Cadillac CTS 3L V6 vs BMW 328 3L I6


A lot of focus last week on the CTS-V Challenge with the Cadillac CTS-V racing vs the BMW M3 and M5.  That was a terrifically fun event.  But where the rubber meets the road between BMW and Cadillac is how their front line sedans and cross-overs compare, since this is where the sales are.  The CTS-V, M3, and M5 are all terrific, but none of them will sell in big numbers.

The BMW 3 Series is the 328, with a 230hp, 3L V6 starting at $34K, and the 335 with a 3L Turbo for 300hp starting at $41,675.

The Cadillac CTS comes in base model with a 270 hp 3L Direct Injected V6 starting at $36,730, and a 304hp 3.6L Direct Injected V6 starting at $44,365.

So, let’s compare the 3L CTS with the BMW 328.

You can see a side-by-side comparison by stat by an independent firm (Polk) on the Cadillac site here.

Big picture:

  • Both are sporty.
  • The Cadillac is roomier, the BMW is lighter.
  • They cost about the same, equally equipped.  Real world prices on the CTS may be somewhat less than the BMW.
  • The Cadillac has a longer warranty.
  • Cadillac quality and reliability has been higher than BMW quality and reliability in initial and 4-year surveys.

Speaking of the Engines, how do they compare?

The 3.0L direct injected DOHC V6 in the CTS is a new engine called the LF1.  It is a new, efficient member of the Premium V6 family that the other Cadillac V6, the LLT 3.6L Direct Injection engine belongs to.  The graph below shows the engine dyno for the Cadillac LF1 3L V6:

Cadillac likely could have gotten a bit more HP out of the 3L engine, but it was clearly tuned for a very flat torque curve.  That provides for ready acceleration in real-world use.

The BMW 328 makes 230 hp from an inline 6 cylinder:

Our inline six engine offers smooth power, greater acceleration and 200 lb-ft of torque at at 2750 rpms. A number of pioneering technologies make it possible. An electronically controlled water pump helps increase power output. Our patented Valvetronic system offers better fuel efficiency. And to save weight, we used a groundbreaking innovation that BMW was the first to use in a production car – an engine block made of a lightweight composite magnesium/aluminum.

BMW Engine Video

The engines appear to have a similar peak torque, although the Cadillac is 15% higher.  The Cadillac also enjoys 17% more Horsepower.

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