Car and Driver Admits BMW Bias in Audi S4 Vs. 335i Comparo

Robert Farago
by Robert Farago

Normally, Car and Driver gets slated for gaming their comparos in BMW’s favor. In its November issue (har-har), the buff book pits the Audi S4 Quattro against the BMW 335i. The S4 pips the Bimmer at the post, taking first place, racking-up 229 vs. 223 points. The Audi wins even if you discount two “extra” points in the mag’s justly maligned “gotta have it” and “fun to drive” categories. But here’s the thing: the Audi S4 Quattro would have trounced the 335i if Car and Driver had matched the cars’ drivetrains (S4 has all wheel-drive vs. the Bimmer’s rear wheel-drive). It’s such a glaring inconsistency that K.C. Colwell pens a three ‘graph mea culpa sidebar. “Before you start cranking out toxic verbiage about our selection process, listen to our side of it. Audi’s competitive target for this S4 is BMW’s 335i xDrive (the all-wheel-drive variant). Don’t we, by the natural laws of the universe, have to compare the AWD S4 with BMW’s AWD version of the 335i, the so-called xDrive?” Minus the reader-dissing sarcasm, it’s a good question. The answer in two words: “We don’t.” The money shot (so to speak): “We think the 335i in rear-wheel-drive mode is the more compelling package. So why penalize the BMW just because the S4 only comes in all-wheel-drive?” Yeah, that wouldn’t be fair! Would it?

Robert Farago
Robert Farago

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  • Brock_Landers Brock_Landers on Oct 13, 2009

    This S5 (old V8 engine) vs 335i is the best review I've seen with these cars - i've driven both and I agree with 5th gear 100%. In Europe S4 is much more expensive than similary equipped 335i - about 10-15%.

  • Carve Carve on Oct 13, 2009

    The 335xi has lower performance suspension than the rwd version. It's just for people who have to sacrifice rwd for better snow performance. Again- it isn't BMW's fault that Audi decided to make their performance models AWD. Also, the S4 was significantly more expensive than the's almost getting closer to entry level M3 price. I own a 335, and nearly bought an A4 for my wife a few months back (it's probably a better daily driver- softer). They're both superb cars, and the S4 is a bit better. However, considering the current 3 series is nearing the end of it's design life while the Audi is brand new, and considering the 335i starts at about $10k cheaper, the 335i did remarkably well. Pretty amazing the S4 barely won with all those advantages.

  • Mpresley Mpresley on Oct 13, 2009

    I think you've got a C/D obsession. Lighten up. First, any comparo is going to have compromises. What about the Corvette v. Shelby Mustang? Pretty ridiculous inasmuch as the two cover different territory. But it's a read, and highlights two American icons. Their explanation of the Audi/BMW "mismatch" was straightforward, and pretty much rationalized upfront that apples to apples would have disfavored the BMW, even more. Besides, Audi is known for AWD, whereas BMW has always been known as a rear drive platform. So it makes sense. My only complaint--they criticized the rather reserved but nicely laid out interior of the BMW, stating it was too retro looking. The subdued interior is one of its best features, whereas Audi, usually a company with interior design taste, fell a bit flat in the latest S.

  • Mpresley Mpresley on Oct 13, 2009
    drifter :This is clearly and apples to peanuts comparison. Dedicated RWD vs p1mped up golf chassis? Why would you call the A4 PL-46 platform a Golf derivative? Perhaps you are confusing it with the PQ46 (latest Passat/CC) platform which is related to the Golf Mk5 platform (albeit larger). Or perhaps you just don't know what you are talking about.