The Stig Drag Races 500+ HP Golf R Against the Tuned German Triad of Audi-BMW-Mercedes

Some say he sometimes drives fast, but only when he's in a car, and he gets distracted by setting up his car mid-race. All we know is he's called Ben Collins, he used to be the Stig on Top Gear's Clarkson-Hammond-and-May days, and he sits behind the wheel of a heavily tuned VW Golf R for an all-German-cars drag race. All courtesy of Mat Watson and his carwow YouTube Channel.
BMW M240i v AMG A45 S v Audi RS3 v VW Golf R 20 photos
Photo: YouTube/carwow
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Four high-performance cars built in Germany gathered for a showdown on a rainy day at an airfield in England. Sounds like the beginning of a novel, but it's not. It's carwow's 2000 hp challenge that brought these vehicles on the same day, at the same spot for quarter-mile and half-mile races.

Of course, Germany would never accept a drag race involving its automobiles unless (at least) one of the Unholy Trinity founding fathers was involved. I am, of course, talking about the reciprocal adversaries from the ABM club: Audi, BMW, and Mercedes (enumerated in strict alphabetical order here).

Mat Watson has a unique "German-only day at the track" type of event this time. It stars all three of the aforementioned piston-pounding brands. To make it four, the trio gave a wildcard to the German-most brand of automobiles in the world: Volkswagen. (It would be a sacrilege to have a Saxon engineering convention – read "full send drag race" – without holding a spot for the company that gave the world the illustrious Beetle).

VW Golf R
Photo: YouTube/carwow
So, without further ado, a VW Golf R, a Mercedes AMG A 45 S, a BMW M240i, and an Audi RS3 (in reverse alphabetical order) take their under-the-hood bouts out on the long straight. There is something special about the cars, even if it's not 50/50 obvious (visible from 50 feet away while the car is doing 50 mph/80 kph).

The already steroid-fed compacts have undergone various stages of tuning, so each has a much more impressive specs sheet than the factory sprouts from which they spawned. Going from the most heavily tuned to the least modified, here are the four contenders.

The VW Golf R - a hot hatch that bets it all on the time-proven two-liter inline-four turbo engine. Factory rated at 320 hp (316 PS) and 310 lb-ft (420 Nm), a Stage 3 tuning job took the engine to 530 PS and 630 Nm (523 hp and 465 lb-ft). To top all that off, the all-wheel drive VW Golf R weighs only 1.55 tons.

VW Golf R
Photo: YouTube/carwow
Now would be an appropriate time to mention that former professional racing driver and TV star Ben Collins drives this car for this event. I know, drag racing isn't real racing; all you do is hit the noise maker under the right foot, and the car does the work. But still, a racing driver in a super-jacked vehicle is something to have second thoughts about.

While those thoughts wash away, the BMW – driven by carwow's host himself – is second on the tuning hierarchy of the day. Its three-liter straight-six – which naturally yields 369 hp and 369 lb-ft (374 PS and 500 Nm) – also got a mechanical spell cast upon it. Not yet proven by the dyno, the new performance sheet estimates 454 hp (460 PS) and 480 lb-ft (650 Nm).

Eight speeds in the automatic serving, a torque converter, and all-wheel running abilities would make the BMW a serious sprinter. Unfortunately, it skipped its diets, and it happens to be the heaviest of the quartet, at a hair under 1.7 tons.

BMW M240i
Photo: YouTube/carwow
The Audi RS3 brings the brand's natural aggressivity to the track, as it never backs down from any race, no matter how outgunned, outpowered, or outcast it may be deemed. Five pistons, 2.5 liters (already we can see the half-a-liter-per-cylinder trend), 395 hp, 369 lb-ft (400 PS and 500 Nm), Quattro drive, seven-speed gearbox, and the Lord of the Four Rings is ready for a fight.

But there's more than just factory settings under its hood: mechanical wizardry (of which we'll mention just the methanol injection) boosts the firepower to 496 hp and 465 lb-ft (503 PS and 630 Nm, respectively). Also, it weighs almost 1.6 tons, just shy of the Golf's lowest body mass index.

Last on this list is the least special-prepped racer of the day; the AMG A 45 S received just a software tweaking of the ECU. But let's not forget it started from the highest factory peak power rating – 421 PS and 500 Nm (415 hp and 369 lb-ft). The AMG heritage runs through the hot hatch's body with two liters, four pistons, eight speeds, two clutches, and a permanent four-wheel-drive system.

Mercedes AMG A45 S
Photo: YouTube/carwow
Thanks to that engine control unit hacking, the five-door Merc puts down 496 hp and 450 lb-ft (503 PS and 610 Nm). However, although the power is identical to the Audi, it's also 110 lbs. heavier (50 kg). So, on paper, it would probably best be a 3:1 or 4:1 odds in this sprint series.

But drag racing also considers the vilest variable of them all – the human factor. A car is only as good as its driver. Calculations are worth a mathematical zero if the element between the seat and the steering wheel falls short.

Given all the above information, the unanimous opinion would be that the Stig-Golf R pair would nullify the contest. However, because Ben Collins somehow managed to push the wrong buttons at the wrong moments, the father-of-all-hot-hatches Volkswagen manages to not only finish last on more than one occasion but also come desperately far behind everyone else.

BMW M240i v AMG A45 S v Audi RS3 v VW Golf R
Photo: YouTube/carwow
It does make it up to its fans when the driver gets his head in the game. The highest power-to-weight ratio combo is evident when the Golf – although a snail off the line every single time – pulls away as if everybody else is standing still.

The pleasant surprise of the event is arguably the BMW – whose power is not scientifically determined – that stays very close to the rest of the bunch despite its overall size and low power rating. And it is the quickest off the line in all the races, thanks to that massive torque.

As for the RS3, the company's (in)famous inclination for not giving in to anyone is more than apparent in the roll race – it pulls away at the top end as if the race is just getting on. Something even Ben Collins appreciates, especially after the RS3 and the Golf R make it personal and keep pushing long after they blast across the finish line. I won't spoil the result for you; click play below and see what the result of that heated in-house German affair was.

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About the author: Razvan Calin
Razvan Calin profile photo

After nearly two decades in news television, Răzvan turned to a different medium. He’s been a field journalist, a TV producer, and a seafarer but found that he feels right at home among petrolheads.
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