With many miles and many numbers crunched, it’s time to pick a winner.
We were expecting the arguments to rage for days over this one, but in the final reckoning, the finishing order proved to be easier to settle on than we ever imagined. That’s not to say the end result wasn’t surprising…
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It’s often difficult to shake off preconceptions when putting together tests like this, particularly when it comes to fast Audis, but the latest RS5 turned our expectations on their head. It’s the RS5’s wide bandwidth of abilities that’s truly astonishing; at the touch of a button it can be turned from the GT car Audi claims it to be to a steely cored performance coupe.
‘Slowly but surely, it becomes apparent that this is a serious car,’ says Towler. ‘Its performance is instant and savage, but it’s the sophistication of its damping – the same quality that makes it such an easy car to live with – that is the key to its real-world pace.’
If there’s a criticism, it’s that the Audi lacks instant access to thrills. There’s excitement there, but you have to dig a little deeper to find the qualities that make you appreciate it more. Does it do enough to topple the Mercedes-AMG C63 S? Yes, but by the narrowest of margins.
Make no mistake, we love the bombastic and entertaining C63 S, particularly its firecracker of an engine – the twin-turbo V8 is one of the best in the business. Yet while its instant-gratification fun is hard to resist, its abilities are a little uneven in this company, and its hefty kerb weight means it is the slowest at the track (and thirstiest at the pumps). Factor in its poor cabin build and a hefty £7485 premium over the next cheapest car here and its fate behind the Audi is sealed. Barker sums it up nicely: ‘Overall, it doesn’t feel as well resolved or as engaging as the other two. It has the most attention-grabbing exhaust note, but in this company Mercedes is selling the sizzle, not the sausage.’ Quite.
So where does that leave the M4? Way out in front is the short answer. It’s taken BMW a while, but this 2018MY Competition Package version is the car the M4 should have been from the start. From its near-perfect weight distribution to its pared-back kerb weight, the fast and fun BMW feels like a car that’s been developed with the driver’s best interests at heart.
‘It has an authenticity to it that cuts through the challenge of the other two,’ says Towler. ‘It shines brightly pretty much all the time. Whatever the mood, whatever the journey, the M4 feels like an event, like a real performance car, like a car to covet and treasure.’ Like a winner.