2019 Audi RS 5 Sportback vs. 2018 BMW M3

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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For enhanced safety, the front and rear seat shoulder belts of the Audi RS 5 Sportback have pretensioners to tighten the seatbelts and eliminate dangerous slack in the event of a collision and force limiters to limit the pressure the belts will exert on the passengers. The BMW M3 doesn’t offer pretensioners for the rear seat belts.

The RS 5 Sportback’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 seat shoulder belts of the Audi RS 5 Sportback 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 5 Sportback has all-wheel drive to maximize traction under poor conditions, especially in ice and snow. The M3 doesn’t offer all-wheel drive.

To help make backing safer, the RS 5 Sportback’s cross-path warning system uses wide-angle radar in the rear bumper to alert the driver to vehicles approaching from the side, helping the driver avoid collisions. The M3 doesn’t offer a cross-path warning system.

Both the RS 5 Sportback 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, available lane departure warning systems and around view monitors.

The Audi RS 5 Sportback weighs 427 to 482 pounds more than the BMW M3. The NHTSA advises that heavier cars are much safer in collisions than their significantly lighter counterparts.


The M3’s redline is at 7600 RPM, which causes more engine wear, and a greater chance of a catastrophic engine failure. The RS 5 Sportback has a 6500 RPM redline.

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.


The RS 5 Sportback’s 2.9 turbo V6 produces 19 more horsepower (444 vs. 425) and 37 lbs.-ft. more torque (443 vs. 406) than the M3’s standard 3.0 turbo 6 cyl. The RS 5 Sportback’s 2.9 turbo V6 produces 37 lbs.-ft. more torque (443 vs. 406) than the M3 Competition Package’s standard 3.0 turbo 6 cyl.

Fuel Economy and Range

Regenerative brakes improve the RS 5 Sportback’s fuel efficiency by converting inertia back into energy instead of wasting it. The M3 doesn’t offer a regenerative braking system.

Environmental Friendliness

In its Green Vehicle Guide, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rates the Audi RS 5 Sportback higher (5 out of 10) than the BMW M3 (3). This means the RS 5 Sportback produces up to 16.5 pounds less smog-producing pollutants than the M3 every 15,000 miles.


The Audi RS 5 Sportback comes standard with an automatic transmission, for driver comfort, especially in the city. Automatic costs extra on the M3.

An eight-speed automatic is standard on the Audi RS 5 Sportback, for better acceleration and lower engine speed on the highway. Only a seven-speed automatic is available for the M3.

To facilitate fast shifting and allow the driver to focus on the road, the RS 5 Sportback has a standard up-shift light to indicate when the engine is approaching redline. The M3 doesn’t offer an up-shift light.

Tires and Wheels

For better traction, the RS 5 Sportback has larger standard tires than the M3 (265/35R19 vs. 255/40R18). The RS 5 Sportback’s optional tires are larger than the largest tires available on the M3 (275/30R20 vs. 265/30R20).

The RS 5 Sportback’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 5 Sportback has standard 19-inch wheels. Smaller 18-inch wheels are standard on the M3.

Suspension and Handling

For better maneuverability, the RS 5 Sportback’s turning circle is 1.6 feet tighter than the M3’s (38.4 feet vs. 40 feet).

Cargo Capacity

To make loading and unloading groceries and cargo easier, especially for short adults, the RS 5 Sportback has a standard power trunk, which opens and closes automatically by pressing a button or just by kicking your foot under the back bumper, completely leaving your hands free. The M3 doesn’t offer a power trunk, so its trunk has to be closed manually.

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.


The RS 5 Sportback’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 5 Sportback has standard extendable sun visors. The M3 doesn’t offer extendable visors.

Optional air-conditioned seats in the RS 5 Sportback keep the driver and front passenger comfortable and take the sting out of hot seats in summer. The M3 doesn’t offer air-conditioned seats.

To keep a safe, consistent following distance, the RS 5 Sportback 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.

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

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