Shootout: BMW M5 vs Mercedes-AMG E63S
Shootout No. 202
Price OTR Mumbai: Rs. 1,70,38,575/- (Mercedes-AMG E63S), Rs. 1,78,07,499/- (BMW M5)
If luxury and features are a priority pick the AMG E63S otherwise the M5's performance is insane
The Germans have been at it for years, fighting it out for top honours in the super saloon category. Ironically, both Mercedes and BMW have brought out the new generations of their go-fast sedans around the same time. Both follow the same formula of taking four people in comfort with their luggage, while not really attracting much attention, and doing it at lightning speed, thanks to a lot of pooooower. But which side are you on? This is a battle of Stuttgart vs Munich, Mercedes vs BMW, all over again!
Styling - Both the cars here have a matte finish adding to their sporting character. Mercedes and BMW have ensured that they change their high-performance saloons slightly but effectively over their standard counterparts. This strategy works well for neither of the cars look too brash or too plain.
Both the cars are based on their standard sedan versions
In making the E-class sportier, Mercedes-AMG hasn't forgotten in retaining the elegance normally associated with the E. The dual DRLs on each of the headlights, the long crease that extends from the front to back and the large chrome strip at the back flanked by sleek taillights on either side give this an unmistakably Mercedes look. The AMG has worked its magic with a more pronounced grille, aggressive bumpers, quad exhausts, jet black alloys which goes well with the grey paint.
The M5 ends up looking less dramatic. It has all the design credentials to distinguish it from the standard 5, it is just not as impactful as the E63S. Still one can like the treatment given to the bumpers, the carbon fiber roof, the black kidney grille and the tailpipes which look more traditional than the ones on the E63S. Colours are very subjective, of course, but we reckon the M5 would look better in 'Marina Bay Blue Metallic'
Interiors - Step inside and both cars will greet you with well-appointed albeit very different interiors. The BMW feels more tech-savvy and distinctly more driver-focused than the cabin on the Mercedes-AMG. The layout remains the same as the standard 5-Series but that red switchgear, carbon & aluminium inserts, the illuminated logo on the headrest and those large bucket seats make it feel like a car designed to smash the autobahn.
The E63S' interior feels more luxurious with the carbon-fiber inserts
The E-Class has a richer interior ambiance and is slightly ahead of the BMW when it comes to material quality. The fusion of classic elements like the nifty clock in the center with more modern large screens gives the cabin an analog character without feeling dated. What lets the experience down a bit is the infotainment system which feels nowhere as responsive and easy to use as the one in the BMW.
The E63 is better equipped than the M5, not only do you get a sunroof, you get 360-degree parking camera, dual 12.3-inch screens on the dashboard and even ventilated seats. The AMG is also the roomier car here, this in spite of being based on the short wheelbase version of the E-Class. Not much to choose between the boots of these vehicles but if equipment is what you seek, Mercedes is a step ahead here.
Performance - Now we are talking, both cars are so similar yet so different because both employ V8 engines with twin-turbos, channeling power to all four wheels as both employ 4-wheel drive now to put those 600 odd horses to good use. The Mercedes has an outright advantage here because we are comparing the E63S with the M5 (not the M5 Competition which is more apt to take on the S variant of the E63). Thus, the M5’s 4.4-litre unit might be on par when it comes to power but is down on torque by 100 Nm.
The M5’s torque disadvantage is nullified by the weight saving done by BMW as the M5 is 135 kgs lighter thanks to the use of CFRP. Thus, both cars zip from naught to 100 in just 3.4 seconds, they have an identical top speed too at 250 km/hr (limited) which can be opened up to 300 km/hr by opting for a package. But that’s where the similarities end as the 4.0-litre AMG unit has an entirely different character when compared to the BMW.
BMW has replaced the M5's dual clutch transmission with a torque converter
The M5 feels more alive right from get go, lag, what is that? There is none of that wait for the turbo to spool up nonsense here, just get on the gas and bang, the BMW is right in action. Power delivery is linear, it’s immediate, it doesn’t feel force fed and revs at lightning speed to reach the redline. The Mercedes, on the other hand, has to wait for the turbo to sing its song and thus doesn’t feel as responsive lower down but impresses by shoving the driver back in the seat with a punchy mid-range.
The M5 has the better low-end pull, the E63 has the better mid-range punch and both cars just roar to the redline of close to 7000 RPM. Both are extremely refined when you don’t floor the pedal to the metal but once you go hard on the A pedal, both make quite a racket, the E63 is louder while the M5 has better cracks and pops, the BMW just sounds better when upshifting or downshifting.
The BMW feels more civilised throughout the rev-range when compared to the Mercedes which feels more muscle car like in the way it sounds and moves. Both cars get a slew of driving modes, the M5 is just so much easier to work with thanks to the easier menu and steering mounted buttons to select modes. The 9-speed MCT gearbox in the E63 offers faster shifts than the 8-speed torque converter in the M5, both give you the option of changing cogs using either the gear lever or the steering mounted paddles. There isn’t much to choose between the efficiency of these cars, both love to guzzle fuel at the rate of 4 kms to the litre but the M5's tank is bigger by 4-litres.
Driving Dynamics - Both cars channel power to all four wheels with a rear biased power delivery. They don’t feel understeery as the setup let’s you play around a bit with the rear. Both also let you go rear wheel drive only for drifting but it’s so much easier to shut power to the front wheels in the M5, unlike in the AMG where you have to follow a slew of steps before rear-wheel drive mode is engaged. In the M5, you can go for 2WD and 2WD Sport modes, one let's you drive with traction control while the other is a drift mode whereas traction control has to be turned off to engage drift mode in the E63.
Both the cars feature AWD but can be switched to rear-wheel drive
The Mercedes-AMG E63 feels more surefooted at higher speeds than the BMW M5. It feels more confident, better glued to the road and offers better feel and feedback from the steering as well. In comparison, the Bimmer feels a bit light and edgy, definitely more playful but certainly not as poised as the Merc. The E63 also has the better ride quality here although not by a mile and the nose lift function makes it more practical to tackle tall speed-breakers although the BMW didn’t scrape its underbelly on even the worst of roads (we still took caution by crawling sideways)! Little to choose from in the braking department as both cars offer strong stopping power with optional ceramic brakes which are almost fade free should you choose to drive on the track.
Safety and After Sales Service - Both the cars, as expected get a slew of safety features such as advanced all-wheel-drive systems, traction control and ESP to ensure that you don't get too carried away by 600 BHP on tap. Needless to say, both the cars get 8 airbags and a stellar 5 star Euro NCAP safety rating.
Verdict – Both these German cars are proof that you can have the best of both worlds. Both these super saloons offer terrific performance and engaging handling in a sedan body style. They are sleepers which look special and perform extremely well. But there is no denying the fact that the E63 handles and rides better and is better equipped too but also costs Rs. 10 lakhs more. But here is where the problem lies, choosing one of these two cars isn’t as easy as it seems because there is a lot of emotion involved here and while I would pick the E63 for it simply being better in more ways than one, the rest of the MotorBeam team is just spell bound by the M5 for they find solace in the way it looks and sounds, it just feels more hard edged and difficult to tame, making this German war a knockout of sorts.
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