The high-performance sedan niche is one of the very best in the automotive kingdom. It’s so very unnecessary but so easy to love at the same time. Why wouldn’t you take a massive V-8 and cram it into a midsize sedan? Exactly. Now the good people at M and AMG are battling it out for super-sedan supremacy once more with the refreshed M5 and the updated E 63 S.
Coincidentally—or, perhaps not so coincidentally—the mid-cycle refreshes of these two beasts were announced within one day of each other. If that doesn’t scream rivalry, perhaps everything else about these two cars will. Both now have massive, touchscreen infotainment displays, redesigned fascias and exterior lights, and improved tech: The Merc gets the three-pointed star’s MBUX infotainment system and the Bimmer gets the latest iteration of iDrive.
But these are performance cars. The M5 and E 63 S have been duking it out for years, and so we’re going to take a look at how these two go-fast machines are now better than ever before.
2021 BMW M5 vs. 2021 Mercedes-AMG E 63 S: Engine
Both of these German giants have extremely power-dense V-8 engines. The BMW M5 is powered by a twin-turbo 4.4-liter mill, while the E 63 S‘s forced-induction V-8 displaces 4.0-liters. The Bimmer comes in two states of tune, too. The standard M5 makes 600 hp at 6,000 rpm and 553 lb-ft of torque at 1,800 rpm. The M5 Competition is a little more potent, making 617 hp at 6,000 rpm and 553 lb-ft of torque at 1,800 rpm.
The AMG, on the other hand, has just one state of tune on our shores-we don’t get the standard E 63. The E 63 S makes 603 hp at 6,500 rpm, and 627 lb-ft of torque at 2,500 rpm. So the M5 makes its peak torque lower in the rev-range and the Competition variant makes more power, but the E 63 S has more outright torque available. That feels pretty even to us.
2021 BMW M5 vs. 2021 Mercedes-AMG E 63 S: Powertrain Details
Unsurprisingly, both of these super-sedans maintain rear-biased, electronically controlled all-wheel-drive systems. The systems can also essentially shut off power to the front axles and turn these two mid-size sedans into rear-wheel-drive drift machines. Heck, Mercedes even calls its setup Drift mode.
Both vehicles rout power to the wheels by way automatic transmissions with planetary gearsets, too—no dual-clutch automatic transmissions here. The gearboxes both utilize multi-plate clutches instead of typical torque converters, but the AMG’s tranny has nine cogs whereas the BMW’s has eight.
2021 BMW M5 vs. 2021 Mercedes-AMG E 63 S: Go-Fast Tech
Both cars are available with stick Michelin Pilot Sport 4S rubber. The standard M5 runs 19-inch wheels, while the more powerful Competition model sits on 20s. Resting behind those wheels are cross-drilled steel rotors, but both cars offer optional—very large and very pricey—carbon-ceramic units.
One of the biggest mechanical differences between these two sedans relates to each model’s suspension components. The AMG uses a multi-chamber air suspension system with adaptive dampers. The M5 also has adaptive damping but forgoes the air suspension setup. Oh, and the AMG offers a wagon variant if you need to haul the kids and all their gear at great speed. BMW doesn’t even sell a 5 Series wagon in the United States, so don’t plan on purchasing an M5 people-mover anytime soon—assuming BMW builds such a model at all.
Both cars also feature a host of driving modes for a plethora of different road conditions and situations, have advanced safety systems, and carry the weight of each brand’s racing heritage. In the end, the two are so close you’d have to drive the sedans back-to-back to find out which one you like more.