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autocar on the m3, the s4 and the c43

the 18th march issue of autocar has a[nother] comparison of the m3 evo (321hp),
the new s4 (265hp), and the c43 (306hp).  this is the same comparison as 'car'
undertook where the s4 was preferred over the c43 and the m3(smg) last.

'95 rs2
'90 ur-q

pricing and options:

as tested, the s4 was easily the least expensive: s4 39k gbp, m3 46k gbp, and
the c43 55k gbp(!)

although the list price of the m3 is about that of the m3, air-con is not
standard (500 gbp), neither are alloy wheels (!) @800 gbp, a radio is not
fitted (400 gbp), and a passengers airbag is also 500 gbp.  the s4 comes
standard will all this.  if you want leather, that is another 3,500 gbp (!!!)
for the m3, while 1300 gbp for the s4.  the c43 comes standard with leather,
but not a radio (700 gbp).

there is no traction control available for the m3.  the c43 is available only
with a 5-speed automatic, the s4 only with manual.

wheels and tyres:

s4: 7.5x17, 225/45 michelin pilot mxxv sx
m3: 7.5x17 f, 8.5x17 r, 225/45 f, 245/40 r, dunlop sp8000
c43: 7.5x17 f, 8.5x17 r, 225/45 f, 245/40 r, bridgestone s-01

weight: s4 1562kg, m3: 1471kg, c43: 1569kg


s4, m3, then c43

0-30 mph  1.9, 2.3, 2.4
0-60 mph  5.5, 5.3, 5.8
0-100 mph 14.8, 12.2, 14.1
30-50 mph (4th): 4.0, 4.7, 2.1 (kickdown)
50-70 mph (top): 6.3, 7.9, 2.8 (kickdown, [although this is not top])
30-70 mph though gears: 5.9, 4.4, 4.9
1/4 mile: 14.3, 14.1, 14.3


"the appeal of the s4 as the ultimate q-car was transparent from the moment it
hit the m1.  so tractable is this engine, as the turbos scroll up instant
power, that old fashioned turbo lag, if not quite eliminated, is rendered
irrelevant.  this is truly accessible, always usable power.  so much so that
the audi drives like an automatic, delivering sustained power from as low as
1,800 rpm, virtually all the way to the 6,800 rpm red line.

"such is the 25-100mph range of 3rd gear that we quickly learn you can ignore
every other ratio on challenging roads....  the s4 is quicker in all the gears
because the power comes in at lower revs... once the m3's engine comes on song,
it starts to pull away.

"the m3 is tractable enough,  ... but this engine ... loves to be reved so its
power isn't as easily usable.


s4, m3, then c43
60-0 mph 2.5, 2.8, 2.4
preference is the c43 ("most powerful and progressive brakes").  s4 has
sensitive brakes which "demand concentration, then they work brilliantly".


"the c43 is a natural understeerer, and anyway its handling is confined by the
bounds of the electronic intervention of the esp traction control system... 
drive the c43 on a slippery road and you'll see why the trick electronics are
essential.  with the yellow warning light flashing, the c43 will snap into
oversteer... ultimately it has the best ride here.

"point to point over demanding roads, the s4 proves the quickest car, at least
for drivers who don't want to raise a sweat and aren't too concerned that the
ride lacks real finesse.

"the m3 feels more agile and alive.  the steering, more accurate and sensitive
than its rivals, is the key... it remains stable and, via throttle or steering,
allows pinpoint accuracy of placement and attitude, yet demands a delicate
balance of the two inputs on the limit, especially on slippery roads.


"we'll take the m3 for sunday mornings but gladly compromise with the s4 as the
everyday machine and the most talented all-rounder.  the c43 finishes third...