A lot can change in a few years. When we last compared luxury sports sedans, the 2013 BMW 3 Series drove away with the win thanks to class-leading quickness and impressive handling. Fast-forward four years to our 2017 Luxury Sports Sedan Challenge, however, and the aging 3 Series has been knocked off its pedestal by newer, more entertaining challengers.
So, which current luxury sports sedan is the most fun to drive? After spending a few days driving seven sports sedans on winding Georgia roads and on an autocross circuit, three models emerged as contenders: the 2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia, 2017 Cadillac ATS and 2017 Jaguar XE.
Fun-to-drive means different things to different drivers, but editors zeroed in on these cars' handling attributes as one of the key factors that put them ahead of the rest.
"The ATS is what I popped back into for fun laps on our handling course," said Managing Editor Joe Bruzek. "It has the most precise steering feel of the bunch and perfect weighting that sends precise changes to the front wheels and communicates back what's happening up front.
"Plus, it's easy to kick out the rear end and slide around a cone."
Relatively docile on the street, the XE came into its own on the autocross course.
"In the right circumstances, the XE could be drifted around with ease, and it was blissfully controllable with a twitch of the steering wheel and the accelerator," said Executive Editor Joe Wiesenfelder.
The Giulia's dialed-in demeanor was complemented by exceptional power from its turbocharged four-cylinder Used Engine .
"The Alfa made quick work of our handling course and transitioned quickly in the slalom section with little body roll, quick steering and sticky tires making the course as easy as point-and-shoot," Bruzek said.
Wiesenfelder agreed: "The extra power and outstanding brakes round out the handling, which is very good even though I think the steering is overboosted."
It came down to the Giulia and the ATS vying for the fun-to-drive title, and in the end, the ATS edged past the Giulia by a single point: 26 to 25 out of a possible 30 points. The XE, meanwhile, came in third with 21 points.
What propelled the ATS to the top? It came down to the car's eager personality; whether you're on the street or on the track, the car really engages your senses, urging you to take that next corner or highway onramp faster. That's our kind of car.