2012 BMW 3-Series vs. Its Competition

2012 BMW 3-Series
Bengt Halvorson Bengt Halvorson Deputy Editor

Compared to the all-new F30 3-Series, the rest of the compact BMW’s main rivals have been around in their current form for a few years.

The Mercedes-Benz C-Class also goes four-cylinder for 2012, but its 201-horsepower, 1.8-liter engine in the C250 isn’t quite a substitute for a six-cylinder engine the way that the 328i’s 240-hp engine is.

The C-Class also gets a refresh for 2012, but it’s not a complete redesign.

The Lexus IS has one of the oldest designs among compact sport sedans; it’s not at all competitive in IS 250 guise, but the IS 350 can be quite enjoyable to drive.

That said, it doesn’t pair a composed ride and crisp handling nearly as well as the 3-Series.

The Audi A4 has a strong, economical base powertrain in its current 2.0T form, and its handling is tuned to target the 3-Series, but it doesn’t offer nearly the tech options you can find in the BMW.

Infiniti’s G37 drives like a sports coupe and has excellent steering and handling, but it’s the harshest offering in this class and lacks the refinement luxury shoppers are likely looking for.

2012 BMW 3-Series2012 BMW 3-SeriesBrowse Used Listings2012 Audi A4 4-door Avant Wagon Auto quattro 2.0T Premium Angular Front Exterior View2012 Audi A4Browse Used Listings2011 Lexus IS 250 4-door Sport Sedan Auto AWD Angular Front Exterior View2012 Lexus IS 350Browse Used Listings2012 Mercedes-Benz C Class2012 Mercedes-Benz C ClassBrowse Used Listings
Quick Specs
8.4
The 2012 BMW 3-Series delivers the class-leading sport-sedan performance and handling enthusiasts have come to expect, yet it makes substantial improvements in fuel-efficiency, active safety, and connectivity.
8.2
The 2012 Audi A4 provides an engaging driving experience, impressive in-cabin technology, and surprisingly great fuel efficiency—making it a good everyday driver among premium sedans.
7.4
The 2012 Lexus IS 350 and IS 350 aren't as focused and fun to drive as sport sedans from BMW or Infiniti, though especially in F Sport guise they still look great.
8.2
With a new base four-cylinder engine, the 2012 Mercedes-Benz C-Class makes even more sense for value-conscious (yet image-conscious) luxury shoppers.
MSRP From   
$34,900$32,500$40,220$34,800
Gas Mileage   
17 MPG City / 34 MPG Hwy21 MPG City / 31 MPG Hwy18 MPG City / 27 MPG Hwy15 MPG City / 31 MPG Hwy
Engine   
Turbocharged Gas I4Turbocharged Gas I4Gas V6Turbocharged Gas I4
EPA Class   
Compact CarsCompact CarsSub-CompactCompact
Style Name   
4-Door Sedan 328i RWD SULEV4-Door Sedan CVT FrontTrak 2.0T Premium350 4-Door Sedan RWD4-Door Sedan C250 Sport RWD
Drivetrain   
Rear Wheel DriveFront Wheel DriveRear Wheel DriveRear Wheel Drive
Passenger Capacity   
5555
Passenger Doors   
N/AN/AN/AN/A
Body Style   
SedanSedanSedan4 Door Sedan
Transmission   
Automatic w/Manual ShiftContinuously Variable RatioAutomatic w/manual shiftAutomatic