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 Infiniti G37 Sedan 4-door Journey RWD Angular Front Exterior View2012 INFINITI G37 SedanBrowse 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.
7.8
Forget that the 2012 Infiniti G Sedans are somewhat practical four-door designs; they can provide all the sensory thrills and dynamic satisfaction of full-fledged sports cars.
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$36,900$40,220$34,800
Gas Mileage    
17 MPG City / 34 MPG Hwy21 MPG City / 31 MPG Hwy17 MPG City / 27 MPG Hwy18 MPG City / 27 MPG Hwy15 MPG City / 31 MPG Hwy
Engine    
Turbocharged Gas I4Turbocharged Gas I4Gas V6Gas V6Turbocharged Gas I4
EPA Class    
Compact CarsCompact CarsMidsize CarsSub-CompactCompact
Style Name    
4-Door Sedan 328i RWD SULEV4-Door Sedan CVT FrontTrak 2.0T Premium4-Door Journey RWD350 4-Door Sedan RWD4-Door Sedan C250 Sport RWD
Drivetrain    
Rear Wheel DriveFront Wheel DriveRear-Wheel DriveRear Wheel DriveRear Wheel Drive
Passenger Capacity    
55555
Passenger Doors    
N/AN/AN/AN/AN/A
Body Style    
SedanSedan4 Door SedanSedan4 Door Sedan
Transmission    
Automatic w/Manual ShiftContinuously Variable RatioAutomatic w/ODAutomatic w/manual shiftAutomatic