Car and Driver compares the 2009 BMW 335i vs. 2010 Audi S4

3-Series | October 20th, 2009 by 46
2010 audi s4 and 2009 bmw 335i sedan 5 cd gallery zoomed 750x500

One of the most popular car comparisons out there is back once again: 2009 BMW 335i vs. 2010 Audi S4. The fellows over at Car …

2009 bmw 335i sedan and 2010 audi s4 3 cd gallery zoomed 655x400

One of the most popular car comparisons out there is back once again: 2009 BMW 335i vs. 2010 Audi S4. The fellows over at Car and Driver decided to challenge the two sport sedans that have been competing in the same class for quite some time.

While most of the time, the BMW 335i comes out as a winner, the fellows at C&D seem to have a different opinion this time and the S4 gets their vote. Of course, some of these comparisons can be based on personal preferences, but before we jump into any conclusions, let’s take a look at their review.

We’ll boil it down: Forget the Audi’s as-tested price of $59,425 and the BMW’s $49,320 tab. This story is about how a $50,675 Audi S4 (the base price plus the performance-vital Audi drive select but minus all the nonessential luxuries we’re assiduously ignoring because we’re trained professionals) meets a $48,470 BMW 335i (base price plus all the requisite options to match the S4’s standard equipment) on virtually equal treads. Before you howl about the Audi’s higher price, recall that it also has standard all-wheel drive. [See sidebar for why we didn’t compare it with an all-wheel-drive 335i xDrive.]

Consider: Both the S4 and the 335i are four-door sedans with 3.0-liter, force-fed six-cylinders and redlines starting at 7000 rpm, and both hail from autobahn-honeycombed Germany. It’s the perfect two-car duel—a concours a deux, says a man who wears Boss. Does Audi want this bad enough? Let’s gas ’em up and see.

2010 audi s4 and 2009 bmw 335i sedan 5 cd gallery zoomed 655x400

Why We Nixed the AWD Bimmer – Comparison Tests
Before you start cranking out toxic verbiage about our selection process, listen to our side of it. Audi’s competitive target for this S4 is BMW’s 335i xDrive (the all-wheel-drive variant). Don’t we, by the natural laws of the universe, have to compare the AWD S4 with BMW’s AWD version of the 335i, the so-called xDrive?

We don’t. We think the 335i in rear-drive mode is the more compelling performance package. So why penalize the BMW just because the S4 only comes in all-wheel drive? The rear-drive 335i is roughly 200 pounds lighter and has better weight distribution: 50.8 percent over the front axle versus 52.1 for the AWD xDrive. When the rear-drive BMW includes the Sport package, it rides an inch closer to the ground than the xDrive, lowering the center of gravity, which improves handling and reduces weight transfer. But add that Sport package to an xDrive, and you don’t get the lowered, sport-tuned suspension.

Full detailed article continued here

46 responses to “Car and Driver compares the 2009 BMW 335i vs. 2010 Audi S4”

  1. wazon says:

    Audi did homework, they had two long years to make something with similar perfomance to 335i. I would still choose 335i e90 instead of new S4, just because I think that if you push the last one hard its poor balance and mass will reveal as disadvantage. And last thing… unique driving pleasure coming from RWD is the biggest pros for BMW.

  2. bunker says:

    Time for BMW to catch up…if they want to at this point.

  3. Adam says:

    I don’t like the Audi brand, so regardless of how well the Audi does in a comparison test I still wouldn’t buy one. The same goes for Cadillac. I like the BMW brand and as long as I can afford it that’s what I’m sticking with.

  4. E92-TORONTO says:

    2010 S4 might be my next car, but have to test drive it first to see how the handling compare to my e92-335.

  5. AceMcLoud says:

    Not much need to “catch up” imho. The cars are almost equal, the differences are subjective (“exterior styling”, “gotta have it”, wtf?) or owed to the couple more bhp of the Audi. Prices are difficult to compare but overall the Audi is a bit more expensive.
    So, congrats to Audi for a great car and congrats to BMW for competing so well with an older, less expensive, off-the-shelf 335i. Competition is good, maybe we’ll get a house-tuned version of the 335i to fit in below the M3 ;-)

  6. Babken says:

    335i is the God, s4 is mortal.

  7. Auday says:

    Looks like Audi did a great job making an AWD 4000lb car be that good, but I still doubt that a car with such weight, front weight bias, and active front wheels would be as good as the 335i.
    Two major things would give Audi the advantage here IMO, the 1st and most important is the Diff (compared to open diff in the 335i) and 2nd Super Charge compared to Turbo.
    Even regardless of the brand, I would still pick the 335i as I think it’s a better car, I just wish I could change the whole interior.

  8. Jordan says:

    hasn’t BMW already tuned up the 335i in europe to about 326hp now?? i remember reading that number somewhere for the 3.0 turbo. i know the 3.0 n/a engine is at 272hp in europe. I guess when the next 3 series comes out it will be 325i and 330i? or will they change it to that when the facelifted coupe and droptop come??

    but back to my original thought lol… all BMW needs to do is match the power of the Audi, aka. tune their engine to what they know they can make (326hp is easy) and i’m sure C&D would have a different conclusion.

    • wazon says:

      In Europe you have fallowing versions of 3-er with 3.0 litre capacity:
      1. 325i which has 2996 cm3, produces 218 hp and 270 Nm, it’s N/A engine
      2. 330i which has 2996 cm3, produces 272 hp and 320 Nm, it’s N/A engine (the one you talked about)
      3. at the top you have 335i twin-turbo (2979cm3) producing 306hp and 400Nm. The same engine as in US 335i.

      Version of the engine as in 335i with 326hp on output appeared only in 740i up to now, however – as far as I know – it has single turbo instead of twin-turbo (although I can be wrong on this point).

      • Alex Vintu says:

        At the September Frankfurt Auto Show, I did see a 135 that has the same twin turbo engine with a Performance package. One of the options in the package which the customer can tailor to his/her needs is the added HP to about 325-330 (cant remember exactly). The Performance package I saw on the 135 (not sure if those all possible options: engine, brakes, aerodynamics, interior) came at hefty price of about 10K Euros. So its possible to bring the 335i HP close to that of the S4.

      • Jordan says:

        ya i believe the new 35i engine with 326hp is a single turbo with dual vanes. (question about that, in order of power/least turbo lag would it be: single turbo single vane, single turbo dual vane, and then single turbo variable vane as the most powerful??)

        like Vintu said i think the 35i with performance package ups it to 326hp and kicks the torque into the 330s lb-ft range. and the 326hp i hear is in the 5 series GT as well as the new 7.

        does anyone know if i’d be easy to tune the 325i (218hp) to 330i (272hp) power since they’re pretty much the same engine?? i would think you’d just need to reprogram the ECU, any hints?

        • Auday says:

          Why the focus on HP? The 335i has technically the same HP if you consider the weight. The power to weight ratio on the Audi is less than 1% more than the 335i, so this is not where the BMW is lagging. Actually BMW did the best thing, i.e. reducing weight instead of adding more HP.

          And no matter what marketing tells you, in straight line a 1 ton car with 200 HP is exactly as fast (acceperation wise) as a 2 tons car with 400HP… on the corners the lighter cars always have the advantage.

        • Doug says:

          Well, wait…. there’s scrolls, the screw-shaped channels that feed the exhaust turbine. Twin scrolls feed the turbine from opposite sides so the flow is more even, and simplifies exhaust tuning from more cylinders. Vanes are a ring of adustable fins that can direct exhaust onto the turbine blades at an optimum angle, making the turbo spin faster at lower exhaust speeds.

          However, BMW has gone a long way at reducing lag without either of these in the N54 engine. They say 2 smaller turbos spin up faster than a single big one, but I’ve never understood why. I always thought that the N54 engine used a smaller turbo for responsiveness and a larger one for max boost, but I may be wrong about that.

          I think you can get 320+hp in either the N55 or the performance-option N54. Or you can get some 500hp with a custom tuner.

          • Jordan says:

            Thanks doug! I totally couldn’t remember what I was looking for and it was twin scrolls not dual vane. In the new engine, the N55, I believe it’s gone to the single turbo twin scroll correct? and that gives peak torque at 100rpm earlier than the N54. my guess? make use of one turbo for better fuel economy, and use twin scroll for more efficiency and power… anyone know for sure?

            I think what they mean with twin turbos spin up faster is because the smaller turbo is able to spin up much faster than the bigger turbo, therefore it reduces lag because i think the small turbo either powers the engine til a certain speed where the bigger turbo automatically takes over… OR… the small turbo helps the engine a bit but also helps spin up the bigger turbo so that it can kick in earlier.

            i had a big question about vanes but i found this article on Variable Turbine Geometry and it pretty much answered them. it’s very well illustrated.

        • wazon says:

          325i to 330i: I suspect that the main difference between these engines is that they have different heads, hence difference in power and torgue. Similar capacity may comes from sharing engine blocks.

        • Doug says:

          (replying to jordan’s reply..?)

          That’s is a *great* link there, I’ve never seen it so well illustrated. Yeah the N55 has one 2-scroll turbo.

          A larger turbo would take longer to spool, but… if you’re giving it twice the exhaust, what would the difference be? I read something about the twin-scrolls putting less stress on the actual turbine/shaft assembly, so maybe the structure can be lighter?

          @wazon: see wikipedia, “bmw engines”. I think currently they’re all 3.0L, they just have 1, 2 and 3 stage intakes, respectively (325, 328, 330), tuning for more power bumps higher up.

        • Doug says:

          PS — yes your last theory (smaller turbo helping the larger one) is exactly what i was thinking….it’s pretty elegant… although there’s nothing confirming that anywhere. The N54 service manual actually shows them as same-sized turbos feeding respectively from the front the and rear 3 cylinders, but photographs of the actual engine seem to show 2 different turbos. Plus the fuss over sequential turbocharging.

  9. Artmic says:

    All BMW has to do is release the Dual Clutch transmission and add 50HP to the 335 coupe.

  10. Dennis Mcc says:

    The problem I have with Audi’s is the price, they don’t have the credentials to charge BMW/Mercedes prices. How many 10,15,20 year BMWs/Mercedes do you see running around, plenty. How many Audi’s over 5 years old do you see running around, next to none.

    • Jordan says:

      good point. however in a few years you’re gonna see the mercedes built in the last few years only running an average of 10 yrs instead of the very reliable mercs of previous generations. seems the quality of them dropped significantly with the Daimler-Chrysler merger. i think back in the day mercedes had significantly more reliable cars than BMW. hopefully they get back to making fantastic german cars again. i’m all for competition, it benefits everyone!

    • ferrarifan says:

      talking about credentials.. why is Audi ahead of both BMW and MB in Europe? It’s only in the US that majority of the people still thinks BMW owns.

      • wazon says:

        Is Audi ahead of BMW and MB in Europe? I live there and haven’t noticed it yet. However, Audi has good time recently since they delivered numbers of new models while for many of BMW’s models production period is ending.

        But still it’s easy to notice Audi’s weakness when compared with BMW. Just take brand new A4 B8, which aim against few years old 3-er.
        If you compared European most versions of Audi A4 B8 and 3-er, you would notice from statistics only that, despite age difference, BMW’s cars are still better. 318i is overall better than A4 1.8TFSI (120hp), 330i is overall better than A4 3.2 FSI, 318d better than A4 2.0TDi (143hp), 320d better than A4 2.0TDi (170hp) (actually, performance of 320d is equal with performance of A4 2.7TDi), 330d is at the similar level as A4 3.0 TDi and 335d is out of Audi’s range.
        Only brand new S4 means something, but it didn’t reach such advantage over 335i as one might expect. Even if it’s better, there is really small difference in performance, actually Audi had two years on disigning better car and all they did is making barely better car that could be easly overcome by introducing performace package by BMW, which would have a lot of sense since Audi priced S4 higher than 335i!!!

        I invite you to consider fallowing counterfactual situation: Suppose that BMW delivered brand new 335i which is barely better than S4 B8 after two years of working on it. What would people say about such 335i? That it’s great product? Or that it’s disapponted because it won’t count at all against future competitors that it will have to face? I guess that people would be disappointed by such BMW, just because it would be great only for a while and was made to beat car that would be replace in two years and which succesor will beat our counterfactual 335i hardly. It wouldn’t be as actual 335i e90 that despite age still counts in competition and can be easly improved to be better than its rivals! It would be as unconving as actually S4 B8 is. Why then should we be impressed by Audi’s developement when we think about S4? I see tension in assessing both groups.

        Pro-Audi fever in competition with BMW comes mainly from their making RS6, which turned out to provide better performance than M5 E60. Of course, it shouldn’t surprise anybody, since RS6 C6 “defeated” much older car which was ruling in sport saloon segment enough long, but it makes Audi’s fans really proud and they announed that Audi is better than BMW. Will they say the same in 2011 when M5 F10 appear? I guess not.

        • Lance says:

          Totally agree. Those Audi fans must be so depressed and sad about what they support that they het over-excited with such minute insignificant matters that’s going to be short lived.

  11. Sheikh says:

    And now have mercedes built an C63 AMG with performance package (487hp).
    BMW must bring the M3 CSL. At least with 450hp.
    This is not good.

  12. Lance says:

    Ferrari fan, I don’t know which part of Europe youa re talking about, but the only significant country that Audi has a minor upper hand is China with VW’s early presence in the country. But even the chinese are preferring BMW’s premium products over Audi as BMW enters the market with the sales gap narrowing very quickly. Furthermore, BMW has been voted as the luxury car brand of the rich in a survey not too long ago.

    The only time that I can remember Audi outselling BMW was last year when the new A4 outsold the 3 series in one month in Germany. It was so unusual that it made headlines.

  13. Jordan says:

    I think Ferrari fan has been completely shut down!

  14. :p says:

    I wonder if BMW is willing to twin turbo there new single Turbo I6. They both have 300 hp. Twin turbo the new I6 should give at least 335hp to beat the S4

  15. :D says:

    lol @ bmw fans.

    Stop saying ” The 335i is there since 2006 while the S4 just came out I wish it outperforms the older bmw !! ” you know what ? By the time BMW release a new 3 series, the A4 will be there for 3 years or so, so audi fans will say that the Audi model is already 3 years old…

    The truth of the matter is that Audi are ahead of BMW and Mercedes everywhere in europe, and that Audi has been selling more cars years after years since 2000.

    The Audi S4 cost more than the 335xi ? No. They are at the same price both base model. The fully equipt S4 may cost more, yet it has a dual clutch 7 speed transmission, while the 335i have a shitty conventional 6 speed automatic transmission. Also, in the Audi, you get a sports rear differential with all the settings for the steering, engine, differential and suspension (comfort,automatic,dynamic), you get a killer Bang & Olufsen audio system which is by the way better than the premium bmw audio system.

    If you go on JDPower website, you’ll see that Audi’s reliability is going up and is BETTER than Bmw, so nobody here can say that Audis are shitty because of old Audi models.

    The 2010 S4 is a bit faster, handles better, brakes from 60 to 0 in less feets, gets a better interior with more equipment than the 2010 335i and has the best sporty and efficient AWD system on the market today in these prices. I’m not saying that BMW or the 335i is shit, but you should all recognize that the S4 is certainly better than the 335i and that Audis are making cars that does kills the competition including BMW cars.

    • Jordan says:

      hey smileyface… you shouldn’t really direct that comment at us “bmw fans” as we didn’t write this… please see Car and Driver…

      i dunno where you got that quote from but i couldn’t find it on this page…. and you seem to contradict yourself, if i’m understanding correctly… you said a BMW fan said that he/she HOPES the new S4 outperforms the 335i?? i don’t think a BMW fan would really hope for that, unless you’ve taken that out of context. and ur next point about how a BMW will come out and will be 3 years newer than an Audi and Audi fans will complain….. what point are you trying to make??

      yes this new S4 is fantastic and yes it does a lot of things well, and I’d prob take the Bang & Olufsen over BMW’s system, and yes it has dual clutch…. however, you’re missing the critical points about the S4 that Car and Driver noticed that made them choose the 335i over the S4.

      this is a little side point as it deals with tuning…. you could tune that 335i so easily it would SPANK a tuned S4 so hard it’d make it blush!.. now that’s getting a little kinky, but i bet you can guess who wears the pants in that relationship! ;)

      last point hunny buns… it’s not good to lie! well i should accuse you of lying, however, after looking into some current JDPower results, you’re actually quite mistaken and it’s quite the opposite!

      here for example is a list of cars in each segment, and their runner-ups, for Vehicle Dependability… it shows absolutely no Audi 1st place or runner-ups… BMW has 2 runner-ups.

      looking at specific ratings from JD for the 2010 3 series vs 2010 A4/S4 you’ll find that Audi is down 0.5 in initial quality and up 0.5 in performance and design… i’ll call that a tie (although i’d say the only reason the audi got half a point for design was for those fancy smancy LED lights :P but now im just being biased!). looking at the 2010 X5 vs 2010 Q7, the Audi is down 0.5 in initial quality, 0.5 in predicted reliability and down a full point in performance and design…. a clear win for BMW.

      where did you get your JD Power data from?!… Audi fan sites don’t count hehe

  16. :p says:

    :D post is rather correct. Even so, Audi is like acura and lexus. They are simply rebranded and upgraded versions of there original brand. Audi uses parts and frame fom VW. Lexus with Toyota. Acura with Honda. BMW is self owned so many of its parts and designs are founded inside its own company. The A/S4 used to be based on the VW Passet. A4 uses the 2.0 engine like many of VW cars. The S4 Wins as a sports sedan but the 335i wins for style and popularity in the US

  17. :p says:

    It would be nice if there was a 350i with the 400hp Twin Turbo V8. Better Fuel eco than the M3 but just as fast

  18. :p says:

    It would be nice if there was a 350i with the 400hp Twin Turbo V8. Better Fuel eco (est. 17 city 24 hwy ) than the M3 but just as fast

  19. marco says:

    the 3 series is a very ugly car

  20. Ean says:

    Car and Driver needs to do the’re homework, the 335i is a classic no european car deisgner has come close to for the price.Ugly? Audi has no heart it’s a VW! I’ve done several races between the 2 and in evert aspect the 335i x-drive no less was the winner, it’s a classic that doesn’t even need to be! As a gentelmen who’s had both the Audi liitterly fell apart $. Style,rear wheel available, performance, and most importantlly end result, the new Audi is ugly expensive uncomfortable tin or a legacy several years old still on top and really winning every challenge! Never settle for a wanna be, be an original! BMW!! a4,s4,rs4 over $10,000 every 40,000 miles! Sorry Audi lovers, it’s a car with no soul!

  21. Ean says:

    Also no one took into account this car was made as a coupe. Sorry family guys, theres no room for your munchcins in the s4, but there is in the 335i saloon. Wake up and do a real test between the bmw coupe and the audi s4 (oh wait vw did’nt make a coupe)! Think about it!

  22. JESTEREXW says:

    The price gap between the two is insane really and should therefore nix the comparrison. COMPARE THE S4 TO THE M3, THEY ARE EACH COMPANIES BASELINE SPORT BRAND AND CLOSER IN PRICE! Such a bad idea for an article.

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