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.
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.