Audi RS 4 Avant vs BMW M3 Touring: sizzling efficiency estates go head-to-head

Audi RS 4 Avant vs BMW M3 Touring: hot performance estates go head-to-head


Excessive-efficiency estates have all the time been massively interesting, because of their accessible efficiency, tremendous high quality and – to these within the know – a severely excessive stage of cool. 

However occasions are altering, and because the German massive three of Audi Sport, BMW M and Mercedes-AMG readjust to new tastes and laws, so the traces between them have by no means been so blurred. That is maybe greatest illustrated within the mid-size fast-estate class, a sector that was as soon as dominated by Audi and infrequently threatened by AMG, however is now commanded by BMW M and its good M3 Competitors Touring

As a retort, Audi has revealed its personal Competitors mannequin, a extra targeted model of the prevailing RS 4 Avant. Because it stands, the common Audi merely couldn’t compete with the BMW, so this limited-run variant begins this take a look at because the underdog, with BMW’s greater, brawnier, however heavier M3 Touring able to as soon as once more try and overshadow 30 years of quick Audi property heritage. 

  Audi RS 4 Avant Competitors quattro BMW M3 Touring with xDrive
Worth: £84,600 £86,570
Powertrain: 2.9-litre V6 twin-turbo petrol, 444bhp 3.0-litre 6cyl twin-turbo petrol, 503bhp
0-62mph: 3.9 seconds 3.6 seconds
Take a look at effectivity: 23.6mpg/5.2mpl 26.0mpg/5.7mpl
Official CO2 201g/km 234g/km
Annual VED: £560 £560

Audi RS 4 Competitors

The Audi RS 4 Avant Competitors is a particularly uncommon automobile within the UK, with solely 75 items being offered, all in Mythos Black and all with an an identical specification. It prices £84,600, which provides £16,010 to the worth of the fundamental RS 4.

Tech highlights 

To carry the efficiency of an already-focused automobile, Audi has labored on the suspension, cabin insulation and transmission software program. 

The Competitors replaces the usual RS 4’s adaptive dampers with mechanically adjustable coilover suspension. You’ll be able to set the experience peak, compression and rebound, however extra importantly, the damping is of a really top quality regardless of the set-up. The spring charges themselves are greater and due to this fact firmer, and work with stiffer anti-roll bars and a lighter set of 20-inch solid alloy wheels

The brand new suspension {hardware} provides the Competitors way more management and composure than the usual automobile, serving to it glide throughout difficult street surfaces with extra confidence than any RS 4 earlier than it. It additionally highlights the continued work that Audi has executed with its Sport Differential, which actively vectors torque to an outdoor wheel beneath onerous acceleration. 


Adjustments to the eight-speed automated gearbox make its shift occasions noticeably extra immediate and aggressive, shaving an additional 0.2 seconds from the 0-62mph time, which is now 3.9 seconds. Choose the auto’s sports activities guide mode, accessible through the gearlever or steering wheel-mounted paddles, and there’s an additional stage of engagement and response, particularly beneath full throttle. 

Extra sound from the twin-turbocharged, 444bhp 2.9-litre V6 engine can attain the cabin, too, because of a discount in insulation. 

On the street

The RS 4 in its present B9 technology has by no means fairly been a category chief for precision, as an alternative favouring a extra rounded method to hurry. 

Round city: An RS 4 Avant isn’t any extra taxing or troublesome to drive at low speeds than some other A4, and the identical will be stated for the Competitors. The coilover suspension does have a agency edge to it, however its actions are managed and it by no means feels brittle or fragile. 

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The engine is exceptionally easy and refined, even with the diminished sound deadening. Left in automated mode, the transmission is straightforward to dwell with and properly calibrated, regardless of the potential for sharper modifications when driving flat out.

A & B-roads: Quick and flowing roads are the place the Competitors’s new suspension actually comes into its personal; this can be a excellent automobile for making quick progress over difficult routes. Even with the additional width of the RS 4’s bodyshell as compared with a regular A4, it nonetheless feels comparatively slender and straightforward to put, thanks largely to good visibility and really correct steering. 

That is one other space that has been tweaked within the Competitors, coming with a quicker mounted ratio that, though mild, feels completely in sync with the chassis, powertrain and brakes. The usual-fit Pirelli Corsa tyres are additionally value a point out, as a result of they assist an agile automobile produce colossal mechanical grip after they’re heat. 

Motorway: The flipside of eradicating a number of the insulation and people sticky tyres is that motorway noise is a little more pronounced than in the usual RS 4. It’s nonetheless not a burden, thoughts, and because of the extraordinarily comfy sports activities seats with heaps of adjustment, the automobile can also be very comfy.


For this top-end Competitors mannequin, Audi has thrown all the customary tech and choices that you would want for at it. It’s a disgrace that the inside hasn’t been perked up with the fabulous bucket seats which are fitted to vehicles destined for European markets, however the usual items are nonetheless comfy and supportive, and so they sit inside a cabin that’s as fabulously properly put collectively as ever. The rotary dials for the local weather controls click on with an excellent sturdy feeling that hints at a stage of construct high quality that simply can’t be replicated with a touchscreen.

The RS 4 Competitors is singled out with a flat-bottomed steering wheel trimmed in Alcantara, and a smattering of additional silver stitching on each the wheel and centre console. The driving place is nice, and the steering wheel has loads of adjustment, particularly for attain.

As a model, Audi shall be upset with its general end in our 2023 Driver Energy buyer satisfaction survey. A lowly Thirtieth-place end meant that solely Fiat and MG fared worse, and Audi house owners had been upset with their vehicles’ worth and practicality. Of those that accomplished the survey, 23 per cent of householders stated that they skilled a fault within the first 12 months, which is basically just like the expertise of BMW drivers, 22 per cent of whom famous issues.

All new Audis include a three-year, 60,000-mile guarantee as customary, and this may be prolonged to 4 or 5 years for £590 and £1,335 respectively. Three years’ breakdown cowl can also be included.

Storage: The Audi’s cabin is pretty properly specced with regards to storage. The centre console accommodates a few deep cup-holders, plus a small compartment simply forward of the gear selector that could be a handy spot to go away the important thing. Elsewhere, the door pockets are deep, and the glovebox is giant.


The RS 4 compromises subsequent to nothing when it comes to practicality relative to a regular A4 Avant. This implies it’s a perfectly versatile and spacious automobile, contemplating the unimaginable efficiency it delivers. 

Rear house: The Audi advantages from wonderful rear headroom, so even tall adults can have few complaints. The seats themselves are comfy, and there’s first rate foot house beneath the entrance seats.

Boot: Few vehicles can speed up from 0-62mph in lower than 4 seconds whereas delivering 500 litres of boot house, however that’s precisely what the RS 4 achieves. The house is nearly completely sq., which makes it simple to load, and there are helpful pockets to every aspect for smaller objects. The seat backs don’t lay flat when folded, however they provide a 40:20:40 cut up, so it’s attainable to strike the perfect compromise between carrying passengers and ponderous objects.

What to purchase?

Which engine and trim we’d select

  • Engines: Just one engine is accessible within the RS 4 Competitors. Its hot-V turbocharger structure helps scale back (if not totally get rid of) turbo lag however it will possibly produce its full 600Nm of torque between 2,000 and 5,000rpm.
  • Trim: The Competitors is ready aside from different RS 4 fashions with matte-finish carbon-fibre trim for the mirrors and inserts on the bumpers and aspect skirts. 
  • Choices: There aren’t any extras, and key options reminiscent of adaptive cruise management are lacking. The RS 4 Vorsprung will get extra package however not the trick suspension.
  • Our selection: The Competitors is the perfect RS 4 but, in the event you’re one of many fortunate 75 to order one.

BMW M3 Touring

The M3 has by no means been extra thrilling to drive, and because of the choice of four-wheel drive and this Touring bodystyle, there’s loads of selection within the line-up, too. At £86,570, the M3 Touring is priced very intently to the Audi, however you’ll have to tick some pricey choice containers to get the high-end toys. 

Tech highlights 

Below the bonnet of the M3 Touring is BMW’s S58 twin-turbocharged, 3.0-litre straight-six petrol engine producing 503bhp and 750Nm of torque. It options a number of hi-tech options, reminiscent of 3D-printed internals inside the cylinder heads and solid aluminium conrods and pistons. 

That is related to an eight-speed automated gearbox and a rear-biased four-wheel drive system, with the additional capability to decouple the entrance driveshafts totally. Interact launch management and the Touring will dash from 0-62mph in 3.6 seconds, 0.3 seconds quicker than the RS 4. 

On the rear finish, there’s an electronically managed limited-slip differential with lively torque-vectoring. Past all of the powertrain {hardware}, BMW M’s state-of-the-art traction and stability management programs are additionally the perfect within the enterprise at giving drivers as a lot or as little help as they need, that includes a number of observe capabilities, together with one to help in pulling off TV-worthy powerslides.


The platform is not any much less advanced than the M3 saloon’s, and options bespoke suspension geometry. It doesn’t have mechanically adjustable dampers just like the Audi, as an alternative utilizing digital management. Below the engine bay and mid-body construction is a variety of braces and shear panels, however distinctive to the Touring is a rear underbody brace borrowed from the M4 Convertible that makes up for the property’s lack of a rear bulkhead.

On the street

All M3 Competitions are basically firm-riding vehicles, and the Touring is not any totally different. However the pay-off for that’s unimaginable roadholding at pace, making this a really confidence-inspiring automobile on the prime of its working window. 

Round City: Low speeds and city driving are the place the M3 is at its least comfy, as a result of the agency springs and dampers – even of their softest mode – could cause the physique to crash into potholes or land onerous on pace humps. It’s by no means brittle, although, because of each the standard of the dampers and the comparatively excessive sidewalls of the smaller 19-inch entrance tyres.

A & B-roads: As with the Audi, that is the place the BMW is at its most spectacular. With growing pace and cargo, the suspension settles and the experience improves immeasurably. The steering is mild however very exact, and its quick rack makes the automobile really feel extra agile than it really is – solely one thing you could uncover while you’re in a position to exploit the very limits of grip. 

Nevertheless, there’s a lot of it throughout the entrance axle that there’s by no means a second that you simply’ll come throughout any understeer on dry roads. The M3 is a large automobile, and feels it on smaller British again roads, particularly in comparison with the Audi. 

Motorway: Refinement and luxury on the motorway are good, however the extensive Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tyres and aggressive suspension make it much less comfy at a continuing cruise than the Audi, and street noise is a bit more pronounced. 

The optionally available carbon-fibre-backed seats look uncompromising, however are in actual fact very comfy over lengthy distances. Stability is totally unflappable at excessive speeds.

Choices: Extras are largely grouped into packs that may increase the M3’s complete worth to over six figures. These embrace the Professional Pack, which bundles collectively carbon brakes and a better prime pace.


Whereas the RS 4 is predicated on a technology of A4 that first launched in 2016, the G21 technology of 3 Sequence Touring was launched two years later. This, mixed with an replace final 12 months that launched important modifications inside, signifies that the BMW feels extra fashionable. The curved twin-screen set-up sits on a slim sprint integrating top-of-the-line consumer interfaces within the enterprise, however the RS 4’s bodily controls are nonetheless simpler to make use of. 

The optionally available carbon-fibre-backed seats supply excellent help when the motive force is subjected to the form of gorgeous cornering forces that the M3’s chassis can conjure up, however they’re to not everybody’s tastes. These utilizing the automobile each day will discover the agency and excessive thigh bolsters a ache when getting out and in, whereas the central hump between the motive force’s legs will get in the best way for eager drivers who use left-foot braking.

BMW fared higher than Audi in our most up-to-date Driver Energy survey, besides, a results of twenty first out of 32 isn’t one thing the agency will be too pleased with. Regardless of this lowly place, house owners had been massive followers of their vehicles’ engines, gearboxes, dealing with and infotainment programs.

The BMW’s customary guarantee is a match for the Audi’s, and as with its rival, a three-year breakdown bundle is included from the second you are taking supply.

Storage: Roomy door pockets imply that the M3 Touring is a efficiency automobile with loads of on a regular basis usability. The entrance bins are cut up in order that they will securely maintain a bottle – however there are extra areas for drinks beneath the big lined compartment on the base of the dashboard.

There’s additional room for a smartphone behind this door, and a large however pretty shallow cubby beneath the entrance centre armrest. Go for the optionally available carbon-fibre sports activities seats, and also you’ll miss out on map pockets or storage on the seat backs.


The M3 Touring is intently matched to the RS 4 with regards to general usability.

Rear house: In opposition to the tape measure, the BMW holds a slender edge over the Audi for rear kneeroom, however there’s much less foot house beneath these carbon-fibre seats. The Audi additionally has a slender edge with regards to headroom. 

Whereas the M3 is wider than the RS 4 throughout the cabin, it’s much less comfy for 3 folks; the centre seat is agency and excessive, whereas an enormous central tunnel means you need to struggle for foot room. On the plus aspect, the Isofix mounts are simple to succeed in behind plastic covers. 

Boot: At 500 litres, the M3’s boot is about the identical measurement as its rival’s. The opening is extensive and the load lip low, so it’s simple to carry giant objects inside, whereas the separate glass tailgate is ideal for rapidly loading smaller objects.

What to purchase?

Which engine and trim we’d select

  • Engines: As with the Audi, there’s just one powertrain choice for the M3 Touring. But it surely’s a stunner, with an additional 49bhp and 150Nm of torque over its rival.
  • Trim: Commonplace inside colors embrace black or ivory, however for under a small enhance you may specify a large palette of choices, together with M3-specific silver, orange or perhaps a teal-and-yellow combo.
  • Our selection: We’ll take the M3 Touring because it comes; the choices are to private style.


Which automobile comes out on prime?

Winner: BMW M3 Touring

An M3 Touring was a very long time coming from BMW, however its first try has completely nailed the mark. It’s thrilling, exact and stunningly fast (each at going and stopping), and the Touring physique provides a great deal of practicality into the combination, too. 

Some consumers will desire the Audi’s extra forgiving experience, however the BMW’s firmness proves to be a worthwhile trade-off, given simply how nice the M3 is to drive. You’ll have to decide on these optionally available extras properly, although, or the overall worth can climb to eye-watering quantities.

Professionals Cons
Thunderous efficiency Gearbox could possibly be faster
Sharp dealing with Can really feel its weight and measurement
Driver suggestions Costly choices
Gorgeous brakes Too few bodily switches

Runner up: Audi RS 4 Avant

What’s clear from the off is that that is essentially the most competent RS 4 in years; not because the B6 technology has a quick Audi run its BMW rival so shut. In some methods, it’s even forward; its agility will be felt on street or on observe, whereas its gearbox and in-car high quality are additionally excellent. 

There’s little or no to separate them, however the BMW’s efficiency, precision and grin issue win out. Nonetheless, in the event you’re one of many privileged 75 Competitors house owners, you’ve bought your self a powerful quick property.

Professionals Cons
Agility Lacks the M3’s precision
Excellent gearbox Engine quick on character
Refinement Infotainment isn’t as slick as BMW’s
Construct high quality Dated cabin

Rivals and different choices

The M3 Touring wins our twin take a look at, however what else is on the market?

The nice debate

What the Auto Categorical take a look at crew would do…

Alex Ingram, chief reviewer: “The Touring actually appears like essentially the most rounded model of the present M3 and M4 line-up. It’s clearly extra sensible, nevertheless it doesn’t really feel any much less sharp or participating while you’re actually pushing it to its limits, both. I’m nonetheless not a fan of that grille design, although.”

John Mcllroy, editor-at-large: “Taking a speedy German property automobile to a observe even 20 years in the past would have been daft – vehicles reminiscent of these wouldn’t maintain as much as the strains of such dedicated driving for very lengthy. It’s a testomony to the engineers of each Audi and BMW that these two acquitted themselves so properly.”

Daybreak Grant, image editor: “In addition to being a becoming send-off for the present A4 vary, this mannequin is ready to be the final of its sort, as a result of the Audi line-up is present process a big rebrand. Any further, even mannequin numbers shall be for full EVs, so the following technology of this automobile will carry A5, S5 and RS 5 badges as an alternative.”

Steve Fowler, editor-in-chief: “What we’re right here could possibly be the top of inside combustion-powered efficiency wagons. With the Mercedes C 63 shifting to plug-in energy, it’s solely a matter of time earlier than BMW and Audi comply with go well with. We simply hope they will preserve the finesse and pleasure of this pair.”

Dean Gibson, senior take a look at editor: “We’ve but to be satisfied that an EV can ship the thrills to match the likes of the M3 Touring, however the Porsche Taycan Sport Turismo combines property practicality with all of the precision and class we count on from the sports-car maker.”

Which might you purchase? Tell us within the feedback part under…

  Audi RS 4 Avant Competitors quattro BMW M3 Touring With xDrive
On the street worth/complete as examined £84,600 / £ 84,600 £86,570 / £111,765
Residual worth (after 3yrs/36,000) £43,899 (51.89%) 44125 (50.97%)
Depreciation £40,701 £42,445
Annual gas. price (10k/20k miles) £2,930 / £5,860 £ 2,659 / £5,319
Ins. group/quote/VED 50 / £1,205/ / £560 50 / £1,324 / £560
Service prices (3 years) £549 *2 years £2,289
Size/wheelbase 4,782 / 2,826mm 4,794 / 2,857mm
Top/width 1,414 / 1,866mm 1,446 / 1,903mm
Powertrain V6 twin-turbo / 2,894cc 6cyl / 2,993cc
Peak energy 444 / 5,700bhp / rpm 503/ 6,250bhp / rpm
Peak torque 600 / 5,000Nm / rpm 650 / 2,750-5,500Nm /rpm
Transmission Eight-speed auto /4WD Eight-speed Auto / 4WD
Gasoline tank (litres) 58 59
Boot capability (seats up / down) 495 / 1,495 litres 500 / 1,510 litres
Kerbweight / power-to-weight 1,729kg / 257bhp / tonne 1,940kg / 259bhp / tonne
Turning circle 11.7 metres 12.6 metres
Fundamental guarantee/restoration 3yrs (60k) / 3 yrs 3 yrs (limitless) / 3 yrs
Driver Energy producer place Thirtieth  
Euro NCAP: Grownup / baby / ped. / help / stars N/A 97 / 87 / 87 / 76 / 5 (2019)
0-62mph / prime pace 3.9 secs / 180mph 3.6 secs / 155mph
Take a look at economic system / vary 23.6 / 301 miles 26 / 337 miles
WLTP mixed (MPG) 28.2 mpg 27.2mpg
WLTP mixed 6.2mpl 6.0mpl
Precise/claimed CO2/tax bracket 277g/km / 201g/km / 0.37 251 / 234g/km/ 0.37
Variety of airbags / Isofix factors Six / Two Six / Two
Parking sensors/digicam F&r / 360 F&r / sure
Lane-keep help / blindspot / AEB Sure / sure / sure Sure / £708 / sure
Local weather management/adaptive cruise ctrl Sure / sure Sure / sure
Leather-based / heated seats / wheel Sure / sure / sure Sure / sure / £1,040*
Metallic paint/LED lights £0 / sure £0 / sure
Keyless entry & go/powered tailgate Sure / sure £1,040* / sure
Sat-nav/digital dashboard/USBs Sure / sure / 4 Sure / sure / 4
On-line providers/wi-fi charging Sure / sure Sure / sure
Apple CarPlay/Android Auto Sure / sure Wi-fi / sure

Senior employees author at Auto Categorical, Jordan joined the crew after six years at evo journal the place he specialised in information and critiques of vehicles on the excessive efficiency finish of the automobile market. 


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