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Let’s get one thing out of the way right now. We should all be glad that both of these cars exist. Compact sport luxury sedans are under threat from crossover-obsessed boardrooms, so that both of these cars exist is a win in itself. There are no losers here. But that won’t stop us from dicing up the 2023 Cadillac CT4 and BMW 3 Series to see how they stack up.

Whoosh goes the turbo; both the Caddy CT4 and BMW 3 Series get help from forced induction

Cadillac CT4
2023 Cadillac CT4-V Blackwing | Cadillac

With both the CT4 and BMW 3 Series, 2.0-liter four-cylinder turbocharged engines are standard fare. In the Cadillac, 237 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque fire through the rear wheels. Meanwhile, the 3 Series spits out 255 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque from its base powerplant.

That’s an easy win for the Bava—wait, the Cadillac has a manual?

Yes, of these two, only the American barge has a three-pedal setup. The six-speed manual, rear-drive combination makes it hard to vote against the Cadillac. Sure, the automatic in the 3 Series is sharp and responsive. But the added engagement of rowing your own gears can’t be discounted. In our view, that makes base performance a tie.

At the top end of the spectrum, the BMW M340i handily outdoes the Cadillac CT4-V. The two are similarly priced, but the BMW offers 382 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque. It’s American competitor offers just 309 ponies and 348 pound-feet, and the sport-tuned suspension of the BMW feels truly sublime.

Interior appointments put the BMW in the lead

BMW 3 Series
New BMW 3 Series | BMW

Settling into the driver’s seat, the BMW has a clear materials advantage over the Cadillac. Everything in the BMW is just….nice. The faux-leather upholstery is smooth and rich, the dash panels are solid. Everything feels well put together, and the quality is undeniable.

In the Cadillac CT4, it’s easy to tell that the American luxury brand has done its homework. When compared to previous Cadillac luxury cars, the CT4 feels like a big upgrade. The materials and build quality are miles ahead of the previous ATS models. However, when compared to its German rival, the CT4 still feels a bit rough around the edges.

The Cadillac CT4 is more luxury and tech for the money

Cadillac CT4 White
The 2023 Cadillac CT4 | Cadillac

Leaving those minor points behind, the Cadillac offers a more feature-rich experience for the money. With standard heated seats and dual-zone automatic climate control, it is miles ahead of the 3 Series. In the BMW, heated seats are only available as part of a $2,000 option package.

The same is true of driver assistance features, where the CT4 offers more standard kit than the 3 Series. Blind spot monitoring and rear cross traffic alert feature on every new Cadillac CT4 model. To get the same kit in the BMW, it takes another $2,000 upgrade.

BMW 3 Series for a weekend, Cadillac CT4 for every day

BMW M340i
BMW M340i | BMW
Related 3 Reasons to Choose the 2023 Cadillac CT4 Over the New Acura Integra

3 Reasons to Choose the 2023 Cadillac CT4 Over the New Acura Integra

Deciding which of these two compact sport luxury sedans is best isn’t an easy task. The 3 Series is clearly the winner on the spec sheet, offering more power and sharper performance. Still, the CT4 isn’t far behind, and the six-speed helps close the performance gap with added engagement.

In addition, the Cadillac offers more standard luxury for less cash than the BMW, according to MotorTrend. For nearly $10,000 less, the CT4’s standard features balance the lack of overall refinement. Still, the 3 Series makes a better first impression, so it would be easy to fall in love with despite the value deficit.