Audi has just released the pricing for the US-market RS3 Sedan, the first of its kind. This new RS3 is a direct competitor to the BMW M2 and the Mercedes-AMG CLA45 so it will certainly be cross-shopped with them. When comparing the two cars, they both have their pros and cons, so it could genuinely be a tough choice for customers in this segment. Especially considering how close in price the Audi and BMW are.
Starting at $55,450, after destination, the Audi RS3 Sedan represents a pretty impressive value, actually. Underneath its hood lies a 2.5 liter turbocharged I5 engine that makes 400 hp, has a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic as-standard, is all-wheel drive and can get from 0-60 mph in just 3.9 seconds. That’s pretty damn good for such a small car. By comparison, the BMW M2 has 365 hp from its 3.0 liter turbocharged I6 engine, has a six-speed manual transmission as standard and takes 4.3 seconds to get from 0-60 mph. So its less powerful and slower, though it does cost less, at $52,500.
Now, if you option the BMW M2 to have its own seven-speed DCT gearbox, that puts the price slightly above the RS3’s and its 0-60 mph time about a tenth of a second slower. So it does bridge the gap between the two a bit. However, the RS3 Sedan does represent a better overall value, on paper. For about the same money, it’s faster, has two more doors and a more usable back seat while also being all-weather capable with its Quattro all-wheel drive.
But the M2 does fight back, as it’s the more fun car to drive. Its steering, uncorrupted by driven front wheels, is sharper, more direct and more full of feel. The BMW M2 is also rear-wheel drive only and comes as-standard with an electronically-controlled limited-slip differential at the rear axle, something that’s optional on the Audi. The rear-drive dynamics and brilliant diff make the M2 the more exciting and pure sports car of the two. Whereas the Audi is quite a bit quicker in a straight line, the BMW M2 is more fun in the twisty bits.
In terms of interior and technology, the RS3 Sedan as the M2 beat. Not only is it a more interesting and exciting cabin, it also comes with more as-standard equipment, such as Audi’s brilliant Virtual Cockpit. Audi’s cabins are also always of the highest build quality, featuring bunker-grade materials. It also doesn’t have a crooked driver’s seat, like the M2 seems to feature.
Despite everything, I think we can all admit that the Audi RS3 Sedan is the faster, more performance-oriented car of the two. However, the BMW M2 is the more exciting and more emotional car. At around the same price, it’s really going to come down to preference. The RS3 Sedan does feature more practicality and all-weather usability, but that’s not really what you buy sports cars for, right? So if someone maybe lives in a harsher climate, where snowfall is consistent through the winter months, an RS3 Sedan might be worth the slight price premium. But if you live in a sunny area most of the time and have another car to tackle rougher weather, I think the M2 is the better buy.