2019 Audi S5 Sportback 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 S5 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 S5 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 S5 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 S5 Sportback 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 S5 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 S5 Sportback’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 S5 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, blind spot warning systems and around view monitors.

For its top level performance in all IIHS frontal, side, rear impact and roof-crush tests, and its standard front crash prevention system, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety grants the S5 Sportback the rating of “Top Pick” for 2017, a rating granted to only 139 vehicles tested by the IIHS. The M3 has not been tested, yet.

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.

Fuel Economy and Range

Regenerative brakes improve the S5 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 S5 Sportback higher (5 out of 10) than the BMW M3 (3). This means the S5 Sportback produces up to 16.5 pounds less smog-producing pollutants than the M3 every 15,000 miles.

Transmission

The Audi S5 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 S5 Sportback, 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 S5 Sportback’s turning circle is 1.6 feet tighter than the M3’s (38.4 feet vs. 40 feet).

Chassis

The design of the Audi S5 Sportback amounts to more than styling. The S5 Sportback 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 S5 Sportback get better fuel mileage.

As tested by Car and Driver, the interior of the S5 Sportback Prestige is quieter than the M3:

 

S5 Sportback

M3

At idle

40 dB

47 dB

Full-Throttle

79 dB

89 dB

Cargo Capacity

To make loading and unloading groceries and cargo easier, especially for short adults, the S5 Sportback has a standard power liftgate, 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.

Ergonomics

The S5 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 S5 Sportback has standard extendable sun visors. The M3 doesn’t offer extendable visors.

Optional air-conditioned seats in the S5 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 S5 Sportback 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.

Model Availability

The Audi S5 comes in coupe, convertible and four door hatchback bodystyles; the BMW M3 isn’t available as a coupe or convertible.

Economic Advantages

Insurance will cost less for the S5 Sportback owner. The Complete Car Cost Guide estimates that insurance for the S5 Sportback will cost $1850 to $3235 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 S5 Sportback will be $3771 to $7771 less than for the BMW M3.

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

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