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Review and photos by Tom Sedens

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2013 BMW 328i xDrive
2013 Cadillac ATS 2.0T AWD

A BMW that has been considered the benchmark in that category for years on end. And a Cadillac introduced just recently as a car “built to be the world’s best sport sedan”. Both are all-new models. So when I got to drive them both for a week, one after another, I couldn’t help but compare them – detail by detail.

On paper, there are remarkable parallels between these two vehicles. Let’s start at the bank. While the BMW 328i xDrive lists for a more affordable $46,200, a Premium Package, a handful of other features and a healthy freight charge drive the as-tested price up to $55,145. The ATS 2.0 Turbo AWD starts at $50,950, but with only a sunroof and fancy white paint added, and a more modest freight, landed at $55,335.

So they price out, as tested, to within a couple of hundred dollars.

2013 Cadillac ATS 2.0T AWD2013 BMW 328i xDrive
2013 Cadillac ATS 2.0T AWD & 2013 BMW 328i xDrive. Click image to enlarge

The similarities continue under the hood. It seems as though everyone has a 2.0L turbo four-cylinder these days – these two rides are no exception. The ATS cranks out 272 horsepower at 5,500 rpm and 260 lb-ft of torque at a low 1,700 rpm. The 328i’s engine puts out 241 horsepower at 5,000 RPM and a 258 lb-ft of torque at an even more accessible 1,250 RPM.

Both vehicles drive all four wheels through their respective all-wheel-drive systems. Both use automatic transmissions in this case. The ATS’s jam makes its way through a six-speed, where the 328i steps up the game and uses an eight-speed.

Fuel economy in both vehicles is good, not great. The ATS is rated at 10.3 L/100 km in the city, and 6.6 L/100 km on the highway for this configuration.

For a few days, I drove it hard and fast. It returned a fairly decent 13.2 L/100 km during that time. For the rest of the week, I drove it as I normally would – city driving and occasional freeway sprints – and I netted a surprising 10.1 L/100 km. That’s really good for a 270 horsepower sports sedan. Way to go, ATS!

The 328i’s fuel economy is rated slightly better at 9.1 L/100 km in the city, and 6.2 L/100 km on the highway. However, driving normally, including mostly city commuting and a few short freeway sprints netted me 10.8 L/100 km. I also drove it with a heavy foot for a while, in cold weather, and in fresh snowfalls – having fun comes at a price but not one as steep as I expected – my fuel economy rose to 12.4 L/100 km.

2013 Cadillac ATS 2.0T AWD2013 BMW 328i xDrive2013 Cadillac ATS 2.0T AWD2013 BMW 328i xDrive
2013 Cadillac ATS 2.0T AWD & 2013 BMW 328i xDrive. Click image to enlarge

When it comes to styling, although both vehicles are all new, both are immediately recognizable – the ATS as a Cadillac and the 328i as a BMW 3 Series.

I liked the ATS’ clean, aggressive stance and eye-catching details. I loved the long, vertical strip of super-bright LED driving lights that cascade down the edge of the hood through the headlight cluster. The overhangs are short and the dual exhaust looks like it means business. The car’s proportions remain tidy and in my opinion, this is the best-looking Cadillac in a long time. I got a lot of appreciative nods and thumbs-ups.

The 3 Series redesign’s evolution is noticeable, but the shape remains rooted in history. There’s no way anyone could mistake the iconic shape for anything else but a 3-series. Well, except maybe for a 5 Series. The vehicle is taller and longer than the previous generation. You’ll notice the changes most at the front and at the back. I love how the kidney grille and the headlights come together to form what appears like a single unit now. Overall, the new 3 comes across as bigger and, in my opinion, more mature.

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