BMW M2 vs. Audi RS3 – Comparison

BMW M2 | October 15th, 2015 by 26
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BMW recently announced its newest entry to the M Division family, the BMW M2. It’s going to become the main competitor to the Audi RS3, …

BMW recently announced its newest entry to the M Division family, the BMW M2. It’s going to become the main competitor to the Audi RS3, so it’s worth taking a look at how the two stack up in terms of both performance and design.


We already know much about the Audi RS3, as it’s been on sale for some time now. Its 2.5 liter turbocharged five-cylinder engine makes 367 horsepower and is paired to a seven-speed S-Tronic dual-clutch gearbox which powers all four wheels and get rocket the RS3 from 0-60 mph in 3.9 seconds. In comparison, the BMW M2 uses a 3.0 liter turbocharged inline-six engine to produce 370 horsepower and is mated to a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission, but only powers the rear wheels and gets from 0-60 in a BMW-claimed 4.3 seconds.

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The BMW M2 has a bigger engine, slightly more power and a similar gearbox, but loses a step to the RS3, in terms of performance, due to the lack of grip from its two wheels. Audi’s Quattro all-wheel drive setup allows the RS3 to launch harder out of the hole without spinning its tires.

In terms of handling, we know that the RS3 is very good to drive, if a bit safe. The RS3’s incredible all-wheel drive system works brilliantly in bad weather, but on dry pavement can tend to understeer and feel a bit less dynamic that one might want. The BMW M2 is lighter and rear-wheel drive, so it’s likely that it could be the more fun and slidable car of the two, however it might struggle in the wet to the Audi RS3. But we won’t know how they stack up, in terms of handling, until we can get our hands on an M2.


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In terms of exterior design, there’s a lot more visual emotion in the design of the BMW M2. Its aggressive wheel arches, massive front air dams and rear diffuser give the M2 a very aggressive and exciting look. The Audi RS3 is a bit more reserved and doesn’t do much to differentiate itself from the standard A3. While still good looking, the RS3’s styling is a bit too safe. The M2 is all flair and drama, whereas the RS3 is a bit more reserved and laid back. This is likely to translate to the way both cars drive as well. But the massive differences in design style are neither good nor bad, but different. Some may like the more reserved and grown-up quality of the RS3’s styling while some may prefer the visual excitement of the M2.


On the inside, things are actually quite the opposite. The BMW M2’s interior does little to differentiate itself from the standard 2 Series. In fact, the steering wheel, seats and overall design are the exact same as in the BMW M235i. Only the interior trim and shift knob are really different from the standard car. But the RS3’s interior quite a bit different from the standard A3. The seats are more aggressive and sporty, the steering wheel is flat-bottomed and comes with alcantara on the top and bottom of it. The interior of the RS3 also looks a bit more premium than that of the BMW M2’s, and in cars costing as much as these two, premium feel is important.



Both of these cars look great and special in their own ways but they most definitely have their own character. These two might be competitors but they go about it very differently. We’ll see which is better when we can drive them back to back, but until then we can just get excited about these two similar but different performance juggernauts battling it out.

26 responses to “BMW M2 vs. Audi RS3 – Comparison”

  1. Makman says:

    “The interior of the RS3 also looks a bit more premium than that of the
    BMW M2’s, and in cars costing as much as these two, premium feel is

    The feel and look are different things. IMO the BMW looks more premium and BMW feels more premium aswell(I have droven both audi and bmw cars) :)

    • Vincent says:

      “The BMW M2’s interior does little to differentiate itself from the standard 2 Series. In fact, the steering wheel, seats and overall design are the exact same as in the BMW M235i.”

      no matter how good the base interior is, the fact that the M2 interior has no premium feel over lesser 2er models is the issue… if paying M car premium over base models, one should also be able to feel their premium M car interior too.

      • Makman says:

        I dont agree and I doubt that you have ever felt an audi interior, LOL.

        • Vincent says:

          Who mentioned Audi interior? Nico’s point that I quoted is that the M2 has no premium feel over normal 2ers. M cars have traditionally had bespoke seats- it’s the easiest way to distinguish an E36M3 from a bodykitted 318is with an aftermarket exhaust. Other M cars now have leather dash as standard. And on the outside, where are the M mirrors on this M2??? How hard would it be for BMW to take the mirrors off the M3 like the 1M?

          Premium M price but missing premium M bits. For a car that aspires to M car tradition and is endorsed with a proper M designation, these omissions are disappointing.

          • Makman says:

            well you replied to my quote about the difference between an Audi and BMW, why reply with a new qoute? I made my point, if you want to make yours write a comment and not a reply? LOL

            And yes im disappointed in things, like the mirrors and the seats(not suprised about the seats tho) but still, it has more premium feel than an audi, and thats my point.

          • Vincent says:

            Sigh. I’m posting coz you continue to interpret Nico’s original quote wrong. Read his whole paragraph you quoted … he’s not saying Audi is better than BMW. He’s saying Audi’s RS3 interior has a better premium feel over its lesser models with upgraded seats n steering wheel. However, BMW doesn’t have the same premium feel compared with lesser 2ers coz it’s interior looks the same. It is this premium that the M2 lacks and at this price point, having a premium over lesser models is important.

            No one is saying RS3 interior is better than M2. You are just arguing with yourself.

            The bigger question is indeed whether this means BMW is skimping on its M treatments… ie without traditional M touches, is this car deserved of a true M designation or just a half baked version… but I agree that is a topic for another thread.

      • TheBingoBalls says:

        Sorry but that was never the case. You buy a M car because of the things you can’t see (chassis). I think that’s what people confuse when they talk about BMW’s. Everyone can argue that Audi and Mercedes are “better” than BMW’s because there’s value that you can see. BMW’s, especially M cars, was and is never about what you can see on the outside and inside so when people don’t drive it, oh it’s not as good as the other German brands, I don’t see anything different.

        BMW M will ALWAYS, ALWAYS be about chassis. You may not agree with it but it’s the truth.

        • Vincent says:

          I agree that we buy M cars for the chassis but premium M bits have always been a part of the M brand- eg seats and M mirrors as I mentioned above. If you have missed these you may need your glasses fixed.

          Unfortunately when it comes to chassis, there are now better ones out there with mid engine design… how can a soft top Boxster S with so much less power/torque do the same ring time as an M2?

          I agree BMW is about the chassis, the problem is there are now better ones in the market.

        • Makman says:

          I totally agree but the M-mirrors was disappointing…

  2. jason bourne says:

    Why compare it with the RS3? It looks like a station wagon, albeit a fast one.

  3. Giom says:

    The M235i Lost out to the AMG A45 a couple of months ago. That was an unfair comparison to start with. Now that the M2 is here we can fight apples with apples.

  4. STL says:

    Why try and make a comparison between these two cars? The only thing they really have in common is the speed and power. Otherwise one is a genuine RS series five-door hatchback that can be used as a daily driver, and the other is a disappointing pretend M series two-door coupe designed for people who can’t afford an M3.

    • realtrevor says:

      Genuine RS series car? Not so long ago many were questioning the premium you pay over an S3 or Golf 7R for the RS3. The M2 is not pretending to be an M car, it is an M car. It’s got front and rear suspension from the M4, and the 100% locking read diff from the M4, unless you are suggesting that even the M4 is an M wanna be.

    • TheBingoBalls says:

      LMAO. Wow. This comment doesn’t deserve a proper response. HAHAHAHAH

    • Max says:

      And that from someone with a NASCAR profile more words needed.

  5. syedH1 says:

    Not sure why people are asking why this comparison is being made… should DEFINITELY be made. The 1M was infinitely compared to the 8P last generation RS3 and the 1M destroyed it in every possible way. The new RS3 is a much better dynamically made car than the old RS3, and in real life i’d probably rather have an RS3 Sportback in my garage to join my 1M than to have the M2——that 5 cylinder engine in the RS3 is a total gem!! far more characterful than the N55.

    • TheBingoBalls says:

      Because people think that body style needs to be the same or it’s not “fair”. This goes back to the E92 M3 vs. W204 C63 AMG. People were saying it wasn’t fair because the M3 was 2 doors. How does that make any difference? Does 2 doors suddenly make the M3 faster? It was absolutely a fair comparison. M3 is/was the benchmark and Mercedes made the W204 C63 to compete against it whether it was with 2 or 4 doors.

  6. steven75 says:

    In my mind, the only area of comparison the RS3 would win vs an M2 is practicality. Every single other area is a landslide win for the M2.

    • Jason says:

      As it turns out how wrong you are. The rs3 is faster in the real world (everything except a track lap). It sounds alot better, its 10k cheaper (here in Australia at least), it is more practical, the interior is quite a bit nicer (i mean man processed dakota leather on the m2? Really), the ride is significantly better in the rs3 as well dur adaptive dampers etc etc. The m2 looks more aggressive, is faster around a track and has excellent chassis feel from its rwd layout, that is great. But as a daily driver the rs3 is the one to get.

  7. Eric says:

    RS3 for everyday car – Power, 5 door hatch, etc. Value.
    M2 weekend car – but I’d prefer to get something else with that sort of money and purpose.

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