Originally Posted by LarThaL
Well, I am a former RS4 owner, so I think I am in a pretty good position to answer this. Basically these cars are really equal on the overall balance sheet. The M3 will have some advantages, the RS5 others.
There is no question that AWD will allow you to just hammer the car with much less chance of losing control. I have to be more careful driving the M3 than I did the RS4, especially with the stability programs off, which is what you need to do to fully enjoy either car. Advantage RS5.
Looks are purely subjective, but I honestly think the old RS5 (pre-facelift) looked better than the new one. Audi is known for their interiors, but the grade of interior materials Audi is currently using is a step down from what it used to be. The M3 with extended leather really looks upscale IMO. Advantage M3, if optioned correctly.
Exhaust....RS5, hands down. Not even close. This is simply one of the nicest sounding stock exhausts. Period.
Engines are similar. Audi has a bit more mid range punch, the M3 screams more up top. Toss-up.
Where the M3 totally dominates, however, is the feel of the chassis, and steering responsiveness. By comparison, the Audi feels heavy, sluggish, with a less precise feel to the steering. This will always be the case when the front wheels are also driven.
In the end, if I lived where there was snow, and I had to have one car, I would get the RS5. If snow isn't a concern, or you have another winter vehicle, the M3 just has a more dynamic feel.
However.....and you need to be really honest with yourself here....if you are a less skilled driver, it will be easier to extract maximum performance out of the RS5 due to its AWD.
This is a very good write up. I am a former RS4 owner as well.
The Audi is very easy to drive. It makes the even the most talentless driver look like the Stig. It can be driven hard in almost any weather condition. It does suffer from understeer but the car needs to be pushed hard to really feel it.
The exhaust note was a deep guttural growl and one of the things I miss most about the car.
The one thing I haven't seen mentioned is the exclusivity of the Audi R lineup in the United States. They are quite rare. Only about 2500 B7 RS4s made it to the United States. I would only assume that number would be similar for the RS5. This could come into play when purchasing the vehicle. I would expect to pay a minimum of MSRP if you're lucky. But, you would be one of the few lucky people to own the car. However, the M3 in your neck of the woods is also pretty rare. I have only seen 1 E90 M3 where I live and 0 E92s.
One last thing to consider. The Audi RS5 engine is an FSI model. This engine is notorious for excessive oil consumption and carbon build up. Do a Google search on the engine before purchasing the car. They are extremely annoying issues and one of the reasons I now own an M3.
The RS5 is gorgeous and would most likely make a wonderful daily driver. It will make you feel confident as you push it to the limit. It would probably be a blast on the track especially if your a novice. And it's rare.
The M3 is the driver's choice. We have seen the comparisons and the M3 has always won (Top Gear, Car and Driver, MotorTrend). Once the novelty of RS5 ownership wears off you will begin to wonder what it is about the M3 that makes it a perennial favorite of automotive enthusiasts and critics everywhere. Drive one and you will see. It's just that good.
Either way you can't go wrong.