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      11-23-2010, 04:12 PM   #1
JonnyM3
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06 STi vs. 09 S5 vs. 11 S4 vs. 11 M3

I'd like to give my observations based on these 4 cars as I have owned/driven all of these for a good amount of time.

We'll start off w/ the STi
This was my first car and the one I'll always miss. It was a great car from the feedback of the steering wheel, to the engaging, manual only transmission. The car, even in stock form handled extremely well. Compared to the rest of the 3 it was not as quick out of the box, but a few mods made it much quicker than the front heavy S5. Reliability was great, and I never had a single problem with the car after 70k HARD miles. The interior was its major drawback, but being a high school student at the time driving an STi that didn't matter to me. The car was plenty spacious, but uncomfortable as hell on long trips. My lower back would be destroyed after a 2 hour drive. Also, the car was an absolute animal in the snow. I used to TRY and get it stuck w/ my Blizzacks on, and not once did I succeed. Exhaust and engine note were too quiet in stock form for me, but after a quality TBE the STi really opened up and gave an awesome Boxer rumble.

Audi S5
My S5 was my absolute pride and joy. It was my first luxurious GT car and definitely played its part well. The feedback from the steering wheel and front wheels was terrible, but after a Rear Anti Sway Bar was installed the car handled surprisingly well, though it didn't change feedback. The interior was definitely the most appealing, but not the highest quality (I'll touch up on that in a bit). The car wasn't that slow and actually surprised quite a few people. A lot of people don't give this car enough credit, and thats why I believe it is a dead engine. The fact that mods for this car are sparse led me to sell it. The AWD was good, but nowhere near Subaru standards, and I actually got stuck with snow tires on. I bought the car new, off the lot and there for it was not equipped with ADS (Audi Drive Select) which I hear does improve the handling some. You could literally blast this thing into a turn and full throttle it all the way out without any fear of any slipping/thrashing/crashing...truly a great car, just too damn slow. The exhaust note was better in my S5 than the M3 IMO, but the engine noise was not. After a catback the noise was even more brilliant, though thats not fair as my M3 is still stock and this could change. The manual transmission was awesome, and much more refined than the STi's...though not as engaging. Compared to the M3's manual transmission I really preferred it. Personally I hate the M3's manual due to it's long throws and lazy feel. I've read that a short shifter changes this, but I wasn't going to make my 73k car purchase on hopes of an aftermarket shifter.

Audi S4
This car is my girlfriends car, and in the recent months I have put it through its paces. The thing is incredibly good at EVERYTHING. This, in my opinion has the second most appealing interior...just under the S5 for a few minor reasons (cluster surround, and feel). The steering wheel, like the S5's is too thin for me after driving the M3 for 1,000 miles now, but it certainly doesn't feel cheap. Like the S5, the feedback isn't as good as the STi or the M3, but slightly better than it's 2 door counterpart. The torque in this thing is substantial and it WILL surprise you. My M3 is slightly faster straight line, but the S4 feels faster when you're driving it. The DSG transmission, in my opinion, is better than the DCT in a few aspects. Blips on almost every down shift, just as quick, easier to use and the paddles are lit up (+,-) which gives a more expensive feel to the car IMO. Though, I will note this, I ALWAYS drive my DCT in S mode, but with this car I just can't bring myself to do it, and I usually find myself driving it in automatic. The S4 ADS isn't as good as our EDC as I can't feel it working sometimes, unlike our cars which produces a kidney stone dispenser. S4's are now running 12.1x with a tune and bolt-ons so IMO they will soon be in the 11's, easy, but speed isn't everything. The car handles well too, just like the S5, but a little bit twitchier...in a good way. With traction off, in Dynamic the car has VERY minimal understeer and Audi's new rear diff truly adds a substantial difference to the cars characteristics (RWD feel). Stock to stock, on the street with 2 competent drivers it would give an M3 a run for it's money...especially here in NY. The exterior isn't anywhere near as nice as the M3's and sometimes can be hard to differentiate between a normal A4, but the more I see it the more I love it. This is Audi's all star car right now, IMO, not the RS5. I'd like to also add Audi's Ibis White is much purer than my Alpine White, though they're both beautiful I prefer the Audi's paint.

ZCP M3
This is by far my most favorite car I've owned thus far and my first RWD car. The car just gives me confidence and day by day I'm learning its very high limit. The new idrive is leaps and bounds better than the old one, and the new BMW assist features are ridiculous. The map is OK at best, and I much prefer the S4's new 3D map features...too cool. The engine note on the M3 is incredible and I can listen to it rev all day, if it didn't cost so much. According to my on board computer, I'm averaging around 12.9 mpg compared to the 21 I get in the S4. The exhaust note leaves something to be desired, and IMO the S4's exhaust is louder, but that doesn't mean better. Interior wise I wasn't too fond of the M3 at first, but I opted for the Black with Fox red inserts it has since grown on me. The quality IMO is much higher than that in the Audi's (there are a few spots Audi uses hard plastic, where BMW uses soft rubber). The trunk interior is dead ugly in this thing, and I don't understand why they couldn't wrap it in a more appealing carpet (Black). Handling in this thing is too good for a heavy sedan and that is what I enjoy the most in a car. Feedback was better in the STi though. Exterior wise I appreciate the differences between this and the normal 3 series. The DCT is great and it just feels RAW at times with it's monstrous hard shifts...which I love. The hood bump reminds me of my STi which is definitely good and also adds to the whole appeal of the car. It is completely perfect and I wouldn't change ANYTHING on it except for the minor bolt ons everyone seems to do (Xpipe, Pulley, Tune etc). I'm not touching the suspension. OVerall I'm very pleased with the decision I've made. Had the S4 been out when I had bought my S5 I would have chosen that instead. Considering how close the performance is between the M3 and S4 I don't know how justifiable the price difference is. I will leave you guys with this...the car has a soul unlike the Audi, and you feel it in your hands. From the steering wheel, to the sounds, to the precise shifts...the car talks to you. I'm absolutely happy with my decision and while I do have some regrets I would still choose this amazing car everyday...
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Last edited by JonnyM3; 11-23-2010 at 04:57 PM.
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      11-23-2010, 04:58 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SehrSchnell View Post
Fail - Fail - Win. There you go...

edited...sorry bout that
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      11-23-2010, 05:11 PM   #3
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good read. sound like a nice progression, hehehe.
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      11-23-2010, 06:36 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AudiS5 View Post

ZCP M3
This is by far my most favorite car I've owned thus far and my first RWD car. The car just gives me confidence and day by day I'm learning its very high limit. The new idrive is leaps and bounds better than the old one, and the new BMW assist features are ridiculous. The map is OK at best, and I much prefer the S4's new 3D map features...too cool. The engine note on the M3 is incredible and I can listen to it rev all day, if it didn't cost so much. According to my on board computer, I'm averaging around 12.9 mpg compared to the 21 I get in the S4. The exhaust note leaves something to be desired, and IMO the S4's exhaust is louder, but that doesn't mean better. Interior wise I wasn't too fond of the M3 at first, but I opted for the Black with Fox red inserts it has since grown on me. The quality IMO is much higher than that in the Audi's (there are a few spots Audi uses hard plastic, where BMW uses soft rubber). The trunk interior is dead ugly in this thing, and I don't understand why they couldn't wrap it in a more appealing carpet (Black). Handling in this thing is too good for a heavy sedan and that is what I enjoy the most in a car. Feedback was better in the STi though. Exterior wise I appreciate the differences between this and the normal 3 series. The DCT is great and it just feels RAW at times with it's monstrous hard shifts...which I love. The hood bump reminds me of my STi which is definitely good and also adds to the whole appeal of the car. It is completely perfect and I wouldn't change ANYTHING on it except for the minor bolt ons everyone seems to do (Xpipe, Pulley, Tune etc). I'm not touching the suspension. OVerall I'm very pleased with the decision I've made. Had the S4 been out when I had bought my S5 I would have chosen that instead. Considering how close the performance is between the M3 and S4 I don't know how justifiable the price difference is. I will leave you guys with this...the car has a soul unlike the Audi, and you feel it in your hands. From the steering wheel, to the sounds, to the precise shifts...the car talks to you. I'm absolutely happy with my decision and while I do have some regrets I would still choose this amazing car everyday...
WTF? Who looks at the trunk interior?
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      11-23-2010, 07:47 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mlaynemd View Post
WTF? Who looks at the trunk interior?
Obviously me. Just an observation, funny though someone mentioned it to me first.
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      11-23-2010, 07:49 PM   #6
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nice read, thanks for sharing your experience with each of the 4 cars
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      11-24-2010, 06:46 PM   #7
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You can improve the trunk aesthetics by adding a black M trunk mat. It's the little things.......
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      11-24-2010, 07:56 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KIS View Post
You can improve the trunk aesthetics by adding a black M trunk mat. It's the little things.......
Improving the trunk appearance isn't my main concern lol. Plus I think it would look weird with grey sides and black bottom....it was just an observation, didn't know that sentence would get the most attention out of my entire post.
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      11-25-2010, 12:02 AM   #9
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Im only about 15% difference in fuel consumption between my M3 and my S4...

I think I have a heavy foot... LOL

Where I do notice the S4 is efficient is when you're just highway cruising otherwise my city driving is almost inline with my M3.
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      11-25-2010, 12:55 AM   #10
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Agreed with the STi, I had an 06 with intake/header/up&down pipes/3" exhaust & tune. That car will always have my heart, manual tranny was bullet proof and she never gave me single problem other than a fuel controller that was replaced under warranty. 85k kms and she was still running as strong as day 1 including all the mods. The downsides... interior was disgusting, worst seats + stock suspension I've ever seen. Economics... 5 passenger seater, and large trunk, its the everyday warrior. Will buy one again some day.

M3 is the gorgeous refined girlfriend, where as the STi is the rugby girlfriend who loves it rough.

Thanks for your review!
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      11-30-2010, 12:34 AM   #11
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Nice write up! I agreee with Kartelli! If I couldn't afford a BMW I'd buy a STi
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      01-05-2011, 11:42 PM   #12
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12mpg...wow...something to consider when S4 can do 21...
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      01-06-2011, 01:43 AM   #13
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I had an S5 too, refined GT. however the engine was weak above 6K or so. By no means a slow car but but audi jusr grabbed the off the shelf 4.2L engine they put in everything without "tuning" it for a sports car. Interior was lovely though. you just cant beat the S65's redline and the M3's awesome performance. My only beef with M3 is the stale uninspried dash/front console. The double hump seems an after thought and doesn't "wrap" around the driver like the old 850's did. Bangle influance perhaps?

i hope by april/may to have added the ess SC to mine.
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      02-28-2011, 06:03 PM   #14
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Very interesting. Thanks for the post.
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      03-16-2011, 02:11 AM   #15
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thanks for the impressions. I, too, had an S5 and feel if it had more power I would have kept it. Great package but lacking in performance to a degree.
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      03-16-2011, 01:24 PM   #16
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Great review. I was especially interested in the comparison between the S4, and M3. I'm having such a hard time deciding what to replace my E46 M3 with. The S4 seems much more practical and just as fast in daily driving (maybe a little better with more low end torque) but I know exactly what you mean about the M3 talking to you. My e46 does the same thing and I'm sure the E92 is just as good, I don't want to give that up with an S4.
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