BATTLE OF THE SUPERSALOONS: M3 vs A4 quattro
The M3 has always been the king in this category. Many of us will think, it's the best. This time, top of the range B8 A4 is playing really hard.
What is exactly a Supersaloon?
Inside the world of supercars we have different sections. This one is a subjective term for a saloon car which is designed to have sporting performance or handling characteristics.
When we talk about the M3, rapidly the C63 AMG and the RS4 spring to mind. But why? The RS4 is a family estate car, not exactly a four door saloon. We have to think about all the extra weight, and how being an estate car affects handling and aerodinamics. So why not compare it with the top of the range A4 saloon? That's what we are doing in this article.
At the top the four door M3 E90, below it the A4 3.0 TDI quattro S-Tronic.
E90 M3 4.0 V8 vs B8 A4 3.0 TDI quattro S-Tronic.
First of all, we are talking about diferent engines. On the M3, a naturally aspirated V8, on the A4 a turbocharged V6, and diferent fuel types as well. Let's talk about the main characteristics and the differences between them.
We are talking about two four door saloons wich equally equiped are well over the 50.000 € price tag. Precisely the M3 costs 72.000€ and the A4 with the same equipment goes near 60.000€. Both fully equiped are around 100.000€, wich is an insane amount of money for cars like this.
Both engines seem impressive, one highlights for it's power output and the other one for it's massive torque. The M3 develops more than 400 hp, meanwhile the A4 has to due with 245hp. But when it comes to torque, the difference matters. 400nm in the M3, near 600nm in the A4.
The M3 comes as standart with a 6 speed manual gearbox, like the Audi. Then you have the option to change it to a 7 speed DKG gearbox in the case of the M3, and a 7 speed dual-clutch S-Tronic in the A4, wich is pretty much the same as in the Lamborghini Huracan. The response from this gearboxes is spectacular, extremely quick gear changes and remarkably smooth as well.
Lateral view of the E90 M3 saloon.
Both fitted with sports suspension, make the ride a bit uncomfortable under certain situations.
BMW claims it will do 0-60 mph in 4,9 seconds, on the other hand Audi says it will do it in 5,7 seconds. That's is what you get from a difference of 175 HP, just 0,8 seconds faster. In real life both can get to 60 mph in about 4,8 seconds, as we know official figures always have little mistakes.
What really impresses me is how the A4 sets off the line, with insane amounts of grip, it reaches 25mph in 1,1 seconds, only 0,1 seconds slower than a GTR, wich is really stunning, the M3 is more about picking up speed while in motion. If you get bored, and you try to do a Launch Control in one of these, you will end up in a massive cloud of tyre smoke due to rear wheel drive wich will deliver you unsafely to the nearest tree, involving you in a catastrophic crash. As nobody wants to end like that in a 70,000 € supersaloon, it's better to engage D and set off as gently as you can.
Lateral view of the B8 A4 3.0 TDI quattro.
Talking about the looks, the M3 looks agressive and sporty, specially those changes in the front bumper and the chromed exhaust make it look fabulous, a perfect combination in elegancy and sportiness. Optional 19 inch wheels are available for the M3 wich make it look even better.
On the other hand the A4 looks even more agressive in this newer generation, with the chromed grill and the low front splitter make one of the most desirable front ends, the optional wheels on the A4 are big enough to highlight it's elegancy. At the back we see one chromed exhaust on each side wich help a lot the looks of the back.
The A4 is bigger compared to the M3, with it's 4,7m of lenght makes it 0,2m longer than the BMW. The aerodinamics on the A4 are also better than in the M3, with an aerodinamic coeficient of 0,27 gets the same results as the Nissan GTR. Otherwise the M3 has a 0,31 coeficient, wich is also very nice.
Front end of the E90 M3 and the A4 3.0 TDI quattro.
In my opinion the M3 deserves a nicer interior, the detailing is a bit poor compared with the Audi wich fullfills all the requirements for a luxury saloon.
The exterior is beautifully designed, with lots of improvement from previous generations. The headlights are gorgeous, wich include BMW's Angel Eyes. In the Audi, they are picked up directly from the R8, with bi-xenon and led, producing a blue light wich has a really long supply field.
If you want a full-on supersaloon wich you will only use in a track, go for the M3. In the real world is hopeless, the fuel consumtion is ridiculous and it's too noisy for a comfortable ride. At high speeds is faster than the A4, but not at legal ones.
If you want a really fast saloon, wich acts like a supercar in sport mode, and handles like a luxury limousine in the motorways, go for the A4 quattro.
In the real world, the M3 is a bit of a non-sense but in the backroads or in the track, it enters into the full-on supercar world. Spectacular sound, and power delivered by its V8. If you are brave enough to disconnect traction control it will teleport you into a world of smoke, speed and glowing brakes.
The A4 quattro, has enormous power, it is even faster than the M3 at low speeds. Equally enjoyable as the M3, the A4 will provide you a little bit better fuel consumption (only a little bit). Just to tell you, in a sporty situation it can give averages of 10 MPG. It's V6 sounds very nice, with a deep bass wich let's us forget that is is actually a diesel. It has a set of brakes, wich work perfectly under high speed conditons. It reminds me of the old quattro, wich used to rule rally stages.
My piece for consumer advice
Both are fun, both are spectacular and both have breathtaking looks wich will catch the attention of anyone passing by.
Thinking carefully about it, lets us think that the time you will spend in the track is considerably less than the time you will spend daily driving it. So, with that in mind, the A4 is the reasonable choice.
Arnau Garcia Escudé