There’s no denying the progress made with modern performance cars, versus their older predecessors. Many enthusiasts was lyrical about the olden days of performance cars but modern ones, in terms of actual performance, wipe the floor with them. As evidenced by this new drag race video from Carwow, where we see a current Audi S3 Sedan take on a B7 Audi RS4 Avant.
For many Audi fans, the B7 RS4 is the best small Audi ever. It packs a 4.2 liter naturally-aspirated V8 that revs to over 8,000 rpm and sounds incredibly doing it, makes 420 hp and 317 lb-ft of torque and is paired with a lovely six-speed manual. It also has sharp, direct steering, agile moves and a practical wagon body shape. What’s not to love?
Up against the legendary B7 RS4 is the current Audi S3, a car that any millennial with an entry-level executive job can drive. It uses a turbocharged four-cylinder that makes 310 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque in Europe (292 hp in America) and is mated to a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic. While that doesn’t sound bad, it’s just not as special as the RS4, as the S3’s powertrain is the same you’ll find in a VW Golf R.
So which one is quicker off the line and through the quarter-mile? The Audi S3 and it’s not even really close. It’s not actually surprising that the S3 is faster off the line, as its turbocharged engine gives it more torque lower in the rev range and its quick-shifting automatic gearbox and launch control allow it to put as much power to the ground as possible. All the while, the RS4’s naturally-aspirated engine needs to rev to make power. So the S3 jumping the RS4 off the line isn’t surprising. What is surprising is how the Audi S3 Sedan kept pulling away from the much more powerful B7 RS4. Credit its lighter weight and quick-shifting gearbox for that.
Carwow’s Mat Watson decided to switch cars, as he drove the S3 first, to see if maybe a driver change would help the RS4. However, while in the B7 RS4, Watson instead did a rolling drag race in starting from third gear, which sort of negates the driver change, as they didn’t get to retest the launch. Still, in this test, with both cars rolling at 50 mph in third gear side-by-side, the RS4’s free-breathing engine and sharper throttle response help it pull ahead of the S3 right away and keep an admittedly small lead all the way. So it won the second race but not by much.
It is shocking to see how much faster modern performance cars have gotten. With less power mind you. What’s crazy is that if you just bought yourself a B7 Audi RS4, you’re probably feeling pretty good about yourself. You have a fast, V8-powered Audi with a six-speed, all-wheel drive and 420 horses under your hood. But if you pull up to a stop light and an S3 that any idiot with a decent Sesame credit score can lease, that S3 is going to burn you off the line and its driver will have used no skill at all. So today’s modern performance cars are a bit of a double-edged sword — better performance but less soul.