Before you start sending us flaming e-mails complaining that a comparison between the 2008 Audi S5 and the 2008 BMW M3 Coupe is an obvious mismatch from the get-go, you should know a few things.
Our first full test of the $53,000, all-wheel-drive 2008 Audi S5 was a bit of a revelation. With a 354-horsepower version of Audi's direct-injection 4.2-liter V8 under its hood, the voluptuous Audi S5 ran a 13.3-second quarter-mile at 104 mph, just 0.1 second and 2 mph shy of the 420-hp 2007 Audi RS4 sedan. What's more, the S5's slalom speed is within a couple mph of the harsh-riding RS-spec sedan. "It ran a 13.3? With that kind of speed, who needs a $67,000 RS4?" we asked ourselves.
We believe so strongly in the 2008 Audi S5 that it earned our Inside Line's inaugural Editors' Choice Award.
So we acquired (hastily perhaps) another 2008 Audi S5 and set it against the new 2008 BMW M3 Coupe, a car now fortified with V8 power for the first time. Speed-reading the specifications sheets of these two cars, they seem like natural rivals: the 354-hp, all-wheel-drive 2008 Audi S5 measured against the 414-hp, rear-wheel-drive 2008 BMW M3.
But as it turns out, we gave the 2008 Audi S5 a bigger challenge than we had initially intended.