Tag: BMW M

Defining ludicrous in the BMW M4 Competition

The polarizing BMW G80 M3 and G82 M4 have been in the market for quite some time now. Originally stirring up the automotive world at their initial unveiling with what BMW considers a bold choice in design, their imposing aesthetics have become subordinate to an overwhelmingly positive reception for their ability on the road. We spent a few days with the impressively quick M4 Competition model so we could understand just how ludicrous the new range really is. 

Since the exterior of the car seems to have been covered in more depth this year than the entire Covid pandemic was reported on last year, I thought it would be a good idea to first dabble on the overall driving experience. I spent two fleeting days with the M4 before being whisked away to Cape Town.

The entire flight to the Mother City consisted of reliving experiences behind the wheel, either bringing the S58 motor alive or simply trundling along in an attempt to keep the fuel consumption at a reasonable number. In both scenarios, onlookers simply can’t get enough and encouragingly spur the pig-nosed beast along. It remains a staple of Mzansi car culture despite its looks.

The most ludicrous portion of the driving experience is how easily it can pick up speed, which means any innocent jaunts on the highway or open road can very quickly turn into a run-in with law enforcement.

It may not be the segments most confident off the line with a 3.9 second sprint time but the strong 3.0-litre, twin turbocharged straight six very easily and effortlessly pushes the speedometer over and beyond the designated speed limit on any stretch of road you happen to traverse.

Power and torque is rated similarly amongst its chief rivals, an identical 375kW to the Mercedes Benz C63s while the Bavarian is equipped with 650Nm of torque, 50 more than the RS5 but also 50 less than the V8 powered Mercedes. Despite all of the power from the traditionally sonorous motor, I can only help but feel that it should sound better for the performance it produces. 

Where the new M4 Competition feels vastly superior is with its free-revving motor which has lightweight motorsport inspired components installed. The turbochargers provide peak torque from as low as 2650rpm while maximum power arrives at 6250rpm, ultimately rendering the experience identical to that of a naturally aspirated motor. This encourages the use of the full rev range and makes driving predictable and surprisingly easy to do considering the power on tap underneath the right foot. 

Helping the S58 motor shift into warp speed and into the clutches of the periled speeding cameras is done with the help of an automatic 8-speed ZF gearbox. This choice is the only disappointment in this unrivalled driving experience so far.

Not only is it a step backwards from the violent, but engaging dual-clutch transmissions (DCT) from the generation before but also a far more numb and docile experience of what drivers expect. BMW have incorporated a drive logic selector button on the shifting knob which adjusts the level of aggression accordingly but even the harshest setting provides no match for the bygone DCTs.

The one advantage this provides however, is the ability to use this car comfortably on a daily basis. In fact, the time spent shifting in slow moving traffic or mindlessly accelerating and decelerating from robot to robot on urban commutes is where the smooth transmission selection shines brightest.

The same can be said for the suspension, the three available driving modes dial it into the desired setting but in its most plush, it is unfazed by mild road imperfections. 

The good character balance continues when more exciting settings are selected. More lively steering, throttle input and suspension presents a car that is impressively capable of handling the twisties as much as it is for straight stretches of tarred surface. The firm suspension mitigates body roll around corners while the lightweight and lively rear-end characteristically tend to swing around, requiring a touch of counter steer to keep things in check. Its many capable personalities make it a highly usable performance car that is inherently fun to drive, even on a day-to-day basis.

As enjoyable as its on road experience is, this wouldn’t be an article about the new M3 and M4 if there wasn’t an insert about the exterior aesthetics. While the worst of the memes and jokes are behind us, the ludicrous statement that BMW intended to make was achieved. It doesn’t look like anything else on the road and has potentially forged a future design direction that the Bavarian brand is yet to perfect. 

That being said, the black on Sapphire Black Metallic finish seemed to conceal many of the niggles with the design choices. The imposing, air inhaling front kidney grilles are more concealed while the over-emphasised masculine linework stretching from the grille onto the bonnet is slightly more subtle. BMW purists who embrace tradition would also despair to know that the iconic Hoffmeister kink which is prevalent on the side glass on the C pillar of all that have come before this M4 has been inverted and looks generic rather than traditional.

In the time since its launch, many have become unperturbed with the imposing grilles. While this will always remain a subjective topic, a car that costs as much as R2 million should have you falling in love from the very first time and every subsequent occasion thereafter. Speaking of the price tag and remaining with the ludicrous theme, an entry level M4 Competition will come in at R1 957 388. It’s hard to believe that the once affordable performance vehicle, which stemmed from the humble roots of the original M3 E30 is now a smidge under R2 million without options. 

Keep in mind that add ons can push the number as high as R2.5 million, which is more or less where our press unit was priced at. With the M Carbon Exterior Package valued at R100 800 and the M carbon bucket seats coming in at R82 500, it is easy to understand why. Just like the styling on the exterior, the interior has been turned up to 11 and is a continuation of the ludicrous design theme.

Wild colour combinations, sunk-in seats and carbon fiber dominate the cabin but it simply doesn’t feel as plush and luxurious as something that is R2.5 million should. This is a number that quickly encroaches on the likes of a well specced BMW M5 Competition which for that price feels like better value for money.

That being said though, the experience in the cabin is completely immersive, especially in those carbon bucket seats which are tightly slung to the floor. The firm seat bolsters keep the front occupants secure albeit with limited comfort while anyone with the misfortune of sitting in the second row of seats will develop scoliosis during any journey from bending their neck to fit into the low slung C pillar.

There are other questionable choices with the M4 Competition that make me feel like it is neither here nor there. Obsessive amounts of lightweight carbon fiber have been used throughout the construction of the car while counter intuitive add-ons defeat its intended function.

For example; the racing inspired carbon bucket seats which allude to pure, lightweight racing interiors make use of heavy electric motors for adjustment. The same can be said with the electric tailgate while carbon fiber features in the form of a spoiler and rear diffuser are perched above and below it. 

The nonsensical thinking does not end at the comfort orientated features while we are on the topic of the rear diffuser. The intricately shaped, bumper mounted carbon fiber rear diffuser doesn’t really serve a functional purpose since a peak beneath the rear end will expose all the mechanical components and a bare underside which is incapable of producing aerodynamic advantage.

As good as this car may be, you can only begin to feel that it could be much better if it wasn’t trying to appease buyers who wanted comfort as well as buyers who wanted an experience.

While this is a car that can be used daily, real world fuel economy may inhibit this. Particularly with the price of petrol surpassing the R20 mark. I mentioned earlier in the article that sedate driving can keep the efficiency of the motor at a reasonable number but that is all relative. A claimed combined driving cycle can yield 8.8l/100km but any momentary spurts of excitement will position the optimistic claimed number out of reach. Even though automotive journalists commute more enthusiastically than most, our experience yielded double the claimed economy. Besides, if you wanted to drive sedately you would have made a sensible decision and bought a compact SUV.

This is still in essence as much a performance car as all of its predecessors were but it has priced itself further out of the range of a younger person who would purchase it purely for the experience. With the development of the M4 Competition, BMW has gone all out and chased numbers which are only truly attainable on track from its competition. With the aesthetics aside, there really isn’t much wrong with the car until you start going through the pricing. I think better value for money can be had elsewhere with enough leftover to buy a fun-to-drive hot hatch. Speaking exclusively coupes, I would rather spend my money on an Audi RS5 which may not have the all out performance of the M4, but can still provide as much fun for the majority of the driving you will do in it. The leftover cash as a bonus can complete the two car garage with the engaging BMW 128ti as a daily driver.

The Performance Car Buyer’s Guide

Audi enters the arena with a whopping 15 new models! We see how they stack up

You’re thinking to yourself times are tough, right? Here we are giving you a buyer’s guide on vehicles that cost the equivalent of houses in upmarket areas. You must be thinking we’ve gone nuts? Well, no. In reality, it’s you that are the ones that have gone nuts!

South Africans have quite a sizeable appetite for performance cars – we often account for large percentages of manufacturers performance brands global sales. We have every M derivative from BMW; the same from Mercedes-AMG and now of course Audi Sport has joined the party.

They are a bit late to the party, to be quite honest. Some models mentioned below have been on sale in global markets for a few years now while others will only arrive later on in the year. Audi South Africa says homologation issues and a supply chain backlog caused by Covid-19 was the reason for this delay.

We are a unique market and other countries around the world don’t have the pleasure of experiencing the breadth of performance cars that we do. Imagine being a petrolhead in Sweden? Shame! So, let’s ignore their tardy entrance and focus on what’s on offer:

Audi RS Q3/ RS Q3 Sportback

Audi RS Q3, Static photo, Color: Tango red Audi RS Q3 Sportback, Static photo, Color: Kyalami green

The most affordable offering here and likely to be a top seller for the Ingolstadt brand. The RS Q3 comes in two body styles, including a Sportback version if less head room is your thing. Powered by the familiar 2.5-litre 5-cylinder engine producing 294kW and 480Nm with 100km/h sprint time of 4.5 seconds, the new RS Q3 should prove to be ferocious machine.

So, where else can you park your money? Well, Mercedes-AMG are yet to offer the GLA 45 to our market, so like-for-like competitors will be the BMW X2 M35i which serves up 225kW and 450Nm. Although it is down on power, it is also a bit cheaper retailing for R929 400 as opposed to the Audi’s base price R1 094, 000. Add another R30 000 to get into the Sportback version.

On the opposite end of the scale, you have the Porsche Macan S, which comes with a lovely V6 engine producing 260kW and 480Nm. But it does start at R1 250 000 so pound-for-pound, it seems the RS Q3 represents good value for money.

Audi TT RS Coupe and Roadster

Static photo Colour: Turbo blue

If you want all of that fire-breathing goodness of the RS Q3 but in a hunkered-down, coupe body style, then TT RS is the one for you!

Utilizing the exact same engine as the RS Q3, the TT RS can sprint to 100km/h in just a mere 3.7 seconds! It’s often referred to as the ‘Supercar Slayer’ and you can see why! Although, the convertible will achieve that same time 0.2 seconds slower.

The TT RS retails for roughly the same amount of money as the RS Q3 and produces identical power and torque figures. It is worth noting that the TT RS makes use of 7-speed-tiptronic gearbox while the RS Q3 gets a S tronic with the same number of gears.

This is a tough segment to be competing in. Enemy number one is the BMW M2 Competition which has a retail sticker of R1 139 464 and produces a whopping 302kW and 550Nm (8kw/70Nm more) and is rear wheel driven. Because of that, it can’t beat the Audi with its all-wheel drive system to 100km/h, coming in 0.5 seconds slower at 4.2 seconds.

You can also consider a Mercedes-AMG A45 S, which retails for R1 156 840 and has a mightily impressive 2.0-litre turbocharged engine. Figures are eye-watering at 310kW and 500Nm for such a small powerplant. But if you’re looking for the fastest sprinter, then TT RS is still quicker with the Mercedes getting across the line in a close 3.9 seconds.

Audi RS 5 Coupe and Sportback

Static photo; Colour: Glacier white

While we’re on the topic of coupes, the updated RS 5 Coupe and Sportback have finally touched down. These models are just mid-life refreshes (likewise for the TT RS), so don’t expect significant changes. You still have the familiar 3.0-litre V6 churning out 331kW and 600Nm with a highly respectable 100km/h dash in 3.9 seconds. Minor exterior changes have made the RS 5 more aggressive while you can also expect some tech updates on the inside.

The Coupe retails for just a smidge under the R1.4 million mark, while the 4-door Sportback is just slightly over that amount.

Audi’s chief rivals from Munich and Stuttgart come in at almost R2 million for their M3/M4 and C63 respectively, so they’re out of the equation. A left-field contender could be the Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio which comes with almost the same sticker price but 44kw more power at 375kW and 600Nm. It is a tough sell considering their embattled reputation in the country but take nothing away from an outstanding product!

For another left-field contender, we can look to Porsche again and this time their 718 Cayman GTS 4.0. It is almost R100k more expensive and can’t compete in the power stakes, only offering up 294kW and 430Nm, but it does offer a completely different driving experience and you’re sure to get the same, if not more thrills than the Audi.

Audi RS 4 Avant

Static photo Color: Tango red

Let’s first start with thanking Audi for continuing to bring in these beloved but neglected cars. The steer towards SUVs will always mean that station wagons will remain a niche segment, but one that Audi has full control over.

The RS 4 Avant carries over the same engine as the RS 5, so power and torque figures are identical. The additional weight at the rear means that the sprint time has been cut down by 0.2 seconds to 4.1 seconds.

Again, this is just an updated model so there isn’t much to talk about in terms major changes – just small updates that bring it into line with other Audi models.

So then, where else should you park your R1.3 million? Well, nowhere else really because there are no natural competitors in our market for the RS 4 Avant. So instead, we’ll just amiably ask that you go out and buy one so Audi can make a business case to continue bringing them in. Please!

Audi RS 6 Avant

Static photo, Color: daytonagray matt

This is the big daddy station wagon, and rearing its head over the R2 million mark, it certainly should be. The RS 6 Avant ditches the V6 of its lesser sibling and upgrades to a mighty V8. 441kW and 800Nm is nothing to sneeze at, in fact this all-encompassing family runabout can get you to 100km/h in just 3.6 seconds. While 22-inch rims and the optional carbon ceramic brakes should do a good job in making sure you can stop equally as fast.

There is only one natural competitor to the RS 6 Avant and that’s the Porsche Panamera Sport Turismo. However, in order to get into the V8 model, you’ll have to opt for the GTS which retails for a hefty R2.4 million and there’s quite a power shortage with 353kW and 620Nm on top. To get near the RS 6 Avant’s power figures, you’ll have to opt Turbo S model which is almost another R1 million on top of the price of the GTS.

Audi seems to win another round of value for money!

Audi RS 7 Sportback

Static photo, Colour: tango red

If you’re not a fan of station wagons, which it seems many of you sadly aren’t, then the swoopier, coupe-like RS 7 Sportback is for you. Identical to the RS 6 Avant in most aspects apart from looks but it will cost you an extra R100k, with a sum total of R2.17 million.

Regardless whether you prefer a sedan or station wagon, both are jaw-droppingly beautiful. This is probably Audi’s best effort yet in the styling department, and that’s a big statement seeming they’ve produced a few lookers in their current stable.

Buyers in this segment do have a few choices, you can look at Porsche again with their Panamera, but I think the RS 7’s biggest rival will be the BMW 8 Series Gran Coupe. At almost the exact same starting price, the M850i is down on power in comparison to the Audi, with 390kW and 750Nm in comparison to 441kW and 800Nm. The more closely matched competitor in terms of power is the M8 Competition but that sits at a healthy R3.4 million. Ouch!

It’s the same story over at Mercedes-Benz. If you want a V8 model, then you have to opt for AMG GT63 S 4 Door, which has the same price as the BMW M8 Competition but it does produce a lot more power at 470kW and 900Nm. More in line with the RS 7’s pricing is the AMG GT53 4 Door, which utilizes a 3.0-litre 6-cylinder with electric support. Figures of 336kW and 520Nm are well short of the Audi.

In essence, V8 power for V6 money – good job, Audi!

Audi S8

This is Audi’s answer to the perennial Mercedes-Benz S-Class and BMW 7 Series. The A8 does live in the shadows of the other two but Audi hopes to change that with a suite of systems that should rival the best. Dynamic all-wheel steering, predictive active suspension management and a Quattro system with a sport differential should mean the new S8 will be enjoyable and luxurious. This is another Audi packing V8 power and 420kW and 800Nm should be more than handy!

We mentioned the two chief rivals earlier to the S8 so let’s start with the one everybody seems to love. Mercedes-Benz have yet to officially launch the new S-Class that debuted internationally last year, but we do have some figures. For the time being, we will be getting the S400d and S500 with both models falling between the R2.4 million mark. You only have the choice of a 3.0-litre 6-cylinder producing 336kW and 520Nm for S500 and 243kW and 700Nm for the oil-burner.

BMW has a variety of options in their 7 Series range, from a 3.0-litre 6-cylinder all the way up to a 6.6-litre V12! Best snag one of those before they’re all gone!

The 750Li xDrive would be the Audi’s closest competitor in terms of price with a 4.4-litre V8 and costing R2.5 million, but there is a significant power difference (I sound like I’m stuck on repeat) with outputs of 390kW and 750Nm.

Audi SQ 7

Static photo, Colour:Daytona grey

The Q7 went under the knife last year which saw mild styling tweaks on the exterior and some welcomed goodies on the inside. The Q7 range is only offered in diesel derivatives and the SQ7 is no different – but now with Audi’s most powerful diesel engine! 310kW and 900Nm would’ve done the trick in freeing the Ever Given ship blocking the Suez Canal! And you would’ve had room to fit any stranded sailors with all 7 seats in place.

When it comes to powerful diesel powertrains, Audi has this corner of the market well covered as many manufacturers have opted against bringing in new diesel engines. Mercedes-Benz provides the SQ7 with its sternest challenge in form the GLE 400d but power figures can’t match the Audi with only 243kW and 700Nm available.

There is of course another competitor that I think is massively underrated and an equally brilliant, if not a better choice than the Audi and it comes from their own stable. The Volkswagen Touareg is hugely accomplished vehicle, and yes it can’t compete with the Audi in terms of power (nothing can, to be honest) but it rides on the Volkswagen Groups latest platform that underpins their newer models like the Q8 and even extending into brands like Porsche, Bentley and Lamborghini. The best bit? You save almost R170k with a retail sticker of R1.5 million.

Audi SQ 8 and RS Q8

Dynamic photo, Color: Florett silver

While the bonkers RS Q8 makes use of a monstrous petrol-powered V8, the SQ 8 follows the same path as the SQ 7 with its diesel engine. Power figures are identical to the latter but like we mentioned earlier, it does benefit from the Volkswagen Groups latest modular platform which comes with a raft of benefits over the previous iteration.

But the big talking point here is the RS Q8 which produces a phenomenal 441kW and 800Nm, while this large lump of metal can achieve 100km/h in just a mere 3.8 seconds. No wonder then that it claimed the title of the fastest SUV around the famed Nürburgring.

While the SQ 8 retails for around R1.8 million you will have to shell out a fair bit more to get into the RS Q8 with a price R2.3 million.

For around R300k more, the Range Rover Sport SVR offers a decent alternative to the RS Q8 with its absolutely raucous supercharged V8 churning out 423kW and 700Nm. Although, it is an ageing product, and the Audi will outperform it in many areas in terms of power, tech and refinement. And if a coupe-SUV is your thing, then the Range Rover doesn’t quite fit the bill.

The Mercedes-AMG GLE63 S Coupe is a more worthy alternative in the segment with figures of 466kW and 850Nm, plus it is provided with some electric assistance to achieve a 100km/h sprint in just 3.8 seconds – matching the Audi. Pricing is well north of the Audi, however, coming it at an extraordinary R2.9 million; and if you’re wondering, the BMW X6 M Competition is priced similarly.

Audi R8 Coupe and Spyder

Static photo, Colour: Ascari Blue metallic

We’ve saved the best for last and with a screaming mid-mounted naturally aspirated V10 and the fastest acceleration time of all with 3.2 seconds, you can see why!

With 449kW and 560Nm readily available, this is Audi’s performance halo car and comes with a price tag to match with the Coupe costing you R3.3 million and the Spyder going for R3.6 million. The latter does weigh slightly more thanks to the retractable roof so it’s 0.1 second down compared to its hardtop sibling.

While the near-identical Lamborghini Huracan would be a natural rival to the R8, its R5 million price tag blows it well out of the water!

So, let’s turn to Britain for an alternative in the form of their Aston Martin Vantage. Power figures from its AMG-sourced V8 are respectable at 375kW and 685Nm and it does cost a healthy sum less at R3 million.

One of the fastest accelerating cars that I have ever had the pleasure of driving is the Porsche 911 Turbo S and even though it’s quite a bit more expensive sitting at R3.8 million, it does break that 3.0 second barrier with 100km/h coming up in just 2.9 seconds. Power figures of 478kW and 800Nm outshine the Audi’s by quite some margin.

What are your favourites? Leave us a comment below!