The kings of the segment duke it out.
BMW and Mercedes have been battling it out for decades, and their fight in the segment that BMW arguably created - fast, luxury, business sedans - is far from over. Last month we reported on how the two rivals' latest luxury sedans compare, and we noted how similar the 5 Series and the E-Class were. For the new M5 and E63, there are a lot of similarities once again. The two new models were even released within hours of each other. Both look incredible and promise to be better to drive than ever, but until we get to do just that, let's have a look at how the two stack up on paper.
Both cars have received mild updates in terms of styling, but they are bold enough changes to make it clear that these are the new 2021 models. On the new M5, a bigger, one-piece kidney grille has been fitted between smoother and slimmer LED headlights, while the front and rear fascias have been lightly massaged too. At the rear, new taillights are meant to create a three-dimensional effect and are complemented by black exhaust tips that are the same size in diameter as those on the pre-facelift model but with thinner walls.
On the new E63, the same sort of changes have been made but in AMG style. Rounder, softer-looking headlights feature on either side of the Panamericana grille which is housed in a new front bumper, complementing the redesigned new rear fascia. Both cars feature a number of high gloss black accents, but the Bimmer is the only one that gets new color options. Nevertheless, the two cars manage to look aggressive and classy, new but familiar.
The redesigned cabins of the German autobahn slayers come slathered in leather. BMW uses Merino leather while Mercedes prefers Nappa, but both look stunning and will be perfectly finished. The 2021 models also get new steering wheels, with Mercedes-AMG's new wheel featuring haptic controls while the Bimmer once again has the M1 and M2 drive mode buttons. The big news, however, is that they feature a pair of 12.3-inch displays for driver info and media. Mercedes puts its screens alongside each other to create a panoramic look, while BMW puts its touchscreen infotainment display on the dash in a similar spot to before. BMW finally adds Android Auto to the system, while the Merc gets the latest MBUX infotainment system.
Both cars feature twin-turbo V8 engines, with the Bimmer using the same 4.4-liter unit that was in the last model. This means 600 horsepower and 553 lb-ft of torque going through an eight-speed ZF automatic, while the hotter Competition variant is slightly more powerful at 617 hp. For the E63, there's only the hottest 'S' version in the US with 603 hp and 627 lb-ft of torque. Each car has its own rear-biased switchable all-wheel-drive system that can deactivate stability and traction systems to send all output to the rear wheels.
In the M5, 0-62 mph comes up in 3.2 seconds with the M5 Competition a tenth quicker. In the E63, 0-60 mph is claimed to come in 3.3 seconds, so it's a little behind the M5 here. Top speed for the M5 is 155 mph which means the Merc's 186 mph is higher, but the Bimmer can be specced with the M Driver's Pack, which raises the limiter to an E63-beating 190 mph.
The 2021 BMW M5 starts at a base price of $103,500 with the M5 Competition at $111,100. Unfortunately, official pricing for the new E63 S has not yet been revealed, but it shouldn't deviate too much from the last model's $107,350 price tag. So which to have?
Both are very similar on paper, but we know that BMW is usually the one to create a sharper driving experience while Mercedes makes slightly more comfortable daily drivers. Ultimately, the choice will come down to personal preference, but thanks to the performance figures and likely lower base price of the M5, we'd have to say that BMW still looks like the boss of its own segment.