Who builds the quickest entry-level performance car?

When it comes to entry-level luxury performance cars today’s buyers are spoiled for choice. It can be hard to choose between the plethora of options, luckily the team over at Carwow has a solution, drag race them and buy the winner. 

Audi S, VW R, Mercedes AMG, and BMW M all have a performance version of the smallest vehicles offered by their respective brands. In the world of performance car proportions, smaller is usually better but which offering is fastest? 

Gallery: Watch Audi S3 drag race VW Golf R, AMG A35, and BMW M135i

Before we cover the winner, let's meet the contenders. First the brand new BMW M135i, which is powered by a new 302 bhp 4-cylinder engine borrowed from the X2 M35i SUV. Power is sent through an 8-speed automatic transmission that routes power to all four wheels using BMW’s X-Drive AWD system. 

Next, we have the A35 AMG, which is AMG’s newest entry-level performance vehicle. The A35 features a 302 bhp 4-cylinder engine mated to a 7-speed dual-clutch automatic that is tuned by AMG for quicker shifts. The A35 uses the Mercedes 4-Matic AWD system with an even 50/50 torque split between axles. 

Finally, we have the Audi S3 and VW Golf R. The Audi S3 represents Audi’s most affordable S model while the Golf R tops VW performance range. Both vehicles use a similar AWD setup and share the same 2.0-litre TFSI 4-cylinder engine but in Europe, the Audi S3 makes 306 bhp while the Golf R has to make due with only 296 bhp.

All of the contenders in this drag race have around 300 bhp 2.0-litre 4-cylinder engines, AWD, and automatic transmissions. These similarities make the result very predictable. In the end, it’s no surprise that the race results were within milliseconds of each other.

Source: carwow