Battle of the Sports Sedans Heating Up

2013 Audi S4

The battle for the best sports sedan has never been much of a battle. More of a mild scuff, really, with winner always being the BMW M3. There’s just been nothing better over the years. Lexus hasn’t beat it. Jaguar tried once and failed. It will try again, but first needs to dust itself off from the beating the X-Type received. Audi has come close with the S4, but never threw the knockout punch.

Not many other automakers have even tried to dethrone the great M3. The few that have — Acura, Infiniti, Lincoln, Mercedes-Benz — not a single one has produced an M3-killer. Or even a 3 Series-killer.

But the landscape could be changing, as at least three competitors have learned what it takes to compete with the Ultimate Driving Machine.

Audi S4

2013 Audi S4

The Audi S4 may not look much different for the 2013 model year, but it has adjustable shock absorbers and a 333-horsepower 3.0-liter supercharged V6 engine offering plenty of  power. The question is, will the new electric-assist steering system give as much road feel as the outgoing hydraulic system? If Audi doesn’t nail that, BMW wins. Simple as that.

Cadillac ATS

2013 Cadillac ATS

Of course, for Caddy to compete with the M3, it will need an ATS-V edition. But the standard ATS seems like it has promise. The ATS will be the lightest car in its class, feature RWD or AWD, have a Magnetic Ride Control suspension and Brembo brakes. Expect both a turbocharged 2.0-liter 270-horsepower 4-cylinder and a 3.6-liter 318-horsepower V6 engine. Come on Cadillac, add the V…

Lexus IS-F

2011 Lexus IS-F

With an all-new suspension, new limited-slip differential, Lexus’ 5.0-liter V8 churning out 416 horsepower and 371 pound-feet of torque, the 3,780-pound Lexus IS F will accelerate to 60 mph in 4.6 seconds and top out at an electronically limited 170 mph. Whoa, baby, this one could give the Bimmer a run for its money. Oh… but that V8 engine adds some weight to the front, making the IS-F’s tight-cornering abilities pale in comparison to the still-superior M3.

BMW M3

2012 BMW M3

A new M3 for the 2013 model year is on the way. Considering how close the competition has come to catching the German super sedan, you can be sure perfection and dominance will continue. The new M3 will likely use a twin-turbo 6-cylinder generating somewhere in the neighborhood of 450 hp. We shall see, but I don’t foresee any reason why this Ultimate Driving Machine would give up its title. At least not this year.

Does any car beat the BMW M3? I’ve read in some places that the Ford Mustang GT, of all cars, is a worthy competitor. Yes?

-tgriffith

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Used Audi S4
Used BMW M3
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Used BMW 3-Series
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Used Ford Mustang

4 Comments

  1. @Randy How can you know that the Caddy is big on specs but short on real performance ? Did you drive it ?

  2. having spent a lot of track time in all those brands, I can tell you that it’s going to be an uphill battle to beat the M3. Audi is an effeminate wanna be, the Lexus has so many gadgets it’s almost undrivable, the Cadillac is a paper tiger (big on specs, short on real performance) and the Mustangs? Blunt instruments for those who can’t afford a Corvette and don’t have the driving skills or money for an M3.

  3. I’d reckon both the GT500 (2013, in particular) and the Boss 302 beat the M3. The Mustang GT? Not as much, but it is about 20 grand cheaper than an M3, where the GT500 is similarly priced and the 302 is 10k cheaper or 3k cheaper with the Laguna Seca package.

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