2019 Audi RS 3 vs. 2018 BMW M3

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

The RS 3’s pre-crash front seatbelts will tighten automatically in the event the vehicle detects an impending crash, improving protection against injury significantly. The M3 doesn’t offer pre-crash pretensioners.

For enhanced safety, the front and rear seat shoulder belts of the Audi RS 3 are height-adjustable to accommodate a wide variety of driver and passenger heights. A better fit can prevent injuries and the increased comfort also encourages passengers to buckle up. The BMW M3 doesn’t offer height-adjustable seat belts.

The RS 3 has a standard Secondary Collision Brake Assist, which automatically applies the brakes in the event of a crash to help prevent secondary collisions and prevent further injuries. The M3 doesn’t offer a post collision braking system: in the event of a collision that triggers the airbags, more collisions are possible without the protection of airbags that may have already deployed.

The RS 3 has all-wheel drive to maximize traction under poor conditions, especially in ice and snow. The M3 doesn’t offer all-wheel drive.

Both the RS 3 and the M3 have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, driver and front passenger knee airbags, side-impact head airbags, plastic fuel tanks, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, daytime running lights, rearview cameras and available lane departure warning systems.

Reliability

From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ December 2018 Auto Issue reports that Audi vehicles are more reliable than BMW vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks Audi 1 place higher in reliability than BMW.

Engine

As tested in Car and Driver the Audi RS 3 is faster than the BMW M3 (automatics tested):

 

RS 3

M3

M3 Competition Package

Zero to 30 MPH

1.3 sec

1.7 sec

1.8 sec

Zero to 60 MPH

3.5 sec

3.8 sec

4 sec

Zero to 100 MPH

8.7 sec

8.8 sec

8.6 sec

5 to 60 MPH Rolling Start

4.3 sec

4.4 sec

4.3 sec

Quarter Mile

11.9 sec

12.2 sec

12.2 sec

Top Speed

174 MPH

163 MPH

163 MPH

Transmission

The Audi RS 3 comes standard with an automatic transmission, for driver comfort, especially in the city. Automatic costs extra on the M3.

Tires and Wheels

The RS 3’s standard tires provide better handling because they have a lower 35 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the M3’s standard 40 series tires.

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the RS 3 has standard 19-inch wheels. Smaller 18-inch wheels are standard on the M3.

The RS 3 has a standard space-saver spare tire so you can replace a flat tire and drive to have the flat repaired or replaced. A spare tire isn’t available on the M3; it requires you to depend on roadside assistance and your vehicle will have to be towed.

Suspension and Handling

The RS 3 handles at .98 G’s, while the M3 pulls only .97 G’s of cornering force in a Car and Driver skidpad test.

For better maneuverability, the RS 3’s turning circle is 3.9 feet tighter than the M3’s (36.1 feet vs. 40 feet).

Chassis

The RS 3 is 8.2 inches shorter than the M3, making the RS 3 easier to handle, maneuver and park in tight spaces.

As tested by Car and Driver, the interior of the RS 3 is quieter than the M3:

 

RS 3

M3

At idle

42 dB

47 dB

Full-Throttle

88 dB

89 dB

Servicing Ease

J.D. Power and Associates surveys of service recipients show that Audi service is better than BMW. J.D. Power ranks Audi third in service department satisfaction. With a 14% lower rating, BMW is ranked 8th.

Ergonomics

The RS 3’s front and rear power windows all open or close fully with one touch of the switches, making it more convenient at drive-up windows and toll booths, or when talking with someone outside the car. The M3’s passenger windows don’t open or close automatically.

To shield the driver and front passenger’s vision over a larger portion of the windshield and side windows, the RS 3 has standard extendable sun visors. The M3 doesn’t offer extendable visors.

To keep a safe, consistent following distance, the RS 3 offers an optional Adaptive Cruise Control, which alters the speed of the vehicle without driver intervention. This allows the driver to use cruise control more safely without constantly having to disengage it when approaching slower traffic. The M3 doesn’t offer an adaptive cruise control.

Economic Advantages

Insurance will cost less for the RS 3 owner. The Complete Car Cost Guide estimates that insurance for the RS 3 will cost $760 less than the M3 over a five-year period.

Recommendations

The RS 3 was chosen as one of Car and Driver’s “Top Ten” in 2018. The 3 Series hasn’t been picked since 2014.

© 1991-2018 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved.

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