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Audi S4 vs BMW M3



  • patpat Posts: 10,421
    Regarding your message to merc1, you are speaking to our Forums' über German car fan, so your comment to him is unnecessary!! :) If you spend a little time catching up on our discussions, you'll see what I mean.

    I do need to ask you to keep your posts totally in English, please ...
  • I drive an 04 S4 and im in love with it. its an undercover rocket. u see millions of bmws on the road..wheter its an older model beemer, an old m3,new m3 or even an m5...yes you see the A4's and the A6's but rarely do u see the buddy who knows nothing about cars even said, since u got ur s4 i always look 4 them but only see the A4...its a rarity and that 1 thing i love about it...also the fact that i have smashed on new M3's on the open freeway makes me believe that this car is the truth..whats great is that the new s4 is often mistaken for the smaller engine older moldel s4...but when push comes to shove, the heat of the s4 has given me many thumbs up from people testing its power...being 19 and a college baseball player, my s4 has handled long drives with 5 grown men with comfort and ease...i could keep going but i think every1 see's my side
  • I've got experience, thought different types of experience, in each one so here are some observations, fwiw.

    I instruct at track events for a number of clubs, and have done quite a few BMW club events. I've driven and ridden in a bunch of M3's on the track, but never on the street.

    My daily driver is an '01.5 S4, and I've driven a friend's '05 S4 (both 6-speed), but I've never tracked an Audi.

    They're both great cars, but are at their best doing different things.

    IMO the M3 is almost certainly the better track car, comparing unmodified cars. (That's assuming a dry track - different story in the wet). Great balance, feedback, high-rpm performance, brakes, it's all there. I prefer the slightly older M3's because the new ones feel - and are - heavier, but they're all a real pleasure on the track. I think the S4 would feel quite heavy on the track, particularly front-heavy, and the front tires and brakes would take a beating. I saw a very fast S4 (V6TT) on the track recently, mostly stock but with stiffer suspension and chip,exhaust, etc., and I'd sure like to drive it some time, but this thread is really about stock cars.

    On the road the S4 is really amazing, it's hard to imagine anything better. Fast, smooth, responsive, comfortable, superb interior, and all in a car you can drive all day and night through a snowstorm. I've had no problems in New England winters with just all-season tires.

    So, my verdict, which means absolutely zero by the way, is the S4 for a street car, even in non-snow country, and also the S4 for someone who does an occasional track event. For a real track junkie though I'd have to recommend the M3, provided there's something else to drive when it's slippery out.
  • jspencejspence Posts: 3
    Just a post of a little link for the ESF guy:

    This is the 2005 JD Powers Initial Quality Survey.

    BMW is clearly above Audi. Also making a mental note never to buy a Suzuki. ;)
  • guido591guido591 Posts: 1
    "whats great is that the new s4 is often mistaken for the smaller engine older model s4"
    And uh, what exactly does that mean? I suspect that you are implying that the V8 S4 easily trumps the B5S4....which isn't exactly accurate . The 2.7 Biturbo easily lends itself to performance upgrades that enable it to leave the larger behemoth in its wake. I traded my '01 for an '05 and, while the newer version has many wonderful attributes, I miss the performance of my 2.7T. "i could keep going but i think every1 see's my side"(sic). You do more baseball than college, don't you.
  • esfesf Posts: 1,020
    Just because you're German does not mean you can make Lexus the underdog. Lexuses are far more luxurious than BMWs, and no German manufacturer can match the owner's experience or reliability. I should know- I am on my second Lexus (an RX330) and second Audi (an S4 Cabriolet).

    Lexus is also becoming far more competitive- the IS350 is a 315 hp car, and it's not even the M3-fighter. It could probably wipe the G35 across the floor.
  • esfesf Posts: 1,020
    How are they worse than BMW? The only BMW that I've seen consistently beating Audis is the 3 Series vs. A4- the A8 always wins comparisons, the A6 always comes on top of the 5 Series, and the S4 has never lost an American test that I've read. The only other exception is the TT- but that's not competitive at all. It's just cool looking. And, when the A4 is completely redesigned, it should kick some 3 Series butt.

    The only thing that BMW is actually better at is performance- and that's not saying Audis have bad performance. They have great performance and accelaration off the line, with luxury, style, and value to back them up. And, quality is different than reliability. In a test I read today, the magazine said that "the A6 has the highest quality of the bunch". They didn't mean reliability.
  • esfesf Posts: 1,020
    I feel the same way about my new Cabriolet. The S4 just flies- I love playing with Bimmers, letting them think they can pass me, and then blasting by at the last moment. I also had a nice run with a '00 or so Pontiac Firebird V8, a fast car, on the highway the other day. We were fighting to pass each other, and I finally passed him, but then went on the exit off the highway.

    And, I love the attention. I got a beautiful Sprint Blue color, and that way almost every luxury car owner knows that it's an S4. A man in a Porsche Cayenne Turbo gave me a thumbs up, a person in an A8L nodded at me, and someone who drove an S4 sedan just smiled at me. And, most people who drive competing companies just look at it. For a while. I can see a tad of jealousy. But, my favorite part so far was when a dark blue M3 Convertible and I were at a stoplight, and I just dusted him. Twice.

    I'll never get tired of the car, and now I'm hooked on convertibles. After this, I could never go into another A6.
  • Is there any way to get below .0020 on the money factor?
  • kyfdxkyfdx Posts: 64,724
    This month, the MF is .00195... for any 36 month lease.. that is the base rate.. as low as you can get..


    Prices Paid, Lease Questions, SUVs

  • I agree, I see an m3 everyday.. On another note, however, the 00-02 s4 is feared, not the new one. If you were to "chip" your s4, will your s4 gain 70-80 hp? Think about this fact, stock V.S. stock the new s4 has 90 more horsepower and out weighs the 00-02 s4 by 300 lbs, all equaling to a .02 second slower 1/4 mile. :P
  • m3_r1m3_r1 Posts: 32
    You passed a over weight BMW 760 with a speed limiter of 130 and you think you are fast? My 2001 M3 will teach you some manners if you ever try that stunt with me. As for the chip you installed, a Dinan Supercharged 01 M3 will make you wish you stayed in bed that day.
  • Dinan supercharger, nice! Still no match for my stage 3 k04 upgraded s4. See that on the california freeway, you will just waste your fuel trying to pass it up. ;)
  • m3_r1m3_r1 Posts: 32
    LOL, Let's keep it real. Audi S4 owners crave,desire, and beg to get half the street cred M3 owners take for granted. S4's are just as boring to look at as any other basic car on the streets. No doubt all wheel drive is a plus in snow conditions, but what idiot in his right mind takes his prized car for a drive in the snow? That's what a winter car is for. I'm reading all this yap about what S4's can do to M3's. TALK IS me at the next red light. :shades:
  • m3_r1m3_r1 Posts: 32
    You dusted a M3 with a Audi S4? You must have raced an old lady who was too scared to go beyond 70 mph. In every driving comparison test the M3 always shows the Audi S4 it's tail lights. If you don't believe me check out car and driver and consumer reports comparison tests.
  • vector6vector6 Posts: 34

    First post in this forum. I have an AWD XC90 (family car) and a zippy FWD SAAB 9-3 Vector, which you may scoff at, but which truly has been a fantastic car...but...I'm really interested in purchasing (rather than leasing) a used M3. Love the 02+ styling and performance. However, living in CO, I wonder about it in the snow. I want the car as a daily driver, but I'm used to front- or AWD. With the performance tires, even my FWD SAAB couldn't budge in low snow (Denver really doesn't get much snow - it's just a couple weeks a winter where it's an issue unless you're in the mtns) but when I slapped all seasons on it, the SAAB was excellent. So, the question is this - can I put winters on an M3? Will it go at all? Or will I need my wife to zip me downtown in the Volvo when it snows?

    Any feedback is appreciated.

  • rjlaerorjlaero Posts: 659
    M3's are not Quattro. A Quattro is a bit heavier car and due to the all wheel drive, it will be a bit slower in performance numbers. Going 0-60 in 4.8 seconds vs 5.2 is splitting hairs for a lot of people.

    But everyday driving is where it counts. The S4 is a far better everyday driver as the M3 can be quite a harsh ride. Both cars are extremely nice and it's not a bad choice to get either one. Audi's 4.2 V8 is one glorious engine, and the interior fitted with Recaros feels incredible.

    Take these cars on the back roads when it's pouring down raining or bad weather, and I'll take the S4 all day long.
  • nyccarguynyccarguy Stamford, CTPosts: 11,320
    I think you'd be fine with dedicated snow tires & wheels on an M3. If you're looking for a used M3, I'd have it looked at very carefully. Get a carfax report, the vehicle's service history from a BMW dealership, have it looked at by a BMW mechanic... BMWs are great cars, but most M3s are not driven only on Sundays to church by little old ladies. YOu might want to consider a new M3. USed M3s have ridiculously high asking prices at BMW dealers as CPO cars. You should be able to get a decent chunk off of MSRP on a new '05 (although I've heard the denver BMW market is terrible). I'm a BMWCCA member and recently got a $2500 rebate offer in the mail if I buy or lease any new M3 coupe or convertible. Good luck!

    2001 Prelude Type SH, 2011 Pilot EX-L 4WD, 2015 Infiniti G37x Q40 AWD

  • vector6vector6 Posts: 34

    Thanks for the response. I do love the car...funny - after I entered my post we had a surprise early October snow. But again, most days the roads are dry and I thought with dedicated tires it might be okay.

    The BMW market here IS thin. Audis are much more prevalent...maybe becuase of quattro.

    Anyway,Ii was aware that a used M3 could have some hard miles on it. I've seen a huge range of prices on some sites (private sellers). Why is the 05 being discounted? Is it because of the upcoming styling change?

  • nyccarguynyccarguy Stamford, CTPosts: 11,320
    Definitely a styling change. I meant denver being a bad market for BMWs by saysing I've read that the dealers were impossible to negotiate with.

    2001 Prelude Type SH, 2011 Pilot EX-L 4WD, 2015 Infiniti G37x Q40 AWD

  • m3_r1m3_r1 Posts: 32
    You know the M3 is a winner when Audi S4 owners repeatedly go on about all wheel drive being the factor if the weather is bad. As I stated earlier, who in their right mind takes a prized car out in bad weather???? This is what winter cars or SUV's are for. Just to show I can be objective I went to my local Audi dealer here in St. Louis and checked out the understudy to the M3 AKA Audi S4. The S4 is a nice car but had absolutely nothing on the M3 as far as apperance, fit and finish, and last but not least performance. After reading about how luxurious the interiors of the S4 were I was actually unimpressed with what I saw. And to make matters worse the new generation M3 will soon hit American shores within 9 months with a 400hp V8. M3's will continue to RULE!!!! ;)
  • vector6vector6 Posts: 34
    I think the difficulty in dealing with them is due to their stranglehold on the market. When I lived in LA, any auto maker had a direct competitor just a couple miles away, so there was a lot more room to negotiate. Here in the metro area, I only know of one true BMW dealer. And they are notorious for playing with finance rates, etc.
  • rjlaerorjlaero Posts: 659
    Audi has set the standard the last half decade when it comes to that. Neither the 3, 5, or 7 series interiors are up to snuff with Audi. Slam the door on an Audi, and you'll hear that solid "thud". It won't sound like a tin can. Rub your hand around the edges of the hood of a BMW, and you'll cut your hand. They're smooth and finished on an Audi. They don't even paint the rear trunklid on a 60 grand 540 series. The Gods are in the details and this is what "fit and finish" is all about.

    The M3 might have a sportier feel and look better than some of other Bimmers. But the current 5 and 7 series cars leave you with a somewhat cold and cheap look for a high-end car. And a majority of the automotive publications you'll read out there as well have commented on BMW's "lackluster" interiors.

    Afraid of taking your car out in bad weather? If you spend 50-60k on a high performance car, you shouldn't need a second car unless you can afford it. A lot of people only want or need to have (1) car. The S4 is an all-weather machine. Nearly 1/4 of the country lives in conditions that have some type of snow, slush, or harsh weather. So it's a reallity that all wheel drive is a big plus for a lot of people if they have only 1 car.

    The M3 is a very fine car in it's own right, and the debate will rage on about M3 vs S4. Both cars have their own pluses and minuses, and it's not a bad choice to get either one.
  • m3_r1m3_r1 Posts: 32
    Audi has set the standard for luxury cars? Ask Car and Driver, Motor Trend, Road and Track, Auto Week, Edmunds, Consumer Reports, J D Powers who has set the standard for european cars and and BMW will be at the top of the list. Name just one auto writer who agrees with you about Audi setting the standard over BMW. Afraid to take my car out in the winter? No, I'm just not stupid enough to risk unnecessary hazards like accidents, salt and corrosion, and idiot's who can't drive in snow when it isn't necesary. If the Audi is your only car then I guess you have no other choice on what to drive.
  • rjlaerorjlaero Posts: 659
    The 3 series remains one of the better looking cars in BMW's lineup, and it's still the "darling" car of many automotive jounalists. The M3 is indeed a sharp looking car.

    But anybody who says the fit, finish, and overall appearance of BMW's...especially the 5 and 7 series is crazy. Virtually every automotive magazine has questioned the once clean and classy Bimmers of the late 80's and most of the 90's, only to get "Bangelized" the last 1/2 decade.

    I've been subscribing to Car and Driver for close to 20 years, and the reviews for BMW products the last 1/2 decade has been average at best. One of the last comments from a writer was that he was glad the BMW 5 series was fun to drive and it got him to his destination quicky, but he was thankfull he didn't have to spend too much time in the cars dreary interior. Nobody really praises BMW for their interiors.

    And please, lets not even go into IDrive, as it's one of the poorest designs of any auto manufacturer. SMG vs, DSG? Don't go there, either.

    Audi has never been the darling of reliablity, so I won't go there. But the A4's have always been one of Audi's most reliable cars, and they are on consumer reports best pick list for 2005. Audi as a whole has made leaps and bounds in terms of quality and reliablity over the last decade, but it seems that BMW and Mercedes are going in the opposite direction.

    The 3 series cars fare much better like the A4's, but don't even talk about reliablity and overall quality for the 5 and 7 series via "consumer reports". The same with Mercedes for their C class, E class, and S class. They are average at best and bordeline horrible at times.

    BMW ruled the 80's & 90's, but Audi has the best looking and stongest lineup they've ever had. And arguably a better line-up than either BMW or Mercedes right now. From the A3, A4, A6, A8, there ain't a weak chain in the link anymore. The brutal 414hp RS4 is on the way, and the V10 S6 and S8's are coming next year.

    It's good to be Audi right now.
  • rickp4rickp4 Posts: 2
    I'd like to interject with some objectivity. Having not had a preference for any of these cars, I recently bought a new S4 Cabriolet after testing the CLK 500, M3, S4, and 545i. My assessment is, Audi ruled. Not only does it sound more like an aggressive racing machine, I took it 90 mph around a local highway offramp and it was smooth and hugged the road like none of the above. Moreover, it's got a top end like I've never experienced. Must be the 300 lb feet of torque, vs 260.

    I did some thorough due diligence as well, and though all these cars are excellent, the Audi S4 seemed to take the cake; read the following:

    Check out this auto enthusiast's comprehensive assessment of both cars. Pay particular attention to the "last words" copied below:

    "Last Words

    This was a shocking test drive, to put it mildly. I expected a more user-friendly drivetrain, and I especially expected livelier handling. As it stands, not only is the Audi S4 a more practical car with a more stylish, more comfortable interior, but it is also more fun to drive. Among $50,000 high-performance luxury cars, the Audi is the easy choice.

    The next M3 will likely have a V8 with 400 or so horsepower. But power is the least of the car’s problems. The car’s steering and handling require much more urgent attention. The M3 might not be breaking a sweat in most driving on public roads, but it should at least pretend to be enjoying the trip. As it is, it feels musclebound, strong but inflexible."

    Also, consult consumer reports. The S4 and the M3 are both recommended vehicles.
  • kdshapirokdshapiro Posts: 5,751
    This conversation reminds me of a broadway play that was panned by the critics and went on for a long run and made a fortune for it's backers.

    The current sales figures seem to indicate the buying public as opposed to the critical journalists like the car. So while one can point to the magazine articles to support a position the cars are cheap, their crap, they don't drive well, BMWs are indeed doing better, ATM, than the competition.

    As the above posted suggested, I don't even want to go out in the snow, salt, with my 10 year old Hyundia, much less my $60K M3 or S4. The M3 does better on dry pavement, no doubt about it, but people who drive M3s also have backup cars in their garage. The next generation M3 should make things more interesting for BMW.

    It's interesting to note what Audi had to do with the S4 in terms of the engine to get equitable performance to a 3.2L M3 engine.
  • rickp4rickp4 Posts: 2
    I love arguing over cars (of all things).

    Truth is, both cars are great, but for 2005, Audi S4 has taken the M3 down and I can't find a industry publication that says otherwise. Here's yet another article from R&T...
  • m3_r1m3_r1 Posts: 32
    It's good to be Audi right now? The unbiased authority on rating cars is Consumer Reports. I went to their web site and copied and pasted what they said in a comparrison test between the BMW M3, Cadillac CTS V, Pontiac GTO, and Audi S4.

    "The S4 is an excellent overall package, but it isn't as sporty or exciting to drive as the BMW M3 or Cadillac CTS-V. Its V8 is wonderfully smooth, delivered reasonable fuel economy, and makes the S4 very quick. The car has sound, capable handling enhanced by all-wheel drive. Like most cars in this class, the ride is stiff, but the S4 is not as punishing as some sports cars. The interior is beautifully crafted, and the trunk is the largest of the group. Like the regular A4 sedan, the rear seat is cramped, with little leg room. Reliability of the A4 line has been below average."

    The S4 rides a bit stiffly, transmitting low-speed impacts to the cabin. The car feels a little unsettled on the highway, and overall it doesn't feel as controlled as the BMW or Cadillac. The cabin is well-isolated from noise, with just a mild engine hum audible.

    The S4 delivers very good handling, but not significantly better than the $30,000 A4 3.0 version. The steering is quick and responsive, and the car doesn't exhibit much body lean in corners. When pressed to its handling limits, the S4 tends to plow in corners, even with electronic stability control. It was secure and predictable and was easy to thread through our avoidance-maneuver course.
  • m3_r1m3_r1 Posts: 32
    From the above Consumer Reports review of the BMW M3 vs the Audi S4 (also Cadillac CTS V, and Pontiac GTO) the M3 was the consumer reports choice:
    EXHIBIT 2 From Consumers report:

    Sports CARS: The $50,000, High-performance Audi S4 and BMW M3 top our sports-car ratings, while blending fun and practicality.

    Audi S4

    BMW M3

    Cadillac CTS-V

    Pontiac GTO

    The Audi S4 and BMW M3 sped to the top of our sports-car ratings this month. Although the two are different in character and driving behavior, their overall test scores, based on more than 45 individual evaluations, were a virtual tie. Both finished ahead of our previously top-rated sports car, the Subaru Impreza WRX STi, which is about $20,000 less expensive.

    Although it finished third in this competitive group, the new Cadillac CTS-V also achieved an excellent overall score. The new Pontiac GTO, about $20,000 less expensive than the Audi, BMW, or Cadillac, scored notably lower overall in our tests.

    All four cars have a strong engine and manual transmission, and can accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in less than 6 seconds. The Audi and Cadillac are four-door sedans, while the BMW and Pontiac are two-door coupes. The Audi is all-wheel drive, while the others use rear-wheel drive. The M3 is the only one that meets all of our criteria for being recommended. (See CR Quick Recommendations for more details.)

    Three of the tested vehicles are limited-edition, high-performance versions of other cars in their respective model lines. The Audi S4, redesigned for 2004, is based on the compact A4. In contrast to previous S4 versions that used a turbocharged V6 engine, this S4 is powered by a 340-hp, 4.2-liter V8 that's similar to that in Audi's largest sedan, the A8.

    The S4 is quick, has a beautifully crafted interior, and delivered the best fuel economy of the group. It has a very tight rear seat, though, and on our track it lacked the at-the-limit handling finesse of the BMW and Cadillac.

This discussion has been closed.