Tête-à-tête: Mercedes-AMG C 63 S versus Alfa Giulia, BMW M3, Cadillac ATS-V

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Mercedes-AMG C 63 S and BMW M3 rule the power sedans’ arena. Can the new Alfa Giulia Quadrifoglio and Cadillac ATS-V claim their spots at the top of the segment? First comparison test via Auto Bild.

In the middle of the nineties, the M3 was the only true authority in its segment and it has defended this supremacy excellently until today. However the attacks have become recently not only more numerous, but also more elaborate. First the AMG C 63 S, shortly thereafter the ATS-V and now comes the Giulia Quadrifoglio.

The comparison becomes even more explosive once the engine specs roll out before our eyes. The AMG is clearly leading the pack with four liters of displacement, eight cylinders and 510 hp and 700 newton meters, but also the highest unladen weight (1739 kilograms). Just behind it is the Giulia, which squeezes 100 Newtonmeter less from its V6 engine, but develops the same power: 510 hp. In addition, the Italian uses carbon fiber for the hood, roof and sills, which brings the weight down to 1,675 kilos. Also the Cadillac has its hood carved in aluminum, but cushions its edges with a bit more high-strength steel, enough for it to score 1,733 kilograms. The ATS-V has to do with 3.6 liters, biturbo supercharging, 470 hp and 603 newton meters. And the M3? The least impressive on paper with 450 hp and 550 newton meters., courtesy of a biturbo L6.

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No reason to worry. On one hand, the M3 compensates for a portion of the power shortfall by means of reduced weight (1,625 kg). On the other hand, this class is no longer ruled by maximum output, but rather by how this power is utilized. Nowadays, the ingredients which matter are adaptive suspension systems, active rear axle locks, as well as more or less sensitive electronic helpers, which should additionally channel the power. So the decisive question is: Who is using its weapons most effectively?

Let us begin with the weapons of Giulia Quadrifoglio, who conceals a truly rigid chassis underneath its lovely looking body. Biturbo V6 with Ferrari genes, optional ceramic brakes all around, semi-slick tires and the well-known fast eight-speed ZF automatic gearbox, which costs 2,250 euros. And the best piece is mounted at the end of the carbon fiber cardan shaft, and changes the performance of Giulia quite significantly from that of its competitors. Simply put, BMW, Cadillac and AMG each use active multi-disc differentials that synchronize the rear wheels from zero to one hundred percent. The Giulia, on the other hand, has two clutches on its rear axle, with which the Alfa can not only lock, but also actively distribute the torque. The system is called Torque Vectoring. Even so, the rear axle tends to shake again and again during fast maneuvering.

However, up to 1500 rpm, the engine is still relaxed, then the torque shoots at full rating. Effective, crystal clear and energetic. The V6 is is all the more vehement. Also because of the eight-speed converter automatic box with fast reactions and tense gear changing. And the automatic gearbox has yet another advantage: it gently pre-sets the torque at start. Alfa has also worked on sensitivity, coefficient of friction, surface. The Giulia is able to go up to 200 km / h in seven seconds and this lightning fast propulsion doesn’t stop revving until 7600 rpm, nevertheless.

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Quite in contrast to the Cadillac’s biturbo V6, which is certainly emitting at loud frequencies, the BMW loses itself under full load more and more in the continuous noise of its turbos. And you can tell this: the agile, but also dull responses to load commands, which always feel as if you are stepping in winter boots on the gas. An element in common is the eight-speed automatic gearbox. It basically controls only two driving states; the casual big city cruising in the converter’s hitch or nimble full-load switching in close proximity to the limiter.  With 4.3 seconds to 100 km / h the Caddi sprints well. After that, however, he has to yield, because it lands in 14.7 seconds to 200 km/h.

The AMG C 63 S chisels with the vehemence of 700 Newtonmeters through the speed band and thus offers the most impressive motor spectacle. The AMG has a number of particular signs: the explosive torque, the limited traction and, above all, the automatic gearbox. The tight damping harmonizes perfectly with the stiff kinematics, the suspension behavior is just as spontaneous as it is precise. The steering is almost a little too nonchalant towards the apex, but it conceals a part of the mass inertia, which is naturally attached to the 1.74-tonner, while the front, sometimes in the course of the curve, acts quasi as a circle tip around which the tail can be pivoted around. The active rear axle lock still does not work as intuitively as you would like it to be.

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The fact that active differentials can be more harmoniously balanced, on the other hand, is shown by the ATS-V, which steers much more effective than its American roots would suggest. It leaves by far the most massive driving feeling with its first-class locking mechanism as well as the best traction control in its class, via a total of five different handling modes. The ATS-V seems to have caught a damn good day.

The Giulia leaves by far the most delicate driving feeling. It curves surprisingly agile and is so quiet in the fast corners. The chassis dampens in sports position, which is unfortunately only conditionally compatible with the rather soft guided suspension. Instead of slipping smoothly, the Giulia pumps and stamps around as if you were riding a bulging medicine ball. But please do not misunderstand: the Giulia is not that slow. On the contrary! Compared to the AMG, it is more confident. Compared to the Caddi, it is much more effective on the straights. The better of two worlds, which ultimately leaves both behind. 

However, the M3 continues to impress. Power and traction, handling and balance, action and reaction, everything interlocks in a coherent way, acts fine-tuned and sharpened in its contours thanks to the competition package. The double clutch gearbox is fast, the ceramic brakes are not as snappy as the Giulia’s, but with more feeling, while the tires themselves offer excellent grip. Actually a well-deserved victory of the M3…

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To take up the question formulated at the beginning: No, the Giulia can not beat the M3. It is close and even superior in longitudinal dynamics, but in the sum of all qualities it is by no means as well-balanced as the Munich machine, which with its optional competition package almost becomes a kind of dynamic art work. On the M3, everything is just right: the athletic drive, the agility, the finest balanced handling, the great traction, the intensive feedback. Yes, it is expensive, but its price is also worth it. However, the performance level in the middle class has never been as high as today. Three second places, each one highly deserved. The Giulia is lost in everyday life, the ATS-V weakens in the longitudinal dynamics, while the AMG once again struggles with the traction that is not always up to its gigantic punch.
 Alfa Romeo Giulia QVBMW M3Cadillac ATS-VMercedes-AMG C 63 S
EngineV6, biturboR6, biturboV6, biturboV8, biturbo
Displacement (cmc)2891297935643982
Max. power/revs (HP/rpm)510/6,500450/7,000470/6.500510/5.500-6.250
Torque (Nm/rpm)600/2.500550/2.350-5.500603/3.500700/1.750-4.500
TractionRear-wheel driveRear-wheel driveRear-wheel driveRear-wheel drive
Transmission8 speed automatic7 speed double clutch aut.8 speed automatic7 speed automatic
0-100 km/h (s)3,94,04,34,1
Top speed (km/h)307280304290
Lenght/Width/Height (mm)4639 / 1873 / 14264671 / 1870 / 13834673 / 1811 / 14154756 / 1839 / 1426
Wheelbase (mm)2820281227752840
Trunk volume (l)480445381435
Price (euro, GER)71.80080.30075.40084.550

Source: Autobild.de