YIN VS YANG, light vs dark, perhaps even good versus evil. The Mercedes-AMG C63 S Coupe and Audi RS5 Coupe aim for the same goal but their methods of kicking it are almost diametrically opposed. The radical differences in mechanical philosophies of our two test cars could be seen as a neat metaphor for their equally divergent personalities.
In the white corner is the C63 ‘Aero Edition 63’, an Australia-New Zealand exclusive model limited, as the name suggests, to just 63 units in either Iridium Silver or the Polar White seen here. Sprucing up the exterior is a number of “wind tunnel tested aerodynamic extras” including a bigger rear spoiler, larger front lip and chunky diffuser. The spoiler, mirror caps, and inserts in the front apron, side skirts and diffuser become carbon fibre, which is also liberally applied to the interior.
AMG Performance seats are standard, trimmed in the Aero-exclusive combination of Magma Grey Nappa leather with yellow stripes, the flashes of colour also appearing on the centre console, dash and door trims. The only mechanical upgrade is the inclusion of carbon-ceramic brakes, giant 402mm composite front discs with the gold six-piston front calipers that identify AMGs so equipped. All told you’re looking at $188,236.
This appears to hand the facelifted RS5 a sizeable price advantage as Audi has sliced almost $7000 out of the base price as part of the midlife refresh, which also incorporates revised styling (larger grille, narrower headlights), fancy laser light headlights and every active safety feature under the sun. However, this apparent price advantage doesn’t take into account the Audi options list, which sits salaciously in the corner saying ‘come hither’ to your wallet.
Our test RS5 wears $37,800 worth of extras, which pleasingly brings its total to just $464 more than its AMG opponent at $188,700. The big ticket items are the $13,600 carbon-ceramic brakes and $11,200 carbon styling package that slathers the exterior in carbon in a virtually identical manner to the C63. The RS5 ‘Aero Edition’ if you will. Turning the roof and engine cover to carbon adds another $4900 and $1200 respectively and dynamic ride control adaptive dampers are a further $4400. Rounding off the total are gloss black wheels ($400), black badges ($700) and matt carbon interior inlays ($1400). Whew.
Painted in Sonoma Green, the dark and foreboding colour scheme gives the RS5 a menacing mien. Parked nose to nose with the C63, the Audi is lower, squatter and more muscular, the Merc looking sleeker but taller and thinner. The height difference is not an illusion, the AMG standing 41mm taller than the RS5 but also 16mm wider and 28mm longer with an extra 74mm in the wheelbase. Despite this, the Audi is clearly the more practical car.
Forgive us for getting all sensible for a second, but the RS5 has a much bigger boot (465L vs 355L) and nicer rear accommodation. The C63 isn’t exactly barren in the back but it’s a child-only zone in terms of space whereas the RS5 offers more room, separate temperature controls and USB charging. Up front both are lineball in terms of features and ergonomics, though I prefer the Audi’s steering wheel and its seats offer better support than the AMG’s, for my body type at least.
Where the RS5 is clearly superior is its infotainment. The new 10.1-inch MMI touchscreen is as slick and intuitive as the Merc’s touchpad-controlled system isn’t. This might sound like a small thing – you wouldn’t base a purchasing decision on it – but when it’s something you interact with every minute or so of every day it’s the difference between a feeling of relaxation or frustration.
Relaxation is something the RS5 is quite good at; it’s about as undemanding as daily drivers get. The 2.9-litre twin-turbo V6 hums away surreptitiously, the eightspeed automatic occasionally feels like it wants to be a dual-clutch with its stop-start behaviour but is smooth enough, the ride is pliant and refinement is excellent. This is a ‘nice’ car: it looks nice, it feels nice, it drives nice.
Continue reading your story on the app
Continue reading your story in the magazine
Does Porsche’s long-distance tourer benefit from batteries?
LORD of the RINGS
WE RIDE SHOTGUN WITH WORLD RALLY CHAMPION HANNU MIKKOLA IN THE ALL-CONQUERING AUDI QUATTRO A2
LEXUS LC500 CONVERTIBLE
Enright’s not a big drop-top fan, but could he be a convert to the LC500?
POTENT ELECTRIC AUDI CHARTS THE ROUTE AHEAD FOR QUATTRO’S NEXT 40 YEARS
WHY THE ALL-NEW PORSCHE 911 GT3 ISN’T JUST ABOUT THE NUMBERS
THE SPORT QUATTRO WAS AUDI’S ULTIMATE RALLY CAR AND THE TT RS IS ITS SPIRITUAL SUCCESSOR
ASSAULT AND BATTERY
WE SAMPLE THE SPARK ODYSSEY 21, THE 400KW MACHINE THAT’S PUTTING THE EXCITEMENT INTO THE EXTREME E SERIES
AmpliTex: coming to a racetrack near you
A Swiss company is proving there is a cost-effective way to create a light, eco-friendly material that rivals carbon fibre
FOR THE FIRST TIME IN AUSTRALIA, WE GATHER THE FINEST QUATTROS FROM EACH OF THE FOUR DECADES OF PRODUCTION. OKAY, SO WE BENT THE RULES A TINY BIT...
AUDI RS Q3 Sportback
Small, fast, fun, five-pot family hauler has more than one personality
6 apps to delight book lovers
Find more things to read, in more ways, and more people to discuss them with
Intake 2020 Audi S4 FIRST DRIVE
Cars like the Audi S4 have a complicated set of responsibilities. They have to be fast, high-tech, comfortable, well-built, efficient, safe, and satisfying to drive—not to mention good-looking. Personally, I prefer the looks of the old car, but that doesn’t mean the new car isn’t handsome enough to satisfy those who can afford the $50,895 starting price.
2021 Audi A3 Sedan
Sedans are sailing against serious headwinds these days, but Audi isn’t ready to give up.
As We see it – Hi-fi Arcana I
Some Stereophile readers will surely remember—some may even have in their collections—Christian Marclay’s 1985 vinyl release Record Without a Cover, surely one of the oddest records ever, right up there with the dying-rabbit record and the seven-inch single that’s tinted yellow by the band’s actual urine.
Ready to Rock
The Audi RS 6 is a station wagon, sure, but it doesn’t feel like one behind the wheel
Dealer Of Dreams
Want to get behind the wheel of a bentley, lambo, or bugatti? Manhattan car guy Brian Miller is here to help.
Take Control Of Your Audiobooks
Rip, convert, and stream your audiobook collection to any device, with Nick Peers
MORE TYPES OF SUVS HAVE US LOOKING DEEPER THAN EVER FOR A WINNER
Is China Still GM's Promised Land?
As the carmaker plays catch-up on EVs, Chinese consumers are turning away
CARISMA M40S AUDI RS5 DTM
This super-scale street machine is ready for driveway DTM action