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      07-09-2014, 03:55 PM   #1
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BMW M4 vs. Mercedes C63 AMG Edition 507 Comparison Review

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Updated with review:

Full review -

Some excerpts:

Where the new M4 is the first of a new generation, the Edition 507 intends to see this 2008 C-Class out with a bang (pop, crackle and bark). It is the final car ever to utilise the Mercedes-Benz 6.2-litre naturally aspirated V8 engine also used in the SLS AMG supercar.

The next C63 will follow the M4 (and its E63 and CLS63 siblings) and go smaller and turbocharged (but still with eight cylinders and 4.0-litre capacity).

It uses forged pistons and a lightweight crankshaft from the SLS to help raise power from 336kW to 373kW, though it needs you to climb to 6800rpm to reach it. Torque moves from an already BMW-beating 600Nm to 610Nm that requires the throttle to travel far enough into the floor to see 5200rpm on the tachometer.

However the C63 weighs 200kg more than the M4, at 1730kg, and with combined cycle fuel consumption of 12.1L/100km it is as ecologically credible as making a bonfire to burn carbon tax legislation.

The prudent BMW claims 8.3L/100km combined.
For all its accomplished cornering, however, it takes a drive on the same road in the C63 AMG Edition 507 to put a few things into perspective.

Sitting next to the tough, slick BMW, the Mercedes-Benz appears like yesterday’s hero.

It looks just like a two-door version of the seven-year-old C-Class sedan, and there are none of the lovely curves and haunches you get in the M4. Instead you get a grey sticker pack down the slabby sides of the car, and ostentatious bonnet vents from the C63 Black Series, just in case the regular C63 was too subtle for your tastes. If Benz did NASCAR, this would be its perfect entrant.
Other racecar analogies continue to come to mind. The interior looks and feels as dated as the exterior, yet there’s a lovely Alcantara steering wheel and gearshifter, fantastic sports seats, an AMG dial on the console that allows you to scroll through C, S, S+ and M transmission modes, and an Edition 507 badge on the passenger side dashboard applique.

You’d think the older Mercedes-Benz would lag behind for technology, but unlike the BMW it comes standard with adaptive cruise control, blind-spot assist and lane-keeping assist (the latter two are respectively $1000 and $900 options on M4).

The C63 AMG Edition 507 has a smaller 7.0-inch screen, though its Comand infotainment system includes internet connectivity as standard, where a SIM card-based system asks $200 extra on its rival.
The C63’s mighty V8 fires up with the ‘whumpf’ we’ve known and loved since 2008. It’s the immediate response through the throttle pedal that really grabs you though, even at low revs feeling as though your leg extends all the way into the engine bay with toes curled around the little wire tugging open its valves.

Despite its immense torque and eagerness at low revs, the AMG engine urges you to chase its top-end, where the sound is pure and unadulterated.

The way BMW M engineers have allowed a turbocharged six-cylinder to deliver crisp throttle response when the revs are hanging high is commendable, however compared with the C63 the M4 feels doughy at low revs. It’s not the torque delivery that’s the problem, because it soon comes on strong, but there’s not nearly the same immediate reaction from the engine when the throttle is quickly prodded.

The M4 engine is quieter at low revs, too. It segues into becoming louder than the Mercedes-Benz at higher revs, yet it’s not exactly for the better either. Unlike the sweet, creamy, classically six-cylinder sound produced from an M235i turbo 3.0-litre, for example, the M4 sounds more hard-edged and meaty, but also grainy and a bit coarse.

It’s almost as though M Division engineers tried to replicate the sound of the V8, or needed to make the new six louder to appease those who thought going turbocharged was a backwards step. However it’s come off sounding try-hard in the same way the shouty AMG four-cylinder in the A45 and CLA45 does.

The M4 sounds awesome driving past our camera guys, but it takes dropping the windows for the driver to appreciate some of the aural drama. With glass closed, you can barely hear the whip-crack of the exhaust.

The view of all our testers was that it’s a bit characterless inside – including our cameraman Mitch who has owned a Z4 and described the M4 engine as “like a BMW six with a hurricane on top”.

The twin-turbo six also treads a fine line between linear delivery and feeling flat. BMW engineers have allowed this engine to rev well past 7500rpm, which is an excellent achievement, but (even noise aside) there’s little reward for travelling to those heights when peak power is delivered from 5500rpm.

Keep the tachometer needle beyond that point, and there’s great throttle response but no real rush.

Conversely, there is a great theatrical crescendo in the AMG, and you can meter out changes in its cornering attitude based on millimetres of throttle adjustment. It should be noted, however, that the BMW engine is fantastic in isolation, and only eclipsed by what is a supercar-like engine that is basically perfection.

Less perfect is the Benz seven-speed semi-dual-clutch auto, which in manual mode is not as quick to respond to a hit of its steering wheel-mounted paddles as the BMW dual-clutch gearbox is. You have to pre-empt some upshifts before going beyond the 7200rpm redline, where in the M4 the ability to slap away at its paddles comes as easy as the supreme handling. In the C63 AMG Edition 507 you have to be on your game.
The C63 AMG Edition 507 still cannot carve through corners as quickly as the new BMW M4. It feels a bit heavier, and its transition from front-end grip to rear-end slip is less delicate than in its rival, even with the optional ($4990) locking rear differential fitted to our test car, and throttle response sharp enough to leave your foot bleeding.

Continuing the theme, however, the communication from the AMG’s chassis and steering makes the M4 feel a bit remote by comparison.

The BMW’s steering is very accurate and nicely immediate just off the centre position. It is just like the steering in an M235i, really (and that starts to form another comparison). Unanimously, testers preferred the lightest Comfort setting as the weightier Sport and Sport Plus add heft but no extra sharpness.

If ever you need steering feel in a car, it’s when you’re attempting to manage 550Nm-plus rear-drive coupes, and if ever there are two examples of the difference it makes, it’s with these two cars. The M4 can carve 45km/h-signposted corners brilliantly, but in super-tight 25km/h bends when you need to know when the front wheels are giving up purchase, the BMW electro-mechanical steering is mute.

Cars with old-school hydraulic power assisted steering that send true road feel through to your fingertips are diminishing, but the C63 AMG Edition 507 is one of the last bastions of the breed. Its steering is sublime, its single setting perfectly mid-weighted and unbelievably crisp. It dances in your hands over road surface and camber changes, and when the front tyres start to scrub, your fingertips will get lovely little vibrations to indicate so.

The C63 is possibly the most characterful, connected new car on the market, and while it remains a mighty beast, in its final incarnation it is far from untamed. Its tight front suspension means it no longer feels heavy and lurchy at the front, but rather sharp.

The Sport stability control is as finely calibrated as the BMW’s MDM, and it allows beautiful flicks of the tail without becoming unruly. The other area where each car is a match is brakes, both equally powerful, responsive and fade-free.

There’s no denying that you still have to push further into the C63’s reserves to keep up with an M4 that hammers out pace easily, however.

The BMW M4 is technically the better car, and it did indeed whip its cloak off and near-triple its original freeway fuel consumption. Compared with its older rival, it is just as fast but more efficient, has a better transmission, far more premium cabin, extra technology, superior ride comfort, it is quicker through bends and, subjectively, looks tougher.

Yet in this company it is lacking the connection and character that separates the good from truly great sports cars.

Where the M4 feels like a faster, larger version of the M235i, the C63 AMG Edition 507 is like a cut-price mini-supercar.

Every tester walked away from it enamoured by just how special it makes you feel, from its bombastic engine to every control that talks to you, wherever you’re driving it and at whatever speed. It’s exactly enough to make you forgive its old cabin and hard ride.

Where the BMW M4 is admired, the Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG Edition 507 is adored. As far as grand finales go, this one is both epic and dangerous – the precedent for the next turbo-V8 C63 has just been set for itself…