BMW 4 series VS Audi RS5
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.
- Tight rear headroom
- Misses V8 growl
- Rear entry/egress
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 car has some seriously big shoes to fill - think Ian Thorpe size, but bigger. It’s Audi’s new, second-generation RS 5 Coupe, the Bavarian maker’s mid-size performance flagship, sitting above the S5, and on paper it’s a clear step ahead of the model it replaces.
It’s powered by a 2.9-litre, twin-turbo V6 pumping out enough kilowatts to power a small town, and features a new eight-speed Tiptronic auto, sending drive to all four wheels via Audi’s latest generation quattro system.
Sitting on the VW Group’s MLBevo platform, it’s around 60kg lighter, and more fuel-efficient, yet able to blast from 0-100km/h in less than four seconds.
The thing is, the last RS 5 had something this new rocket ship doesn’t; a superbly sonorous, 4.2-litre, naturally aspirated V8 sitting in its nose.
I straight-up loved the out-going RS 5, bonding with it over thousands of kilometres here and overseas. Up and down Europe’s most challenging alpine passes, and in a previous life, knocking over a story where we drove through eight European countries in a single day.
This new RS 5 produces the same number of kilowatts as the old atmo hero, but adds roughly 30 per cent more torque. The question is, can it match or better its older counterpart on that most intangible parameter – charisma?
|Engine Type||2.9L turbo|
|Fuel Type||Premium Unleaded Petrol|
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.
While it may not sound as good as the outgoing model, the new RS 5 is blindingly fast, outstanding dynamically and loaded to the gunwales with standard features and tech.
A step ahead on paper, and in reality. It’s a brilliant, and yes, a brilliantly charismatic package.
Has Audi done enough with the new RS 5 Coupe to out-gun its primo performance coupe competitors? Tell us what you think in the comments below.
In developing the look of this car, Audi says its design team took inspiration from the ultra-wide-body Audi 90 IMSA GTO racer from the late ‘80s, driven to glory in the USA by the legendary likes of Hans-Joachim Stuck and Walter Rohrl.
The RS 5’s cool, confident stance is the result, with the blistered guards, the detail vents clustered with the head and tail-lights, as well as other aero pieces echoing that track weapon.
At just over 4.7 metres long, the new RS 5 is 74mm longer (there’s an extra 15mm in the wheelbase), and a single millimetre wider than the previous RS 5, but it’s still a full 15mm broader across the beam than the current A5 Coupe. The new car also wears a flatter, honeycomb version of the brand’s signature ‘Singleframe’ grille, and sits on bold 20-inch rims.
The interior is luxurious, suitably racy, and black. The multi-adjustable RS sports front seats are trimmed in nappa leather with contrast stitching and quilting on the centre panels.
A typically broad centre console is highlighted by brushed-metal elements with flashes of carbon dialling up the premium look and feel.
The slick, 12.3-inch ‘Virtual Cockpit’ display dominates the view straight ahead, allowing you to switch between screens depending on the mood you’re in and what you want to get up to. While the 8.3-inch hi-res colour ‘MMI touch’ display sits proud of the centre dashtop.
It's a subjective call, but I’m a big fan (no pun intended) of Audi’s approach to the front ventilation outlets, framed within a narrow, chrome-edged band, sweeping confidently across the dash.
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.
The RS 5 is a classic 2+2, providing generous space for the driver and front seat passenger, with those consigned to the rear still enjoying comfy accommodation, including adjustable ventilation control (with digital display), but tight headroom courtesy of the tapered coupe roofline.
Getting into the back is a moderate struggle, but once behind the driver’s seat, set for my 185cm frame, there’s surprisingly good legroom and decent space for your feet, but sitting fully upright meant twisting my head to an angle that would have any chiropractor rubbing their hands with glee.
Cabin storage runs to a lidded bin between the front seats (with additional space in front), an average size glove box, front-door pockets able to hold standard water bottles, netted map pockets on the front seatbacks, and oddments trays in the rear.
The cupholder count is strong, with two in the front and four in the back, and connectivity runs to two USB ports, an auxiliary-in socket, dual SD card readers, and two 12V outlets. There’s also a wireless charge bay for Qi-enabled devices if you opt for the ‘Technik package’ (more on that later).
Sensor control means the boot unlocks and opens automatically (if the smart key is detected) with a kicking motion under the rear bumper. Load space with rear seats upright is 465 litres VDA (10L more than the outgoing model), and the rear seat backs split-fold 40/20/40 to enhance flexibility and open up extra space for longer or bulkier loads.
There are four cargo tie down points and a luggage net supplied, plus a first-aid kit in a netted cubby on the passenger side, and another netted storage space (taking advantage of the space behind the rear wheel tub) on the driver’s side. The spare is a space saver.
Price and features
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.
Cost of entry to the Audi RS 5 Coupe club is $156,600 (before on-road costs); exactly $900 less than the most recent price for the superseded car.
And what’s more, according to Audi, the vast majority of first-gen RS 5 Coupe buyers hit the options list hard, to the tune of around $24k-worth of extras on average (some people would buy another small car with that cash).
So, to surprise and delight prospective buyers of this new version, a whole lot of extra fruit has been piled onto the car’s standard equipment list… and yes, it’s loaded.
Headline inclusions are three-zone climate control air (with ventilated glove box), ‘Dynamic Ride Control’ (with adaptive damper control), LED headlights (including LED DRLs), the nappa leather trim (door and side panel trim inserts in Alcantara), plus a panoramic sunroof (electrically tilting and opening, with electric sun shade).
Then, the RS sport front seats are a story in themselves. Electric adjustment (with memory for the driver) is a given, but they’re also heated, feature pneumatic side bolster adjustment, electric lumbar support, a massage function, and manual extendable thigh support.
But wait, there’s (a lot) more. The base price also includes an extended upholstery package, with the lower part of the centre console, door armrests and door pull handles trimmed in ‘man-made leather’, adaptive cruise control with ‘Stop&Go’ (including traffic-jam assistant and distance indicator), keyless entry and start, heated, folding and auto dimming exterior mirrors (with memory), plus LED tail-lights with dynamic (scrolling) indicators.
There’s also privacy glass (dark tinted rear and rear side windows), a headlight washer system, an RS sport exhaust (with gloss black oval tailpipes), an anti-theft alarm (with interior monitoring, tow-away protection and tilt sensor), interior ambient lighting (with 30 selectable colours and five colour profiles), a frameless, auto-dimming interior mirror, plus door-sill trims with aluminium inlays and illuminated RS emblems.
Okay, deep breath. Also included are ‘Park assist’ (helps steer the vehicle into parallel or perpendicular spaces), 360-degree cameras (four wide-angle cameras covering the area immediately around the vehicle for easier manoeuvring), auto headlights, rain sensing wipers, the ‘Virtual Cockpit’ (digital configurable colour instrument cluster), stainless-steel-finished pedals, and a flat-bottom, multifunction RS sport leather steering wheel.
And now we get to the multimedia, including ‘Audi connect’ (Wi-Fi hotspot and Google services), Apple CarPlay and Android Auto support, and a Bang & Olufsen ‘3D Sound System’, with no less than 19 speakers, and 755 watts delivered via a 16-channel amplifier.
It also features DAB+ digital radio, ‘MMI navigation plus’, including an 8.3-inch high-res colour display, 10 GB flash memory, and integrated voice control.
That’s a motherload of stuff, and doesn’t even consider the laundry list of standard active and passive safety tech covered in the safety section below.
If all that isn’t enough, there are a series of individual options on offer, like a carbon-fibre roof ($4900), ceramic brakes ($11,900), and milled-finish 20-inch alloys ($1600). Or feature bundles, including the ‘Technik package’ (colour head-up display, ‘Matrix LED’ headlights, and more), and ‘RS Design package’ (‘Audi phone box light’ wireless charging for Qi devices, an Alcantara-trimmed steering wheel, extra leather, lots of red stitching, and multiple RS logos).
Engine & trans
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.
The RS 5 Coupe’s 2.9-litre V6 is based on the S4’s 3.0-litre unit, featuring a shorter stroke, and two turbos rather than a single, twin-scroll unit.
It’s an all-alloy design, featuring direct injection, variable inlet valve adjustment, continuous camshaft adjustment, and drive-by-wire throttle control.
With the turbos sitting inside the engine’s 90-degree V, the distances from the exhaust side to the turbos and then from the turbos to the inlet side are short, so they spool up quickly and boost power rapidly.
Maximum torque of 600Nm (+170Nm) is available from just 1900rpm all the way to 5000rpm, with maximum power of 331kW taking over from 5700 to 6700rpm (the latter number being the rev ceiling).
The transmission is an eight-speed auto, taking over from the first-gen RS 5’s seven-speed dual-clutch because of the new car’s additional torque.
It feeds power to all four wheels via the latest iteration of Audi’s quattro all-wheel drive system, with drive normally distributed 40/60 front to rear, but able to go as much as 85 per cent rear and 70 per cent front, with torque vectoring via the ESC system, and drive managed by a self-locking centre diff, and an electro-mechanical sport diff at the rear.
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.
Claimed fuel economy for the combined (ADR 81/02 - urban, extra-urban) cycle is 8.8L/100km, the RS 5 emitting 199g/km of CO2 in the process.
Over 500km of twisting, central Tasmanian roads on the launch drive program, we averaged a dash-indicated 12.4L/100km, which represents some intense periods of ‘spirited’ driving, with a best of 11.9L/100km recorded on one slightly more sedate 120km city and outer-urban section.
You’ll need 58 litres of 98RON premium unleaded to fill the tank.
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.
First impressions are dominated by the V6 twin-turbo engine’s mountainous torque. In fact, it’s less a peak and more of an imposing plateau, with 600Nm available across a broad spread from 1900rpm to 5000rpm.
Maximum power takes over from 5700 to 6700rpm, so from go to whoa there’s monumental thrust lurking under your right foot. Audi claims 0-100km/h in 3.9sec, which is six tenths faster than the previous V8, with the RS 5 able to surge on to an electronically controlled top speed of 250km/h (280km/h with the limiter optionally removed). This car is a rocket.
The eight-speed auto is smooth yet quick and positive. And in terms of the speed and definition of shifts, you’re not really losing anything relative to the seven-speed dual-clutch in the old RS 5.
Suspension is a five-link design front and rear, the first-gen RS 5 using a trapezoidal link set-up at the back. This car’s lighter engine (a hefty 31kg down) improves balance with less weight on the front axle improving steering response and agility. Even at 1.7 tonnes, the car feels agile, planted, and puts its power down with reassuring authority. Damping is outstanding.
Rubber is high-end Hankook Ventus S1 evo2s, and despite their 20-inch size, they are surprisingly compliant and quiet. And speaking of noise, the previous car’s atmo V8 was raucous music to any performance enthusiast’s ears, and somehow Audi’s managed to tune in its characteristic, guttural growl for this V6, mainly using flaps in the exhaust. Not quite as free and angry as the V8 it replaces, but satisfyingly gruff all the same.
The engine and exhaust noise won’t be an issue if you’ve never heard the old one. This car sounds great, and the mid-range is so beautifully meaty, that on a twisting B-road a smile naturally appears on your face.
‘Drive Select’ allows tuning of the engine and gearbox, suspension, sport diff and exhaust. But beware the ‘Dynamic’ suspension mode, if you have fillings they’re likely to rattle free. Best left for track days.
The (electro-mechanical) steering feels great, with linear response, and road feel is also good. Overall, the RS5 Coupe delivers a truly involving drive experience.
The brakes are pretty much professional grade, with big six-piston calipers up front and two-piston floating calipers at the rear. Rotors are ventilated and perforated all around (375mm front / 330mm rear).
If you’ve got a lazy 12 grand burning a hole in your pocket you can add the carbon-ceramic package, but the standard brakes are fantastic, and you’d have to be a dedicated track-day fanger to need them.
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.
The RS 5 Coupe doesn’t leave much on the table when it comes to active and passive safety.
Attention assist, ‘Audi pre-sense city’ (with AEB and pedestrian detection), ESC (with electronic wheel-selective torque control), ABS, ASR, EDL and Brake Assist are all standard.
There’s also a tyre-pressure-monitoring system, adaptive cruise control (including a distance indicator and speed limiter), active lane assist, ‘Audi parking system plus’ (front and rear with visual display), ‘Audi pre-sense front’ (provides collision mitigation up to 250km/h), blind-spot warning, collision-avoidance assist, rear cross traffic assist, turn assist (monitors oncoming traffic when turning right at low speeds), an exit warning system (detects cars and cyclists when opening doors), and auto high beam.
And if all that’s not enough to help you avoid a crash, there are six airbags on board (front airbags for driver and passenger, side airbags for front passengers, and head-level curtain airbags for front and rear).
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.
Audi provides a three year/unlimited warranty, with three years paint cover, and a 12-year rust perforation guarantee. ‘AudiCare’ 24-hour roadside assistance is complimentary for three years.
The recommended service interval is 15,000km/12 months, and the ‘Audi Genuine Care Service Plan’ is available to cover scheduled servicing for three years/45,000km (whichever comes first).