For decades, BMW watched from the sidelines as the Mercedes-AMG C63 Estate and Audi RS4 Avant competed for wagon supremacy without worrying about a third opponent. Last year, player 3 finally entered the game when the G81 came out. Bavaria’s super estate had been a long time coming, over 20 years after the one-off M3 Touring E46.
Touted as the ultimate family car, the long-roof M3 is less track-focused than the sedan or an M4 Coupe. That said, it can still hold its own on a circuit since BMW M did its best to maintain the assets of the saloon when it changed its body style. In a new video from Auto Express, journalist Steve Sutcliffe pitted the long-awaited M3 against the Audi RS4 Avant. Not just any version of Ingolstadt’s speedy wagon, but the spicy Competition variant launched in 2022.
Although the M3 Touring is the more potent of the two desirable wagons, it is also considerably heavier. The twin-turbo 3.0-liter inline-six engine is good for 503 hp and 650 Nm (478 lb-ft) in a car that weighs 1,865 kg (4,111 lbs). The slightly smaller twin-turbo 2.9-liter V6 in the RS4 Avant Competition churns 444 hp and 600 Nm (442 lb-ft) in a fast estate that tips the scales at 1,729 kg (3,811 lbs). Doing the math, the BMW has an advantage of 59 hp and 50 Nm (36 lb-ft) Nm but carries around an extra 136 kg (300 lbs).
Since this duel took place on a track, it’s worth noting the cars had different tires. The M3 came equipped with Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tires while the RS4 had Pirelli P Zero Corsa rubber. As for the venue, the high-performance wagons were pushed hard in South Wales at the Llandow Circuit. It’s a short yet challenging venue with both left and right bends and an overall length of 1.45 kilometers (0.9 miles).
The Touring needed 44.2 seconds to cross the finish line whereas the Avant took 43.98 seconds, so not much separated these two. While the outcome may seem surprising, that Competition package brought a multitude of upgrades for the RS4 Avant. In fact, the changes shaved off a whopping 20 seconds from the lap time around the Nürburgring compared to the standard model. Audi gave it a coilover suspension, a better differential, sportier exhaust, and those sticky tires.
BMW is cooking up an M3 CS Touring with more power and slightly less weight but it won’t be launched until 2025. That should shave off some tenths of a second from the lap time.
In the meantime, Steve Sutcliffe says the Audi RS4 Avant feels more nimble thanks to its lower curb weight and has slightly better grip courtesy of those stickier tires. He went on to mention the Audi didn’t feel substantially slower on the straight line despite its power handicap. However, he still prefers the BMW.
Source: Auto Express / YouTube