By on April 24, 2008

07audirs4_05_hr.jpgNearly every time I turn in a review I get Farago hounding me that it's not manic and passionate as the RS4 review I wrote way back when. "But Bob," I argue "The [whatever] isn't as inspiring as the thunderous Audi." When I was over at Jalopnik, I got a chance to drive the then new Lexus IS-F for a week. And I loved it. Brash, powerful, stealthy and quite a capable corner carver, the IS-F is to Lexus as drunken orgies are to the Martha Stuart brand. But, the question I kept asking (both rhetorically and to other journalist buddies as we stood on the paddock at Laguna Seca) was, "How does the IS-F compare to the RS4?" Well friends, Web Rides TV has the answer, and I can't say I disagree.

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20 Comments on “Web Rides TV: Audi RS4 vs Lexus IS-F...”


  • avatar
    doctorv8

    No doubt they’re both fantastic rides, and I haven’t sampled the Lexus yet….but for my money, the gorgeous and still potent E39 M5 still has it all over these young whippersnappers.

    Looking forward to the upcoming 550+ hp blown CTS-V to shake up the super sedan pecking order a bit…

  • avatar
    Jonny Lieberman

    Again — the E39 M5 is an awesome car.

    But the RS4 blows it out of the water (sorry 00 it does).

    And the Lexus… well… watch the video.

  • avatar

    The lease on my IS350 can’t end soon enough. IS-F here I come.

  • avatar
    doctorv8

    JL, The RS4 incrementally edges it out in performance and of course AWD traction, but its undersized and (comparatively) cheap looking interior are out of place in a $70k+ german sedan.

    Either car is thrilling to drive….but the E39, esp when equipped with the luxury interior trim, which adds a leather dash and door panels to the standard Alcantara headliner, is a much nicer place to be.

  • avatar
    Jonny Lieberman

    doctorv8:

    You forgot handling.

    You can’t forget handling.

    But, i would LOVE to get your impression of the IS-F

  • avatar
    doctorv8

    Looking forward to sampling an F. Dealers around here aren’t offering any test drives….yet.

    Point taken about handling…try out an E39 with a Dinan suspension pkg…takes out some of the slop, and I guarantee you will be pleasantly surprised. Granted, you’ll never put the power down out a tight corner like you would in the RS4, though.

    Dunno which part of CA you are in, but I know a guy in San Diego with a full blown Dinan S3 M5 that you really should take a spin in!

    I know, stock vs modded…not a fair comparo, but in all honesty…who leaves their rides stock anyway? ;-)

  • avatar
    romanjetfighter

    It’s Martha Stewart, btw! :)

  • avatar
    thetopdog

    I have admittedly never driven an RS4, but I still can’t understand why it gets such good reviews. The performance figures are either beaten or matched by cars like the new M3, IS-F, even the E39 M5 to a certain extent. The car is way too expensive, and it doesn’t look that great (subjective, but a slightly more butch A4 isn’t doing it for me if I’m paying ~$70k). Not to mention that the car is extremely heavy, and the weight distribution is closer to that of a Sliverado than an M3

    I know numbers don’t say it all, but I can’t think of any good reason to even want to test drive an RS4 over the competition.

  • avatar
    Jonny Lieberman

    thetopdog:

    I don’t even know where to start.

    Oh right, with a test drive!

  • avatar
    SunnyvaleCA

    Bonus points go to the RS4′s highly entertaining stick-shift transmission.

  • avatar
    TeeKay

    thetopdog:

    The RS4 was Audi’s answer to the older M3, since the S4 it sent out to compete didn’t get the job done. (Although, in terms of cylinder count, size, power, performance, and price, I believe it was more of a competitor to the outgoing e39 M5.)

    Although expensive and boring in looks, it was an amazing machine. What’s not to like about 420 hp, high-revving (8,300 revs anyone?) V8, 4 doors, AWD, and a slick 6 speed gearbox? Keep in mind that the new M3, new Merc, and IS-F you mentioned didn’t appear until 2 years after the RS4.

    In a sense, it paved the way for all those compact, 4-door, 400+hp V8 machines we see on the street now. (Again, the e39 M5 might have been the better torch-bearer in this respect.)

  • avatar
    thetopdog

    Jonny Lieberman :

    I might try to get a test drive one of these days, although I’m not sure how easy it’s going to convince an Audi dealership to let me take one for a spin. Are they still in production?

  • avatar
    KnightRT

    Do you know what would be awesome? A video about cars where you could actually see the car. I seriously want to smack their post-production guy for this, and MTV for ruining an entire generation of movies. Is the RS4 so uninteresting that it can’t be shown in motion for more than 1/4 of a second at a time?

  • avatar

    Hear hear, KnightRT, I think the direction/editing on this video could have been a little tighter and focused more on the cars in action, doing their thing, without lots of weird filters and jumpcuts and a complete lack of real shots of the cars in action. Lousy crappy MTV is partially to blame, but I also think that maybe the director was a little too focused on the sizzle and forgot about the steak.

  • avatar
    guyincognito

    First off, for the price of a RS4 you could get an E39 M5 with coilovers and a 800whp twin turbo kit. Sure the rv steering gear is a let down but I’d take that any day. I have been lusting to drive an RS4 since Johnny’s review, though.

    Second, I don’t care if the Lexus could outrun a Veyron, I would never get a car that comes stock with fake exhaust tips.

  • avatar
    Bruce Banner

    @ guyincognito

    References please! I’d like to check those parts out.

  • avatar
    Brock_Landers

    RS4 has really no place in this segment. If you want the fastest car on track with a stick shift – then it’s M3. If you are sometimes lazy and want to cruise in auto mode and occasionally trash the car in ultra-quick paddle shifting mode then its ISF. If you like understeer, bad weight balance, constant tire squeal from your front tires and you think that Audi’s quarter century old rally victories have something to do with current production models – then RS4 is for you. I’d drive my Volkswagen’s at night :)

  • avatar
    guyincognito

    @ Bruce Banner :

    I know of custom systems but check Horsepower Freaks. They are developing a kit right now. It should be on sale soon.

  • avatar
    rprellwitz

    I don’t think there is anyway to say one of these cars is clearly “better” than the others.

    DoctorV8 – I love your devotion the the E39 M5 – I recognize your moniker from the Gustav’s M5 Board – and this is still my favorite car. Clearly more luxurious than the others being reference its aged electronics and anemic brakes (mine overheated into turn 8 at Road America sending me into the kitty litter) are its only real drawbacks. Stoptech’s on all 4 corners made track days enjoyable but not up to the m3

    E46 M3 – Interior and sound system are dismal in comparison to the M5 or even the RS4 – and the lack of four doors in the E46 variant makes it problematic with children. The SMG and nearly perfect balance made it an amazing track car and the most fun drive.

    RS4 – Nav that works – Bluetooth phone linking are huge plusses day to day. The brakes are fantastic (in dramatic comparison to the M5) Handling is fantastic as is the prodigous power from the engine. Not quite as fun to drive as an E46 M3 except……when the snow flies – mix AWD, Blizzaks, 420 hp and 4+ inches of snow and the RS4 becomes truly amazing – steering can be done with subtle inputs on the wheel and much less subtle inputs of the right foot – with the ESP defeated the RS4 is amazingly easy and fun drive in horrid conditions.

    Each car has its virtues and vices – i sampled each for a minimum of 2 years – not sure what the RS4 replacement will be but both this IS-F and the new M3 seem very intriguing…

  • avatar
    doctorv8

    rprellwitz,

    I don’t consider the M5 a track car; that’s what my Z06 is for. And I don’t live in the snow belt, so the extra weight of the RS4′s AWD is of little use.

    Oh….and you can get a Bluetooth module for the E39! ;-)

    Congrats on having owned both…


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