Both V8, both with switchable four-wheel drive, so which one wins the numbers game?

The super-sedan scene has gone all four-wheel drive and turbocharged over the last few years with the advent of the Mercedes-AMG E63 S and BMW M5, but praise be - they're still V8s. And regardless of the inevitable pressure on these hairy-chested executive cars as emissions legislation gets more stringent, they're more powerful and faster than ever. 

More powerful E63 spied:

2017 Mercedes-AMG E63 S saloon

The cars

In the blue corner we have the BMW M5. The godfather of this breed, it was first introduced with the lovely, shark-nosed E28 BMW M5 in 1985, and it remained a six-cylinder car until 1998 with the V8 E39, which many still reckon to be the finest M5 yet.

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Since then it's been a V10, before returning to the V8 engine that we have here. But the BMW M5 has always been rear-wheel drive, until now. The new, faster-than-ever BMW M5 gets a switchable four-wheel drive system that means you're now less likely to disappear through a hedge backwards, unless you access the cheeky rear-wheel drive drift mode, when you can fulfil all of your sideways dreams, or indeed all of your insurance claim forms. Which sounds remarkably similar to... 

2018 BMW M5: First Drive
2017 Mercedes-AMG E63 S saloon

...the Mercedes-AMG E63 S. The brazenly potent Mercedes has a reputation for sounding better than the BMW M5 (AMG specializes in fantastical, thrilling V8 exhaust notes), and for being generally a bit softer in its ethos. Its earliest ancestor is the 1987 Mercedes 190E AMG, since when the E63 has established a reputation for being a bruising GT with a super-sedan heart, where the BMW specializes in firmer, but unfeasibly poised, track-worthy handling despite its size. 

Enough of that. Below are full galleries of both cars and links to our reviews of each car, but before you head there, here are the numbers that matter:  

  2018 BMW M5  2017 Mercedes-AMG E63 S
Price $103,595 $104,400
Engine 4,395cc biturbo V8 3,982cc biturbo V8
Transmission Eight-speed automatic Nine-speed automatic
Drivetrain Four-wheel drive with selectable rear-wheel drive Four-wheel drive with selectable rear-wheel drive
Power 600 hp (447 kW) at 5,600-6,700rpm 603 hp (449 kW) at 5,750-6,500rpm
Torque 553 lb-ft (750 Nm) at 1,800 - 5,600rpm 627 lb-ft (850 Nm) at 2,500-4,500rpm 
Power to weight 307 hp per tonne 308 hp per tonne
0-62mph 3.4 seconds 3.4 seconds
Top speed 190 mph (306 kph) 186 mph (299 kph)
CO2 emissions 241 g/km 207 g/km
Seats 5 5
Length 4,966 mm 4,940 mm
Width 2,126 mm (incl. mirrors) 2065 mm (incl. mirrors)
Height 1,473 mm 1,452 mm
Wheelbase 2,982 mm 2,939 mm
Weight 4,255 Pounds (1,930 kg) 4,310 lbs (1,955 kg) 
Fuel tank capacity 68 liters 76 liters

Which one wins? Tricky one. The Merc has a slug more torque, but it's delivered over a shorter stretch than the BMW. Ultimately, these two heavy-duty executive hammers are closer than ever both in nature and in outright numbers. Until we can get them on the road together to find out definitively which is best, we'd have to say that our money would go on the E63.

Our reviews: