, performance and demeanor. What it has done was to define a market – one of the most competitive automotive segments in this country.

Over the years, BMW had to contend with some company. There were cars that were about the same size as the 3-Series, but not quite equal in performance, driving dynamics and image.

Lately, things got real in this class – the premium four-door sports sedan segment, to be exact. How real? The BMW 3-Series is still the one, but everyone else improved. Now, what if you wanted something other than the 3-Series? If you have at least $35,000 in the bank, you may want to scan this list closely. Then, log onto and search under 4-Door Sedans. You may find something special, such as the cool cars below – and, yes, the BMW 3-Series.

Audi A4: Over the years, Audi’s contender matured enough to become the alternative to the 3-Series. Though front-wheel-drive based, the A4 is best ordered with the Quattro all-wheel drive system. Only one engine is available on the A4, a turbocharged four-cylinder. If you need more performance, the S4 provides a notable upgrade of power and dynamics. Otherwise, the A4 provides comfort, agility and the surefootedness of the Quattro system for its loyal fans – and those looking for that alternative to the top of the class.

BMW 3-Series: The original remains true to what it is supposed to do. It starts with rear-wheel drive, superb engines, including a diesel and an incredible suspension set-up. You could also choose xDrive for BMW’s all-wheel drive experience – now available for all engines, except for the ActiveHybrid 3. You read that right – there is a 3-Series with an electric motor. The ultimate 3 is the M – a treat for the enthusiast that is actually attainable. The 3-Series sells the most amongst this group for good reason – one cannot deny originality even with a target on its back.

Cadillac ATS: The Germans laughed, for a moment. They saw it run around the Nurburgring like it owned the plate. Once it came out, another spate of laughter rang from across Europe. The ATS is nothing to laugh at. A choice of three engines, two gearboxes, and an all-wheel drive system has it competing neck-and-neck with the 3-Series. The ATS is distinctive, thanks to its Art&Science design approach inside and out. Think of it this way: It looks like a Cadillac, but it certainly does not act like one.

Infiniti Q50: This is the new kid on the block. Showcasing Infiniti’s latest design elements and a sumptuous interior, the Q50 is serious business. With a standard V6 and available hybrid and all-wheel drive, the Q50 is designed to balance sport with luxury wrapped in a unique design – just like the original Q45. In fact, the Q50 is endorsed by the Formula One team it sponsors – Red Bull Racing. If that is enough to entice you to drive one, just be ready for a few more surprises when you do.

Lexus IS: New for 2014, the IS provides a counterpoint from a Japanese standpoint. With two V6 engines to start with, the IS could be had with all-wheel drive for both motors. The super quick eight-speed automatic is only available in rear-drive models, however. Then again, enthusiasts want more power. The IS F is available in the old body style for one more year – V8 power and such. It does a good job carving up good roads, with enough techno gizmos to keep you entertained.

Mercedes-Benz C-Class: It is the classic styling that makes wanting a three-pointed star desirable. The current C-Class offers class and style with a choice of engines and models, along with its 4Matic all-wheel drive. For the ultimate C-Class, the C63 AMG has V8 performance and no holds barred dynamics. Better get one soon, because a new C-Class is just around the corner. There is also talk of bringing a diesel model to the new lineup by 2015. A lot to look forward to.

Volvo S60: With its new nose and turbocharged four-cylinder Drive-E engine, the S60 remains the most fun had in a Swedish car. The Drive-E driveline is the new showcase of what Volvo could do for performance and efficiency and there are two versions: one with just a turbocharger; the other with both a turbocharger and a supercharger. However, there are still turbocharged five and six cylinder engines – both with standard all-wheel drive. The T6 AWD R-Design model remains the hottest S60 around for enthusiasts.

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