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      07-23-2019, 08:21 PM   #1
Craig8
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Mega Audi RS3 / M2 Competition owner's comparison review

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I’ve been running both cars as daily drivers so here are my head to head impressions (2 years in the RS3, 6 months in the M2C). I drive around 90% of the time on city streets vs highway so that is what my impressions are based on.

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Specs (Canadian market):

2018 Audi RS3
Black optics
Red brake calipers
Sports exhaust

Mods: 10mm spacers rear, 7mm spacers front


2019 BMW M2 competition
DCT
Orange stitching

Mods: Carbon fiber rear spoiler/front spoiler/side winglets, exhaust tips, reflectors


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Engine

From a power standpoint, both are engines are more than enough for driving around on the street. That being said, once rolling the M2C’s torque advantage is noticeable over the RS3. It pushes you back in the seat under acceleration harder than the RS3 does. I’ve never used launch control so cannot comment on differences in standing start.

Transmission

Both dual clutch transmissions shift quickly. As a side note, if you are an Audi guy like me and coming from the dumbed down dual clutch transmissions in an S3 or S4, the RS3 is so much better than what’s in Audi’s S models its like it’s a different unit.

I always drive in manual mode so I could not comment on auto mode. Overall, I give the edge to the M2C because:

a) Its more refined than the RS3 (the 1st to 2nd shift in the RS3 is jarring, the 2nd to 1st shift when rolling up to a stop sign sometime gets delayed so jolts into 1st just as you are getting on the power to leave the stop sign).
b) The shift paddles are metal and the shift mechanism feels more solid. The RS3 has plastic paddles that feel like a video game when you press them – completely ruins the experience. If there was one thing I could have from the M2C in the RS3 it would be the transmission.


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Exhaust

I have coded out active sound on the M2C. As far as I am aware, there is no cabin sound in the RS3. In terms of the engineered sound (pops/crackles), apart from the start up in the RS3 (which sounds better than the M2C), there are no pops/crackles on throttle lift-off like there is in the M2C (sport+). Apparently the pre-facelift RS3’s had something like this but you need an aftermarket tune to get it back in the facelift models.

In terms of the natural sound of the engine, I prefer the RS3 sound from about 2k to 4k RPM – it has a nicer tone. However, at the top end of the rev range, the RS3 sounds like it is straining vs the M2C.


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Brakes

For driving around on the street, both brakes are similar. They both have a manageable amount of bite when initially pressing with a moderate amount of pedal which makes it easy to drive smoothly in traffic. They are both strong when you are fully on the pedal.

The RS3 has a known weakness with brake pad wear (not sure if they fixed this yet). I’m at 15,000 kms and I have 25% pad left – and that’s with just normal day-to-day city driving.

Suspension

The RS3 has adaptive suspension vs the fixed on the M2C so hard to directly compare. I usually drive in the soft setting in the RS3, but even comparing the hardest setting in the RS3 to the M2C, the M2C is a firmer ride. Although I like the fact the RS3 is more comfortable on downtown city streets in soft mode, I do feel the M2C has a better initial compliance to its suspension. When you first hit a bump in the RS3 it feels quite jarring vs the M2C which does a better job of absorbing the initial impact.


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Interior

Overall I like the interior of the RS3 better. I’m not a big fan of the M2C exposed carbon trim. I purchased my RS3 off the lot so I was stuck with the brushed aluminum trim which I also don’t really like, but at least you can get gloss carbon as an option from the factory.

I like the RS3 steering wheel better than the M2C. Its slightly thinner, smaller in diameter, has alcantara on the sides, and has a large flat bottom. Even the BMW performance steering wheel does not look as nice in my opinion as the bottom flat area is not as large as on the RS3.

I also prefer the Audi Napa leather over the BMW Dakota leather. Its smoother in texture and generally just looks better. The first time I sat in a BMW with Dakota leather, I asked the sales person if it was the synthetic leather – it felt that much inferior to the Audi Napa leather.

The M2C seats have adjustable side bolsters which hug you better. The RS3 sport seats are non-electric. Although they are not as snug as the M2C seats, they still hold you well and overall I feel they are more comfortable.


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Infotainment

In terms of the dash, the RS3 wins hands down with its full digital display. The central tach, shift lights, navigation map are everything you need and you can switch modes to show different information/full screen map. If there was one thing in the RS3 I could have in the M2C it would be the Audi virtual cockpit.

In terms of everything else, the M2C wins hands down. Connected, touch screen, larger/high res screen, better speech recognition, wireless Apple carplay make it a generation better than the RS3.

Miscellaneous

RS3 likes
-Seating for 5 people
-Has an electronic hand brake
-When you release the trunk it lifts up without having to lift it
-The transmission has automatic creep built in (I used to dislike this but its actually easier when driving in traffic with this)
-Comes standard with blind spot warning (but no lane keeping) vs the M2C which has lane keeping but no blind spot warning

M2C likes:
-Integrated homelink (this is not even an option on the RS3 – I guess Audi built the car for people in Europe that live in apartments and park on streets, total miss for the North American market in my opinion)
-Heated steering wheel


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Overall

Overall the M2C is the car that is more fun to drive. If I lived in a region that did not have snow, I would probably just own the M2C. As a year round daily driver, in terms of practicality (4 doors, seats 5, all wheel drive) the RS3 is the car to have.

Last edited by Craig8; 07-25-2019 at 07:11 PM..
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      07-23-2019, 09:03 PM   #2
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Thank you for this, these were the two cars I was torn between and I eventually chose the M2C. Based on your review its the right car for someone living in Cali. Awesome!
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      07-24-2019, 07:54 AM   #3
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Great review!

That digital display is very nice. It's visually more appealing when driving the fiancee's SQ5 than compared to the mundane dash on the M4.
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      07-24-2019, 08:38 AM   #4
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Excellent comparison. I had a hard time deciding between these two cars. I wish i can have both but i had to pick one. I am glad i went with the M2C
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      07-24-2019, 08:57 AM   #5
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Appreciate the review Craig!
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      07-24-2019, 11:43 AM   #6
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Was torn between these two also. Wife wanted the RS3 but M2C for me. I won the argument for currently having 2 sedans already. RS3 interior is nice though.
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      07-24-2019, 11:59 AM   #7
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Thanks for the review!
I was also having a tough time deciding between these 2, and the easy-tune nature of the RS3 and low 10 second 1/4 mile times with just a tune almost had me (my drag roots showing! )

As it turned out though, the MT option, RWD, and early reviews swung me hard to the M2. In 4k miles and 8 months, I haven't once thought I made the wrong choice...but if I do replace my other car, it might be an RS3 that replaces it
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      07-24-2019, 02:43 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Craig8 View Post

Miscellaneous

RS3 likes
-Seating for 5 people
-Has an electronic hand brake
-When you release the trunk it lifts up without having to lift it
-The transmission has automatic creep built in (I used to dislike this but its actually easier when driving in traffic with this)
-Comes standard with blind spot warning (but no lane keeping) vs the M2C which has lane keeping but no blind spot warning

M2C likes:
-The passenger side mirror automatically tilts down on reverse
-Integrated homelink (this is not even an option on the RS3 – I guess Audi built the car for people in Europe that live in apartments and park on streets, total miss for the North American market in my opinion)
-Ability to turn off the compass display on the rear view mirror


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Overall

Overall the M2C is the car that is more fun to drive. If I lived in a region that did not have snow, I would probably just own the M2C. As a year round daily driver, in terms of practicality (4 doors, seats 5, all wheel drive) the RS3 is the car to have.
Why do you prefer electronic parking brake?

Why is a flat bottom steering wheel preferred?
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      07-24-2019, 03:27 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by akkando View Post
Why do you prefer electronic parking brake?
Yes, I was curious on that too. My Audi has electric, and I hate it. I'd much rather have the manual with separate brake shoes than the lack of control and caliper expense of the electric.

...but maybe I'm missing a parking brake usage (other than the mandatory handbrake turns) where electronic excels?!
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      07-24-2019, 04:11 PM   #10
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If you are "accidentally" speeding the manual hand brake is useful in decreasing speed quickly without activating the brake lights. Some would say that it's useful in spinning the car around...kids don't try this at home :-).
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      07-24-2019, 04:40 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AlpsRider View Post
If you are "accidentally" speeding the manual hand brake is useful in decreasing speed quickly without activating the brake lights.
Oh yeah, I did that once In Mexico. Speeding, the no brake light rapid slowdown, accidental policía observation of said incident...
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      07-24-2019, 04:57 PM   #12
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Are those tires or pizza cutters on the rear of the RS3?
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      07-24-2019, 09:57 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by akkando View Post
Why do you prefer electronic parking brake?

Why is a flat bottom steering wheel preferred?

Electronic parking brake:

Aesthetically I like the cabin better with a small unobtrusive switch rather than a larger mechanical brake handle. Also the e-brake automatically disengages if you are in gear and give it gas. I've gotten so used to this, I've driven off with the hand-brake on in the M2C a couple of times.


Flat bottom steering wheel:

When I first saw pictures of these as they were being introduced on the Audi line, I thought it looked cool but other than that a bit of a gimmick. Having driven with it, I've grown to like the feel of the wheel when you are making a sharp turn like in a parking lot - its nice that as you turn the wheel you feel the flat bottom part rather than just a continuous circle. Not a major deal but given the choice I'd go with the flat bottom one.
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      07-24-2019, 10:30 PM   #14
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Thanks for the comparison - it seems quite balanced. I would have considered the RS3 but for the lack of a MT option. As with most Audis, beautiful interior.
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      07-25-2019, 07:30 AM   #15
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Very rare to see someone who owns both as usually it's one or the other between those two cars. Great to hear from someone that has driven and lived with both.
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      07-25-2019, 04:26 PM   #16
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As a former B7 RS4 owner, I really, really wanted to buy a RS3 - but Audi has neutered the RS line's aggressive body style so much in the last couple of iterations, I couldn't get past how little they differ from a S4. Add in the fact, they continue to refuse to bring over the Avant model and a MT, the M2 became more and more attractive.
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      07-25-2019, 04:35 PM   #17
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You forgot to mention the god awful screen that pops up in the Audi. What an ugly after thought.
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      07-25-2019, 11:21 PM   #18
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I prefer the look and feel of a nice round bottom over a flat bottom.

Good review.
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      07-26-2019, 03:27 AM   #19
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Good comparison, I have an S3 (not RS3) alongside my M2C. Here are a few of my observations.

- While I do not really mind not having it in the M2C as the M2C is not a true daily for me, the Audi does have the active cruise control (as an option) which is useful.
- The B&O sound system in the Audi is marginally better than the HK sound system in the M2C.
- The LED headlight is far far superior in the M2, granted the facelifted S/RS3 does have better LED headlights.
- In general, the NHV is superior in the Audi. I have been in an RS3 and I would say the NHV between the S3 and RS3 is similar apart from the louder engine / exhaust note in the RS3.
- In terms of the dynamic of the 2 cars, they are two completely different beasts. The handling of the Audi is very much one dimensional (eg understeer, with only a small degree of lift-off oversteer), we all know how good the M2 is in this department. However the Haldex based AWD system in Audi does give an immense amount of traction that the RWD M2 can only dream of. With regards to the adaptive damping on the Audi I am not a fan, it feels like it lacks slow speed compression damping which ruins the feel of the car during the initial turn-in weight transfer. The RS3 had the same feel to me.

All in all I would have thought the 2 cars target 2 very different sets of audiences but maybe not!
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      07-27-2019, 03:32 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 200sxr View Post
Good comparison, I have an S3 (not RS3) alongside my M2C. Here are a few of my observations.

- With regards to the adaptive damping on the Audi I am not a fan, it feels like it lacks slow speed compression damping which ruins the feel of the car during the initial turn-in weight transfer. The RS3 had the same feel to me.
Before the RS3 I had a pre-facelift S3. I made the mistake of getting H&R (street) lowering springs. The drop looked great but it really messed up the handling. Going over a bump at even a moderate speed felt like the car was being hit with a baseball bat as there was no initial compliance.
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      07-31-2019, 01:35 PM   #21
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Awesome, great having someone as unbiased as yourself run through the pros and cons of both cars. Super helpful.
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      08-17-2019, 09:48 PM   #22
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OP thank you for the write up.

I honestly considered getting the RS3 before settling for the M2c.

Test drove 2 RS3s, one belonging to a friend and the other at the dealer. It's so easy to drive fast and suspension felt more supple than my M3 in comfort.

Plus I have a kid now and the extra doors would be so handy since I'm used to it on the m3.

But most importantly, I live in the North East where AWD is the appropriate "tool" to get around.

However after much consideration, I felt like I was cheating myself going from a rwd car with amazing chassis to settle for a "tool" just because it's practical in more ways.

I've been driving rwd for over 20 years and even with very good snow tires, those days with over 10 inches of snow, it takes much effort to get around the city in comparison to the very few times I've taken other AWD cars in the household. Mind you 95% of those situations, I still ended up taking the rwd BMW. Theres a sense of joy, as if I accomplished something when I reached a location after much slipping and sliding. And then for the rest of the year, the rwd rewards you in more ways than one.

Anyway the above is just MHO but at the end, I wanted a car with smaller foot print that still brought out the joy inside from driving.

Hoping to collect the M2c next week so let's see if I'll still feel this way using it as my impractical daily.
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