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In the face of the growing popularity of SUVs, the compact luxury sedan segment is a disappearing act. Yet, the market still demands fancy four-door cars with a smaller presence, as there are nearly a dozen examples of small-scale luxuriousness.

However, deciding on which one to buy can be tricky. Each has its pros and cons. Luckily, MotorTrend conducted a series of road tests to put each opulent offering in its place.

5. The 2022 Mercedes-Benz C-Class carries a hefty price tag

The redesigned Mercedes brings S-Class styling to the masses. With a cavalcade of impressive interior materials fit for the most astute Swabian, the C-Class also features performance upgrades. 

The base 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder with mild hybrid tech now puts down a plenteous 255 horsepower and 273 lb-ft of torque. Buyers can opt for the compelling 385 horsepower 3.0-liter turbocharged V6 or wait for AMG’s variant with 402 rampaging German horsepowers.

While MotorTrend believes the steering is too soft, all-wheel drive (AWD) models have an enhanced front-axle drive for improved torque transfer. Regardless, the performance-minded compact luxury sedan carries a hefty price tag. Trim levels begin at $48,900 and can be spec’d through the $80,000 range.

4. The 2022 Genesis G70 is one of the best compact luxury sedans

With a significant front and rear exterior redesign, the 2022 G70 fits agreeably with the segment’s other luxury models. Its austere yet well-appointed interior lacks the cargo space of its competitors but isn’t short on comfort and affluence. 

While any example in Genesis’ lineup boasts a long list of creature comforts, the G70 is a driver-focused vehicle. The turbocharged 252 horsepower 2.0-liter four-cylinder leaves a bit to be desired. However, the upgraded 3.3-liter twin-turbocharged V6 provides more than enough panache with 365 horsepower and 376 lb-ft of torque.

The Genesis cannot achieve the fuel economy other compact luxury sedans boast, but its high-quality presence makes up for it. Moreover, it’s by far one of the cheapest small luxury sedans, with a starting price of just $38,870.

3. The 2022 Alfa Romeo Giulia is performance giant with the right engine

While the Giulia is considered a compact luxury sedan, with the optional Ferrari-derived 505 horsepower 2.9-liter twin-turbocharged V6, it’s a performance giant. However, the hardcore Quadrifoglio variant costs over $80,000. Luckily, buyers can get Italian spiciness and sophisticated styling for much less. The Alfa Romeo is trimmed as any luxury sportscar should be but lacks the tech found in others on the list.

Base model Giulia’s come fitted with an eager 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder providing 280 horsepower and 306 lb-ft of torque. Even if it may leave something to be desired on creature comforts, buyers can retain Italian styling starting at $44,945. 

2. The 2022 Audi A4 offers a polished interior and confident handling

A dark grey 2022 Audi A4 parked in front of a mountain range
2022 Audi A4 | Audi

Audi’s efficient business-class sedan carries itself with a polished interior, confident handling, and no-nonsense styling. Although the base A4 sports a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder with 201 horsepower and 236 lb-ft of torque, it accelerates quickly and smoothly. Additional grunt can be achieved in more expensive trim levels, as are driver assistance programs not found as standard in the base model.

The A4 has one of the best fuel economy ratings but still suffers from a rather cold, detached feel. Nonetheless, for an optimal choice melding luxury with practicality, prices for the A4 begin at $40,995.

1. The 2022 Tesla Model 3 is the best compact luxury sedan to buy

Tesla has a habit of making incredibly capable but incredibly expensive cars. Although the Model 3 remains roughly the same as its 2017 debut, it’s an affordable offering from the American manufacturer. 

With that affordability, however, comes a few downsides. Some of the driver assistance tech and safety features are inconsistent, MotorTrend found. Furthermore, excessive rattling and tire noise only support growing claims of less than stellar build quality.

The popular EV and compact luxury sedan is available with varying amounts of power and range across three variants of the Model 3. Single-motor examples begin at $48,190, rising to $64,190 for the 490 horsepower dual-motor variant.

Which is the best compact luxury sedan?

For the performance-minded, it’s tough not to pick the raucous Giulia Quadrifoglio. Even if the Model 3 can best any offering from a standstill, there’s no substitute for Alfa Romeo’s throaty powerplant. Yet, the German examples meld opulence on budget with the grunt to match gaudiness for Mercedes and monotony for Audi.

Genesis has proven itself as a worthy competitor to the best European luxury sedans have to offer. Fervent innovation, extraordinary appointments, and performance that doesn’t encourage recklessness make the G70 a vehicle that is as competent as those who decide to buy one.