February 28, 2013
WAF (Wife Acceptance Factor) was very, very high for both of these cars. She really liked the styling of both – inside and out – and she loved driving both. She did complain about the ATS’ low seating position and she hated iDrive and the engine noise (which she described as clattery and diesel-like) in the BMW.
2013 Cadillac ATS 2.0T AWD. Click image to enlarge
I felt that, in some ways, the Cadillac and the BMW 3 Series have traded places. Where I expected more cushiness and a lean toward comfort, the ATS came back with an invitation to go out and play. All the time. It never minds taking on a corner, sticking to it like glue, and coming out of it like a champ. It’s a very competent dance partner.
And where I expected a harder, sporting edge in the 328i, I found more comfort than ever before, and a reduced sharpness, especially in the steering and suspension.
In the end, both are fabulous cars. Both do almost everything right. Yes, the BMW 328i will continue to be a perennial bestseller, and yes, it will most certainly continue to be considered a benchmark in the sport-sedan category by many. And why not? All the ingredients are there. But if you’re shopping in this category, you’d be missing out if you didn’t put the Cadillac ATS on your test drive list.
As it is in any industry, when the competition comes knocking, we can expect great things – from the competitors and from BMW as it pushes back.
So there you have it – if you’re looking for a comfortable, luxurious, and prestigious car, the BMW has the edge, but if you’re looking for a personal driving machine, the ATS leaps out in front. For my money and for my requirements, I’d be buying the BMW. It’s still a sport sedan even though it never made me smile like the ATS did. But somehow I ended up with a wife and three kids, and I absolutely need the added utility and space the BMW offers.
2013 BMW 328i xDrive. Click image to enlarge
Considering the ATS is Cadillac’s initial stab at a real sport sedan, they’ve done a bang-up job, and you can bet your lukewarm Timmies coffee that Cadillac isn’t going to rest on those laurels. The fantastic ATS will only get better, and will push BMW to do the same with their 3-series.
We all win! But this is an Autos.ca Comparison Test, and just like in those terrible Highlander movies, there can be only one. So in this battle of the luxury sport sedans, upstart vs icon, the BMW 328i xDrive takes the crown. For now.
Pricing: 2013 Cadillac ATS
Base price (2.0L Turbo Premium AWD): $50,950
Options: $1395 Power Sunroof, $1,295 White Diamond Tricoat
A/C tax: $100
Price as tested: $55,335
Pricing: 2013 BMW 3 Series
Base price (328i xDrive Luxury): $46,200
Options: $3,500 Premium Package, $850 BMW Assist, $800 Driver Assistance Package, $300 BMW Apps, $1,300 Standalone options
A/C tax: $100
Price as tested: $55,145
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