With many miles and al­most as many numbers crunched, it’s time to pick a win­ner


David Vi­vian plays de­liv­ery driver for a £271,000 Aven­ta­dor S. It needs driv­ing from Lam­borgh­ini’s Sant’agata fac­tory to the UK, and with a con­ti­nent-crush­ing 730bhp from its nat­u­rally as­pi­rated V12, that shouldn’t be a prob­lem. It’s never that sim­ple with Ital­ian su­per­cars, though, is it?

WE WERE EX­PECT­ING THE ar­gu­ments to rage for days over this one, but in the fi­nal reck­on­ing, the fin­ish­ing or­der proved to be eas­ier to settle on than we ever imag­ined. That’s not to say the end re­sult wasn’t sur­pris­ing…

It’s of­ten dif­fi­cult to shake off pre­con­cep­tions when putting to­gether tests like this, par­tic­u­larly when it comes to fast Audis, but the lat­est RS5 turned our ex­pec­ta­tions on their head. It’s the RS5’S wide band­width of abil­i­ties that’s truly as­ton­ish­ing; at the touch of a but­ton it can be turned from the GT car Audi claims it to be to a steely cored per­for­mance coupe.

‘Slowly but surely, it be­comes ap­par­ent that this is a se­ri­ous car,’ says Towler. ‘Its per­for­mance is in­stant and sav­age, but it’s the so­phis­ti­ca­tion of its damp­ing – the same qual­ity that makes it such an easy car to live with – that is the key to its real-world pace.’

If there’s a crit­i­cism, it’s that the Audi lacks in­stant ac­cess to thrills. There’s ex­cite­ment there, but you have to dig a lit­tle deeper to find the qual­i­ties that make you ap­pre­ci­ate it more. Does it do enough to top­ple the Mercedes-amg C63 S? Yes, but by the nar­row­est of mar­gins.

Make no mis­take, we love the bom­bas­tic and en­ter­tain­ing C63 S, par­tic­u­larly its fire­cracker of an engine – the twin-turbo V8 is one of the best in the busi­ness. Yet while its in­stant-grat­i­fi­ca­tion fun is hard to re­sist, its abil­i­ties are a lit­tle un­even in this com­pany, and its hefty kerb weight means it is the slow­est at the track (and thirsti­est at the pumps). Fac­tor in its poor cabin build and a hefty £7485 pre­mium over the next cheap­est car here and its fate be­hind the Audi is sealed. Barker sums it up nicely: ‘Over­all, it doesn’t feel as well re­solved or as en­gag­ing as the other two. It has the most at­ten­tion-grab­bing ex­haust note, but in this com­pany Mercedes is sell­ing the siz­zle, not the sausage.’ Quite.

So where does that leave the M4? Way out in front is the short an­swer. It’s taken BMW a while, but this 2018MY Com­pe­ti­tion Pack­age ver­sion is the car the M4 should have been from the start. From its near-per­fect weight dis­tri­bu­tion to its pared-back kerb weight, the fast and fun BMW feels like a car that’s been de­vel­oped with the driver’s best in­ter­ests at heart.

‘It has an au­then­tic­ity to it that cuts through the chal­lenge of the other two,’ says Towler. ‘It shines brightly pretty much all the time. What­ever the mood, what­ever the jour­ney, the M4 feels like an event, like a real per­for­mance car, like a car to covet and trea­sure.’ Like a win­ner.

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