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A passive infrared night vision system optional on the M5 helps the driver to more easily detect people, animals or other objects in front of the vehicle at night. Using an infrared camera to detect heat, the system then displays the image on a monitor in the dashboard. The S4 doesn’t offer a night vision system.
The M5’s driver alert monitor detects an inattentive driver then sounds a warning and suggests a break. According to the NHTSA, drivers who fall asleep cause about 100,000 crashes and 1500 deaths a year. The S4 doesn’t offer a driver alert monitor.
Both the M5 and the S4 have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, side-impact head airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, four-wheel antilock brakes, all wheel drive, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, crash mitigating brakes, daytime running lights, rearview cameras, available around view monitors and rear cross-path warning.
The BMW M5 weighs 512 pounds more than the Audi S4. The NHTSA advises that heavier cars are much safer in collisions than their significantly lighter counterparts.
BMW pays for scheduled maintenance on the M5 for 3 years and 36,000 miles. BMW will pay for oil changes, lubrication and any other required maintenance. Audi only pays for the first scheduled maintenance visit on the S4.
There are over 13 percent more BMW dealers than there are Audi dealers, which makes it easier should you ever need service under the M5’s warranty.
To reliably power the ignition and other systems and to recharge the battery, the M5 has a standard 249-amp alternator. The S4’s 150-amp alternator isn’t as powerful.
J.D. Power and Associates’ 2018 Initial Quality Study of new car owners surveyed provide the statistics that show that BMW vehicles are better in initial quality than Audi vehicles. J.D. Power ranks BMW 11th in initial quality, above the industry average. With 18 more problems per 100 vehicles, Audi is ranked 25th, below the industry average.
J.D. Power and Associates’ 2018 survey of the owners of three-year-old vehicles provides the long-term dependability statistics that show that BMW vehicles are more reliable than Audi vehicles. J.D. Power ranks BMW 8th in reliability, above the industry average. With 14 more problems per 100 vehicles, Audi is ranked 13th.
The M5’s standard 4.4 turbo V8 produces 251 more horsepower (600 vs. 349) and 184 lbs.-ft. more torque (553 vs. 369) than the S4’s 3.0 turbo V6. The M5 Competition’s standard 4.4 turbo V8 produces 268 more horsepower (617 vs. 349) and 184 lbs.-ft. more torque (553 vs. 369) than the S4’s 3.0 turbo V6.
Regenerative brakes improve the M5’s fuel efficiency by converting inertia back into energy instead of wasting it. The S4 doesn’t offer a regenerative braking system.
In heavy traffic or at stoplights the M5’s engine automatically turns off when the vehicle is stopped, saving fuel and reducing pollution. The engine is automatically restarted when the driver gets ready to move again. (Start/Stop isn’t accounted in present EPA fuel mileage tests.) The S4 doesn’t offer an automatic engine start/stop system.
The M5 has 4.8 gallons more fuel capacity than the S4 (20.1 vs. 15.3 gallons), for longer range between fill-ups.
For better stopping power the M5’s brake rotors are larger than those on the S4:
The M5 offers optional heat-treated ceramic brake rotors, which last ten to twenty times as long as conventional cast iron rotors, don’t rust, don’t fade during repeated high speed braking, and their lighter weight contribute to better braking, handling and acceleration. The S4 doesn’t offer ceramic brake rotors.
For better traction, the M5 has larger tires than the S4 (F:275/40R19 & R:285/40R19 vs. 245/40R18).
For better ride, handling and brake cooling the M5 has standard 19-inch wheels. Smaller 18-inch wheels are standard on the S4. The M5’s optional 20-inch wheels are larger than the 19-inch wheels optional on the S4.
Changing a flat tire near traffic can be dangerous and inconvenient. The run-flat tires available on the M5 can be driven up to 50 miles without any air pressure, allowing you to drive to a service station for a repair. The S4 doesn’t offer run-flat tires.
For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the M5’s wheelbase is 6.2 inches longer than on the S4 (117.4 inches vs. 111.2 inches).
For better handling and stability, the track (width between the wheels) on the M5 is 2.4 inches wider in the front and 1.9 inches wider in the rear than on the S4.
The M5 has 1.8 inches more front headroom, .2 inches more front legroom, 2.8 inches more front shoulder room, 1.1 inches more rear headroom, .8 inches more rear legroom and 1.4 inches more rear shoulder room than the S4.
The M5 has a much larger trunk than the S4 (18.7 vs. 13 cubic feet).
To make loading and unloading groceries and cargo easier, especially for short adults, the M5 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 S4 doesn’t offer a power trunk, so its trunk has to be closed manually.
Unlike the driver-only memory seat and mirrors optional at extra cost in the S4, the M5 has standard driver and passenger memory, so that when drivers switch, the memory setting adjusts the driver’s seat, steering wheel position, suspension setting, power steering assist, outside mirror angle, climate settings and radio stations and the front passenger seat also adjusts to the new passenger’s preset preferences.
The M5’s standard easy entry system raises the steering wheel, making it easier for the driver to get in and out. The S4 doesn’t offer an easy entry system.
If the windows are left open on the M5 the driver can close them all at the outside door handle. On a hot day the driver can lower the windows at the outside door handle or from a distance using the keyless remote. The driver of the S4 can’t use the remote to operate the windows.
The S4’s cornering lamps activate a lamp on the front corner when the turn signal is activated. The M5’s standard adaptive cornering lights turn the actual headlight unit up to several degrees, depending on steering wheel angle and vehicle speed. This lights a significant distance into corners at any speed.
A power rear sunshade is optional in the M5 to help block heat and glare for the rear passengers. The S4 doesn’t offer a rear sunshade.
When the M5 is put in reverse, the passenger rearview mirror tilts from its original position. This gives the driver a better view of the curb during parallel parking maneuvers. Shifting out of reverse puts the mirror into its original position. The S4’s mirror doesn’t automatically adjust for backing.
The M5 has a standard heated steering wheel to take the chill out of steering on extremely cold winter days before the car heater warms up. A heated steering wheel costs extra on the S4.
The M5’s optional Parking Assistant can parallel park or back into a parking spot by itself, with the driver only controlling speed with the brake pedal. The S4 doesn’t offer an automated parking system.
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