2011 BMW
M3
vs. 2012 Audi
A3 Premium

2011 BMW M3

9.6

Winner

BMW M3

starting from

$58,075
"The car was fine in the Comfort setting -- I felt bumps in the road and large potholes, but overall the ride was very good given the rough conditions of Chicago's roads. The stiffer Normal setting was just too firm, both on city streets and on the highway."
chicagotribune.com | talking about the M3's ride quality
"One of the few truly awesome cars I've driven, the M3 nails both the sport and the comfort ends of the spectrum."
chicagotribune.com | talking about the M3's overall satisfaction

Reasons to buy the BMW M3

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Sporty performance
9.0 lb/hp
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Great cornering ability
1 g
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Quite powerful
414 HP @ 8,300 RPM
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Good braking distance from 60mph
107 ft
2012 Audi A3 Premium

8.6

Runner-up

Audi A3 Premium

starting from

$31,125
"The 2010 Audi A3 TDI's main virtue is its fuel economy, which it gets because of its diesel engine."
reviews.cnet.com | talking about the A3's value
"Had plenty of boost to pass other cars or climb hills. In urban driving it ran smooth, although we could have hoped for a little more initial boost for quick merges and the like."
reviews.cnet.com | talking about the A3's performance

Reasons to buy the Audi A3 Premium

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Fantastic highway fuel efficiency
42 mpg
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Fantastic range on the highway
613 miles
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Fantastic city fuel efficiency
30 mpg
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Fantastic range in the city
438 miles
Road Tests 10.0 vs 6.8
2011 BMW M3 Winner: M3
[details]
  • The M3 can change direction more than 20% faster, 1 g vs 0.83 g
  • The M3 needs more than 20% less space to stop from 60mph, 107 ft vs 134 ft
  • More than 20% faster in the 1/4 mile, 12.6 s @ 113 mph vs 16.7 s @ 82 mph
Cost 8.8 vs 10.0
2012 Audi A3 Premium Winner: A3 Premium
[details]
  • Gets more than 2x more miles per gallon in the city, 30 mpg vs 14 mpg
  • The best price we've seen is $26,950 cheaper (around 50% less), $31,125 vs $58,075
Luxury Features 10.0 vs 8.8
2011 BMW M3 Winner: M3
[details]
  • Power seats are available as an option on the M3 ; not at all on the A3 Premium
Crash Test Ratings - vs -
Missing information
[details]
Practicality - vs -
Missing information
[details]
  • A standard folding rear seat on the A3 Premium is a great way to free up space for road trips; requires optional upgrade on the M3
  • People mover
  • Very cramped front seats
Safety Features 10.0 vs -
Missing information
[details]
Performance 10.0 vs -
Missing information
[details]
Entertainment System 10.0 vs -
Missing information
[details]
  • Neither offers an entertainment system
Overall 9.6 vs 8.6

Road Tests

BMW
M3
2011 BMW M3
2012 Audi A3 Premium Audi
A3 Premium
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0-60 mph 4.2 seconds vs 8.5 seconds The M3 can accelerate to 60mph quickly, but the A3 Premium is pretty bad
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Braking distance at 60mph 107 ft vs 134 ft The M3 has above average braking ability, but the A3 Premium is quite bad
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1/4 mile 12.6 s @ 113 mph vs 16.7 s @ 82 mph The M3 's 1/4 mile time is good, but the A3 Premium's is below average for this class of vehicle
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Lateral acceleration 1 g vs 0.83 g The M3 has phenomenal cornering abilities, but the A3 Premium is below average
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Top speed 155 mph vs 121 mph The M3 's top speed is average for this class of vehicle, but the A3 Premium is just OK

Cost

BMW
M3
2011 BMW M3
2012 Audi A3 Premium Audi
A3 Premium
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MSRP $58,075 vs $31,125 The A3 Premium has a great price and the M3 is pretty reasonable
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In-city gas mileage 14 mpg vs 30 mpg The A3 Premium gets great city mileage, and the M3 gets OK mileage
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basic warranty miles 50,000 mile vs 50,000 mile Average basic warranty
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basic warranty years 4 year vs 4 year Average lasting basic warranty

Luxury Features

BMW
M3
2011 BMW M3
2012 Audi A3 Premium Audi
A3 Premium
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moon roof Not Available vs Not Available Neither offers a sun roof
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power seats Optional vs Not Available Both have a power seat option
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keyless entry Standard vs Standard Both have keyless entry
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leather Standard vs Standard Both come standard with leather interiors

Crash Test Ratings

BMW
M3
2011 BMW M3
2012 Audi A3 Premium Audi
A3 Premium
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Rollover resistance Unknown vs Unknown
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Front driver crash test Unknown vs Unknown
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Driver side crash test Unknown vs Unknown

Practicality

BMW
M3
2011 BMW M3
2012 Audi A3 Premium Audi
A3 Premium
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Passengers 5 vs 5 People mover
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Highway driving range 332 miles vs 613 miles The A3 Premium gets fantastic distance, but the M3 is very limited
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Cargo space 12.0 ft3 vs 39.0 ft3 The A3 Premium has lots of cargo room, and the M3 is OK, too
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front seats 51.2 ft3 vs 51.0 ft3 Very cramped front seats
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folding rear seats Optional vs Standard A standard folding rear seat on the A3 Premium is a great way to free up space for road trips; requires optional upgrade on the M3
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power outlets Not Available vs Standard The A3 Premium's standard power outlets will keep your gadgets charged; not available on the M3
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roof rails Not Available vs Optional Need to carry bulky cargo? Get the roof rails upgrade on the A3 Premium
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navigation system Optional vs Optional Both offer an upgrade to a navigation system
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Cupholders Unknown vs Unknown
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front air conditioning Standard vs Standard A/C for hot summer days comes standard

Safety Features

BMW
M3
2011 BMW M3
2012 Audi A3 Premium Audi
A3 Premium
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antilock brakes Standard vs Standard Both come standard with ABS brakes
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Stability control system Yes vs Unknown
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Airbags 5 vs 5 OK number of airbags
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Rear brakes Disc vs Disc Both have the usual brakes for this class of vehicle
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child door locks Not Available vs Standard Keep kids safe in the rear seat with standard child door locks on the A3 Premium; optional upgrade on the M3
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Roadside assistance system BMW Assist vs None

Performance

BMW
M3
2011 BMW M3
2012 Audi A3 Premium Audi
A3 Premium
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Horsepower 414 HP @ 8,300 RPM vs 140 HP @ 4,200 RPM The M3 is fairly powerful, but the A3 Premium is underpowered
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Number of gears 6 vs Unknown
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Transmission Manual transmission vs Unknown
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paddle shifters Not Available vs Unknown
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Air compressor None vs Turbocharger The A3 Premium's Turbocharger lets it maximize power output, quite rare for this class of vehicle
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Power-to-weight ratio 9.0 lb/hp vs 23.7 lb/hp The M3 is a sporty car, but the A3 Premium is sluggish
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Drivetrain type rear-wheel drive vs front-wheel drive The M3 has a good drivetrain for off-road and poor weather driving
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Curb-to-curb turning radius 38.4 ft vs 35.1 ft The A3 Premium can make tight turns, and the M3 is comparable to most other vehicles

Entertainment System

BMW
M3
2011 BMW M3
2012 Audi A3 Premium Audi
A3 Premium
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Number of speakers 10 vs Unknown
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Has speed sensitive volume No vs Unknown
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CD player Standard vs Standard CD player comes standard
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premium radio Optional vs Optional Both can be upgraded to include satellite radio
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Has auxiliary audio input Yes vs Unknown
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Has subwoofer No vs Unknown
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entertainment system Not Available vs Not Available Neither offers an entertainment system

Other Vehicles to Consider

2011 BMW M3 2011 Audi S4 M3 vs S4
2011 BMW M3 2011 Porsche Cayman S M3 vs Cayman S
2011 BMW M3 2011 Subaru Impreza WRX STI M3 vs Impreza WRX STI
2011 BMW M3 2010 BMW M6 M3 vs M6
2011 BMW M3 2011 Chevrolet Camaro SS M3 vs Camaro SS
2012 Audi A3 Premium 2011 Audi A4 Premium A3 Premium vs A4 Premium
2012 Audi A3 Premium 2011 Volkswagen Jetta TDI A3 Premium vs Jetta TDI
2012 Audi A3 Premium 2012 Volkswagen Passat TDI SEL Premium A3 Premium vs Passat TDI SEL Premium
2012 Audi A3 Premium 2011 Audi A5 Premium A3 Premium vs A5 Premium
2012 Audi A3 Premium 2012 Honda Civic Si A3 Premium vs Civic Si

Comments Which car would you recommend, and why?

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