The BMW M140i and Audi RS3 Sportback have been two of the best German hot-hatches on the market for some time. Both cars are extremely different in terms of character and design but they’re both very fast, very fun hot hatches. In most comparison tests, the Audi was deemed a good and fast car but the BMW was always more fun. Now, though, Audi has updated its RS3 Sportback, giving it more power, a far more clever all-wheel drive system and dropped some weight. So has Audi improved the RS3 enough to make it more fun than the rear-wheel drive Bavarian hooligan?
First, a little about the two cars. The BMW M140i has a 3.0 liter turbocharged I6 engine under the hood. Its BMW’s new B58 engine and it’s a sweetheart. We’ve driven a few cars with that engine and it’s one of the best on the market. It makes 335 hp and 369 lb-ft of torque, making it good for 0-60 mph in about 4.6 seconds. That engine is paired with an eight-speed ZF automatic and powers the rear-wheels only. As for the Audi RS3, it uses a 2.5 liter turbocharged I5 engine and it’s an absolute peach of an engine. It makes a whopping 400 hp and 354 lb-ft of torque. All of which is sent through a seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox and powers all four wheels. That makes it good for 0-60 mph in 4.1 seconds.
So what’s new for the Audi RS3? Well, aside from the power bump to 400 hp, the engine is now all-aluminum, helping it shed 55 lbs over the front end. So it’s steering is sharper and there’s less understeer. Also, Audi has tweaked the Haldex-based all-wheel drive system to be able to send 100 percent of the power rearward in certain situations. So it’s not far more balanced in its handling and more fun to drive. In fact, we’ve seen multiple reports of the new RS3 being balanced and surprisingly playful, whereas most fast Audis are brutally fast but a bit front-heavy. But is it enough?
It certainly seems it from this video. While the Audi RS3 Sportback is neat, tidy and very, very fast, the BMW M140i is skidding about on the wet circuit. There’s no denying the blistering pace that the Audi RS3 can achieve. It’s far, far faster than the BMW M140i is any condition, especially in the wet. It has more power, a faster-shifting gearbox and all-wheel drive grip. Yet, despite that, the BMW M140i seemed to be the more fun car to drive.
However, Audi has tuned the new RS3 to be more fun. Even Matt Prior, who’s driving the Audi in this video, says that there’s some proper handling coming from the Audi and that he was having fun. Mauro Calo, driving the BMW, must have said he was having more fun about a thousand times, so it’s clear which car was more entertaining. But they still give the win to the Audi RS3. It’s still fun to drive but it’s a far better performance hatch. It’s also better in bad conditions and if you’ve ever heard that five-cylinder noise in person you’d know it sounds better. The M140i is a great car and it’s still great fun but it’s just not enough to keep up with the mega-fast Audi RS3.