The idea of thrashing budget German sports cars does make me wince. I can only imagine the sort of repair bills that come after lapping a track as fast as possible in a high-mileage, potentially neglected German sports car. Thankfully, Alex Kersten is willing to do it for us all, so we don’t have to. In this new video, he laps his very cheap E46 M3 against a very cheap Audi R8 V8 to see which is faster, which handles better, and which breaks less.
Kersten’s E46 M3 was bought for less than £10,000, which is absurdly cheap for such a car. It has a ton of miles on it, looks like it’s sat in acid rain for a few years, and has a handful of eBay parts holding some of its body panels together. However, mechanically, it’s actually in pretty good working order. Its engine seems to rev cleanly and sing at its 8,000-plus rpm redline, its manual transmission shifts well, and even its suspension and steering seem to be in good working order. So when he laps it around the track, it actually performs very well. More than that, it looks like an absolute blast to drive.
As for the Audi R8, its owner paid £35,000, which is a lot more than what Kersten paid for the M3. However, the first-gen Audi R8 is a mid-engine supercar that’s quite a bit newer, more valuable, and was in better condition. It’s also significantly more powerful, making 420 horsepower from its 4.2-liter naturally aspirated V8, than the 333 horsepower E46 M3. Both cars have manual transmissions, so there’s no real advantage there outside of maybe gearing, but the E46 M3 is rear-wheel drive while the Audi is all-wheel drive. That gives the Audi R8 better grip but more weight.
So can the heavier, grippier, more powerful Audi R8 take down the lighter, smaller, potentially more nimble M3? More importantly, can either car make it through three hot laps without breaking? And then, once they’ve done that, are either of them faster than the brand new BMW X3 M40d?
Kersten does three standing start laps of the track in each car to see what they can do. Of course, he’s a bit more familiar with the E46 M3, as not only is it his but he’s driven far more small M cars of its era than he has Audi R8s. So he knows how they handle and how to handle them. Does that familiarity come into play here? Find out.