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Audi RS5 vs BMW M3 vs Mercedes C63 AMG vs Lexus ISF in evo Issue 151

Brit auto enthusiast magazine evo tested two V8 coupes and two V8 sedans – all directly comparable – for issue 151. The whole issue, in fact, was obsessed with speed, so a comparison test with an average horsepower output of 439 seemed fitting. As you’d expect, evo‘s editors favoured the BMW M3 Competition, but the Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG was well-loved. Surprisingly, the 2011 Lexus ISF has always been well-received by evo, surprising if only because Lexus has really only ever attempted to do hardcore sportiness twice; once with this car and once with the Lexus LFA. Placing fourth in a comparison test of four cars isn’t flattering, but the 2011 Audi RS5 was lauded for its engine and terrific build quality.

More curious than the RS5’s last-place finish in the road test was its first-place finish on the Bedford Autodrome’s West Circuit. Besting the Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG by about two seconds on a short “1.8 miles of fast and technical tarmac” isn’t easy for a less-powerful car. Moreover, beating the 2011 BMW M3 Competition (Frozen Gray, remember?), even by a tenth of a second, is equal to usurping the Crown.

But hold on one second. The text of evo‘s laptime article, written by Roger Green, is consequential. Words like, “It’s last, by a long way”, from John Barker’s comparison test fade into the background as Green complements the Audi RS5’s brakes and transmission and its speed through O’Rouge and Tower corners. But Green also states that the RS5 cedes poise and fluidity to lateral grip and traction, that it lacks adjustability and is slow through hairpin turns because of the heavy front end.

With the Lexus and Mercedes-Benz bagged, the BMW M3 Competition’s “balance is just so”, the steering said to be best-in-test, and the sort of adjustability and grip “that means you never need miss an apex.” So how did the very fast and very capable BMW M3 fail to lap faster than the Audi RS5? Blame it on brakes.

Ah, but hasn’t BMW been keen to improve the brakes of their M-badged cars of late? Indeed, but these brakes are fitted to the hard-driven evo long-term M3. They were fading on lap one. evo has lapped a BMW M3 a whole second faster than the Audi RS5 in the past. 

Most assuredly then, a fine-fettled BMW M3 Competition would likely take the Audi RS5 by a hefty measure. Before you look at the laptimes and performance data, keep prices in mind. The Audi RS5’s price-as-tested in the UK was £74,510. evo‘s BMW M3 Competition is a £64,885 car, the Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG slightly less-expensive at £64,025. These three make the Lexus ISF look like a bargain at £56,540.

0-60 mph figures and laptimes can be seen after the jump.

Audi RS5: 0-60 mph in 4.3 seconds
BMW M3 Competition: 0-60 mph in 4.3 seconds
Lexus ISF: 0-60 mph in 4.7 seconds
Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG: 0-60 mph in 4.4 seconds

Audi RS5: 0-100 mph in 10.6 seconds
BMW M3 Competition: 0-100 mph in 10.3 seconds
Lexus ISF: 0-100 mph in 10.9 seconds
Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG: 0-100 mph in 9.7 seconds

Audi RS5: 0-140 mph in 23.6 seconds
BMW M3 Competition: 0-140 mph in 22 seconds
Lexus ISF: 0-140 mph in 23.6 seconds
Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG: 0-140 mph in 19.1 seconds

Audi RS5: 100-0 in 4.2 seconds/285 feet
BMW M3 Competition: 100-0 in 4.3 seconds/300 feet
Lexus ISF: 100-0 in 4.4 seconds
Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG: 100-0 in 4.5 seconds/321 feet

Bedford Autodrome West Circuit Laptimes
Audi RS5 – 1:26.9
BMW M3 Competition – 1:27
Lexus ISF – 1:28.1
Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG – 1:28.8

Related From
The BMW M3 Should Look Like This – Brabham Racing BMW M3
Sporty Luxury Car Sales In America – October 2010
Small/Entry Luxury Car Sales In America – October 2010
Top 10 Best-Selling European Cars In America – October 2010
Audi RS5 Fuel Economy By Car & Driver

  1. When I have the money to purchase one of these vehicles, as this class of car is my favorite due to its mix of ultra performance and relative practicality, I will not make my decision on imperceptible things like being 0.1 seconds faster around a track, or even being 3 seconds faster, unless I planned on racing that car for money and possessed the driving skills to squeeze out tenth of a second differences.

    I really wonder, is the main reason why the average person buys this class of car is for 1 second faster lap times over another car?

    I would guess that for the vast majority of people who actually buy this car, and text drive each one of the four, the decision on which to buy will be based entirely on emotion and feeling, not cold numbers.

    I know that is what my decision would be based on.

    I have not test driven any of the above vehicles, but from just extensive online research and daydreaming, if I had to take one right now, it would be the IS F as it knocked me out when I first saw it in person, it has the most high tech and cool looking interior, and most of all just appeals to me personally the most.

    I am very curious to know what main factor others would base their decision on for purchasing any of these four cars. Surely the MAIN deciding point cannot be 2 seconds of speed advantage on a racetrack? Surely.

  2. I don't care about one tenth of a second but on the other hand you can't say this stuff doesn't matter. If it didn't matter, nobody would buy fast cars. "Oh your car does 0-60 in 5 and mine does 0-60 in 12 but since speed doesn't matter I don't care". Ah, seven seconds matters. The line has to be drawn somewhere. One person says I want the fastest car. Another says fast cars are important to me. The third person says speed would be nice, but not necessary. The fourth says if i Can afford speed I'll take it. The fifth says, I just can't be bothered. The sixth says acceleration kills. Yeah, the first person cares about a tenth, the second wants to but doesn't, the third cares about a second or two difference, the fourth reads about it but it will never effect him, the fifth does't know and the sixth intentionally buys slow cars. It matters, but it matters different amounts to different people.

  3. @JRose

    I understand your points and that the line has to be drawn somewhere.

    For the cars specifically mentioned here, regarding real world buyers, I would bet only 1% base their buying decision on the tenths of a second differences in speed and performance among those cars, or any of the other cold numbers. The other 99% have to be deciding which one to buy with emotion playing by far the biggest factor.

  4. For some people, speed matters, and for some people luxury matters more. for me i think if youre buying a car for 50,000 dollars it doesnt matter which car is .01 faster, i think what matters most which car is more luxurious, more bang for buck, and which is most reliable. I mean for the bmw it can serve you a couple years and thats that, then it will be in the shop constantly. Same with the merc, which to me has the most horid interior out of all these cars. Audi is ok but for me lexus would be that one car that is perfect

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