2013 Audi RS5 vs 2013 Mercedes C63 AMG

By Zack Klapman and edited by Christina Selter

The market for luxury performance coupes is fierce. All offerings are comfortable, cool, and fast. Two of the best are the 2013 Audi RS5 and Mercedes C63 AMG Coupe. The handsome Audi bears the name (RS) of cars that used to be a hair away from race-ready. The C63 wears the badge of noise and speed.

Both pack V8 engines making 450HP (481 in the Mercedes if you opt for the Development Package), have 7-speed semi-auto gear boxes, hail from Germany, and drink fuel like a camel a water park. But their personalities, and abilities, are quite different.

The transporter

2013 Audi RS 5

If you’re considering either of these as your daily driver, and live anywhere that gets colder than 33 degrees (Farenheit), the Audi is your choice. Audi has been refining its AWD Quattro system since the sun turned on, and what it does in this car is remarkable; erasing any worries of nose-heavy understeer. In normal conditions it splits the torque to 40% front, 60% rear, but it will send up to 85% to the back wheels if you like. Despite the engine hanging over the front axle, it does a great job of keeping under-steer at bay. Driven right, it’s a surprisingly nimble machine.

The inside is the perfect marriage of beauty and practicality we expect from Audi. Everything is intuitive and easy to find, and the gauges make you feel like you’re in something fast. The seats are great, and the wheel provides good feedback.

The ride is up to you: Comfort mode doesn’t erase bumps, but they’re muffled and never intrusive. Crank the dial to Dynamic for the slalom home.

Audi RS 5

It’s quick too: 60MPH happens in 4 seconds flat. The 4.2L V8 is powerful but only has 317ft-lbs of torque, requiring you to rev it out to really move. But you won’t mind, because when the electronic baffles open, they let one of my favorite engine sounds bark freely, making you play with the ultra-fast dual-clutch transmission like an instrument. 14.4” inch brakes keep you safe (The lead footed should opt for the Carbon Ceramic brakes $6,000). Quick and sure-footed, it’s a playful car that doesn’t let you get too out of line.

The brawler

2012 Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG Coupe

Dear C63 AMG, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways…

2012 Mercedes C63 AMG Coupe

Starting at $63,500, the C63 looks tougher than the Audi, snarling at the rear view mirror of other drivers. Inside, things are as tidy as the Audi, but with a little more emphasis on pleasing the eye, hiding some functions in the big, recessed center screen. It’s a beautiful cabin really. A boxer’s jewelry hiding lethal power.

2012 Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG Coupe

And lethal it is. Where the Audi needs it’s flanks kicked all the way to 8,250RPM to make power, the AMG’s torque peaks at 5,000RPM. Coupled with a 126ft-lb. advantage, and kicks you in the back. The extra torque gets it going a little quicker than the RS5 (3.8s to 60MPH, ¼ mile in 12.2), but that’s negligible in the real world. It’s about how it feels, and what you want. As a former GTO driver, I give the nod to the AMG.

The C63 also has 7 speeds, but it’s a bit slower than the RS5. The AMG shifts quick, but not with the fervor of the Audi; an old Bloodhound to a young Husky. Ride quality also goes to the Audi; the C63- though quiet- can be jarring over bad raods. You also can’t feel the front tires through the wheel as good as the Audi, but the
weight and shape are nice.

But if you’re like me, you will ignore that for the sound and fun that AMG is known for. The fiery grumble of an AMG motor causes avalanches. Every AMG car also comes standard with massive burnout abilities. It’s tail happy, emphasis on “happy”. The C63 is an angry little hooligan, and I love it. This is the best muscle car on sale today, and it looks like a Rolex inside.

Both of these cars are fantastic examples of engineering; fit and finish is impeccable. With the RS5 you get a handsome car that can be driven quickly in any weather, and provides a wonderful cabin of solitude when you want to cruise. It’s a very good car. The Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG is the shouting executive, an adolescent in fine clothes. Just as respected as the Audi, but with more edge. The RS5 might make you smile, but the AMG will make you laugh. Honestly, the choice only depends on what climate you live in, what kind of person you are, and how big your budget for tires is.

(Note: All vehicles provided by manufacturers for comparison test purposes. Photos provided by Audi and Mercedes-Benz.)