The 2021 BMW M3 and M4 have been revealed ahead of an Australian launch in early 2021. These fire-breathers are, for many, the ultimate expression of Bavarian motoring might.

In Australia, the beast competes against some very well-credentialed competitors including the top-selling Mercedes-AMG C63 S, the Audi RS4 and RS5, and the Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio.

Then there’s the left-field Tesla Model 3 that we’ll detail separately at the bottom of the story.

Before we get a crack driving the BMW, here’s how it compares with its rivals on paper.

MORE: BMW M3 and M4 officially revealed, here early next year
MORE: BMW M3 – Evolution of an icon

Body types

The M3 sedan and M4 coupe have been revealed, and we know the first BMW M3 wagon has been confirmed to follow.

Mercedes-AMG covers the gamut by offering the C63 S in sedan, wagon, coupe, and soft-top bodies.

The Audi RS4 Avant is a wagon while the mechanically identical RS5 comes as a two-door coupe and four-door with liftback, while the Alfa Romeo Giulia Q is only a sedan.

BMW M3 and M4Mercedes-AMG C63 SAudi RS4, RS5Alfa Romeo Giulia Q
SedanYes YesYes
WagonYes YesYes


BMW is yet to reveal M3 and M4 pricing, but the previous F80 LCI grades retailed for between $130,000 before on-road costs (list) and taxes for the stripped-back Pure all the way up to $190,000 before on-roads for the manic CS.

The Mercedes-AMG C63 S costs from $166,000 list for the sedan through to $194,000 list for the convertible. The Audi RS4 Avant is $147,900 list and both RS5s are $150,900 list, while the Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifolgio costs $145,900 list.


The 2021 M3 and M4 again get a twin-turbocharged 3.0-litre inline-six. Peak power for the flagship Competition models is 375kW at 6250rpm and peak torque is 650Nm between 2750 and 5500rpm.

These grades use an eight-speed M Steptronic torque-converter automatic (no more dual-clutch) and rear-wheel drive (RWD). From later in 2021 there’ll be the option of M xDrive all-wheel drive (AWD) with a rear bias and an Active M differential to allocate torque between the back wheels.

The other side of the M3 and M4 coin is the purist’s choice: a detuned 353kW/550Nm engine with standard rear-wheel drive and a six-speed manual gearbox that can handle rev-matching on downshifts for you.

The Mercedes-AMG C63 S uses a 4.0-litre V8 with its turbochargers mounted between the cylinder banks. Power matches the BMW at 375kW (at a lower 5500rpm) while the greater displacement and cylinder count helps improve peak torque to 700Nm between 2000 and 4500rpm.

It’s mated to a standard nine-speed (AMG Speedshift MCT) automatic transmission with paddles and rear-wheel drive for our market, with an electronically actuated rear-axle differential lock helping tame the torque delivery – somewhat.

Ingolstadt’s finest, the Audi RS4 and RS5 family, use a twin-turbocharged V6 engine with a 2.9-litre displacement. It puts out 331kW at 5700rpm and 600Nm between just 1900 and 5000rpm.

It’s mated to an eight-speed ‘tiptronic’ torque-converter auto with paddles and a quattro AWD system that can send the bulk of engine torque to the rear axle in dynamic driving, controlled by a rear locking differential.

Finally, the Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio uses a 90-degree 2.9-litre twin-turbocharged V6 developed by Ferrari, and spawned from the Prancing Horse’s F154 CB V8. It matches the BMW and the Benz with 375kW of power (at a screaming 6500rpm), and makes 600Nm of torque between 2500 and 5000rpm.

The engine is mated to an eight-speed automatic with paddles, standard skid-friendly rear-wheel drive, and a limited-slip differential.

Rear-wheel drive keeps weight down, meaning the Italian Stallion manages the best power-to-weight here: 236.6kW per tonne (kW/t). More in the table below.

BMW M3 and M4Mercedes-AMG C63 SAudi RS4, RS5Alfa Romeo Giulia Q
InductionTwin turboTwin turboTwin turboTwin turbo
Max power375kW 375kW 331kW 375kW
Max torque650Nm 700Nm 600Nm 600Nm
Trans6MT or 8AT9AT 8AT8AT
Drive Rear or AWD RearAWDRear
Max power to weight220.5kW/t211.5kW/t184.4kW/t236.6kW/t


All four cars manage a best claimed 0-100km/h time of just 3.9 seconds, though heavier body styles like wagons and convertibles (the latter weightier due to requisite body stiffening) are generally a few tenths slower.

The rear-drive, manual M3/M4 are slower than the Competition, on account of the power gulf and transmission type. While rear-wheel drive cars aren’t as quick off the line as grippier all-wheel drive options, the Alfa Romeo is lighter, acting as the counterbalance.

All four can be had with active damping, meaning the ride characteristics can change from softer to firmer. Each also comes with various driving modes that adjust the throttle mapping, transmission shift points, and steering resistance to suit more comfort/eco, or sportier and track-focused driving.

The Alfa Romeo, Audi, and AMG can be upgraded with optional ceramic brakes for track use. With the BMW it’s not yet clear if this will be the case as well.


  • BMW: Adaptive M suspension
  • Audi: Dynamic Ride Control
  • Alfa Romeo: Alfa Active Suspension
  • Mercedes-AMG: AMG Ride Control


  • BMW: 275/35 R19 front and 285/30 R20 rear
  • Audi: 275/30 R20
  • Alfa Romeo: 245/35 R19 front and 285/30 R19 rear
  • Mercedes-AMG: 245/35 R19 front and 265/35 R19 rear
BMW M3 and M4Mercedes-AMG C63 SAudi RS4, RS5Alfa Romeo Giulia Q
0-1003.9 to 4.2 sec3.9 to 4.1 sec3.9 to 4.1 sec3.9 sec
Top speed km/hTBA250250307
Best fuel econ TBA10.49.4 8.2
Weights1705 to 1730kg1773 to 1926kg1685 to 1745kg1585kg


Click the pics to expand.

Tesla Model 3

We’ve separated the Tesla Model 3 Performance because, as an electric car, it’s a different proposition to these combustion competitors. But its performance is worth throwing into the mix, and its price is sharp.

  • Price: $101,857 before on-road costs
  • Electric power: 335kW and 640Nm
  • Drive: Dual-motor AWD
  • Transmission: Single speed
  • Weight: 1856kg tare
  • 0-100km/h: 3.4 seconds
  • Top speed: 261km/h
  • Power to weight: 180.5kW/t
Mike Costello
Mike Costello is a Senior Contributor at CarExpert.
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