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Top 5 Best BMW 3 Series Alternatives – The Short List

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The BMW 3 Series is a living legend.

Generation after generation, this sports sedan has delivered the goods: scintillating dynamics, luxury appointments, and impeccable German pedigree. But would you believe, this blue-chip Bimmer isn’t the only game in town?

Arguably, BMW’s venerable 3 Series sets the luxury sport sedan standard. It’s well-built and efficient, engaging and refined, but there are myriad excellent alternatives to this Bavarian four-door. In fact, here are five of our favorites.


5. Jaguar XE

We start with something from the British Isles. Jaguar’s XE offers subtle styling inside and out with pleasant dynamics and a broad range of powertrains. This sports sedan can be had with a fuel-sipping diesel under the hood, two potencies of turbo-four and even a supercharged V6 that’s rated at 380 horses. For enhanced versatility all-wheel drive is available with every engine. An eight-speed automatic transmission is standard across the board.

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4. Mercedes-Benz C-Class

Now, for a classic 3 Series rival, the smart and sophisticated Mercedes-Benz C-Class. In a lot of ways, this challenger is all about diversity. You can get it in sedan, coupe, and even cabriolet formats. A plug-in hybrid drivetrain is offered, as is a high-performance AMG version, an ideal foil to the speedy BMW M3. There’s a tasteful elegance to Stuttgart’s offering, a maturity the 3 Series seems to lack. And that interior? It’s a ‘beaut, bringing to mind a baby S-Class. Under the hood there’s power-a-plenty. A turbocharged four-cylinder engine is standard, though you can also get force-fed V6 and even a hand built V8 for all-out performance.

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3. Tesla Model 3

Now, for a 3 Series alternative that, increasingly, is stealing both sales and mindshare away from this esteemed Bimmer. The Tesla Model 3 is fast, upscale and comes with four doors, making it a perfect fit for this list.

Broadening the Model 3’s appeal, it’s available in several flavors from a mid-range, rear-drive version with about 264 miles of range, to a performance variant with four-corner traction and enough juice to go 310 miles between charges. That hot-rod example can also hit 60 miles an hour in just 3.3 seconds, topping out at 155. Beyond all this, the Model 3 offers loads of high-tech gadgets, from a gigantic control screen on the dashboard to Enhanced Autopilot, Tesla’s semi-autonomous driver aid.

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Another feather in its cap, Model 3 sales are booming. Supposedly, this car was the most-popular luxury vehicle in the U.S. last year, with nearly 146,000 delivered, handily outpacing combined sales of the 3 and 4 Series.

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2. Genesis G70

Next up, something more conventional, though still completely out of left field: the Genesis G70. This South Korean upstart is unexpectedly excellent. In fact, we’ve taken such a shine to this four-door, it easily drove away with our 2019 Car of the Year award. With expressive design, a luxurious interior and excellent road manners the G70 is hard not to fall in love with. Of course, the optional 3.3-liter twin-turbo V6, which can rocket this car 60 miles an hour in as little as 4.5 seconds, doesn’t hurt, either. Even the base four-cylinder engine is plenty stirring and can be paired with a manual gearbox.

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1. Alfa Romeo Giulia

Unquestionably, one of our favorite upmarket sports sedans is the Alfa Romeo Giulia. A driver’s car through and through, it melds classic exterior styling with segment-leading dynamics. Seriously, even the base model, which features a 280-horsepower turbo-four is amazing to drive. But if you’re a true enthusiast, you’re going to want the Quadrifoglio model, which features Ferrari-sourced, 505-horsepower V6 that makes all the right noises and delivers astonishing performance, zero-to-60 in less than four seconds.

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There you go, five of our favorite luxury sport sedans, but, of course, there are other options, from the new Volvo S60 to Infiniti’s shapely Q50. But what is your favorite BMW 3 Series alternative? Leave a comment down below.

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Check out more episodes of The Short List