UK magazine What Car? pits the 2015 Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG against the 2015 BMW M3. The two midsize sport cars have been going at each other for years now and with the new C63 AMG just around the corner, the competition will be even more exciting.
The two powerful sedans are the benchmark in their segment and head-to-head comparisons are inevitable. The competitor to the F80 BMW M3 comes with two power variants coming from a 4.0 liter V8 bi-turbocharged engine that delivers 470 hp and 650Nm (479 lb-ft) in the base model, and 503 hp and 700Nm (516 lb-ft) in the C63 S AMG. This is the same engine found on the Mercedes-AMG GT sports coupe. What Car? uses the entry-level C63 AMG for this test.
Power is sent to the rear wheels via a seven-speed AMG Speedshift automatic transmission.
From 0 to 100 km/h (62 mph), it only takes 4.1 seconds for the C63 S AMG and 4.2 seconds for the base model. Both cars are limited to 250 km/h (155 mph).
The F80 BMW M3 features the S55 3.0 liter inline-six TwinPower engine producing 425 horsepower and 406 lb-ft of torque. The power is sent to the rear-wheels via a six-speed or an optional 7-speed M DCT transmission. For comparison, with the seven-speed DCT, the M3 and M4 need 4.1 seconds from 0 to 100 km/h, switching to manual speed, the two cars need 4.3 seconds
Top speed is governed at 155 mph for both the BMW and the Mercedes.
Here is an excerpt from their review:
What are they like to drive?
Although both deliver a 0-60mph time in the 4.0-second region, and have similarly impressive brakes and advanced, adjustable suspension systems, they feel very different to drive. For a start, the BMW is a far keener-handling car. There’s a huge amount of grip, minimal body roll and super-fast, precise responses, albeit a shortage of genuine feedback through the steering wheel.
Switch to the AMG and you’ll find it a much softer-feeling affair, with less bite at the front and far more body lean in hard cornering. It’ll still get round corners at a vast rate of knots, but it’s not as agile and grippy as the BMW. One downside to the M3’s unflappable handling is that it has to be driven hard before it really starts to excite.
This is where the AMG makes up some ground, thanks in part to its 4.0-litre V8 engine. The BMW’s 3.0-litre six-cylinder can sound harsh and uncouth, whereas the Mercedes’ makes a gratifyingly baritone rumble, even at lower speeds. This lends it real theatre, so you don’t have to thrash it to enjoy the noise and sense of power. You can’t argue with the relentless nature of the BMW’s twin-turbo engine, though. With 425bhp, it’s not as powerful as the Mercedes’ 469bhp twin-turbo V8, but it revs much higher and adds to the BMW’s frenetic feel.
The M3 is also the lighter car and can match the AMG’s in-gear acceleration and sprinting capability with ease, although the Mercedes’ V8 picks up more keenly and progressively from low revs. Both automatic gearboxes have modes that can alter the shifting pattern, but the M3’s changes more quickly by some margin. In the most aggressive mode the transmission can be very snatchy, though, so it’s best reserved for hard driving. The Mercedes has a more conventional seven-speed automatic, albeit with a few upgrades to give it more aggressive performance. Its shifts are slightly slower, particularly when you’re driving gently.
This, in conjunction with the Mercedes’ more flexible engine and softer responses, make it more relaxed in day-to-day driving. Both cars get gearshift paddles, which make it quick and easy to command manual gear changes. The Mercedes’ launch control system is far easier to use, too, quickly granting fast and hard launches, while the BMW’s can be very fiddly to activate and is less effective at minimising wheel spin.
As you’d expect, neither of these cars has a cosseting ride quality, but the Mercedes proves the most tolerable out on the road. It’s still firm, but with the dampers in their softer mode it has enough compliance not to annoy. The BMW is harsher over scruffy surfaces, and can become jarring over more severe imperfections, regardless of which damper setting you choose. Both cars are quite noisy at motorway speeds – there’s a lot of road noise and, in the Mercedes, the bass note of the engine doesn’t fade away at part throttle.
And the conclusion:
BMW M3 DCT
For Incredible performance; smart cabin; masses of grip
Against Intrusive road noise; unpleasant engine note
Verdict Devastatingly quick and capable, albeit hardcore in its nature
For Lots of kit; muscular engine; satisfying noise; easy to drive
Against Unremarkable handling; fiddly infotainment system
Verdict A theatrical high-performance saloon that’s easy to live with