1 The Lexus function that automatically slides the driver’s seat rearwards when the engine is shut down (in order to allow 250kg of American beef to exit the scene) means that everybody else winds up climbing around the B-pillar to escape.
2 Rising hipline and steeper rear window of the Lexus mean a smaller view out for both rear-seaters and the driver. It’s not claustrophobic, but neither is it as airy as the BMW or Audi.
3 BMW’s iDrive interface is better than it has ever been. But is it perfect yet? Maybe not, and we’re inclined to think the ‘Favourites’ buttons remain a consolation prize for those who were not raised by robots.
4 Like the Audi, the 3 Series features a separate Park button rather than a physical detente on the shifter (as the Lexus has). The separate button is increasingly common, but is it any better? We think not.
5 Audi’s exterior styling is nothing if not evolutionary. Audi claims that, even though the latest upgrade was a facelift rather than an all-new model, nearly every external panel was altered. We’ll have to take their word for that...
6 The only car with any obvious quality defects here was the Audi, which exhibited a tiny, intermittent buzz from somewhere in the rear seat. It couldn’t be heard from the front seats, though.