Audi RS Vs BMW M Sport Vs Mercedes AMG

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Germany’s Big Three have been pit against each other countless of times over the years and their respective RS, M Sport and AMG lines have seen a rivalry that is unmatched throughout the rest of the industry. But which performance arm is truly the strongest? To find out we’ve gone head-to-head with the Audi RS3, the BMW M4 and the Mercedes C43 AMG.

Exterior

From the off it’s clear to see that all three cars are built to attract and, while similar, their styles are subtly different. The RS3 looks a tad aggressive with its sharp lines, expansive front grilles and contorted headlights. In contrast the C43 looks more professional than sporty with its elegant design and minimalist alloy wheels. Sitting somewhere between the two is the M4 with a dark carbon fibre roof, a more tamed front, but a more showy set of alloys.

The wheels offer a spot of contention between the manufactures with each going for a different design and size. Audi has chosen a 19″ five-blade arm design in galvanised silver that contrasts well with the more vibrant body colours available. BMW boasts both 19″ double spoke and 20″ star-spoke alloys that are the largest and most flamboyant of the trio. Whereas Mercedes offer a choice of alloy with both 18″ and 19″ options available in a more conservative classic 5-spoke, 10-spoke or cross-spoke design.

While the AMG’s lack of arrogance may suit it better for the executive world, it doesn’t offer the same pizzazz synonymous with the performance scene as the RS and the M4. Even though the M4 showcases a distinctive alloy and roof design, it still looks too tame compared to the audacious RS3.

Our winner: Audi RS3.

Mercedes AMG

Interior

Just like their exterior’s, each German performance line has chosen a somewhat similar interior design. Each offers branded performance seating and a performance steering wheel as standard, as well as a front centre armrest.

However, customisation is a key area where the manufacturers differ and where Audi is found lacking. Both BMW and Mercedes offer multiple upholstery colours for the M Sport and AMG lines compared to the very restricted RS offering.

You’re given the choice of 11 different colours of leather seating and seven different interior trim designs in the M4 (for a cost of course), to customise every aspect of the look and feel of the vehicle. In comparison, the C43 offers a choice of four colours of leather, but with no choice of trim. Finally, the RS3 only offers a choice of three stitching designs, with no choice of colour and again no choice of trim.

Just on the level of customisation alone, the M4 wins this round.

Our winner: BMW M4.

Features

With a strong focus on performance, not much effort goes into the feature selection for either of the three vehicles. As a result, each lack the modern functionalities you would expect from a new car. However, interestingly each manufacturer offers a different set of tech.

The M4 is perhaps the most advanced of the three and offers both essential and ease of life technology. For example, tech in the BMW includes: cruise control with braking, hill-start assist, rain sensors with automatic headlights, follow me home headlights and an 8.8″ infotainment display with navigation, BMW ConnectedDrive services and a professional sound system.

Interestingly, while the C43 offers the largest infotainment display at 10.25″ and more modern features like keyless start and keyless entry, it’s lacking in some of the modern essentials. For example, both heated front seats and navigation are deemed as optional.

Offering the smallest infotainment is the RS3 with a 7″ display. However, it makes up for its lacking size with the rest of its tech which includes: cornering and poor weather lighting, virtual cockpit, navigation system, smartphone interface and parking sensors.

While none exceed as a clear winner, it can be argued that the M4 provides slightly better functionality than the other two, especially considering that the C43 doesn’t offer built-in navigation.

Our winner: BMW M4.

Performance

As close as this rivalry is, engine capabilities dictates that one just edges the other two.

Both BMW and Mercedes opted for a three-litre six-cylinder engine in their respective M4 and C43, but the two differ wildly in capabilities. The M4 advertises a 0-62mph in 4.0 seconds, 28mpg and 450hp, whereas the C43 only advertises a 0-62mph in 4.7 seconds, 22mpg and 390hp. Clearly BMW have the advantage.

However, the ‘smallest’ engine of the group is in the Audi RS3 which homes a 2.5-litre five-cylinder engine. Although small, the engine boasts an advertised 0-62mph of 4.1 seconds, 30mpg and 394hp, although it is believed real world acceleration could be closer to 3.7 seconds potentially making it the fastest of the three.

It is important to note that a bigger engine doesn’t necessarily mean better performance. Mercedes’ 3 litre engine is beaten in every aspect by both the Audi and the BMW making it the worst performing of the group. While even though the RS3 offers the best fuel consumption and an impressive acceleration, it doesn’t quite compete with the larger M4 engine on paper.

Our winner: BMW M4

BMW M4

Price

Although all three of the vehicles have been fairly close on paper, they range wildly in price which means you can’t help but wonder: where is the extra cost are coming from?

The most expensive by far is the BMW M4 Competition that starts at around £67,410 (or from £579.20 a month on lease). Given that it has the fastest acceleration and best engine capabilities of the group you’d expect a higher price tag, but at nearly £14,000 more than the C43 it seems overpriced.

At around £53,455 (or from £552.60 a month on lease), the Mercedes C43 AMG is more moderately priced. While not a clear winner in any of the categories, it was a strong contender making it a good performance vehicle as well as the best executive choice of the trio.

The cheapest of the three and the performance vehicle offering the most bang for your buck, is the Audi RS3. Sitting at £47,285 (or from £511.61 a month on lease), it is £20,000 cheaper than the BMW and £6,000 cheaper than the Mercedes. Not only is the Audi a great choice if you’re on a budget, it also provides impressive stats that come close to peaking the M4.

Our winner: Audi RS3

Which one is best?

While the M4 was the winner in this comparison, each of the RS, M Sport and AMG lines have something to offer. As such, finding which is right for you depends on what you’re looking for.

If you want the best performance vehicle on a budget that looks good and drives better, then you’re after the Audi RS3. If you’re more into looking showy, enhancing your self-image or after the best performing of the three, then the M4 is more for you. Or if you’re simply looking for something that also doubles as a great professional vehicle, than you’ll be wanting the C43.

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