Originally Posted by VirtruviusR
I'm going to call bullshit on that last one. BMW's aren't appliances, not yet (they're certainly headed that direction). While I've not had the fortune of driving the current 2013/2012 MY 328i, (only the 335) I've owned the outgoing 328xi for the past three years (MY 2011). I drove the shit out of that car every day till I headed of to NYC and I've driven all of the competitors on your list a good amount (well except the lexus's, because I simply don't know anyone buying them anymore, they've gone of the beige-end). The 328xi of yesteryear killed them all as far as driving dynamics went. Unfortunately, the current models are drive by wire and more neutered, but the 3series (e90) had increibly precise, accurate steering that gave a good amount of raw road feedback to the driver. It was tight, smooth and honestly I couldn't ask for a better steering feel in a compact exec sedan. The old 3 liter naturally aspirated inline-6 was an absolute dream, bringing that beauty up to the 7.5k redline was an experience in aural orgasm, and while the infinity has a similarly smooth engine, it just doesn't compare to a a tried and true bavarian straight six. There's an indescribable smoothness and nuanced character to those engines, one of the last euro engines in the entry level segment that had true soul. There's a reason people love BMW's I-6 and they've been churning them out to insane praise for literal decades. In addition, I challenge you to find and extensively drive a car in this pricerange that is a more balanced and enjoyable driver than the 3'er. The steering feedback is on another level with regards to the baseline A4, I seriously hate the driving feel of those cars. Feels like you're driving a tarted up VW, the steering is loose and doesn't come close to conveying the road-feel of the bimmer, the 2.0L TFSI engine is more rough and exceptionally boring even compared to the turbo'd N55 or N54 in the 335/330i of various years (I cannot speak to the turbo'd 4banger in the current 3), let alone the naturally aspired, rev happy N52 of the 328i of the e90 3series.
I think a great choice to look into would be the outgoing 335xi/i or a 328xi/i as they are giving crazy good deals on them, and the platform is still very much modern and competitive and you actually get great bang for buck. Its also a great looking car with the m-trim/aero-trim, post facelift. The deals on it will help kill that "off the lot" depreciation that Euro cars experience and there is already an extensively established database of support and a thriving aftermarket should you decide to mess around with the car or do your own upkeep and maintenance. Whatever you do skip things like adaptive steering this, variable control that. It neuters the cars feel for the minimal convenience (family cars have included the last gen 7, and two of the e60 5's, some of them had the steering aid and driver comfort features,a nd while they're nice, they seriously do change the sporty character of the car - this goes for non bimmers as well in my experience - many of my friends own the infinities and audis, so I've spent some quality time driving and being driven in them all).
Another thing I'd point out, in regards to BMW (simply since I have the most experience with them, having grown up with a stable of Bavarians, after having Mercs, Volvos, Lexus's and Audis over the years) is that they really are at their best with the 3 series. The curent 5 is a boat, the 7 is a barge. The 3 is still what it always has been, a fun, practical car. In aero trim, it looks damn good too, with a very rakish agressive look. Yes it is more bloated these days, and yes it has far to many driver aids, but as far as a perfectly tuned suspension and steering in between sporty harshness and cruising comfort, I'd still say BMW can't be beat in this segment. A 6spd 3series or M3 is still one of the most fun, best driving mainstream cars out there FWIW, in my humble opinion anyway.