Audi R8 VS BMW 4 series
- Howling V10
- Amazing traction
- Looks more aggro now
- No high-tech safety
- Interior short on flexibility
- Didn't get to drive it on 'real' roads
BMW 4 series
- Lowered fuel economy.
- Plenty of equipment included as standard.
- Good amount of luggage space for a coupe.
- Rear seating reduced to a formality.
- Steering feels dull, no matter the setting.
- Firm sport shocks and large wheels make for discomfort on country roads.
There is typically no need for introductions when it comes to the Audi R8. But the 2019 Audi R8 isn’t the one you’ve come to know - its been sharpened up in terms of both its appearance, and its performance.
This heavily facelifted version of the second-generation Audi R8 keeps its high-revving V10 engine, and turbochargers have been kept at bay, too. It can’t hold off the march of progress for much longer, though - it’s almost certain this will be the last V10-engined R8… thankfully it has only just launched, so it should be on sale for a few years yet.
I got a chance to drive the new Audi R8 V10 Performance model in Spain at the model’s international launch drive this week - but only on Circuito Ascari race track.
|Fuel Type||Premium Unleaded Petrol|
BMW 4 series
Tim Robson road tests and reviews the BMW 4 Series with specs, fuel consumption and verdict at its Australian launch.
Based on the same mechanicals as the 3 Series, the three-year-old 4 Series was ostensibly formed to give BMW's nomenclature some sense of logic by designating its two-door machines as 'evens' (2 Series, 4 Series and 6 Series) and its four-door cars as 'odds'.
Three variants currently make up the 4 Series range, including a two-door Coupe, a two-door Convertible and – oddly, given the naming regime – a four-door Gran Coupe that also sports a hatch-like tailgate.
|Engine Type||2.0L turbo|
|Fuel Type||Premium Unleaded Petrol|
This iteration could well be the final Audi R8 with a V10 engine, and what a note to go out on. Emissions laws and the ever-present push towards electrification are almost certain to see the next-generation R8 take a very different tack to this model. Lucky, then, that this is the best R8 yet.
I know the final score doesn’t necessarily reflect that - but that’s because it falls short on ‘regular’ car things. Even so, it’s an epic machine.
Would you have an Audi R8 over one of its rivals? Tell us what you think in the comments section below.
BMW 4 series7/10
The 4 Series line offers three distinct points of difference from the more traditional 3 Series, each with their own attraction. The sharpening of the sticker prices and the additional spec helps their cause as well, with the 430i Coupe probably our pick of the range. The 440i is the firecracker of the group, while the 420d is also worth a look, thanks to its value and prodigious torque output.
What's your take on BMW's division of its 3 and 4 Series range? Tell us what you think in the comments below.
Wow, it was possible to make the Audi R8 even more attractive - the brand’s designers have gone and done it with this facelift, which sees a number of changes to the exterior styling that combine for a more aggressive, sharper look.
The ‘Singleframe’ grille now looks even more menacing, having been widened and flattened, and any trace of chrome has been removed. As the chief designer told us, a supercar is no place from chrome. There are three small slats above the grille, which hark back to the iconic Audi Sport quattro model of the 1980s.
Further, the front splitter is wider, the rear diffuser has been made even more prominent, and there are new oval exhaust pipe outlets - previously reserved for Audi RS models only.
My only ‘errr’ moment with the design is the mesh cooling section at the rear bumper, which appears a touch unfinished in combination with some colours, and it’s also very rectangular, meaning the new exhaust tips are at odds with it. But it all has a purpose, and applies to the regular R8 and the LMS racer.
There are three new exterior packages available, which change elements such as the front splitter, door sill trims (side skirts) and diffuser. On the base car, there’s a high-gloss black look; on the V10 Performance there’s a matte titanium look to these bits. Optionally, there’s a high-gloss carbon package.
Further, customers can get the badges and Audi rings painted in gloss black, while body paint colours now include 'Kemora grey' and 'Ascari blue'. There’ll be 19-inch and 20-inch wheels offered, depending on the model.
Inside, there’s been a bit less of a noticeable change. Check out the interior photos to see for yourself.
Okay, so Audi claims “the driver sits in the new R8 like in a race car”.
Having been a passenger in the Audi R8 GT3 car the brand had on show, I can tell you that’s not entirely true - because while you do sit about 12 centimetres higher than that ground-hugging beast, the regulation R8 model is superbly comfortable.
What the brand is getting at, though, is that the focus of all the interior design is to serve the driver. As such, there’s no central media screen - instead, there’s a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster (Audi ‘virtual cockpit’) which is where the driver takes charge using steering wheel controls.
The system is crisp to look at, but it can be a little hard to get used to the controls, especially for sat nav inputs and so on. And that’s even with the central MMI rotary dial with touch pad.
But the other controls are great - I love the air-conditioning knobs, the gear selector and the switchgear, which all has a technical and beautiful finish to it. The steering wheel is a delight to hold, and the push-button starter is a real eye-catcher in red.
The seats in the cars we tested were superbly supportive and very comfortable, but the lack of adjustment of the fixed buckets means you might find yourself a bit too upright (if you get to spend more time in the car than we did).
And even though it’s a supercar, the R8 offers a level of practicality. Sure, the door pockets are virtually useless and there are no properly usable cupholders, but that gives you an idea to the intent of the car. There are, however, storage spots behind both of the seats, and there’s a centre storage area in front of the shifter and in the armrest.
And while the R8 has a mid-mounted engine, there’s still a boot: the R8 coupe’s rear cargo bay offers enough room for a suitcase or two soft smaller bags for a weekend away, with 226 litres of cargo capacity - according to Audi, that’s enough for a golf bag. There’s a secondary storage area under the bonnet, which adds an extra 112L of space. Don’t buy the Spyder if practicality is important to you, as it has even less storage space.
BMW 4 series7/10
Two-doors are never the most practical devices, but the 4 Series Coupe and Convertible duo make a decent fist of it for front-seat passengers. There are bottle holders in both doors and a pair of cupholders in the centre console, along with a large lockable glovebox.
The centre bin is, however, quite shallow, and houses the car's single USB port inside it. There is covered storage under the dash for smaller items, and a small rubber-lined tray that the current crop of phones has outgrown.
The rear seating in the Coupe is reduced to almost a formality, especially if the front seat passengers are tall and the front seats are set back, while the sloping roofline reduces head space quite considerably. A centre armrest contains a pair of cupholders, and there are small side pockets.
Rainy conditions precluded us from trying the Convertible's metal folding roof, but the rear seat space restrictions also apply here. Its 370 litres of boot space is roomy enough for a drop-top, while a clever lifting function raises the folding roof structure up by about 300mm to allow luggage to be stowed under the panels when the roof is down. Capacity drops, though, to just 230 litres.
The Gran Coupe, on the other hand, is the most practical car in the entire 3 and 4 Series line-up outside of the 3 Series Touring wagon. With a large, flat load area, and a hatch-like tailgate, the Gran Coupe can swallow 480 litres of gear with the seats up and an impressive 1300 litres with the seats lowered.
Face-level rear vents, more head and backseat legroom – not to mention the fact you don't have to squeeze into the rear past the front seat – makes the Gran Coupe a most useful device, and it's little wonder it's the most popular variant of the three.
Price and features
It’s expected Audi Australia will again offer the R8 in two different specs when it launches in Australia around the fourth quarter of 2019.
That means a base model (if you can call it that) V10 variant, and a higher-grade V10 Performance grade with more power and torque. The latter is expected to be the bulk seller - the current V10 Plus model accounts for some 90 per cent of R8 sales. Maybe they’ll drop the base car - time will tell.
It’s too early to have a stab at pricing and specifications, because nothing has been confirmed as yet and we’d be on Audi keeping prices relatively stable or maybe bumping them up - hey, you’re getting more power for your money, after all!
But you can bank on goodies like LED headlights, auto high-beam lights, leather seat trim, DAB+ digital radio, sat nav, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a 13-speaker sound system, auto headlights and wipers, push-button start and keyless entry and a fair bit more.
The V10 Performance model we drove had 20x8.5-inch front wheels and 20x11-inch rear wheels, with super grippy Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tyres.
For a guide, the current start price for the V10 is $366,340 plus on-road costs, while the V10 Plus (which will be renamed V10 Performance) currently lists at $402,430 before on-roads. Those prices are for the coupe - the Spyder convertible adds roughly $20,000 on both grades.
Considering some of the competitors, it is a little pricey - although it’s the cheapest way into V10 supercar ownership.
So, what are its rivals? Lamborghini has the Huracan (essentially an R8 twin - priced from $378,900 in RWD, or $428,000 for the AWD model), or you could take a look at a McLaren 570S ($395,000), Mercedes-AMG has the GT (from $261,130) and there are about 20 versions of the Porsche 911 you might consider (from $220,500). If the Spyder is more your go, I’d take a look at the Ferrari Portofino ($398,888), too.
BMW 4 series7/10
Entry into the 4 Series world now stands at $68,900 plus on-roads for the petrol 420i Coupe and Gran Coupe, and tops out at almost $118,000 for the 440i Convertible.
Both the 420i and 420d have been boosted by the addition of adaptive M dampers, a heads-up display, powered folding rear-view mirrors, lane-change warning, driving assistant and BMW's surround view camera with top and side views.
BMW claims the extra kit is worth just over $8000. Leather seats, sat nav, BMW's ConnectedDrive Emergency call system, bi-Xenon headlights and reversing camera are also featured. An eight-speed automatic transmission is offered as stock, but a six-speed manual can be optioned at no cost.
The diesel version costs an additional $2200 over the petrol powerplant.
Stepping into the 430i, the M Sport Package is offered as standard, with the Luxury line, which includes a leather-trimmed dash, a no-cost option.
Additional standard equipment over the outgoing 428i includes 19-inch M rims, heads-up display, lane change warning, driving assistant and surround view camera. The 430i also gains electric lumbar support for driver and front passenger seats and a nine-speaker stereo system over the base 420i.
Finally, the range-topping 440i scores a heads-up display, lane change warning, driving assistant, surround view camera, adaptive LED headlights, leather dash, front seat heating, high beam assist, active cruise control with stop and go function and parking assistant over the outgoing 435i.
Over the 430i, the 440i also gets variable sport steering, a Harman/Kardon surround sound system with 16 speakers, a leather instrument panel (with M Sport Package), ConnectedDrive internet and concierge service, and air collar neck-warming ducts for the 440i Convertible.
Engine & trans
The new R8 retains the same 5.2-litre V10 (FSI) naturally-aspirated engine, but Audi’s engineers have wrung its neck to squeeze more power and torque out of it.
There are two tunes available - the regular version, which has 419kW of power (up from 397kW), and 560Nm of torque (up from 540Nm). It only comes with a seven-speed 'S tronic' dual-clutch automatic transmission, and comes with quattro all-wheel drive.
The claimed 0-100km/h time is just 3.4 seconds for the coupe and 3.5sec for the Spyder convertible. It tops out at 324km/h, or 322/km/h in the convertible.
The higher-grade version is by far the most potent R8 yet, with 456kW of power (up from 449kW) and 580Nm of torque (was 560Nm). Again, S tronic and quattro, and this time around with a 0-100km/h acceleration claim of 3.1sec for the coupe (3.2sec convertible). Top speed is 331km/h or 329km/h, depending on body type.
BMW 4 series7/10
There are two new petrol engines, two new badges and prices cuts of up to $10,000 right across the board for the line-up, along with additional standard equipment that improves the value equation even further.
The line kicks off with the 420, which can be had in either diesel or petrol guise. The 420i gains BMW's new B48 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo petrol engine, which gains 5kW over the old motor to produce 135kW and 270Nm.
It also benefits from slightly improved fuel economy, with a drop of 0.3 litres per 100km for the Coupe and 0.5 for the Gran Coupe to 5.8L/100km, and a fall of 0.2L for the Convertible to 6.2L/100km.
The 420d retains its 140kW, 400Nm 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo diesel engine, which returns 4.3L/100km in the fixed roof cars and 4.7L/100km for the Convertible.
The 430i – formerly known as the 428i – also receives the new 2.0-litre petrol engine, albeit in a 185kW/350Nm tune. Its fuel economy drops a healthy 0.6L for the Coupe and Gran Coupe and 0.4L for the Convertible, posting figures of 5.8 and 6.3L/100km respectively.
The top-spec 435i has been transformed into the 440i with the addition of BMW's new Twinpower 3.0-litre straight six petrol motor. Its output jumps 15kW to 240kW and by 50Nm to 450Nm, and its consumption falls by more than half a litre to 6.8 litres per 100km for the closed-roof pair and 7.2L/100km for the Convertible.
All cars come standard with a 'traditional' ZF eight-speed torque converter automatic transmission with steering wheel paddles as standard fitment, while a six-speed manual gearbox is a no-cost option across the line.
Don’t expect to see the official claimed fuel consumption figure on a regular basis. The number is 12.3 litres per 100 kilometres for the most potent coupe version, while the lower-power version uses a claimed 11.4L/100km.
The engine has cylinder deactivation for less intense situations, and there’s engine stop-start, too.
It uses 98RON premium unleaded fuel, and has an 83 litre fuel tank capacity.
BMW 4 series8/10
Our brief test loop on a rainy, blustery Melbourne winter's day in all three model types (but no diesel) netted varying fuel consumption readings across the line; we recorded 8.4L/100km in a 420i sedan against a claimed figure of 5.8, 9.8L/100km for the 430i Gran Coupe against a claimed figure of 5.8L/100km, and 8.4L/100km against the 440i Gran Coupe's 6.8L/100km.
I can’t say what it’s like on public roads, but my stint on a shortened track at Circuito Ascari near Ronda in Spain left me grinning ear to ear.
And so it should, with the immense performance of the V10 engine - tested on track in the higher output R8 Performance spec with the full 456kW and 580Nm complement of grunt numbers.
Driving the R8 reminded me of that one time in under 11s rugby league when a much smaller defender managed to lift me up and dump be on the ground - an impressive effort, because I was heavy enough to be running around in under 15s. At that time, it took a second for me to realise what had happened, and was enough to leave me a bit short of breath.
The same sensation came to mind as I loaded up the throttle and threw myself at the horizon from the pit exit. Under a heavy right foot, the world around me started to blur and the first corner of the track suddenly approached after the crest. I had to try and remember what the lead car had shown me in the sighting laps prior, where to turn, how hard to get on the gas.
But I was distracted by the mind-bending physics I was experiencing, not to mention the theatre of the R8. The sound really is hard to beat - the howl of a high-revving V10, unmuffled by turbochargers, is something to behold when it’s enveloping you, and the fact the noise emanates from behind your ears almost makes you want to push it even harder.
1 – 6 – 5 – 10 – 2 – 7 – 3 – 8 – 4 – 9. That’s the firing sequence of the V10. Just thought you might like to know.
The gearshifts cut through the noise with prodigious sharpness, and when I chose the 'Performance' drive mode (which firmed everything up, enabled even more manic acceleration and disabled traction control) the shifts were brutal, often resulting in a shockwave through the car. It was some seriously good feedback for me as the driver, though it may not bode well for longevity…
There was tremendous traction from the quattro all-wheel drive system from a standstill, and across a long, banked corner on the track I felt super confident, pushing harder than I know I would have dared in a rear-drive car.
I managed to get a steer in both an R8 with the regular steering system and a model with the brand’s ‘dynamic’ steering set-up. Both have been retuned to be “more direct and precise throughout the entire speed range”.
I preferred the dynamic steering set-up which can vary the steering ratio based on the speed, and is “very direct” according to Audi - and even more so when Performance mode is engaged.
I found it to be super predictable at lower cornering speeds, and therefore more manageable to an amateur like me. One of Audi’s test drivers told me that he prefers the normal steering set-up, because at ‘really big speed’ it’s easier to predict.
The highest speed I saw was just a tickle over 200km/h, and I understood his take on it. Maybe normal steering for high-speed tracks, then? Or I just need to learn to drive faster…? Hey, no-one wants to be the guy who bins the $400k supercar on the very first rotation of about thirty over a two-week run of international journalists visiting to sample the newest, bestest and most expensivest Audi has to offer.
The models we drove were all fitted with the optional carbon ceramic braking package, which allowed the stoppers to resist fade for a lot longer - ideal for extended track time sessions, and they certainly stood up to my reliance on them on my few short stints on the track. They came in especially handy during a (very cool) night session where we were expected to remember the track layout about seven hours after our first outing.
It would have been great to drive it on real roads, because apparently that’s where the dynamic steering is most impressive.
BMW 4 series6/10
BMW introduced a raft of tweaks to the 3 Series platform late last year, which have translated over to the 4 Series. The key addition across the line is BMW's two-stage adaptive dampers that feature a Sport and a Comfort circuit, fitted as part of the M Sport pack that comes standard on the 430 and 440, and is a $2600 option on the 420.
Larger 19-inch rims are fitted to the 430i and 440i cars, while the 420 gets 18s out of the box. It's possible to fit 18s on the more expensive cars, as part of the no-cost Luxury option pack that supplants the standard M Sport pack.
While our test was brief and held in less than ideal road conditions, the large-wheeled 4 Series really didn't enamour themselves to this author. There's a distinct lack of communication from the tyres and chassis through the steering wheel and your backside, while the combination of firm Sport shocks and large 19-inch wheels with narrow-section tyres made for an uncomfortable ride over country roads.
Sampling a 420i with the Luxury 18-inch rims, however, improved things immensely, with much better feedback and comfort that didn't come at the expense of handling.
One of BMW's strong points should be its steering, given all the 3 and 4 Series cars are still rear-wheel-drive… but it's not, unfortunately. The electrically assisted set up is far from perfectly calibrated, feeling too dull and digital underhand, no matter what the setting.
The pick of the bunch performance wise is – logically – the six-cylinder 440i. The turbo powerplant is potent from right down the rev range, with a muted yet still pleasing engine note permeating the cabin. The self-shifting mode on the eight-speed auto does a good job of keeping up as well.
The updated 2.0-litre four is a sprightly performer, too.
The Audi R8 hasn’t been crash-tested by ANCAP or Euro NCAP, but Audi claims the car’s spaceframe chassis offers “high crash safety”.
You get a reversing camera and parking sensors (optional in Europe, expected to be standard in Australia) plus the R8 comes with six airbags, including dual front, front side and curtain coverage. Spyder models miss out on curtain airbags.
Top spec models are expected to get the excellent laser headlights (auto high-beam light up to 600 metres throw distance), and all models come with LED headlights.
BMW 4 series8/10
Safety features for all cars in the 4 Series range include six airbags, lane departure warning, pre-collision safety pack, parking sensors, active cruise control with collision warning, AEB and pedestrian warning, along with reversing camera and surround-view cameras across the line.
There is no capped price service plan for the R8, and no pre-purchase plan like you can get on the rest of the ‘regular’ Audi range.
BMW 4 series6/10
BMW offers a Service Inclusive program at the time of purchase, which for $1340 covers everything – including items like spark plugs, brake fluids and other fluids - for five years or 80,000 km scheduled. The cars are also covered by a three-year free roadside servicing program, in addition to BMW's two year, unlimited kilometre warranty.