Audi RS4 v BMW M5

The stuff-shifting version of Audi’s RS4 meets BMW’s new dog-friendly M5 in a pan-European hyperwagon showdown

BMW M5 Touring and Audi RS4 Avant

It’s not often you feel sorry for the Audi RS4. It bulges with aggression: compact, squat on its springs, gently rocking to the beat of its stunning 414bhp 4.2-litre V8. The RS4 looks hungry – to be driven hard, to take great chunks out of any road it’s pointed down, to deflate the egos of M3 and 911 owners. If ever there was a car that can take care of itself, it’s the RS4.

But today it’s chasing a seriously fast-moving target, the BMW M5 Touring. And first impressions suggest that it’s got its work cut out. Everything about the BMW is immense. The weight and precision of the steering, the huge grip generated by the 285/35 ZR19 Michelin Pilot Sport tyres, the endless, towering, epic nature of its 500bhp 5-litre V10 engine. For once the RS4 is a piranha in shark-infested waters.

Subscribe to evo magazine

Subscribe today to have every issue of evo delivered straight to you. You'll SAVE 39% on the shop price, and get evo for its original cover price for a whole year!

So why have we brought these two together? The RS4 is giving away nearly 100bhp, at £51,255 it costs £15,820 less than the big Beemer and was developed to tackle M3 rather than M5. However, it is the most focused, the most exciting and the most desirable estate car on the planet. It’s quicker and more agile than the V10-powered S6 cruiser and altogether more aggressive and exciting than the thumping Mercedes E63 AMG. Quite simply, when we were offered three days with the new M5 Touring we couldn’t think of a car that would put it to the sword so effectively. And as a happy coincidence we might just save you £16K, too. Send the cheques to the usual address, marked for the attention of Jethro Bovingdon…

The bare figures distort the picture slightly, and in truth the RS4 isn’t as comprehensively outgunned as the 800cc, two-cylinder, 86bhp deficit would suggest. At 1880kg, the M5 is 170kg heavier than the smaller four-wheel-drive RS4, their power-to-weight ratios not so distant at 270bhp-per-ton for the BMW and 246bhp-per-ton for the Audi. That extra mass won’t just give the RS4 a fighting chance in a straight line, it will hurt the M5 when the road narrows and starts to flick left and right, too.

Extra Info

Most Popular

Visit/bmw/m3-saloon/20529/all-new-bmw-m3-competition-revealed-an-icon-reborn
BMW M3 saloon

All-new BMW M3 Competition revealed – an icon reborn

This is the all-new BMW M3 Competition saloon which will join the M4 Competition coupe in BMW M’s new M3/4 family
23 Sep 2020
Visit/hyundai/202950/updated-hyundai-i30-n-revealed-with-optional-dual-clutch-box
Hyundai i30 N

Updated Hyundai i30 N revealed with optional dual-clutch ‘box

It was the hot hatch that upset the status quo, and now the i30 N is back with more power and tech
24 Sep 2020
Visit/peugeot/508/22305/2020-peugeot-508-sport-engineered-unveiled-bmw-3-series-rival-turned-to-355bhp
Peugeot 508

2020 Peugeot 508 Sport Engineered unveiled – BMW 3-series rival turned to 355bhp

Peugeot’s first Sport Engineering model has finally been uncovered, the hot 508 featuring a range-topping hybrid powertrain
24 Sep 2020
Visit/tesla/model-s/203121/200mph-tesla-model-s-plaid-set-for-2021-launch
Tesla Model S

200mph Tesla Model S Plaid set for 2021 launch

The Tesla Model S saloon to receive another level of performance, jumping from Ludicrous to Plaid…
23 Sep 2020