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2021 BMW 4 Series vs. Audi A5 and Mercedes-Benz C-Class: Luxury coupes compared

How do the new BMW 430i and M440i coupes stack up against Audi's A5 and S5, as well as Mercedes' C300 and AMG C43?

You can't see that grille when you look at it from the side.

BMW

The bulk of the conversation surrounding BMW's new 4 Series coupe is likely to be centered around its massive, all-encompassing grille, but if you can get past that, there's plenty worth talking about. And if you're going to dissect the new 4 Series, you might as well do so in the context of its closest rivals: Audi's A5 and S5, Mercedes-Benz's C300 and the AMG C43.

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Powertrain

The 4 Series will be offered in two flavors: 430i and M440i. The 430i is powered by a 2.0-liter turbocharged I4 engine that produces 255 horsepower and 294 pound-feet of torque. Those numbers represent a bump of 7 hp and 36 lb-ft over last year's model. The spicier M440i xDrive is powered by a 3.0-liter turbocharged I6 engine, which churns out a healthy 382 hp and 369 lb-ft. The M440i's performance figures are improved over the previous version by 62 hp and 39 lb-ft.

The 430i is available in rear- or all-wheel drive configurations, while the M440i xDrive is, as its name suggests, AWD-only. Both get eight-speed automatic transmissions: The six-speed manuals are no more. The M440i also has an M Performance rear differential, which should make it a bit sharper on the road.

The A5 and C300, by comparison, also feature 2.0-liter turbo fours under their hoods, and both offer comparable power: 248 hp and 273 lb-ft for the Audi, 255 hp and 273 lb-ft for the Benz. The Audi makes use of a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission and standard Quattro all-wheel drive. The Mercedes brings its nine-speed automatic transmission and available 4Matic all-wheel drive to the party.

Surprisingly, the BMW 430i is the quickest of the bunch, with an estimated 0-to-60-mph time of 5.3 seconds with xDrive all-wheel drive. The Audi is the second-quickest coupe, with a 5.6-second time, followed by the Mercedes, which takes 5.9 seconds to hit 60 mph regardless of driveline.

Powertrain


2021 BMW 430i xDrive 2020 Audi A5 Quattro 2020 Mercedes-Benz C300 4Matic
Engine 2.0-liter turbo I4 2.0-liter turbo I4 2.0-liter turbo I4
Power 255 hp 248 hp 255 hp
Torque 294 lb-ft 273 lb-ft 273 lb-ft
Transmission 8-speed auto 7-speed DCT 9-speed auto
0-60 mph 5.3 sec 5.6 sec 5.9 sec
Top speed 155 mph 130 mph 130 mph

The race is similarly close with the more sport-focused models. Audi's S5 coupe trails the pack with its 3.0-liter turbocharged V6, which produces 349 hp and 369 lb-ft. The Bimmer sits in the middle, and Mercedes-AMG's C43 takes the crown with 385 hp and 384 lb-ft from its turbo V6. In 0-to-60 times, this translates to 4.3 seconds for the BMW, 4.4 for the Audi and 4.5 for the Mercedes -- not enough for your finely calibrated butt dyno to notice.

Powertrain


2021 BMW M440i xDrive 2020 Audi S5 Quattro 2020 Mercedes-AMG C43 4Matic
Engine 3.0-liter turbo I6 3.0-liter turbo V6 3.0-liter turbo V6
Power 382 hp 349 hp 385 hp
Torque 364 lb-ft 369 lb-ft 384 lb-ft
Transmission 8-speed auto 8-speed auto 9-speed DCT
0-60 mph 4.3 sec 4.4 sec 4.5 sec
Top speed 155 mph 155 mph 130 mph

Dimensions

The 430i and the M440i xDrive offer seating for four in a punch and plenty of room for front-seat passengers. This works out to 41.8 inches of front legroom and 38 inches of front headroom. The folks who get put in the back aren't quite as lucky, with 34.5 inches of legroom and 35.2 inches of headroom. Trunk space is an even 12 cubic feet, which isn't cavernous, but should be plenty to store a set of golf clubs or two.

The Audi offers less headroom for front seat passengers, with 37.4 inches, but rear seat passengers fare slightly better with 36.1 inches of noggin space. Legroom is smaller too, with 41.3 inches front and 32.7 inches rear. Trunk space is down, as well, with just 10.9 cubic feet.

The Mercedes gives its front occupants the most room to stretch out, with 42 inches of legroom and 38.8 inches of headroom. Out back, people pay the price for that front seat room. The C-Class coupe only offers 35.6 inches of headroom and 32 inches of legroom, so maybe reserve those seats for kids or small adults (like if Danny DeVito is your friend, for example). The Mercedes has the smallest trunk of the group, too, with just 10.5 cubic-feet available.

Dimensions


2021 BMW 430i 2020 Audi A5 2020 Mercedes-Benz C300
Length 187.9 in 184.9 in 184.5 in
Width 81.9 in 79.9 in 79.4 in
Height 54.6 in 53.9 in 55.3 in
Wheelbase 112.2 in 108.8 in 111.8 in
Weight 3,578 lbs 3,638 lbs NA
Front headroom 38.0 in 37.4 in 36.2 in
Front legroom 41.8 in 41.3 in 42.0 in
Rear headroom 35.2 in 36.1 in 35.6 in
Rear legroom 34.5 in 32.7 in 32.0 in
Cargo volume 12.0 cu-ft 10.9 cu-ft 10.5 cu-ft

Technology

These all being pricy German sports coupes, you know that they're going to be flexing some serious technical muscle. This is certainly true with the 4 Series, where BMW offers its latest and greatest iDrive 7 infotainment interface with standard navigation. iDrive 7 is excellent, and BMW's Intelligent Personal Assistant artificial-intelligence tech is also along for the ride.

From a driver-assistance standpoint, the 4 Series coupe doesn't disappoint, either. It offers lots of standard features including lane-departure warning with steering correction, frontal collision warning, pedestrian warning, blind-spot detection, rear cross-traffic alert, rear collision preparation, automatic high beams and speed limit information. Unfortunately, BMW decided that adaptive cruise control should be bundled with its Driving Assistance Professional Package. That also gets you BMW's Extended Traffic Jam Assist, though, which offers limited hands-free driving on highways as well as lane-keeping assist with side collision avoidance, evasion aid, front cross-traffic alert and emergency stop assist.

The Audi offers up a similar level of safety tech, but the catch is that you have to step up to the top-tier Prestige trim to get it. Want to save some cash and go for the base model? You're missing out on adaptive cruise control, parking sensors, park-steering assistance, a top-down 360 camera and more.

The infotainment is awesome, though, because the A5 and S5 get Audi's much-loved MMI Touch infotainment system, as well as the company's Virtual Cockpit gauge cluster. It's attractive, snappy and easy to use. Audi is generally great at this stuff, and the A5 is no exception.

Mercedes also offers a ton of advanced driver-assistance tech, but you have to pay for it, as you probably guessed. Standard safety systems include automatic emergency braking, a driver attention monitor, blind-spot monitoring, crosswind assist and Mercedes' Emergency Call feature (aka OnStar, but German). The optional safety tech roster is pretty deep, though. It's worth considering spending some cash on some of the C-Class' features, including Distronic (Mercedes advanced adaptive cruise), vehicle-to-X communication, steering assist, surround-view cameras and so on.

The C-Class' infotainment setup uses the brand's older COMAND platform, which is fine, but nowhere near as good as the MBUX system on the company's newer models. The Benz does get a big 10.25-inch multimedia screen and a 12.3-inch optional digital gauge cluster, however.

Pricing

The BMW 430i starts at $46,595 and goes up to $48,595 if you want all-wheel drive. The M440i xDrive starts at $59,495. (All prices include $995 for destination.)

The base Audi A5 coupe starts at $43,895, goes to $47,695 for the Premium Plus trim and tops out at $53,595 for the top-tier Prestige model. The S5 coupe trim walk starts at $52,895 for the base Premium model. The Premium Plus model goes for $55,395 and the Prestige version starts at $61,295. (These prices also include $995 for destination.)

The Mercedes-Benz C300 in its most basic form will set you back $46,945, the 4Matic version will start at $48,945 and the C43 will go for $59,495 before options, and include the mandatory destination fee of -- you guessed it -- $995.

Look for the 2021 BMW 4 Series to go on sale in October.

Pricing


Price (incl. dest.) Destination charge
2021 BMW 430i $46,595 $995
2021 BMW 430i xDrive $48,595 $995
2021 BMW M440i xDrive $59,495 $995
2020 Audi A5 $43,895 $995
2020 Audi S5 $52,895 $995
2020 Mercedes-Benz C300 $46,945 $995
2020 Mercedes-Benz C300 4Matic $48,945 $995
2020 Mercedes-AMG C43 $59,495 $995