There are wars you create, and there are some wars you find yourself in. But there are some wars that will never end (at bars and nail salons).
The BMW M5 vs Mercedes Benz -AMG E63 is one that will never end, and while in lockdown both German manufacturers were hard at work finalising their Life Cycle Impulse (LCI) or Facelift. An LCI is a process within the motoring industry to revitalise the look and feel of the same car model for the sole purpose of increasing sales without redeveloping the entire car. Both camps were due to revive the look beginning of this year for the entire model but delays resulted in a June online launch.
Mercedes this time, did not just do mid life rejuvenation design but rather a design overhaul (not uncommon), the reason for this I can only attribute to the fact that the “grill look” that was first found on the Green Monster, the Mercedes-AMG GT coupe.
They are currently adding on that beautifully aggressive look on every top end AMG and I think it did not sit well with the design team that boss-zonke, dzaddy, would retain an old look while the A45 AMG, upcoming C class, G 63 etc would have the new look. I do think they could have made it work but, it matters not that they didn’t like it.
What we have here is a 450KW with 700 Nm V8 (which didn’t change) in a new body. It retains 0-100 in 3.4 seconds which means it should still do a drag sprint in 11 seconds. I have to admit, it looks glorious in pictures but not as threatening as much as the previous look. It’s more subtle; the front lights are smaller (beautiful design inside) and the backlights are thinner. But apart from that, the front bumper gets massive air intakes to remind you that this is no regular Merc. The back bumper carries the massive diffuser and the signature square quad pipes that stick out nicely I’m sure that lovely V8 will sound all the more crazy!
The inside gets a new Steering wheel which looks amazing, it has some alcantara and leather for that sportiness feel. They have added Mercedes’ MBUX infotainment system (with the famous dual displays) to increase to tech capabilities of this machine. They have removed the scrolling wheel and retained a touch sensitive pad to control the UI. The displays are also touch screens for multiple input methods. Inside, this car represents luxury like no other in its class through the layout, high quality leather and gloss trimming on the dashboard. The bucket sporty seats are in fine leather and I’m sure as a cruiser, they do the business!
On the other hand, the BMW M5 received small but noticeable changes on the look and feel of the whole car, but I’m not a fan of most of the visual aesthetics compared to the pre-LCI M5 Competition. Hear me out: the front lights are the more amazing of the changes, they look special with the BMW laser technology light pack, the redesign just, works! They truly embody the “scary and “powerful car” face. They are also accompanied by the new, much larger grill (for those that don’t know, China loves big grills and research has shown that cars with big grills sell more – any manufacturer would be a fool to not listen to the biggest market in the World). The grill is 20% larger to the side and below but without being BMW 7 Series grill size (or BMW X7!!) and to be honest, it looks ready to scare whatever car in front. One last important change is the exhaust: they have thinner walls and a high-gloss black coating for much louder noise!
Other than that, every change that BMW made cannot compare to the pre-LCI simply because the changes are not scary enough for an M5 Competition. This car, is the top of the pack of the M5s (until the limited edition M5 CS) and it should show from every inch and every angle: the bumper is very muted, it lacks all the right creases that make a bumper look like a mouth opened to suck all the air from other “not important cars”. Instead they put these carbon patches that hide the creases – which tells me that BMW obviously wanted to change the look of the front dramatically.
The second change that is not comparable is the rear lights. The rear lights look really designed and pack a lot of 3D fancy elements and if this was a normal 5 Series I would love them. But this is an M5, these lights just don’t have a good enough presence to replace pre-LCI. They look too simple to design yet, have complicated bits. Don’t get me wrong, they are really great, and they have a muscular look to them, but I think the BMW Light designers relaxed a bit there. One thing that goes unnoticed and yet speaks true to the character of the M5 model is the carbon fiber roof; It is not only visually attractive but its a technological stance that BMW adds to further imprint the //M DNA within their M cars. The carbon fiber roof is a weight saving measure, but its also a way to direct where most of the car’s weight must be, on the floor of the car. The reason for this is felt more in cornering. The M5 is a Luxury sedan but it manages to feel more nimble in corners than its rivals – in more direct terms comparison terms; the M5 Competition weighs around 1,865kg while the Mercedes-AMG E63s is around 1,880kg and as we know, speed is very sensitive to weight.
Speaking of which, the power plant on the M5 Competition is 10KW more than the Merc rival, at 460KW and an earth moving 750Nm. This allows the M5 Comp to reach 100 km/h in 3.3 seconds which is faster than the E63s. But, trust me, 0.1 of a difference cannot change your mind on buying either one of these. The gearbox to handle such power is the 8-speed M Steptronic transmission with M Drivelogic gearshift management which delivers super fast gearshifts. At low speeds, you might miss certain gear changes because it is that smooth. BMW also took learnings from the M8 Gran Coupe to further smoothen the ride: there are new shock absorbers and a retuned chassis which will elevate the experience in this beas
Inside the M5, I have nothing but complements. It comes with an increased 12.3-inch central screen for to navigate the infotainment. Once you are settled in the much praised bucket seats, you will be greeted with a fully digital Live Cockpit instead of the normal speedometer dials. Near the gear knob you will find the new M Mode button and the SETUP control button. These two button allow you to either sharpen (SPORT) or soften (ROAD) the character of the M5 depending on your activity. There is also TRACK mode which, you should not use all the time given this is a family car! The seats of the M5 are very comfortable, just like they were on the previous generation. They really deal well with the bumps while on SPORT mode on South African roads.
In conclusion, to Compare these two cars is nonsensical because you cannot help but appreciate both cars. They are solving a societal issue with evenly matched answers. They both have V8s, both over 400Kw which is insane, both have an Automatic gear box and have 4WD + 2WD modes, they are both Luxury mammoths! How do you separate the two? With 0.1 real life differences? I personally don’t think that little amount of difference makes one a winner. These cars exist to give people options. You are either 1 or the other!
So there it is, I am saying you can’t separate these. Just spend your R2m on what your heart wants!