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Compare the2024 BMW M3VS 2023 Audi S4

2024 BMW M3
2023 Audi S4

Safety

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Over 200 people are killed each year when backed over by motor vehicles. The M3 offers an optional Active Park Distance Control that uses rear sensors to monitor for objects to the rear and automatically applies the brakes to prevent a collision. The S4 doesn’t offer backup collision prevention brakes.

The M3 has a standard blind spot warning system that uses sensors to alert the driver to objects in the vehicle’s blind spots where the side view mirrors don’t reveal them and moves the vehicle back into its lane. A system to reveal vehicles in the S4’s blind spot costs extra.

To help make backing out of a parking space safer, the M3 has standard Cross Traffic Warning, helping the driver avoid collisions. Audi charges extra for rear cross-path warning on the S4.

The M3’s driver alert monitor detects an inattentive driver then sounds a warning and suggests a break. According to the NHTSA, drivers who fall asleep cause about 100,000 crashes and 1500 deaths a year. The S4 doesn’t offer a driver alert monitor.

Both the M3 and the S4 have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, driver and front passenger knee airbags, side-impact head airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, plastic fuel tanks, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, crash mitigating brakes, post-collision automatic braking systems, daytime running lights, lane departure warning systems, rearview cameras and available around view monitors.

Warranty

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BMW pays for scheduled maintenance on the M3 for 3 years and 36,000 miles. BMW will pay for oil changes, air filter replacements, cabin filter replacement, brake fluid replacement, inspections, and any other required maintenance. Audi only pays for the first scheduled maintenance visit on the S4.

There are over 15 percent more BMW dealers than there are Audi dealers, which makes it easier should you ever need service under the M3’s warranty.

Reliability

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J.D. Power and Associates’ 2023 Initial Quality Study of new car owners surveyed provide the statistics that show that BMW vehicles are better in initial quality than Audi vehicles. With 29 fewer problems per 100 vehicles, JD Power ranks BMW higher than Audi.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2022 survey of the owners of three-year-old vehicles provides the long-term dependability statistics that show that BMW vehicles are more reliable than Audi vehicles. J.D. Power ranks BMW above average in long-term dependability. With 5 more problems per 100 vehicles in the first three years of ownership, Audi is rated below average.

From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ January 2023 Auto Issue reports that BMW vehicles are more reliable than Audi vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks BMW third in overall reliability. Audi is ranked 6th.

Engine

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The M3’s standard 3.0 turbo 6-cylinder produces 124 more horsepower (473 vs. 349) and 37 lbs.-ft. more torque (406 vs. 369) than the S4’s 3.0 turbo V6. The M3 Competition’s standard 3.0 turbo 6-cylinder produces 154 more horsepower (503 vs. 349) and 110 lbs.-ft. more torque (479 vs. 369) than the S4’s 3.0 turbo V6. The M3 CS’ standard 3.0 turbo 6-cylinder produces 194 more horsepower (543 vs. 349) and 110 lbs.-ft. more torque (479 vs. 369) than the S4’s 3.0 turbo V6.

As tested in Car and Driver the M3 Competition is faster than the Audi S4 (automatics tested):

M3

S4

Zero to 60 MPH

2.8 sec

4.2 sec

Zero to 100 MPH

7 sec

10.7 sec

5 to 60 MPH Rolling Start

4.2 sec

5.7 sec

Quarter Mile

11 sec

12.8 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

124 MPH

108 MPH

Top Speed

156 MPH

155 MPH

Transmission

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The M3 offers a manual transmission for better acceleration, control and sportiness. The S4 doesn’t offer a manual transmission.

Brakes and Stopping

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For better stopping power the M3’s brake rotors are larger than those on the S4:

M3

M3 CCB

S4

Front Rotors

15 inches

15.7 inches

13.8 inches

Rear Rotors

14.6 inches

15 inches

13 inches

The M3 offers optional heat-treated ceramic brake rotors, which last ten to twenty times as long as conventional cast iron rotors, don’t rust, don’t fade during repeated high speed braking, and their lighter weight contribute to better braking, handling and acceleration. The S4 doesn’t offer ceramic brake rotors.

The M3 stops much shorter than the S4:

M3

S4

70 to 0 MPH

150 feet

162 feet

Car and Driver

60 to 0 MPH

102 feet

112 feet

Motor Trend

Tires and Wheels

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For better traction, the M3 has larger tires than the S4 (F:275/40R18 & R:285/35R19 vs. 255/35R19).

The M3’s optional 285/30R20 rear tires provide better handling because they have a lower 30 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the S4’s 35 series tires.

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the M3 offers optional 20-inch rear wheels. The S4’s largest wheels are only 19-inches.

Suspension and Handling

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For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the M3’s wheelbase is 1.5 inches longer than on the S4 (112.5 inches vs. 111 inches).

For better handling and stability, the average track (width between the wheels) on the M3 is 1.9 inches wider in the front and 2 inches wider in the rear than the track on the S4.

The M3’s front to rear weight distribution is more even (52.9% to 47.1%) than the S4’s (57% to 43%). This gives the M3 more stable handling and braking.

The M3 Competition handles at 1.03 G’s, while the S4 Prestige pulls only .91 G’s of cornering force in a Motor Trend skidpad test.

The M3 Competition executes Motor Trend’s “Figure Eight” maneuver 1.4 seconds quicker than the S4 Prestige (23.8 seconds @ .85 average G’s vs. 25.2 seconds @ .75 average G’s).

Passenger Space

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The M3 has 3 cubic feet more passenger volume than the S4 (95 vs. 92).

The M3 has 3.3 inches more front headroom, .3 inches more front legroom, .1 inches more front shoulder room, .4 inches more rear headroom and .1 inches more rear shoulder room than the S4.

Cargo Capacity

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The M3 has a larger trunk than the S4 (13 vs. 12 cubic feet).

Pulling a handle automatically lowers the M3’s rear seats, to make changing between passengers and cargo easier. The S4 doesn’t offer automatic folding seats.

To make loading and unloading groceries and cargo easier, especially for short adults, the M3 offers an optional power trunk, which opens and closes automatically by pressing a button or just by kicking your foot under the back bumper, completely leaving your hands free. The S4 doesn’t offer a power trunk, so its trunk has to be closed manually.

Servicing Ease

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J.D. Power and Associates surveys of service recipients show that BMW service is better than Audi. J.D. Power ranks BMW 7th in service department satisfaction (above the industry average). With a 1% lower rating, Audi is ranked 8th.

Ergonomics

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The M3 offers a remote vehicle starting system, so the vehicle can be started from inside the driver's house. This allows the driver to comfortably warm up the engine before going out to the vehicle. The climate system will also automatically heat or cool the interior. The S4 doesn’t offer a remote starting system.

Laser headlights, optional on the M3, produce their light by firing blue lasers through phosphorus, a process that uses one-half the power of the S4’s LED headlights. Laser headlights can have double the range of LEDs with a much smaller surface area.

To quickly and conveniently keep personal devices charged without cables tangling and wearing out, the BMW M3 has a standard wireless phone charging system (Qi) in the center console. Only the S4 Premium Plus/Prestige offers wireless charging.

The M3’s optional Parking Assistant Plus can parallel park or back into a parking spot by itself, starting, stopping and changing direction automatically. The S4 Prestige’s automatic parking system requires operating the brakes and transmission to safely park.

Model Availability

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The M3 is available in both rear-wheel drive and all-wheel drive configurations. The S4 doesn’t offer a two-wheel drive configuration.

Recommendations

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The BMW 3 Series outsold the Audi A4/S4 by almost two to one during 2022.

© 1999 - 2023 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved.