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Audi A4 3.2 Quattro vs 2009 BMW 335d

Diesel Decision: Torque does the talking in a gasoline-versus-diesel sports sedan smackdown.

Audi A4 3.2 Quattro vs 2009 BMW 335d
BMW 335D vs Audi A4 3.2 FSI

We've given high praise to the modern diesels we've tested (usually in Europe) over the last several years, as these engines are a world away from the diesels you might unfondly remember. Advancements in turbochargers, fuel injection and urea systems, along with the advent of ultra-low-sulfur diesel fuel, mean today's turbodiesels are far cleaner and quieter than previous oil burners. Yet they still deliver the technology's promise of low fuel consumption and generous torque.

Now, clean diesels are becoming available in the U.S., such as the blood-red BMW 335d. It would take a sharp ear to realize there's a diesel engine under its newly-shaped-for-'09 hood if it were to drive past you. Diesel clatter? Virtually nil. Stinky black smoke? None. Slow as molasses in wintertime? With 425 lb.-ft. of torque, not likely.

Okay, we can agree diesels are much improved. But that doesn't mean we want one providing the motive force in a BMW 3 Series, right? After all, it's hard to envision true back-road thrills with an engine that tops out at 4600 rpm. How does it respond when driven hard? Is it slow and heavy?

More importantly, how does the BMW 335d compare to a state-of-the-art direct-injected gasoline-powered sports sedan, in this case Audi's excellent A4 3.2 Quattro?

So many questions, so little time, so many miles of back roads to cover...

2nd: 2009 Audi A4 3.2 Quattro
Points: 365.9

Although it might appear, solely by looking at the points totals, that the Audi A4 was trounced by the diesel BMW, in real-world driving the cars are actually much closer. Due to circumstances beyond our control, the BMW came equipped with a Sport package — including summer performance Bridgestones — while the Audi was stuck with stock suspension settings (although it did have the nifty, optional Audi Drive Select; more on that later) — and all-season Pirellis.

As you can imagine, this difference had a significant effect on the Audi's handling manners, as this A4 posted slalom, skidpad and braking numbers below both the BMW and the sport suspension-equipped A4 3.2 Quattro we tested in the October 2008 issue.

While that makes our test an apples-to-oranges comparison, we're much more concerned about the engines involved here anyway — their power, performance, driveability, fuel consumption...and fun.

Unfortunately, even in outright acceleration, the Audi gets smoked by the BMW diesel. With 265 bhp and "only" 243 lb.-ft. of torque from a direct-injected 3.2-liter V-6 — and despite the launching traction of Quattro all-wheel drive and a curb weight almost identical to the BMW's — the A4 can't overcome the BMW's monstrous 425 lb.-ft. of torque. Although we bettered the acceleration times over the previous A4 3.2 we tested, the Audi's 0–60-mph time of 5.9 seconds lags significantly behind the BMW's 5.3.

For sure the Audi's smooth V-6 likes to rev higher and harder (its rev limiter doesn't cut in until 7000 rpm) than BMW's diesel, making it a fun piece to work with on a back road. We also prefer the Audi's 6-speed Tiptronic automatic transmission, simply because it performs such sweet throttle blips on manual downshifts, although the actuation of the console shift lever — forward for upshifts, back for downshifts — is counterintuitive.

The $2950 Audi Drive Select option lets you adjust engine mapping, steering feel/response and the suspension settings to Comfort, Dynamic or Auto via a button on the center stack. Or you can choose the Individual mode for true customization; for instance, when driving on the highway you might want to set the engine mapping to Dynamic, the steering to Auto (some of us found the Dynamic setting to be a bit too quick) and the suspension to Comfort.

Obviously, the A4 3.2's Quattro all-wheel drive is a real boon in rain or snow, but it's also a performance enhancer versus front-wheel drive. The front/rear torque split is set at 40/60, but we wouldn't mind if it had an even more rear-biased split to increase the fun quotient. Some editors weren't thrilled with the A4's Servotronic variable assist electric power steering, stating that its boost feels artificial at times, especially when compared to the BMW's hands-directly-connected-to-the-front-tires sensation.

Of course, Audi remains near the top of the heap when it comes to interiors. Audi's MMI system has cut down on the number of buttons, making the interior even more elegant. Materials are excellent throughout, and overall this new A4 feels roomier than the 3 Series.

Put a sport package on this Audi and the points would be closer, as the A4 would've exhibited the handling characteristics (read: far less understeer) we so enjoyed on the model from our October test. Keep in mind we said "closer." Because handling aside, BMW's diesel engine out-drove the Audi's gasoline V-6 — much the same as BMW's twin-turbo 335i out-drives Audi's V-6 for a similar pric

1st: 2009 BMW 335d
Points: 391.7

Unlike, say, Volkswagen's Jetta TDI, which is a diesel designed primarily to deliver high fuel mileage, the 3.0-liter sequential twin-turbo diesel in the BMW 335d is tuned more for performance. Hence the car's 265 bhp at 4200 rpm and its secret weapon — 425 lb.-ft. of torque at 1750 rpm. Mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission (with $100 optional shifter paddles/buttons on the steering wheel), the inline-6 produced some fantastic acceleration numbers. The car's 0–60-mph time of 5.3 sec. is not only 0.6 sec. quicker than the A4 3.2, but only 0.3 sec. slower than its gasoline-powered BMW 335i brother. And the BMW diesel doesn't run out of steam as speed increases, either, jetting through the quarter mile in 13.8 sec. versus the A4's 14.4.


The main reason why the 335d's engine works so well is BMW's use of sequential turbochargers — a very small one in conjunction with a larger one. This enables the engine to produce big V-8-like torque over a wide rpm range, BMW pointing out that 80 percent of the 335d's 425 lb.-ft. of torque is available from 1100–4200 rpm. Talk about a flat torque curve!

But here's the kicker: Despite the 335d's obvious power and speed advantage over the gasoline-powered Audi, the BMW (with an admittedly $3900-costlier base price) returns EPA mileage ratings of 23/36, versus the Audi's 17/26. And during the harder-than-average driving we put the cars through, the turbocharged BMW maintained a 7-mpg-average advantage over the Audi, posting 25.5 mpg for the test versus the Audi's 18.3.

Ah, but it's a diesel, so it must be dirty, smelly and loud, right? Wrong. The aluminum-block 3.0-liter inline-6 is impressively quiet, with sound levels about on par with the Audi. It does exhibit a minor amount of clatter at idle and there's a bit of gravel in its voice at low revs, but the inline-6 smooths out nicely as revs climb, making it easy to forget you're driving a diesel.

Urea injected into the 335d's exhaust system reduces NOX emissions enough to allow 50-state sales. The urea tank needs to be refilled every 15,000 miles, which at first might seem both a hassle and another added expense, but this coincides with recommended oil changes and is covered under BMW's free maintenance program for the first four years or 50,000 miles. If you ignore the urea-filling warning on the Bimmer's dash long enough, eventually you won't be able to start the car — now that might actually be considered a hassle.

Wrung out on your favorite road, the BMW drives pretty much like any other 3 Series equipped with the Sport package (which includes stiffer suspension, summer performance tires and sport seats). Telepathic steering and typically perfect BMW suspension tuning allowed the 335d to be tossed around like, well, a sports sedan. If the transmission didn't automatically upshift (it shifts at 4600 rpm, whether you want it to or not — even in manual mode), we'd be even happier. We'd be happier still if the 335d was available with a manual transmission, but BMW says that due to the high torque of the engine, a manual is not offered anywhere in the world. While the plentiful low-end torque and rear-wheel drive hint toward good sliding fun when exiting slow corners, the low rpm limit and lack of a limited-slip differential prevent any hooligan antics.


We're willing to forgive BMW those few small enthusiast no-no's, as we found the 335d to be a surprisingly fun car. It wasn't uncommon throughout the test, while negotiating a particularly twisty bit of road, to hear one of us crackle over the walkie-talkie: "I can't believe I'm driving a diesel!"

Got Torque?

To put it simply, the BMW 335d has it and the Audi doesn't, giving the BMW a big edge in our rankings. Of note, the 335d won every Performance category, while it also captured Driving Excitement and, most important (considering the nature of this test), it also took Engine honors in our Subjective section. The 335d did this with an as-tested price only $920 greater than the Audi's, while also achieving far better fuel mileage.

Of course, when comparing diesel versus gasoline, you also have to take into consideration price differences at the pump: For instance, the U.S. Energy Information Administration's latest survey shows that, on average, diesel fuel is about 20 cents per gallon higher than regular gasoline in the U.S. (your region may vary). For the record, during our test, the premium unleaded for the Audi averaged $2.42 a gallon here in Southern California. Diesel for the 335d was only marginally higher, at $2.50 per gallon.

But ultimately this test wasn't about dollars-per-gallon, fuel consumption or monitoring exhaust for particulate matter. It was about coming to grips with whether a diesel-powered car can deserve to be called a sports sedan. The answer, in the case of BMW's 335d, is an emphatic "yes!"


Author: AL
Source: Autolatest & Road and Track


SEARCH IN TESTDRIVE

TESTDRIVE PHOTO GALLERY

Test efectuat la: 6.04.2009 | 09:11 EEST

SPECIFICATII TEHNICE TEST DRIVE

Test efectuat la: 6.04.2009 | 09:11 EEST

  Serie 3A4
MOTOR/ENGINE ENGINEL6 Diesel Bi-TurbooV6 Benzina
DISPLACEMENT (cmc)29933197
MAX POWER(hp/rpm)286/4000265/6500
Torque(Nm/rpm)580/1750330/3000
DIMENSIUNI LENGHT(mm)45314703
WIDTH C(mm)18171826
HEIGHT(mm)14211427
MASS EMPTY (kg)15501700
PERFORMANTE V Max (km/h)250250
0-100 km/h (secunde)6.26.4
Average Fuel Consumption (liters)6.712.5
PRET Without taxes (euro)
With taxes (euro)
CAROSERIE Inside Space910
Quality of materials810
Standard Equipement89
Trunk Space910
CONFORT Confort99
Seats front/rear10/810/9
Air Conditioning Quality109
Sounds109
DINAMICA Engine Rafinement108
80-120 km/h107
Fuel Consumption105
Traction810
Braking109

Other tests

Ultimul test efectuat la: 27.03.2016 | 12:00 EET


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