The first “Bavarian rider” in our test comes from the more northern city – Ingolstadt. Meet the new Audi Sports Coupe – RS5. It has been made in order to (let’s quote Audi’s engineers – reconcile the irreconcilable) – bridge the gap between the BMW M3 and Nissan GT-R, to provide even better ride than its Bavarian “cousin”, and at the same time show to Nissan with its new Quattro who’s the daddy when it comes to 4x4 drive.
In Accordance with the Reputation
Looking at the outward appearance, the RS5 looks great. With the muscular flanks, aggressive front, yet exceptionally harmonious proportions, it acts as a complete product, or rather a logical evolution of the S5. In any case, it is one of the most dynamic models of Audi’s portfolio (not counting R8 and TT), which fortunately stands out from the traditional design monotony of the Ingolstadt saloons. It could not have, nor should have been otherwise, bearing in mind the already mentioned objectives, regarding “the competition” of this car.
Things seem even better inside. It is no surprise when Audi is concerned. There is a great many details, attention to the seemingly insignificant little things, and great finish complemented by high quality materials. The ergonomics is traditionally on a high level as well, especially considering driver’s position.
It is no wonder, since the driver and co-driver have the honor to be amazingly “hugged” by Audi’s shell-like seats, or rather bucket seats, covered with leather, with large regulation range and the possibility of the use of seat belts in multi-point attachment. The steering wheel is nice to grab onto, although it may have been of a slightly smaller diameter, and unlike most of Audi’s sports cars, the bottom part is not flat.
However, different vehicle settings i.e. the engine, transmission, handling and suspension operation modes are the most prominent features of the RS5. Featured modes – Comfort, Auto and Dynamic greatly change not only the way you drive the RS5, but the subjective impression of the car as a whole.
While Comfort turns the RS5 into a real grand tourer car, which easily copes with great distances, not being tiresome even for a moment, Dynamic provides the first-class sporting event, when the directions are mere pauses between adrenaline rush passing through the curves, where the naturally aspirated 4.2 V8 engine with 450 hp “gladly” spins up to 8500 rpm. The car’s nose blindly follows the given path, instead of slowly escaping from the outer edge of the curve, as we used to it when it comes to the Quattro drive.
The greatest credit to it goes to the new central differential, which is now able to distribute up to 70 % of torque to the front, depending on conditions, i.e. up to 85 % on the rear axle. At the same time, the active rear differential is able to provide more torque to the outer wheel, which almost neutralizes the “traditional” Audi’s understeer.
Seven-speed S-Tronic dual-clutch gearbox holds the engine in the optimum regime very devotedly and smoothly any time, especially when you drive in Dynamic mode. For the real enthusiasts who prefer manual gear changes, there are gear paddles on the steering wheel.
Neither there nor here…
When everything is added up, the Audi RS5 is indeed a powerful opponent, which leaves the Mercedes C63 AMG behind easily, with no further… Hmm, it is maybe even faster and more capable than the BMW M3, but it still does not meet the first thing that has been required – to be more challenging and entertaining than its Bavarian “colleague”. The Audi RS5 seems to be a fantastic GT car in the first place, a car that can be transformed in an athlete if necessary, but it is not its essence considering the “genetics”.
Therefore, any further stories about the attack on Nissan GT-R and the demonstration of advanced “4x4” technology go by the board, no matter how people from Audi have tried to prove that RS5 is currently the best sport AWD platform on the market.
And further south…
There came a beautiful, lipstick-red BMW M3 Coupe from Munich. When started, cold V8 “growls” like no other. During the heating up, the electronics raises engine speed for about 1000 rpm.
The richer gasoline mixture of fuel and air causes a loud, harsh sound, a sort of thunder, so that even before the engine reaches operating temperature and starts “hunting” high rpm, it makes it clear to the driver and wider environment what (and who) is all about.
M3 engine’s reaches its maximum power of 420 hp at 8,300 rpm. It is a V8 with an amazing tendency to high revs. With the song from the four exhaust pipes, it simply attracts the driver, and begs him in a special way to keep it in revs that allow “breathing at the top of its lungs”. But that does not mean that it is necessary to keep it in the high revs only in the sense of showing what it can really do. It offers enough torque in the lowest revs because this is a large displacement engine and its double VANOS system does its job very well. Thus, the solid torque of 400 Nm is available at 3,900 rpm, which has particular importance when accelerating.
BMW M3 Coupe
The seven-speed dual-clutch transmission works with an excellent feedback and accuracy, so that high dynamics and fiery acceleration are not based only on the engine. The M3 Coupe accelerates from-0-to-100 km/h in 4.6 seconds, while its top speed is electronically limited to 250 km/h. Beside the brutal acceleration and driving with the DCT transmission in manual mode, the driver especially values the fact that BMW is one of the few that has chosen for its “tranny” the original “racing operation scheme”.
In other words, as the forces push back the body during the acceleration, so is the direction of gear lever, while during the deceleration you push the lever forward. However, the gear lever is rarely used since the M3’s steering wheel has paddles for the manual mode. It seems as the Bavarians were not long enough in Formula 1 though. When you start driving aggressively during cornering, you will often need some extra inch of gear paddles length, which in normal use is completely satisfactory solution.
Made to Measure
One is experiencing the quarter-century history in some special way while driving the latest generation BMW M3. Today, it is a car that in a relatively large extent does by itself things that a driver of the first “dreier” must have done.
This particularly applies to the active differential, which transfers torque to the wheel with more traction. However, the fine tuning of the transmission feedback and the aggressiveness of power and torque transmission to the rear wheels is to a large extent enabled by the switch through which you can select six degrees of operation intensity, i.e. the gear shifting speed. In combination with other systems of support and individual choice of operation, the driver can “tailor” his own BMW M3, taking into account the basic characteristics, of course.
rear seat room
Beside the gear lever, next to the aforementioned switch, there are three buttons. The first one bears the inscription “Power” and allows adjustment of the engine response automatically in accordance with the transmission feedback. It is possible to set it individually, as well. The switch labeled “EDC” enables selection of three levels of shock absorbers stiffness. Pressing the button labeled “DSC Off”, the driver gives up electronic stability control of the car.
Accuracy and Responsiveness
All that turns the latest generation M3 ride into a real treat for anyone who appreciate the accuracy “on the steering wheel” and responsiveness of the engineering, no matter if that applies to power, engine and transmission, or control and utilization systems that make the engine and transmission the real deal – in other words, we are talking about the undercarriage.
The latest M3 is also the best M3 to date. You don’t value it just because of its performance, but also because of the ideal front seats setting that is possible in almost all directions. The driver’s body is always “anchored” which increases his sovereignty even during the most aggressive driving in the challenging curves. But, this infernal BMW can be a completely tamed car for enjoying the superb equipment.
However, there is no music from a high quality sound system that can be more beautiful than M3’s “V8 song” at about 8,000 rpm!
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