2019 Audi S4 vs. 2018 BMW M3

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

For enhanced safety, the front and rear seat shoulder belts of the Audi S4 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 S4’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 S4 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 S4 has standard Secondary Collision Brake Assist, which automatically apply 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 S4 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 S4’s optional 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 S4 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, blind spot warning systems and around view monitors.

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.

Environmental Friendliness

In its Green Vehicle Guide, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rates the Audi S4 higher (5 out of 10) than the BMW M3 (3). This means the S4 produces up to 16.5 pounds less smog-producing pollutants than the M3 every 15,000 miles.

Transmission

The Audi S4 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 S4, for better acceleration and lower engine speed on the highway. Only a seven-speed automatic is available for the M3.

Suspension and Handling

For better maneuverability, the S4’s turning circle is 1.9 feet tighter than the M3’s (38.1 feet vs. 40 feet).

Chassis

The design of the Audi S4 amounts to more than styling. The S4 has an aerodynamic coefficient of drag of .29 Cd. That is significantly lower than the M3 (.34) and many sports cars. A more efficient exterior helps keep the interior quieter and helps the S4 get better fuel mileage.

Passenger Space

The S4 has .8 inches more front shoulder room and .6 inches more rear legroom than the M3.

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 S4’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 S4 has standard extendable sun visors. The M3 doesn’t offer extendable visors.

Optional air-conditioned seats in the S4 Premium Plus/Prestige 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 S4 Prestige has a standard 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 S4 owner. The Complete Car Cost Guide estimates that insurance for the S4 will cost $2925 to $4515 less than the M3 over a five-year period.

IntelliChoice estimates that five-year ownership costs (depreciation, financing, insurance, fuel, fees, repairs and maintenance) for the Audi S4 will be $8683 to $44507 less than for the BMW M3.

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

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