Audi RS4 vs BMW M3

"So which car is better? Would I pick an M3 or the RS4?"

The Audi RS4 and BMW M3 are two of the German marvels that are the performance variants of the compact executive segment.

We are blessed to have both cars to play with but how do you decide which of these Bavarian Behemoths to buy?

While the Audi RS4 is based on the Audi A4, the BMW M3 as the name indicates is the sporty variant of the 3 series sedan.

History Of The Cars

The BMW M3 was first offered in 1986, whereas Audi launched its RS4 variant much later in 2000.

This means that the BMW M3 has much more experience in the field of racing and high performance as compared to the Audi RS4.

Different Body Types

The BMW M3 is offered in sedan and station wagon formats. The latter is dubbed the Touring model.

The Audi RS4 is only available in the station wagon form. However, it was only during the years 2006 to 2008 that Audi made an exception and offered a sedan as well. Audi’s station wagon is referred to as Avant.

The RS4 Avant Changed Perceptions Forever

The Audi RS4 Avant has the honor of changing the perception of station wagons. Such vehicles were previously thought of as slow-moving traffic that had only one purpose, to offer more cargo space than the regular sedan version.

However, the Audi RS4 Avant is a true sleeper and when provoked, it has the potential of putting some serious machines to shame.

This is how Audi revolutionized the segment and the 2018 model year of the RS4 was no exception.

Exterior Design

Both companies made sure to add a wide array of exterior design changes that pronounced the racing nature of the cars and differentiated them from the regular 3 Series and A4 models.

Here are some of the exterior attributes that add to the persona of these vehicles:

BMW M3

The 2018 M3 is different from the standard 3 Series vehicles in that it has a big spoiler and a newly designed front bumper that gives the vehicle a sportier look.

Besides this, the side air intakes and air vents are a prominent feature of the M3.

The rear quad exhaust system also differentiates the vehicle from the 3 Series cars.

Audi RS4

The front design of the RS4 with its black grille and a black lower lip gives a more aggressive look to the car.

The RS4 badge with its red and silver color combination adds a touch of further refinement to the vehicle’s exterior.

The daytime LED running lights of the RS4 ensure that the vehicle doesn’t go unnoticed even during day times.

The rear of the vehicles sports a roof-mounted spoiler. In addition to this, the two oval-shaped exhaust pipes at the back give the vehicle a meaner look.

Interior Design

The interior design of the vehicles is much different from the standard variants. Here are the details of all that was added to these sportier vehicles for making them stand out from the crowd.

BMW M3

Even the interior of the M3 carries the sporty nature of the vehicle. Some of the parts that are different from the non-M variant cars include:

  • Seats;
  • Gauge cluster;
  • Steering wheel.

The interior is special in that the three colors of the M badge are distributed all around to give a more characteristic look on the inside.

All this makes the driving experience much sportier which has always been the aim of the M Series.

Audi RS4

Audi got creative in the vehicle’s interior and the addition of the sport bucket seats at the front was taken very well by fans. The headrests with the RS4 logo gives the interior a further attractive look.

The use of carbon fiber on the dashboard and center console, in addition to reducing the weight of the components also adds a touch of racing cars to the interior.

The infotainment system and the gauge cluster of the vehicle are second to none and show Audi’s superiority in the segment.

Engine Options

BMW M3

For the 2018 model year, the BMW M3 was offered with a single-engine option which had a displacement of 2979cm3.

This straight-six engine offered more power than the V8 model of the M3’s predecessor, despite its relatively small displacement as the previous-generation M3 had a 4.0 liter engine.

However, buyers had the option of going for either the 6-speed manual or the 7-speed automatic transmission.

Audi RS4

The RS4 offered in 2018 was referred to as B9 by car enthusiasts. The vehicle only had a single-engine option which was the 2.9 liter V6 Quattro that was coupled with 8-speed automatic transmission.

This was a major change by Audi as the predecessor of the B9 had a bulky 4.2 liter V8 but the twin-turbocharged V6 of this model, while keeping the same power, enhanced the torque by 125 lb-ft. This was a huge success for the brand. Further to that, the addition of another gear made the driving experience even better.

All this meant that the newer variant of the RS4 was almost half a second quicker than the outgoing model in terms of 0 to 62 mph timings.

Winner: As the M3 gave the option of using the stick shift, it offered more control to drivers that were interested in this type of thing.

Performance Figures

BMW M3

The 2018 BMW M3’s 3.0-liter engine generated a total of 431 hp and 406 lb-ft. This meant that although the RS4’s engine had relatively lesser displacement, it still produced an extra 19 hp and 37 lb-ft torque.

The M3’s 0 to 62 mph time was 4.3 seconds whereas the top speed was 155 mph or 249 km/h.

Audi RS4

Thanks to its twin-turbocharged V6 engine, the RS4 Avant produced a total of 450 hp and 443 lb-ft torque.

This meant that the vehicle had an impressive 0 to 62mph time of 4.1 seconds which was considerably high considering the relatively non-aerodynamic shape of the wagon.

The top speed was the same as that of the BMW M3 i.e. 155 mph or 249 km/h. This ensured that the vehicle was not quick just in getting off the line but also maintained its lead.

Winner: The RS4 offered more power and torque and had better acceleration than the BMW M3.

Drive Type

The RS4 had the Quattro all-wheel-drive technology whereas the BMW M3 provided power only to its rear wheels.

This means that the RS4 is always better at putting power to the ground and its acceleration times are always better than the BMW M3 which suffers from traction issues.

Weight & Cabin Space

The Audi RS4 weighs 1790 kg whereas the BMW M3 weighs 1520 kg. However, despite its extra weight and more cabin space, the RS4 offers better performance figures as mentioned above.

Fuel Average

Audi RS4

The 2018 Audi RS4 was a performance vehicle but still, it offers a relatively high fuel average.

The 20.3 miles per gallon during city driving, 32.7 miles per gallon for highway driving and 26.7 miles per gallon combined are considered good enough.

With a 57.9 liter fuel tank, the Audi RS4 can go places before owners need to top it up again.

BMW M3

The BMW M3’s 3.0 liter engine is not as fuel-efficient as the Audi RS4 and thus during city driving, fuel economy is 19.6 mpg. The number jumps up to 34.1 mpg for highway driving. The combined fuel economy turn out to be 26.7 mpg.

Winner: While the RS4 has better fuel economy for city driving, the highway fuel economy of the BMW M3 is better. The combined fuel economy of both vehicles is the same.

Cabin Interior

Audi RS4

The vehicle's bespoke RS dial, combined with the digital meter's ability to display power and torque in percentages provides the driver with a more gratifying experience.

The aluminum pedals are also an exclusive feature of the RS model. In addition to this, the side bolsters of the seats provide extra support during tight cornering.

The car however gets its due share of negative feedback for the use of relatively cheap materials used in some of the interior parts. One such example is the pedal shifters.

BMW M3

The interior of the M3 resembles a lot with the regular 3 Series sedans which means that the overall interior material quality is great.

The M badging at several places in the interior is a constant reminder that the drivers are sitting inside the performance version of the car.

In addition to this, the infotainment system of the vehicle is amazing.

Which One Should You Choose?

Deciding which the better vehicle is depends a lot upon your taste. If you are into station wagons and their shape doesn’t bother you much, the 2018 Audi RS4 is much better than the 2018 BMW M3.

It offers better performance, more storage space, matching fuel efficiency and the interior has a more modern touch to it than that of the BMW M3.

However, if you don’t like station wagons, it’s a sad state of affairs as the Audi RS4 is not available in the sedan version and then you will need to settle for the BMW M3, which is not a bad car at all but can’t match the Audi RS4.

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