Legend tells of two brothers, raised by wolves and destined
One, a fierce intellectual.
The other, possessing the heart of a
Unfortunately, this story ends when one of the brothers kills the
other and goes on to be the namesake of Rome. But history, ever determined to
repeat itself, has brought us the classic sibling rivalry. Only this time, it
takes place on the tarmac.
This is the BMW E92 M3 and its evil twin, the
Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG.
It used to be that when somebody mentioned the words sports
car, the image that popped into your head was that of a low slung two door
convertible like an Mx-5 or a Boxter. Either that, or something that was truly
meant for sport and nobody could afford like a 360 Modena or a Diablo. Yes, in
those days it was slim pickens if you just wanted a car that was fun to drive.
And of course if you did manage to pick one that you liked, it was virtually
useless. People who drove cars like that were on average single business
people, who drove to their job. Downtown. Or they would drive it to their
favorite bar. Downtown. Or perhaps to the gym. Again, downtown. You can see
what I'm getting at, right? The only people buying a car that could be used for
so little, were people who had no roads to make use of their Sports car's one
specialty. Certainly there were the track day fanatics that were able to really
let their sports cars stretch their legs, but these folks were few and far
between. The sports car needed a revamp from the ground up, and it was going to
take some planning to reach more diverse demographics while still maintaining
the reputation of the sports car.
Enter the sport sedan (or saloon depending on
where you live). I'm not here to argue who made the first sport sedan, or when
it was made, but it is a phenomena that has somewhat recently taken the auto
industry by storm; and since then, BMW and Mercedes have taken it upon
themselves to create two of the finest in the industry.
The concept is
simple: fit a large powerful engine in your smallest sedan, but put it on a
diet so it is nearly as light and nimble as the old sports cars. Change the
body work around a bit and refer to it as "superior aerodynamics" so
that people don't feel slighted, but keep it similar enough to the original car
to make people feel like they are getting a bargain.
BMW has perfected this
formula time and time again with their M3 series. In fact, the M3 was such a
hit they expanded to make an "M" version of nearly all of their
series. But the M3 started it all, and in my opinion, has always been their
best. At just under $60k, this latest version, the E92, gives you a front
mounted V8 engine that readily pushes out
420 bhp to the tune of 8300 RPM and nearly 400 Nm of torque at 3900 RPM.
The front and rear axles are made of aluminum and you get a set of large vented
disk brakes, all to ensure better overall handling through reduced weight.
car is well equipped from the start, but it's also quite the smart car (no I'm
not making a reference to those midget abominations). The onboard computer
handles so many calculations and minute details that really all you have to
worry about is sitting down in those fantastic Beamer seats and putting your
foot to the floor. BMW really has lived up to their name here as well because
this M3 may very well be the ultimate driving machine. Everything is so
harmonious, so in tune, that it's almost effortless to drive it; and that's the
best part, because effortless things become tedious, but the M3 is always so exciting. Not only is it fun to drive,
it's easy on the eyes.
I don't like slim cars. It's a fine design if you just
want a comfortable car for cruising, but if you're going to make a sports car, better
make it right. I was a bit disappointed when I saw the new 3 series was going
for a longer slimmer aesthetic. But I was wrong, the M3 is wide, but only in
the places it needs to be giving it a sexy understated aggression that isn't
there until you're looking for it. Clearly, if a car like this can bring so
much inner peace, there's no need for another on the road right?
Welcome all, to the opposite end of the spectrum; the
darker, more hatred filled end.
Here resides Mercedes Benz's answer to BMW's
prodigal son, the C63 AMG. It's about as obedient as a toddler in the
"no" phase and has a testosterone level rivaled only by the god of
thunder himself. You'll never hear anyone call this car pretty, but that's
mainly because they don't want to get cut, or more accurately, round-house
kicked in their face. The fastest turn you'll ever make in it is a 180. It's
loud, brash, unruly, and rude.
I could go on, but in short, this car is
Mercedes has always been the least fun loving of the German
big three (Audi, BMW, Mercedes). Even their finest sports cars were more like
yacht club trophies on the shelf of Sir Reginald Killjoy. That's not to say
they make a bad car; I just get the impression that their idea of sport is a
rousing game of golf. In other words, Mercedes has always catered to the upper
crust, and a finer lifestyle rather than lowering themselves to the commoner.
Which is why I'm completely baffled by this car.
like it's the runt of the litter, it just doesn't fit in. The big question is
though, has the transition from high performance luxury to high powered muscle
car paid off? If you're of the mind that a sports car is only as good as it's
best lap time then you need not continue reading. Because while the C63 is
superbly engineered, I feel it is not a car that focuses on the meticulous
details, but rather a larger issue altogether; that is, how does the car feel when you drive it? Sure you could
rattle off that the car has 457 bhp on tap, and that it launches from 0-60 in
the ballpark of 4.5 seconds; but I think this misses the point of the car
Although it is certainly capable of being a cold calculated racing
thoroughbred, I feel the true purpose of the C63 was to be illogical. Take the
thinking out of driving and you're left with only emotion. For once, Mercedes
has truly created a car for drivers. Sometimes cars aren't meant to be about
the business and the pedigree, sometimes people just want to drive their car to
have fun; and I think Mercedes is finally starting to realize, that a sports
car just isn't the same without a bit of personality.
Whether you're the parent who enjoys making the kids wee
themselves before showing up to practice, or just a true weekend warrior in
need of an escape, there is surely an ultimate sport sedan or coupe for you.
Mercedes-Benz and BMW make two of the finest examples; both of which embody
everything a sports car should be, in two very distinct ways. The BMW is a
calm, collected, portable Zen garden, while the Merc is the poster child of the
Controlled Chaos Consortium. The two create a sort of Yin-Yang, a sense of
balance and stability. If they could talk I'm sure they'd tell everyone they
absolutely despise each other, but deep down we all know that this is the
beginning of a beautiful, eternally competitive friendship.
The take-away from
all of this is that if you can't decide which one to buy, better get both.