When it comes to winter performance driving, Audi has been on top of the game of decades. Its Quattro all-wheel drive systems have given the four-ringed brand an edge over its rear-drive German rivals for ages. Now, though, many of its competitors are catching up and the most recent addition to the world of all-wheel drive performance is the BMW M3 xDrive.
The BMW M3 is among the most popular sports cars on the planet, so the fact that it now offers all-wheel drive usability in the winter should make competing brands nervous. However, the new Audi RS3 is about as good a winter weapon as it gets, so it should be able to hold off the M3, right?
In this very interesting four-way comparison, Top Gear took the BMW M3 xDrive, Audi RS3 Sportback, Porsche 911 Carrera 4 GTS, and — for punishment — a Lamborghini Aventador SVJ. While the latter might be incredible on a dry road or circuit, just thinking about driving one on freezing mountainous roads is giving me anxiety.
All four cars in the test were all-wheel drive but had very different engines and layouts. And, really, it was a test between two cars more than the others; the Audi RS3 and BMW M3, as both are usable daily drivers.
The BMW M3’s 3.0 liter twin-turbocharged inline-six, with 503 horsepower and 479 lb-ft of torque, made it the second most powerful car in the test, only behind the Raging Bull. Despite that, though, it was one of the slowest vehicles on the UK’s twisty winter roads. While it’s performance is immense on a dry road, and its all-wheel drive system can turn you into a hero on a track, it’s just not capable of wrangling all that power on light snow and freezing pavement, even with winter tires.
Instead, the Porsche 911 and Audi RS3 were the two best winter weapons up in the mountains. Of those two, it was actually the Audi RS3 that was deemed the best to drive. Its unflappable grip, reasonable amount of power, and compact size made it far more confidence inspiring than the other three cars. And while its steering was number than the Porsche’s it wasn’t any less engaging than the Bimmers.
It’s great that BMW offers xDrive on the M3, as it does make it usable in all year long. However, don’t expect it to be a proper winter performance weapon, it’s just not there yet. Instead, the Audi RS3 Sportback is just about perfect when it comes to a car that can be a fun, usable performance car all year long.[Source: Top Gear]