Comparison: 2013 Audi RS 5 vs 2011 BMW M3 vs 2011 Cadillac CTS-V
Where Eagles Dare: We Take America's Hottest New Performance Coupe Deep Into Enemy Territory
From the September, 2010 issue of Motor Trend / By Angus MacKenzie / Photography by Mark Bramley
BMW's M3 is the oldest car of this trio, but like a good red wine, it seems to be getting better with age. Under the hood is the now-familiar 4.0-liter V-8 that develops 414 horsepower at a screaming 8300 rpm, and our Melbourne Red coupe is equipped with the lightning-fast seven-speed dual-clutch automated manual transmission. It’s also fitted with BMW’s new Competition Package, a $2500 bundle of goodies that includes wider offset 19-inch alloy wheels, the ride height lowered by 0.4 inch, and reprogrammed Electronic Damper Control and Dynamic Stability Control settings designed to sharpen the car’s dynamic responses beyond the already scalpel-like ability of the regular M3.
BMW’s M3 has long been the segment’s benchmark, but it’s not perfect. Left to shift itself, the seven-speed transmission is clunkier than the Audi’s. The steering-wheel rim feels fat and clumsy, and these days Hyundais have better-looking interiors (our car’s all-black interior looked particularly cheap and nasty). But the M3 is still the most sharply focused driver’s car of this bunch, a scalpel among sledgehammers.
Each of these cars is seriously fast and highly desirable. That we could even contemplate putting a Cadillac up against the best from BMW and Audi and not have the thing left gasping and wheezing, brakes on fire and suspension turned to mush after three days of hammering around Bavaria shows how far Caddy has come from the days when most of its customers left their teeth in a glass by the bed at night. The RS 5 is a marvelous Grand Tourer, an elegant, classy two-door that will feel just as comfortable antiquing in the Hamptons as hustling over the Grossglockner Pass in an early autumn snowstorm. But when it comes to performance, passion, and pure driver appeal, the BMW M3 is still the benchmark.
1ST PLACE: BMW M3
The oldest car here, but like a good red wine, it’s getting better with age. Driver-focused powertrain and chassis make it a scalpel among sledgehammers.