If you want a small, ballistic, incredibly fast little car good enough for everyday driving, it’s hard to look past these two. Both the Audi RS3 and BMW M2 Competition are astonishingly quick cars, capable of 0-60 mph times that I remember being reserved for Ferraris not too long ago. But both are also capable of seating four and have big trunks. How can you not love cars like that? But the real question is: Which one is better? Let’s hear it from Auto Express.
First, though, let’s take a look at each car. The Audi RS3 Sedan is the older of the two cars. Sort of. The standard BMW M2 debuted first but the Competition variant is brand-new, and different enough to be considered a new model. Rather than the standard M2’s 3.0 liter turbocharged I6 engine, dubbed the “N55”, this new M2 Competition gets the same 3.0 liter twin-turbocharged I6 as the BMW M3, which is known as the “S55”.
That new engine gives it 405 hp and 406 lb-ft of torque. That’s a lot in such a small car. The beauty of the M2 Competition is that it sends all of that power to just the rear wheels. In between the engine and the rear tires is either a six-speed manual or seven-speed dual-clutch, the latter of which in this test.
As for the Audi RS3 Sedan, it’s quite a bit different. Not only is it a sedan, rather than a coupe like the M2, but it packs a very different power and drivertrain. Its engine is a 2.5 liter turbocharged inline-five with 400 hp and 354 lb-ft of torque. That’s quite a bit less torque than the M2 Competition but it makes up for it with Quattro all-wheel drive, allowing all of that torque to actually make it to the pavement. It also gets a seven-speed dual-clutch.
One paper, the BMW M2 Competition should be the faster car. However, during Auto Express testing, it was only able to manage a 4.4 second 0-60 mph time. While the Audi RS3 was capable of a 3.8 second time in the same sprint. Thank all-wheel drive grip for that.
What the BMW M2 lacks in on-paper performance, though, it makes up for with hilarious road manners. It’s almost too powerful for a car of its size. However, BMW has tweaked the engine to deliver power more linearly, slowly building as the revs rise, rather than coming in like a sledgehammer, as it does in the M3. So it’s willing to kick the tail out with ease but it’s nowhere near as sketchy as the M3 or M4 to drive at speed. It’s a neutral and predictable car once it starts to slide and is really a ton of fun.
The Audi RS3 Sedan is in direct contrast with the M2 Competition. It’s brutally quick on paper and in a straight line. It also has a ton of confidence-inspiring grip and can go through corners at almost absurd speed. However, it lacks some driver involvement to the Bimmer. Its steering is more numb and its chassis is less playful. It does make up for some of that with all-weather capability and better everyday usability but, as a pure sports car, the M2 Competition is the better car.
Which is why it wins Auto Express’ test. The Audi RS3 might very well be the best all-rounder on the road, with a superb engine, blistering speed, everyday practicality, better ride comfort and all-weather ability. However, as a driving instrument, the BMW M2 is the better car.