Audi R8 RWS vs BMW M4 CS — EVO Mag Test

When word first got out that Audi would be making a rear-wheel drive version of the R8, choirs sang, skies opened and hearts filled with joy. The idea of a tail-happy, more driver-focused Audi R8 was an unbelievably exciting one. But Audi isn’t the only one that’s now offering a more driver-focused, hardcore version of its fan-favorite sports car. The BMW M4 CS is here to play now as well. But which one is better? EVO Magazine had the incredibly lucky job of finding out.

Despite the massive hype, when the Audi R8 RWS, it was met with a sort of “That’s it?” attitude. Not that it’s bad, because it’s still an incredible car to drive, it’s just not that different feeling than the standard car. Again, not that that’s a bad thing but the standard R8 isn’t the purist of driver’s cars. Still, the standard R8 is awesome to drive and the RWS is just a touch better, a touch more thrilling.

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The Audi R8 RWS is, essentially, a standard R8 V10 just without a front driveshaft or front axles. So it still has a 5.2 liter naturally-aspirated V10, making 532 hp and 398 lb-ft of torque. It has some suspension tuning tweaks, to adjust for the lighter weight and less front end mass. But that’s really it.

What about the BMW M4 CS, then? Well, it’s the most hardcore M4 you can buy. Its 3.0 liter turbocharged I6 engine makes 464 hp and 442 lb-ft of torque and it gets a steady diet of carbon fiber to keep weight down. It’s also rear-wheel drive.

Both cars have seven-speed dual-clutch gearboxes as their only options and both have clever rear differentials.

The Audi R8 RWS has the better engine of the two, no doubt. Its free-breathing V10 revs past 8,000 rpm and makes the most glorious, hair-raising noises. It’s also very approachable to drive fast, with immense front end grip and sharp, accurate steering. If there’s a complaint, it’s that it’s too easy to drive quickly and is too polished.

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As for the M4 CS, it’s just as fast as the Audi, thanks to having torquey turbochargers, but it’s more of a handful. Its front end is ever sharper than the Audi’s but its rear end is easily overwhelmed by the engine’s torque, which is apparently able to break traction in fifth gear. It’s also a bit stiffer than the R8, giving it some unwanted wheel hop over rough bumps and making it more upset through mid-corner road imperfections. So the Audi R8 is smooth and fast while the BMW M4 CS is fast and violent.

But which one is a real driver’s car? According to EVO, neither of them, really. Both cars have some serious flaws to the way they drive, enough to rid them of their true driver’s car badges. Still, they’re both excellent to drive. It probably¬† just comes down to personal preference.

Nico DeMattia

I've been in love with cars since I was a kid, specifically German cars. Now I get to drive them talk about them on the internet.