New BMW M5 vs Mercedes-AMG E63 S Comparison

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With close to 600bhp and four-wheel drive, BMW’s new M5 super-saloon is all set to challenge the mighty Mercedes-AMG E63 S. Let’s see how it fares

The contenders

***NOTE : £1 = $1.33 (correct at time of post)

BMW M5

  • List price £89,645
  • Target Price £89,645

M5’s understated looks conceal scorching performance and, for the first time, four-wheel drive.

Mercedes-AMG E63 S

  • List price £89,330
  • Target Price £84,306

Mercedes-AMG knows fast saloons inside out; the lairy E63 S will be tough to beat.

BMW M5 and Mercedes-AMG E63 S

Imagine ten Volkswagen Ups parked side by side. Now imagine the engines of said Ups all working furiously in unison. Even then, they still wouldn’t be producing as much power as either of these turbocharged V8 super-saloons.

That’s right: the new BMW M5 and the Mercedes-AMG E63 S both pump out around 600bhp, but there’s a crucial difference in the way this power is transferred to the road compared with their predecessors, because both cars now have four-wheel drive. That ensures as much power is put down on the road as possible and should also bring extra reassurance on soggy back-road blasts.

All that power, technology and luxury doesn’t come cheap: each car costs nearly £90,000. But if you’re lucky enough to have that budget, which should be claiming your hard-earned cash?

Driving – Performance, ride, handling, refinement

The BMW’s 4.4-litre V8 is slightly less powerful (592bhp versus 603bhp) than the Mercedes’ 4.0-litre V8 and has less low-down shove. But both cars can manage a launch-controlled sprint from 0-60mph in a blistering 3.2sec. If you can find an unused runway, the BMW will carry on to 100mph in 7.3sec – just 0.1sec quicker than the Mercedes. Given each weighs the best part of two tonnes, that’s a staggering feat, helped by incredible four-wheel drive traction away from the line.

Both cars’ standard automatic gearboxes work well in their manual modes, although the BMW’s eight-speed unit is slightly quicker to respond to paddle pulls and slicker than the Mercedes’ nine-speeder when driven in automatic mode.

The Mercedes counters with an exhaust note that has a natural and guttural quality, creating a sense of occasion that those interested in these cars crave – and will miss in the more restrained and synthetic-sounding BMW.

These cars may be hefty, but they manage to feel surprisingly light in corners. Wide front tyres and taut body control ensure that both the BMW and Mercedes turn in eagerly, but with both in their most aggressive driving modes, it’s the BMW that grips hardest, has the better brake pedal feel and is more stable when stopping hard, making it quicker around a lap of our track. But the Mercedes isn’t far behind, and while you can’t place it quite as precisely through bends, it has more natural-feeling steering and there’s more fun to be had with its playful yet predictable approach to cornering.

The Mercedes has a more comfortable high-speed ride, too. Its standard air suspension struggles to contain particularly bad ruts and potholes at low speeds, but on the motorway, in its Comfort driving mode, it does a grand job of wafting you along. The BMW, on its steel springs, is better controlled at low speeds over the same scars, but it’s noticeably firmer all of the time, jostling its occupants around.

It’s a shame, then, that the Mercedes is far noisier than the BMW, producing noticeable road and suspension noise.

BMW M5 interior

Behind the wheel – Driving position, visibility, build quality

Both cars treat you to a superb driving position. The Mercedes gets deep bucket seats in the front, although our test car had a more cushioning pair that’s available as a no-cost option. They still hold you in place very well through corners and provide a wide range of electric adjustment.

BMW doesn’t offer a choice of seats and the ones you get don’t have quite as much bolstering as the Mercedes’. However, they’re still very adjustable, so you’ll have no problem getting comfortable. Both cars also have widely adjustable steering wheels and well-positioned pedals.

Seeing out the front of either car is easy enough, as is seeing over your shoulder. Even so, front and rear parking sensors and a rear-view camera are standard on both, as are powerful LED headlights for excellent night-time visibility.

It’s the BMW that feels higher in quality inside. The Mercedes’ interior is far from cut-price, with attractive trims, metal touches and glossy piano black plastics, but press and prod and you’ll find a few too many creaks. The BMW’s dash is perhaps less interesting to behold, but its materials are slightly higher in quality and it feels altogether more solidly built.

Infotainment systems

BMW M5

BMW’s iDrive continues to lead the way for ease of use, and the M5 gets it in its most advanced form, Professional, as standard. A bright, clear 10.3in screen teams up with a rotary dial controller and shortcut buttons between the front seats for moving through the easily navigable menus. The screen also responds to touch. The standard Harman Kardon sound system is great, so the optional (£3090) Bowers & Wilkins stereo seems unnecessary.

Mercedes-AMG E63 S

The Mercedes’ larger, 12.3in screen is more visually striking than the BMW’s and is also controlled with a rotary dial and shortcut buttons. However, the three-tier menu system is less intuitive and more distracting to navigate while you’re driving, plus it sometimes takes a while to react to inputs. Mercedes should be commended for including Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone mirroring as standard, though; BMW doesn’t.

BMW M5 rear seats

Space and practicality – Front space, rear space, seating flexibility, boot

A luxury saloon is a great place to start if you want a performance car with lots of space. Both provide decent front head room (although there’s more in the BMW) and leg room, and there’s no danger of any shoulder rubbing, either.

In the back, there’s again more head room in the BMW, whereas the Mercedes is restricted a little when fitted with its optional (part of the £2595 Premium Package) panoramic sunroof. There’s more knee room in the back of the Mercedes, though, and three adults sitting side by side will be slightly more comfortable, thanks to the extra shoulder room. That said, the middle passenger has to put up with straddling a lump in the floor in either car.

There aren’t many 600bhp cars that can take a decent amount of luggage, but both the BMW and Mercedes can swallow eight carryon suitcases. Split-folding rear seats (in a 40/20/40 configuration) are standard on the Mercedes, whereas BMW charges £1196 for them as part of the Comfort Package. With them folded fl at in both cars, it’s the Mercedes that has the bigger opening through to the backs of its front seats.

BMW M5

  • Official boot capacity 530 litres
  • Suitcase capacity 8

The BMW has more head room in both the front and rear. Despite it having a wider entrance, the BMW’s boot is actually slightly narrower than the Mercedes’, and there’s a bigger lip at the entrance to lift luggage over.

Mercedes-AMG E63 S

  • Official boot capacity 540 litres
  • Suitcase capacity 8

The Mercedes has more rear knee room and shoulder room than the BMW. Split-folding rear seats are fitted as standard, unlike in the BMW. With them at, the Mercedes has the larger opening through to its extended load bay.

Buying and owning – Costs, equipment, reliability, safety and security

BMW M5

You’ll need nearly £90,000 to buy either car with cash, and because the M5 has only just gone on sale, BMW won’t give you a penny off. Haggle with Mercedes, though, and you’ll be able to get the price of the E63 S down by about £5000.

That goes some way toward the Mercedes being the cheaper car to own privately over three years, by nearly £8000. Better fuel economy (its V8 can run on four cylinders at a cruise), cheaper insurance and slower depreciation help, too.

The Mercedes is also cheaper if you’re buying on PCP finance. Stick down a £10,000 deposit on a three-year deal, limited to 10,000 miles per year, and you’ll pay £1367 per month, compared with £1508 for the BMW.

Both cars get a huge amount of standard kit, although a powered boot-lid, a sunroof and keyless entry are all included on the BMW but options on the Mercedes. The same goes for safety kit; both get automatic emergency braking, but the BMW adds cross traffic alert (which brakes if it detects traffic crossing behind you as you’re reversing), blind-spot monitoring and lane departure warning – all options on the Mercedes.

Even so, these cars’ everyday counterparts (the 5 Series and E-Class) received five-star ratings from Euro NCAP, while security firm Thatcham rates them as excellent at standing up to a break-in and good at resisting being driven away by a thief.

verdict

BMW M5 and Mercedes-AMG E63 S

The new BMW M5’s neck-snapping acceleration and ridiculously high handling limits make it the more capable of these incredible performance saloons. If you simply want the faster car, no matter whether the road is straight or winding, it’s the one to buy.

But these are road cars first and foremost, so outright pace is less important than the size of the smile on your face. And the Mercedes-AMG E63 S’s machine-gun V8 soundtrack, more playful handling and similarly staggering straight-line pace make it the more enjoyable and rewarding car. And the fact that you can have it for considerably less money secures it the narrowest of wins.

1st – Mercedes-AMG E63 S

For Glorious engine; enjoyable and playful handling; cheaper to buy

Against Cheaper-feeling interior; loads of road noise; slightly less capable

Specifications: Mercedes-AMG E63 S
  • Engine size 8cyl, 3982cc, twin-turbo, petrol
  • List price £89,330
  • Target Price £84,306
  • Power 603bhp @ 5750-6500rpm
  • Torque 627lb ft @ 2500-4500rpm
  • Gearbox 9-spd automatic
  • 0-60mph 3.2sec
  • Top speed 155mph
  • Gov’t fuel economy 31.0mpg
  • CO2 emissions 207g/km
2nd – BMW M5

For Sharper and grippier handling; better infotainment; higher-quality interior

Against Firmer ride; more expensive to buy and own; short on drama

Specifications: BMW M5
  • Engine 8cyl, 4395cc, twin-turbo, petrol
  • List price £89,645
  • Target Price £89,645
  • Power 592bhp @ 5600rpm
  • Torque 553lb ft @ 1800rpm
  • Gearbox 8-spd automatic
  • 0-60mph 3.2sec
  • Top speed 155mph
  • Gov’t fuel economy 26.9mpg
  • CO2 emissions 241g/km

(whatcar.com, http://bit.ly/2Mzd6lt)

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