C&D Test Drive: 2013 BMW M5 vs. 2012 Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG, 2013 Audi S6

BMW M5, Featured Posts | July 22nd, 2012 by 41
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Car and Driver takes three TwinTurbo V8 performance sedans and pit them against each other.  BMW brings to the “war” the 2013 M5, Mercedes responds …

Car and Driver takes three TwinTurbo V8 performance sedans and pit them against each other.  BMW brings to the “war” the 2013 M5, Mercedes responds with its E63 AMG while Audi throws in the 2013 S6. In a horsepower translation, 560 vs 518 and respectively 420 horsepower.

Surprisingly, the underpowered S6 places ahead of the E63 AMG and the M5. So why has InsideLine chosen the S6 over its competitors?

“We’ve been here before with the A7 and the A8: down to the final paragraph of a comparison test musing about how the Audi offers comparable or better features, only slightly reduced performance, and a significantly lower price. Bavarians aren’t big on change, but down here, old regimes are rapidly being overthrown.”

Now let’s have a look at some fragments from their review:

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We get that the folks from Munich aren’t interested in offering an extra-large M3. The M5’s target audience is older and wealthier; the expected comfort levels are higher; and the number of track days the car will endure will be substantially fewer. BMW perhaps pictured its customers in Augsburg and Greenwich and Kowloon, sealing themselves inside the car’s well-insulated cabin and shuttling around at speed while radio announcers report the financial news.

In these scenarios, the M5 doesn’t miss its mark, taking possession of the left lane and surrendering it to nobody. Summoned to action, the engine spins the dash needles with a manic ferocity, and the miles slide underneath with a well-coddled ease. Links to the M division’s old days of building roadgoing race cars seem as tenuous as ever.

Yet, the M5 still wants to be the battle wagon of the bunch. The Michelin Pilot Super Sports are the stickiest tires here, and a launch-control feature that is fussy to engage but potent when it does whips the seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox and the electronic limited-slip differential into producing the quickest quarter-mile time.

So color us pissed that the M5 suffers shortfalls in three areas where an M usually excels: steering, suspension, and brakes. We noticed this while tackling fast bends on Bavarian back roads. The calipers supplied a cold, weak bite. There was too much up-and-down bobbing of the body, and the relatively slow, remote steering wasn’t always able to place the front tires exactly where we wanted them. To drive in haste, you must trust the machine, and the M5, capable as it is, keeps secrets.

Here is their take on the Audi S6:

Up in Ingolstadt—right in the center of Bavaria—the aluminum and steel S6 wasn’t created to be the last word in performance for this model line. You get twin turbos on a V-8, you get larger wheels and tires, you get scads of  interior details, but you only get so much additional performance. The S6 is 98-hp less murderous than the next-most-powerful contender, the E63.

Okay, but aside from us just telling you all that, how would you know? The acceleration times to 60 mph are practically a dead heat. The cabin is richly furnished with special treatments such as carbon-fiber-pattern trim and high-backed, deeply hugging sport buckets with a lovely diamond-pleat pattern repeated on the rear seats. The S6 sits low and crouched, its wheel wells stuffed with aluminum and rubber. Goose it, and the V-8 sounds technically gifted and expensive while the seven-speed is both immediate and seamless, and the standard rear torque-vectoring differential helps overcome the front weight bias.

The twist gets distributed to all four wheels, and even with the extra Quattro driveshafts, the Audi’s curb weight still lands between those of the E63 and the M5. The S6’s back seat was judged the roomiest for two, its instrument panel the most attractive, and its navigation and radio interface the easiest to use.

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The full review can be found at Car and Driver, but in the mean time, feel free to share your thoughts with us.

You can also catch our own review of the 2013 BMW M5