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Audi R8, BMW M3, Porsche 911 test: from flaneur to piste pig

Hans-Dieter Seufert
Audi R8, BMW M3, Porsche 911 in the test
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M al assumed, You would have to commit to a single car for the next few years. So without a second car option or other back door. What would you choose? As a sports car fan, cozy comfort rockers or brave loading kings would of course not have a chance. But let a testosterone athlete yell at you every morning? From someone who vibrates you to grind after long working days or forces you to amuse strangers with acrobatic entry-level contortions?

It would probably result in someone who is up for fun, goes at full speed, but also knows when it's good. Types such as the mid-engine gentleman Audi R8, the high-revving coupé BMW M3 or a Porsche 911. Since its debut in 1963, the 911 has symbolized the everyday sports car par excellence. And that has not changed in the seventh generation either.

Porsche 911 Carrera S engine shuns daylight

Ten centimeters more wheelbase and a wide center console give the cockpit of the Porsche 911 Carrera S. Panamera opulence at least at the front, while the new seats lock even tall drivers perfectly positioned behind the wheel. The thoroughly solid materials also erase last memories of Porsche's savings era in the nineties. The only disappointment is the view under the trunk lid. Porsche's engines are increasingly shying away from the daylight, but what can be seen of the current six-cylinder looks as spectacular as a refrigerator from behind.

Far more exciting is what happens when you first press the accelerator pedal. Accompanied by the cheering boxers, the Porsche 911 Carrera S jumps to 100 km /h in 4.1 seconds, only to give in to driving resistance beyond 300. Future turbos or GT variants will have to stretch quite a bit. In addition, because the new electromechanical steering enables the Porsche to be steered lightly and precisely and remains controllable even on wet roads. Despite significantly reduced understeer at the entrance to the curve, veteran 911 drivers don't have to change. Due to the rear-heavy weight distribution, turns are still braked hard to get more grip on the front axle. The rear-wheel drive car can then be sensitively balanced using the accelerator pedal in order to benefit from its enormous traction when exiting a curve.

Porsche 911 Carrera S can bite andrelax

But the Porsche 911 Carrera S doesn't just bite. With the PDK selector lever set to D, the 2 + 2 strolls off in a deeply relaxed manner, shifts up early and without jolting in order to protect the ear canals of its passengers in the long seventh gear. Smooth adaptive dampers and active motor bearings also effectively absorb shocks and vibrations. At the traffic lights, it becomes as quiet as a mouse when the start-stop system switches off the 3.8-liter direct injection.

Its low consumption is also thanks to the clever control system that disengages the clutch in push mode to avoid any kinetic energy to cheer in the engine brake. The cautiously moving auto motor und sport standard lap was completed by the Porsche 911 Carrera S with an astonishing 7.8 liters /100 kilometers and thus on the level of everyday compacts from the nineties.

The Audi R8 doesn't know restraint

The Audi R8 has nothing to do with restraint. Its 10.6 liter minimum consumption easily keep pace with the extroverted appearance. He is the only one to combine the Italian mid-engine race with Teutonic perfection. Just the sight of the now 430 hp mechanical work of art behind glass opens the hearts and wallets of sports car fans. And then there is this pilot's cockpit with its bucket seats set far back and an open shift gate in which a small metal lever clicks. The fact that Audi currently does not have a test car with a rough, sequential R-Tronic in its fleet is easy to get over: the R8, which has been built since 2006, looks fascinating and fresh as a switch, even if every A4 now has a more modern infotainment system on board.

As martial as the appearance, as tame the manners: With a broad torque base, smooth steering and limousine-like ride comfort, the R8 takes bumpy roads and switchbacks equally confidently. If you set the pace, you shouldn't let yourself be lulled: Due to the rear-heavy power distribution of the all-wheel drive, the aluminum rear section twitches even with activated ESP, before the viscous clutch gives a small amount of thrust forwards and pulls the load straight. But the Audi does not storm through the test program completely free of allure: The six-piston brake calipers bite violently into the mighty ceramic discs with the slightest pressure on the pedal, which makes a harmonious driving style difficult.

Long braking distances at low temperatures

However, the long braking distances of the Audi R8, Porsche 911 Carrera S and BMW M3 in wet conditions and on one side smooth surface (µ-split) are not to apply the brakes. Rather, the tires are having a hard time with the low outside temperatures at the time of the test. Regardless of the season, the R8 does not push away long bumps exactly at high speeds anddistributes short bumps up to the steering. In addition, the 4.2-liter direct injection does not respond so unconditionally compared to the Porsche 911 Carrera S and BMW M3.

Responsiveness? Welcome to the world of the M3. Eight individual throttle valves as well as the variable control of inlet and outlet valves (double vanos) let the 420 PS V8 snap like the fingers of a pinball machine. Even with the slightest twitch of the big toe, the full aluminum four-liter goes all out to trumpet up to 8,400 rpm if necessary. And first of all the slurping suction noises and the delightful load change smacking - wonderfully incorrect like its matt black paint or the power dome cathedral on the bonnet. The changing of the guard announced for 2013 with a fuel-efficient six-cylinder turbo has a very difficult legacy.

Dream engine and large-scale series functionality in the BMW M3

Especially since the four-seater M3 can't even be left behind. With a perfect 50:50 weight balance, light carbon roof and the lowering included in the competition package, it defies its higher center of gravity in order to wag around pylons and curves just as quickly as its flatter sports friends. When ESP is deactivated, there is no need for great persuasion to seduce the M3 into wonderfully expansive and controllable drifts. With so much lateral dynamic sensitivity, only the bulging steering wheel and the too high seating position bothers. On the other hand, its origins from the mass-produced 3 Series gives it a lot of extra points: Instead of complimenting passengers on the cat bench (Porsche 911 Carrera S) or in the taxi (Audi), the BMW takes them on the journey on a comfortable back seat, thanks to 430 liters of luggage space In addition, not every pair of shoes is discussed on the weekend trip.

Together with its much lower base price, the M3 almost takes victory. The combination of dream engine and mass-production functionality makes the competition quite sweaty. The glamorous R8 comes in third, but with its comfortable, unobtrusive style, it also passed the everyday test outlined at the beginning. However, no one spans the curve from city promenadeers to piste hotspur as skilfully as the Porsche 911 Carrera S.


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