It’s easy to romanticize about BMWs from the past. Enthusiasts can’t help but wax poetic about the glory days of their favorite Bavarian brand. But just how glorious were those days? Are we all just looking at them through rose-tinted nostalgia or were those older BMWs really as good as we all think and remember? Let’s find out, with this old three-way comparison from Car and Driver, featuring the E34 BMW M5, Audi S4, and Mercedes 500E.
All three cars were 1992 models in this test and all three cars were German sedans with powerful engines but that’s where their similarities end. The E34 BMW M5 used a 3.5-liter straight-six with a five-speed manual and rear-wheel drive. The Mercedes had a 5.0-liter V8 with a four-speed automatic transmission and rear-wheel drive. While the Audi S4 used a turbocharged 2.2-liter five-cylinder engine, a five-speed manual, and all-wheel drive.
The Mercedes 500E—nicknamed “The Hammer”—was the most powerful, with 322 horsepower. The BMW M5 was just behind it, with 310 horsepower. And the Audi S4 was a distant last, with 227 horsepower. All three cars were heavy for the time, too. The E34 M5 checked in at 3,800 lbs, with the Audi S4 weight 3,893, and the Mercedes was the heaviest, at 3,927. The Mercedes was also by far the most expensive, with an as-tested price of $88,685, with the BMW M5 far behind it at $64,760, and the Audi S4 looking like a budget option at $45,500.
But which one was best? Well, the Audi S4, as good of a car as it was, never really had a chance. It was the cheapest because it was built on a pretty basic mass-produced chassis, it was the least powerful, and the second heaviest. So the fact that it came in last place isn’t entirely surprising. This test was really about the two four-door monsters, the BMW M5 and Mercedes’ Hammer.
Car and Driver loved both cars. Both were excellent in their own ways and any true car enthusiast would love to have either However, there were a few things that separated them, so it was interesting to see how Car and Driver chose. Check it out.
[Source: Car and Driver]