What’s The Best Compact Luxury Sedan In The Market?

Finding a clear cut winner between seven great sports sedan models isn’t as easy as some may think, and yet, one German car did manage to hold all of its rivals at bay during these tests.

Was it the luxurious Mercedes-Benz C-Class, the sporty 3-Series or the tech-savvy Audi A4? We’ll let you find that out for yourselves – though rest assured that the Jaguar XE, Alfa Giulia, Lexus IS and Cadillac ATS all put up a great fight.

The MotorWeek team put all cars through a series of interesting tests, such as 0-60 mph (96km/h) times, 1/4 mile runs, agility and quality tests, and so on. Of course, some proved to be more exciting to drive than others.

As it’s been able to do in pretty much every single comparison test since it was launched, the Alfa Romeo Giulia was again among the best cars here. It even managed to crack the top three in the end, while leaving behind rivals with a lot more experience in this segment.

The only big surprise we’d say was the ranking of the Jaguar XE. Other than that, the Lexus IS came in last, which was to be expected, while the BMW 3-Series did show its age a little.


  • roy

    no surprises. the winner is the best all-round package in this segment

    • Enter Ranting

      But it’s sooooo boooooring to look at. Just a slightly larger Jetta.

      • roy

        well is i agree. the design is highly understated.

  • Jason Miller

    Compact? And where’s the Q50?

    • eb110americana

      The Q50 is not a balanced package. It has some really nice aspects, but also some really glaring flaws, such as handling. I am confident it would have come in last place in this test.

      • An Existing Person

        There are quite a few in this list that are far from balanced, which doesn’t explain why it’s not included. To me, the reasons it was singled out was because of its size and the engine options. The Q50 is fairly larger in dimensions than all of the cars in the list, and is more of a mid-way between these compacts and a mid-size, so to say it’s “small” may not apply by MW standards. With the engine options, yes it does come with a 2.0T sourced from MB, but there’s already the C300. Apart from that, the only other options are 2 V6’s in two different states of tune that blows the rest away in terms pf performance figures. We may never know, but it could be for the simple fact that there was already too many cars. But that’s just my take on it.

  • ctk4949

    Meh, audi are starting to look more and more like VWs. The Guila is the only one that stands out. Too bad reliability sucks.

    • SteersUright

      Exactly! The only with guts, quirks and character…when it’s running.

    • Phil

      Are you basing that on the Giulia’s actual reliability performance, or just old Alfa cliches?

  • lagunas3ca

    I can tell you it’s not the Cadillac ATS.

    • Ishliss

      Or the BMW

    • dumblikeyou2

      Or for God’s sake, the douchy looking Jag.

    • Tumbi Mtika

      Or the IS.

  • Michelin

    I will buy Giulia over them all !!!

  • SteersUright

    $55k price cap and they went with a IS200T when they could’ve had a loaded IS350 F-Sport? I can’t stand these comparisons because they use whatever vehicles are at hand rather than the appropriate version for the given price cap. The bring a $53k MB and consider it a competitor to the IS200T? Now Im not defending or a fan of either. But I’d like to see a comparison where the price as tested is within $1k of one another. Buyers also dont roll up with a brown bag full of cash for this class of cars so promotional lease rates are much more of a factor than MSRP in this sector. For the price of a base 4-cylinder C300 and base A4 (with very minimal optional goodies) you can lease loaded versions of some of the other cars with their bigger optional engines. And the base A4 leases you see everywhere, do NOT include the S-line, digital dash and all the cool stuff that throws you into the $500’s per month with $0 down, placing it in an altogether other category of car.
    Lastly, when oh when will motor week dump this presenter and stop with the infomercial style of video reviews? They make me cringe every time as they sound so phony. I keep expecting the sham-wow dude to jump out and dry off one of the cars.
    Ok, rant over.

    • Ishliss

      You must of missed the part where they said all cars would be equipped with a turbo 4cyl. Even with the V6 it wouldn’t of won.

      • SteersUright

        Yeah I can’t stand motorweek or any other infomercial type of reviews. Admittedly, I skipped through most of it. Don’t discount the is350 f sport. It beat out the 3 series, A4 and others in multiple reviews a few years back when it came out because of excellent dynamics, brakes and an adequate and somewhat sonorous motor. Add in Lexus quality, resale and dirt cheap leases and that’s a deal maker for many. Granted, its not perfect and I don’t love it as it’s a bit underpowered, the transmission a bit lazy, and it’s somewhat cramped inside too. But it’s also priced with a 300hp 6cyl and all the modern goodies where the others offer a base car with a 4cyl.

    • bd

      As stated, the comparison was just for 4-bangers and the T4 in the IS 200t is simply embarrassing.

      7.6 seconds to go from 0 to 60.

      • Silimarina

        Yeah they have a verry slow transmission

    • Finkployd

      Thank you

  • Carmelo Van Cabboi

    I take the Giulia…. I’m totally in love with that car

  • Alex

    Wheres the Q50 red sport?

    • Matt

      It has two more cylinders than required for this particular test of four-cylinder models.

  • seriously

    Its crazy how slow those cars are in 2017 over 7 second 0 to 60 times???? The Camry and Accord V6 models are both faster than several of these cars, it almost makes buying them irrelevant as sports sedans other than having the brand name. Its more to a sports sedan than performance but seriously an almost 8 second 0 to 60 time with that much power in that small of a car is pretty bad.

    • Matt

      It’s not that crazy when you consider these are all entry-level power plants.

      • seriously

        It is crazy seeing as they are “compact” sedans with over 200hp especially when the top 2 cars are in the low 5s and most of the class is in the mid to low 6s and a camry and accord dont have a ton more horsepower and are nearly 1.5 to 2 seconds quicker thats silly…Not to mention the next level up engine in the IS is no faster than the 4 cylinder engines in this test…what are you even talking about all these blog trolls on here…

        • Matt

          So I’m a ‘blog troll’? Ok then…literally the only model here that was over 7 seconds was the Lexus, which I’ll admit is pretty weak for this segment. You are also quoting manufacturer 0-60 times for the Accord and Camry, not ‘as tested’ in these particular conditions.

          Again, for many of these cars the 2.0T engine is the ‘entry-level’ engine. If they adjusted gearing ratios to make their entry models quicker to 60, then they run the risk of competing with more expensive versions of the same car.

          If you think that because the Camry V6 does 0-60 0.8 seconds faster than the base XE then it’s somehow a better ‘sports saloon’, then perhaps you should drive them back-to-back. Numbers are always only part of the story.

  • pcurve

    really digging this new Audi A8.

    • Finkployd

      Lol weird challenge; A8, 7 series and S class against the Giulia, Is200 and XE 🤔???

      • pcurve

        I know right? Ridiculous comparo.

  • fabri99

    I’d probably go for the Mercedes, to be honest.

    • Tumbi Mtika

      For me it’s the Giulia.

  • Auf Wiedersehen

    So we live in a world now where a 3 series, a C-Class, a Gulia, an A4 and an ATS are considered COMPACT?

    I think not…

    • FoxJ30

      You haven’t tried sitting in the back of an ATS, have you?

      The others I’ll grant you – they’re “compact” just like a 16oz/0.5L soda is a “small” in US fast food restaurants.

      • Auf Wiedersehen

        No I haven’t but I included the ATS so not to get any anti-GM comments. :p)

        But, having said that (and I do hate GM), the ATS looks anything but “compact”.

  • Tumbi Mtika

    I’m proud of Alfa. They might have just out-BMW’d BMW.

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