This is what 1200bhp looks like, in a mighty power play
Either of these two cars make a lot of sense. You have lots of torque for easy driving, and there’s four-wheel drive under each of them to ensure you can maintain steady progress on wet or icy roads. Both of them can accommodate four people in some comfort and there’s a decent amount of luggage space too. So far so sensible.
In a video it’s at this point you hear the sound of screaming guitars and tortured rubber, but you’ll have to do the sound effects yourself here.
Read more: Top ten: Super saloons
Because the Mercedes-AMG E63 S snarls out 603bhp from its twin-turbo V8. And the BMW M5 snarls out 592bhp from its twin-turbo V8. Actually, come on, under 600bhp for the BMW? Please, why don’t we just buy a Fiat 500 and have done with it?
There’s no getting away from the fact that the Mercedes-AMG engine, despite being a 4.0-litre as opposed to the 4.4-litre in the BMW, does make more power and also more torque – a bit more power, a fair bit more torque. Plus, and this counts, it simply sounds better, a far more authentic snarling growl, compared to the less assertive and more synthetic note of the BMW.
Engine: 8cyl, 4395cc, twin-turbo, petrol
Torque: 553lb ft
Gearbox: 8-spd automatic
Top speed: 155mph
Fuel economy: 26.9mpg
CO2 emissions: 241g/km
However, in terms of pace there’s nothing to separate them at all up to 62mph and barely a tenth after that. For cars weighing around two tonnes apiece those are blistering figures, and they wouldn’t happen without the four-wheel drive and the very slick transmissions in both.
You’ll not be aware of the weight when hitting the throttle, and you won’t be aware of it when it comes to hard cornering either. If you crank up the modes until they’re both foaming at the mouth, it’s the BMW that feels the harder act, with firmer braking, even more grip and a touch more stability.
Mind you the Merc-AMG is very close behind, and it feels slightly more relaxed while its doing it too. Crank it back to Comfort mode and you’ll enjoy a delightful ride from the standard air suspension, while the steel-sprung BMW stays resolutely firm whatever you do with it. On the other hand, the BMW suffers less from road and suspension racket than the Merc.
And if you push and prod at the fascias and surfaces in the Mercedes you’ll get the odd creak. Do that in the BMW and you just hurt your finger. There’s no doubt that, while the E63 really does look flash, it’s the more staid M5 that demonstrates the higher quality of trim and fit.
BMW backs that up with the latest iDrive in Professional form giving you probably the best infotainment system on the market with its 10.3in screen. Mercedes responds with a 12.3in touchscreen, also controlled by a rotary dial, but the sets of menus are not quite as intuitive, and it can dither a bit more. Both cars come fully loaded with kit, although it’s the BMW that has the most standard safety kit.
Mercedes-AMG E63 S
Engine: size 8cyl, 3982cc, twin-turbo, petrol
Torque: 627lb ft
Gearbox: 9-spd automatic
Top speed: 155mph
Fuel economy: 31.0mpg
CO2 emissions: 207g/km
Neither driver will have any complaints about getting comfy, although the E63 does offer the drive a bit more bolstered comfort in the front seats. In the rear both can take three across the bench seat but for long journeys two would be more comfortable. They get plenty of space in either although the headroom is a bit better in the BMW, something accentuated by the Mercedes-AMG being fitted with the optional panoramic sunroof.
Behind the rear passengers there is enough space in either car for a substantial eight carry-on cases, perhaps a sign that owners probably have a lot of luggage they like to travel with, probably matching, possibly monogrammed.
Such people can probably afford either or both of these, while those who have only a battered Samsonite and a rucksack will probably have to make do with an old Fiesta. To such people – that’s me – £5000 would represent a lot of money, but that’s the discount you could possibly wangle off the Mercedes-AMG. Given the BMW M5 is so new you’ll be wasting your time haggling for now.
The E63 S would continue to work out cheaper over three years, as it’s more economical to run and has cheaper insurance, while depreciation should be lower too. That’s for cash buyers, while on PCP it’s similarly ahead of the BMW.
If you’re the sort of person that simply wants the fastest, then the BMW M5 is for you. The performance on tap is staggering anywhere in the rev range, at any speed. Handling allows you to explore that to the full, but it’s highly questionable exactly where you could do that outside a racetrack.
For actually driving on the road in the real world, the Mercedes-AMG E63 S offers almost equally ridiculous performance, but it delivers it in a more laid-back way that makes the car the more enjoyable of the two for road use. The fact that it’s cheaper in every department gives it a narrow win over the latest BMW M5. It almost makes sense.