Head to Head: BMW 330i vs Audi A4 2.0 TFSI sport quattro
What are they like to drive?
Every one of the BMWs is a delight to drive, even what should be a slow-poke 318i. You can choose manual or auto (almost all pick the eight-speed ZF auto) and it doesn’t matter which engine you pick, they’re all good. The BMW’s rear drive chassis is a real sparkler, with lovely feel through the steering and your backside but allied with a strong combination of ride and handling. They’re all quiet, they’re all composed and it’s only when you get to the bigger, fatter wheels that road noise becomes an issue.
Focussing again on the big-seller, the 330i is a terrific balance of power, efficiency and fun. The M Sport package is mostly cosmetic, with the softer Luxury Line taking up a small number of sales. The thrust from the 2.0-litre turbo four is strong and it loves to rev. Push it hard and it will tip over the 10L/100km mark, but keep it sensible and it will easily return between 8 and 9. Upgrade to the 340i, though, and you’ve got a proper rocket, with only a small penalty in fuel consumption.
Audi loves to talk about its quattro range, but don’t discount the front-wheel drive 1.4. All of the A4s have a seven-speed twin-clutch, which will never match the broad range of talents found in the ZF auto of the 3. Once you’re into the 2.0-litre turbo petrol or diesels, you’ve got yourself a pair of impressive powerplants driving all four wheels, as in the 2.0 TFSI. The B9 A4 is a revelation compared to the old car – quiet, smooth and refined, it doesn’t have the ultimate fun factor of the BMW but my goodness is it glued to the ground via its all-wheel drive system.
The quattro system is clever, too, disconnecting the rears to save a few tenths of a litre and when you’re giving it the beans sends more rearward to make it feel more engaging. The ride is excellent whether you choose adaptive suspension. S-Line suspension also used to keep dentists and chiropractors in brisk business, but now it’s just firm instead of potentially injurious. The steering is also much more communicative than the old car, making it more engaging.
The BMW wins here unless you spend time on surfaces that absolutely need all-wheel drive.