Car magazine pits the mighty Mercedes-AMG C 63 against its fiercest rival, BMW’s ballistic M3 sedan. Mercedes seems to have the upper-hand. Why? It’s got a twin-turbo V8 as opposed to the M3’s downsized bi-turbo L6. Read on to find out why the Merc is the new king of four-door super-saloons.
Compared to the M3, the Mercedes-AMG C 63 has the advantage of a much more linear bloodline.
Most M3 generations tended to be street-legal competition cars – think Sport Evo, GT, CSL, GTR and GTS – while in the case of the C 63 AMG it was exactly the other way round with the likes of C32, C43, C55 and, ultimately, C63.
On the race-track, both cars charm you with a subtle handling balance and a readily accessible fusion of dynamic attitudes. Press on, and it’s the BMW that first rolls up its sleeves. After all, the M3 is not just about time-warping itself from corner to corner, it’s also about grand gestures, loud behaviour, an extrovert stance. By contrast, the C63 epitomises composure and civilised behaviour.
Performance-wise, these two compact supersaloons celebrate the high art of the dead heat. Acceleration? 0-62mph in 4.1sec. Top speed? Governed at 156mph; or 175mph (M3) and 181mph (C63) with the Driver’s Package box ticked. Fuel consumption? On paper, the BMW edges the Mercedes by 34mpg against 33.6. In real life, the gap widened to 17mpg against 14.8.
For one life cycle only, BMW did replace the straight-six with a V8, but for this fifth-generation M3 they’ve ruefully returned to the classic formula, for the first time in conjunction with a couple of turbochargers. The brand-new 3.0-litre engine develops 431bhp from 5500 to 7300rpm. The Merc’s 4.0-litre unit delivers 476bhp between 5500 and 6250rpm. Redlined at 7000rpm, the 32-valver cannot quite match the 7600rpm which marks the Game Over limit of the M3.
Having said that, the V8’s torque delivery flatlines from 1750 to 4500rpm, whipping up a mighty 479lb ft – 74lb ft more than the peak twist action generated by the M3, which spreads its oomph summit over an even wider 1850 to 5500rpm range. So why does the more potent Mercedes not outsprint the BMW? Because at 1640kg, it’s 45kg heavier. And because its transmission – a blend of wet take-off clutch and seven-speed automatic – does not shift quite as energetically as the M3’s seven-speed DCT.
The V8 wins the torque duel, but it’s the six-cylinder that manages a seamless transition from peak torque to peak power which merge at 5500rpm. At this point, you still have 1800rpm to play with, which keeps the adrenalin flowing and treats the ears to a beautiful noise. But while its powerband is broader and more explosive at the bottom end of the rpm range, the BMW gains zero ground over the smoother-shifting Mercedes.
How about the handling? Car magazine says Mercedes is nearly invincible in two areas: traction and deceleration. Even with stability control in Sport, you can floor the throttle ridiculously early, often well before the apex, often before opening up the steering. Although ESP will eventually step in and adjust the trajectory, it’s the mechanical rear diff that performs magic by feeding exactly the right amount of torque to the rear wheels at exactly the right time. The M3 is, in contrast, ragged and uncouth, but is also is more entertaining.
The C63 AMG crushes the M3. According to Car magazine, seldom has it been more difficult to crown a winner. The C63 AMG is the more complete all-rounder, less fuel-efficient but dynamically just as awesome, a quality piece of kit, punchy yet benign, homogenous but in no way lacklustre. If combining the best worlds is what you’re after, the Mercedes is the car to reach out for.
Source and photo credits: CAR Magazine