Originally Posted by hpc3
As a 15yr Audi enthusiast I admittedly may have missed something special in the RS4. When Audi changed the console in the B6/B7 cars I just couldn't get comfortable with my left leg resting on the console edge all the time, never found a way to drive those without constant fidgeting, discomfort etc... plus I had a heavily modified B5 S4 I ordered in '00 that was just too much fun. The RS4s back then had nothing on healthy Stage3 BiTurbo S4s other than mass.
Fast forward to todays wants/needs - I finally bought another S4 in April last year, '11 3.0 with the SportDiff and a few options. It was a good car overall, very quick with a flash, exhaust and suspension but no matter what I did I couldn't find anything compelling about it. Steering was artificial as you know, chassis wasn't like the old(er) quattro that I knew and drove well, sport diff made it unpredictable under "play" driving and due to all of this it pretty much spent its life in the garage for a year here while I drove my other vehicle.
Another big factor in my flip is the Performance Center which is ~1.5hrs from me in SC. For the past three or so years here I've been fortunate in that my company and some that we partner with hold events there about every quarter or so. I've been to maybe 6 or 7 marketing/drive events so far and the wife and I took our first day class last November. The quality of the facility and people there is top notch, I've even made a friend or two with the driving staff with all the events we've done(another coming up in September with a software partner). I've had a thing for the E9X M3s since they came out however just never found a reason to get one. The forced induction Audis are probably as fast as any M3, track or other, but none offer the tactile feedback the M does.... and the PCD is the venue that helped me see this. Most car buyers out there would never understand this without having track time in the cars and there is no way to test drive a new M3 and get the essence of the car. I never saw the beauty in the E60 M5 either until I experienced it sliding sideways, 90mph at 8000 rpms. What was probably a mess as a daily driver is a thing of beauty at the PCD.
As much as I like turbo cars and all the aftermarket performance potential they have I think BMW is screwing up taking the M cars this route. Saw it with the 1M, and now the M5. The next M3/4/whatever is headed the same direction so I think the time is now for me to get what I think will be the last of the magical cars. I still think the Audi interiors are better and all but the E9X are nice and clean design-wise so think I'll be ok. Think I'm going to really enjoy this car, can't wait to get it in a few weeks =)
I, too, owned an Stage 3 '00 S4 and that huge swell of turbo torque definitely put a grin on your face. I agree completely, however, with the point you make of the "tactile feedback" of the M3. In my mind, the RS4 and M3 are very similar cars. With the M3, you get the "wired to your nervous system" connection. With the RS4, you get the advantage of the AWD grip. Every review I have ever heard, however, say that the RS5 is not even as sharp or focused as the RS4 was, and is easily behind the M3 in terms of its dynamic feel. In the end, the only cars with better overall dynamics and feel than the M3, are top-end pure sports cars.
Turbo motors also have a somewhat detached feeling between the throttle and your foot (goes with the "tactile feedback" thing), and I have always found performance NA motors more satisfying to drive.
I had an opportunity to live with an '12 S4 for a day while my Cayenne was in for service. The car was definitely quick, but aside from that, it provided no where near the level of performance or feel that the M3 does.