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Audi S4 and BMW 335i x-Drive in the test: all-wheel drive with a lot of steam

Rossen Gargolov
Audi S4 and BMW 335i x-Drive in the test
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L ie snowy supermarket parking lots, white Flocked pass roads, stuck snow cover: you have to be patient. With the new all-wheel-drive version of the BMW 335i and its favorite rival Audi S4, it’s first off to Hockenheim - minus six degrees, sun, almost dry slopes. Accelerate once more before the wide summer rollers are finally mothballed.

The x-Drive and Quattro drive trains ultimately contain a lot of refinements for upscale entertainment on asphalt. For example in the Sachskurve. The Audi S4 is aiming for it with the full 333 hp of its supercharged V6, clicks from fourth to second with a snap of the finger when braking, to turn in in a flash and to draw a neutral curve radius from the variety of lateral and longitudinal forces.

BMW 335i relies on electronically controlled all-wheel drive

And that was only it half of the curve. If you step on the gas at the apex, you definitely know why you spent 950 euros extra on the sport differential. Its multi-plate clutches cleverly guide parts of the rear drive force to the wheel on the outside of the bend and suppress sluggish understeer in the approach. The Audi S4 stoically pulls its course and, if desired, even starts a gentle rear swivel that is easy to control even for inexperienced drivers.

Previously only entrusted with steering tasks, the front axle in the BMW 335i can now also drive and thus make life more difficult for the Audi S4. The former rear-wheel drive preachers have now rolled out their x-drive to 68 models down to the 1 series. Why? Because it's just fun.

In contrast to the Audi with its mechanically locking Torsen C center differential, BMW relies on an electronically controlled multi-plate clutch that freely distributes between zero and 100 percent of the power to the axles, depending on the driving condition. With 306 hp, the turbocharged in-line six-cylinder is somewhat weaker, which the BMW makes up for with enormous revving up to 7,000 rpm and around 100 kilos less weight. On the straights he stays easy, but in the winding Motodrom he has to stretch.

Audi S4 lays more jaggedly around the corner

Where the Audi S4 still snaps lightly, the BMW pushes 335i over the front wheels and leans more to one side. Even with full use of power, its rear can hardly be turnedPersuade to steer. In contrast to the previous model, however, the 3-way steering is now just as sensitive and precise as that of the rear-wheel drive. Despite the double-scrolling twin-scroll control, the BMW turbo does not respond as directly as the Audi compressor, and the smooth eight-speed automatic takes a little longer to deliver the cog than the seven-speed DSG.

Change of scenery, Swabian Alb. The smoother the road, the smaller the drive differences. The quiet 335i is just as easy to control as the jagged S4 on snow-covered side roads. In addition, the incredible traction is impressive. Provided that they have good winter tires, both of them can still shovel themselves out of snowdrifts that reach just under the license plate. The feeling of everything is going to be good is supported by stable brakes, assistance and luxury options at the upper class level and great suspension comfort. The stiffer Audi is more stable on long waves, while the adaptive dampers in the BMW are better at digesting short bumps.

Audi S4 only prevails very thinly

There are also minor differences in the body area. Despite the performance of a sports car, the all-wheel drive vehicles transport four adults very comfortably, with comfortable seats and large luggage compartments without any problems - it is hard to believe that the manufacturers each have two larger sedan series in their range. While the Audi S4 impresses with better material quality, the BMW is more intuitive to use. However, it cannot prevent the Audi from narrowly winning either with its lower consumption or with its lower base price. Adjusted for equipment, the Audi S4 is even cheaper.

Enough calculated and compared, the fresh snow cover finally needs to be used. Didn't we pass that pristine parking lot earlier?


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