The BMW M2 doesn’t have many natural competitors, being that it’s one of the only small rear-wheel drive sports cars in its class. Also, BMW’s main rivals don’t produce anything rear-wheel drive in its price bracket, as cars like the Audi RS3 are all-wheel drive. However, the RS3 is still one of its main competitors and the car most likely to take it on, in terms of price, quality and performance.
We know that objectively, both cars are really quite similar in terms of performance. Both do 0-60 mph in the low four-second range (with the RS3 capable of dropping under four), both can hit about 175 mph and both seat the same amount of people. However, some of the subjective areas of a performance car, such as exhaust note and the thrill of the performance, can vary depending on the driver’s preference. Some may like the excitement of the M2 more than the RS3 and some may like the brutal efficiency of the RS3 over the M2.
In this video, we take a look at some of that subjective stuff. First, we hear the exhaust bark on start up of both cars, with the RS3 doing it first. While Audi’s hottest hatchback has been out for some time now, that 2.5 liter turbocharged five-cylinder is still one of the best sounding small-displacement engines in the world. The bark on startup is delicious and its growl is intoxicating. It’s a miracle Audi was able to make such a small turbocharged engine sound so good.
Next up is the BMW M2 and it sounds equally as good and even a bit more aggressive. Both cars have their optional valve-controlled sport exhaust systems, so it’s a pretty even test. The M2 sounds just as meaty at startup but more metallic and a bit raspier than the RS3 with almost as much bass. It’s interesting, as I personally liked the M2 a bit more until I re-listened to the RS3 and then liked that more and it went back and forth. Both sound incredible and I like the fact that they both have their distinct sound. The M2 has a typical BMW I6 sound while the RS3 has a typical Audi I5 sound. Both are awesome.
Next, they launch both cars with their launch control systems (as both cars were fitted with their dual-clutch gearboxes). First up was the RS3 and it launches hard off the line. Its Quattro all-wheel drive grip allows it to simply dig into the pavement and fire out like a missile. Some people have recorded sub four-second 0-60 mph times and we can see why. The RS3 is seriously fast.
After that, the BMW M2 is up and it too launches hard, albeit slower and with less ferocity. It’s still a damn quick car, but it doesn’t seem to have the snap-your-head-back launch of the RS3, thanks to only powering two wheels. However, that lack of all-wheel drive traction allows the M2 to be a bit more tossable in the twisties and understeer less. So each car has its advantages and disadvantages.
I think the moral of the story is that both cars are flipping incredible. They both look fantastic in their own way (that BMW M2 looks awesome with the M-Performance livery), they both sound sensational and they both go like hell. If you own either of these cars, you’re going to have an amazing experience driving them. Picking which one you might want is the hard part, but both have their subjective qualities that will make them desirable.