PistonHeads.com Forum

RE: Alfa Giulia vs. BMW M3 vs. Mercedes-AMG C63 S

RE: Alfa Giulia vs. BMW M3 vs. Mercedes-AMG C63 S

Thursday 18th May

Alfa Giulia vs. BMW M3 vs. Mercedes-AMG C63 S

Super saloons battle for glory; tyres were harmed in the making of this story



Introduction
Could you ask for a more PistonHeads selection of cars than this? Sure, we all like proper sports cars, from track specials to hypercars. But super saloons like this just tick so many boxes.

You'll be familiar enough with our contenders and the fundamentals remain pleasingly similar - big power and rear-wheel drive, but with enough practicality and luxury for daily pleasantries. Their starting prices range from £60,355 for the BMW to £67,450 for the Mercedes but, after options, all are to within a grand or two of £75K, making for a pleasingly level playing field.

All run twin-turbocharged engines but they differ in heritage and character. We've got a modern twist on the classic M straight-six, a thumping AMG V8 and an Italian V6 'inspired by' Ferrari - basically a California T motor with a couple of cylinders chopped off. We've got a dual-clutch transmission from BMW, an automatic from Alfa Romeo and AMG's halfway house in the C63; all feature variable damping, various engine modes, configurable throttle maps and electronically controlled locking diffs controlled via driver settings of varying complexity. All have been optioned with ceramic brakes too. With sensible hats on we'd say all this gives them a broad range of ability that best exploits their considerable power.

But we're not sensible. The serious consumer comparisons and stopwatches can wait for another time. We've got a track, some spare tyres and the desire to put the more crowd-pleasing handling attributes to the test. These are meant to be feel-good cars, after all. But which makes you feel best?



BMW M3
The F80 BMW M3 and F82 M4 haven't had an entirely easy ride since they launched back in 2014. The twin-turbocharged straight-six was a big emotional and technical step, the sound, character and power delivery of this complex engine a cause of some controversy. Likewise the spiky handling, not helped by damping that could struggle to contain the firepower.

M3 shines on circuit, appropriately enough
M3 shines on circuit, appropriately enough
The Competition Package at least attempts to address that, the revised chassis settings taming some of the M3's wilder habits. And with time to get accustomed to it that engine's talents can now be properly appreciated.

And it looks awesome. It might be the only one with less than 500hp but the M3 is the best looking car here and, arguably, the one with the richest heritage to draw upon too. The stance is spot on, the saloon's swollen arches subtly but significantly more muscular than regular 3 Series and the details like the bonnet bulge and carbon roof just enough to set it apart. The Competition Package wheels are a bit iffy, but as a package it brims with confidence and intent.

And would you just look at it?
And would you just look at it?
And it's instantly got a harder edge than the other two. Our test is track focused and here the speaker-enhanced sound and rougher edges of the ride are less of an issue. Rather you can concentrate on the pin-sharp front end, the razor sharp throttle response (it really is amazing for a turbo engine), the huge powerband and the surprising appetite for revs.

It's lighter than the Giulia but the steering is a little mushier. But it feels like it could drive rings around the AMG and is just so resolved on track it's little wonder Matt is quickly gapping the other two at the head of the pack. OK, he's an unashamed M3 fanboy. But the BMW just gives you that kind of confidence and is the truest to the delusions of motorsport grandeur. It's the only one you can have as a manual too but, in all honesty, the dual-clutch M DCT transmission is perfectly suited to the car and the sharpest shift here by some margin. Immediately the bar has been set very high indeed.

 

 



Mercedes-AMG C63S
The biggest, the heaviest, the most expensive and the most powerful (or at least most torquey) car here, the C63 S packs typical AMG swagger and the only V8 of the group too. The M3's motorsport vibes are all very well. But the thunderclap when you hit the AMG's starter button needs no assistance through the speakers, and at the 'civilian' speeds you'll spend most of your driving time the C63 plucks the heartstrings brilliantly.

There's that party trick!
There's that party trick!
The rear-set cabin and long nose give it some slightly odd proportions from certain angles and, bar the quad exhausts, it's not as immediately attention grabbing as the other two. But it's by some margin the most lavish and luxurious and its sense of decadence (mechanical AND aesthetic) help justify the price premium over the other two.

Like the M3 there are driver modes galore but the differences between them more subtle. Where the BMW feels underdamped in comfort and harsh in Sport Plus the C63 simply offers incremental increases in composure without significantly altering its generally burly but plush character. Same with the throttle and gearbox settings, too. The heart of this car is its engine though, and whatever mode you're in it dominates the experience.

On track it feels like a bit of a lump compared with the M3 and there's a little more softness to the throttle, despite the extra cylinders and capacity. But once it's filled its lungs that V8 has massive reach and deploys its torque advantage to the full. The auto-with-a-clutch gearbox isn't as sharp as the other two but when you've got this much to lean on that's less of an issue. And if not a natural track car the C63 has one party piece that'll make you giggle like an idiot.

Rather lovely place to wreck tyres from too
Rather lovely place to wreck tyres from too
Now, on the launch we said the S model with its electronic diff was seemingly less of an oversteery beast than previous AMGs. We must have been mincing. Because even on a dry Anglesey circuit the C63's appetite for bonfiring its tyres is outrageous.

The slower steering might rob it of agility compared with the other two, but it makes sustaining huge slides utter child's play. And once the rear tyres are lit up it's up to you (or your tyre budget) how long you sustain the drift. Don't think the smoke will subside on the straight either. Once spinning you can shift up through the gears to build the smoke screen AND keep accelerating at the same time. There's certainly more sophistication to this C63 than previous ones. But the hooligan nature hasn't been buried too deeply.

 

 



Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio
Here's the car with a point to prove. While BMW and Mercedes are entirely in their comfort zones here Alfa Romeo has had to start from a clean slate, identifying what the Germans do so well but needing to put its own Italian twist on the formula.

It was going well out here; really well...
It was going well out here; really well...
It starts brilliantly, too. It's actually not quite as beautiful as you might have been led to believe, the proportions a little stumpy and the detailing a bit fussy. But it still works; and from the carbon splitter to the Quadrifoglio badges on the wings, the voluptuous side skirts and the serious looking diffuser and carbon lip spoiler there's enough to tell you that this is a proper car, even if you weren't aware of that lunatic 'ring lap.

Thankfully there's substance too. The optional carbon backed Sparco seats (£2,950 well spent) are mounted nice and low and the steering wheel pulls right into your chest. The long paddles look great and have a properly assertive 'click' when you pull them - you even get the both paddles for neutral like you do in proper Italian supercars. It's a stylish cabin too, enveloping you in crimson leather and carbon and with enough panache that you'll gloss over some of the cheaper feeling switchgear and an infotainment system that's behind the Germans.

That point to prove nature comes across instantly in the driving style too. This is one pointy, aggressive car. Not just the engine that's 'inspired by Ferrari' either. If you've driven recent Maranello product you'll recognise the light and pointy steering, the action in the paddles and the eagerness to pile on the speed. Likewise the quality of the damping, the sophistication of the electronic control of the locking differential and the ability to be both speed merchant and hooligan in one.

Then this happened
Then this happened
Once over its initial lag the California T derived engine has both the AMG motor's muscle and the M's eagerness to rev. It sounds a bit flatulent but it more than delivers on the numbers. And although it's 'just' a torque convertor auto, the calibration of the manual shifts is crisp enough to make the lack of a manual option here in the UK seem less of an issue. Basically the Giulia can do both (very) fast and neat like the M3 or go a bit nuts and lairy like the C63.

Well, it could. Right up until the 'check engine' light came on and it locked itself into Normal mode, meaning full stability control lockdown and its feisty side firmly out of bounds. Oh Alfa...

 

 



Verdict
It would be easy to say the Giulia played up to all the worst stereotypes we might have about flaky electronics in Italian cars. Mainly because it did. Alfa Romeo is investigating what went wrong with our car and has promised a rematch, but it's hugely disappointing that on the day it wasn't able to put the potential it had shown into practice. More on this in the video to follow.

There's a clear winner on the day...
There's a clear winner on the day...
While we're having a moan the BMW was also somewhat hamstrung, mainly due to the fact the promised set of extra rear tyres didn't materialise and some thought had to be given to leaving enough rubber to drive home on. Which would have been fine if yours truly hadn't used up a significant amount on a couple of 'vital sighting laps', leaving Matt to nurse what was left for the remainder of the day. Less time showboating at least demonstrated the M3's ability to do neat and extremely fast, this probably the most rapid and track friendly car of the day. The on-paper power deficit never felt an issue either - this is a rampantly fast car.

So to the C63. It's a bit of a lump, frankly. But a massively charismatic one. It makes no attempt to chase the M3's circuit pace, instead playing to its strengths as an entertainer. And in this it excels. It's the only one you can get as an estate too, which adds considerable appeal.

Leaving the Alfa Romeo, the one with the potential to be a genuinely disruptive influence in this German-dominated sector. By combining the best of what BMW M and AMG do into one glamorously appointed package it really could be the car to set the standard. If only it had worked properly.

On the day though, it has to go to the M3.


BMW M3 COMPETITION PACKAGE
Engine
: 2,979cc, straight six, twin-turbo
Transmission: seven-speed dual-clutch, rear-wheel drive
Power (hp): 450@7,000rpm
Torque (lb ft): 406@1,850rpm
0-62mph: 4.0secs
Top speed: 155mph (limited)
Weight: 1,635kg (EU, with driver and DCT gearbox)
MPG: 34
CO2: 194g/km
Price: £60,355 (As tested £76,295 comprising £,1330 for Sakhir Orange full merino leather, £545 for Advanced Parking package with reversing assist camera and Park assist, £2,645 for 7-speed M DCT with Drivelogic, £6,250 for M Carbon ceramic brakes, £495 for Comfort access, £190 for rear sunblinds, £265 for sun protection glass, £155 for extended storage, £280 for rear seat heating, £395 for Carbon Fibre interior trim with Black Chrome finishers, £1,200 for BMW Icon Adaptive LED headlights, £500 for surround view, £825 for BMW M Head-up display, £245 for Loudspeaker system - Harman Kardon surround sound, £240 for concierge service, £160 for online entertainment and £220 for speed limit display)

MERCEDES-AMG C63 S
Engine
: 3,982cc, V8 twin-turbo
Powertrain: AMG Speedshift MCT 7-speed automatic, rear-wheel drive
Power (hp): 510@5,500 - 6,250rpm
Torque (lb ft): 516@1,750 - 4,500
0-62mph: 4.0sec
Top speed: 155mph (limited)
Weight: 1,715kg (EU, with driver)
MPG: 34.5 (combined)
CO2: 192g/km
Price: £67,450 (As tested £77,565 comprising 360-degree camera for £335, AMG Night Package for £585, AMG Performance Exhaust for £1,000, AMG Interior Carbon Fibre Trim Package for £700, Premium Package (leather dash, keyless go, automatic boot, Burmester stereo, LED Intelligent Light System and Panoramic electric sunroof) for £2,595, Driving Assistance Package (Active Blind Spot Assist, Active Lane-Keeping Assist, Cross-Traffic Assist, Distronic Plus with Steering Assist and Stop&Go Pilot, Pre-Safe Brake with pedestrian detection and Pre-Safe Plus) for £1,695, Head-up display for £825, Diamond White metallic paint for £645 and 19-inch alloy wheels for £1,735)

ALFA ROMEO GIULIA QUADRIFOGLIO
Engine
: 2,891cc, V6 twin-turbo
Transmission: 8-speed auto, rear-wheel drive
Power (hp): 510@6,500rpm
Torque (lb ft): 443@2,500rpm
0-62mph: 3.9sec
Top speed: 190mph
Weight: 1,695kg (quoted DIN weight + 75kg driver, equating to EU)
MPG: 34.4
CO2: 189g/km
Price: £61,300 (As tested £73,805 comprising Dark tinted rear windows for £275, 19-inch Dark '5 hole' alloy wheel for £350, Leather/Alcantara steering wheel with carbon inserts for £225, Sparco 'Carbonshell' sport seats for £2,950, Convenience Pack (exterior door handle lights, IP storage compartment on driver side, keyless entry) for £425, Sound Theatre by Harmon Kardon including subwoofer for £950, Smoking kit for £80, Carbon ceramic brakes for £5,500 and Competizione Red Tri-Coat paint for £1,750)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Author
Discussion

vz-r_dave

Original Poster:

3,186 posts

138 months

Thursday 18th May
quotequote all
So a working Giulia is the better car,

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WGAU7aFMFwQ - 2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio vs. Everything! - Head 2 Head Ep. 85



Alex_225

2,050 posts

121 months

Thursday 18th May
quotequote all
As a Merc fan.....I'd pick the Alfa!

Purely as I'm not sold on the looks of the current C Class four door. As a coupé I think it looks awesome, so that as a C63 would get my vote. Compared to the model in this article though, the Alfa is better looking.

In terms of driving, well my main car is an '07 CLS63 and I suspect any of the three would offer a more modern performance driving experience for me compare to what I'm used to. smile

big_rob_sydney

1,862 posts

114 months

Thursday 18th May
quotequote all
Was really hoping the Alfa would deliver, and massively disappointed in this. No interest in the Germans. Wondering what a NA Lexus can do now.

great_kahn

71 posts

6 months

Thursday 18th May
quotequote all
Ruddy ell Alpha, they really don't help themselves do they....

Furyblade_Lee

3,817 posts

144 months

Thursday 18th May
quotequote all
The Merc, like most Mercs, looks like a Sharl El Sheik taxi,
The M3 does mot look very M3 to me, just looks like a regular diesel BMW like you see 20 of on the school run.
The Alfa however.... Just beautiful. Shame they seem to have missed the bullseye. I would still rather the Alfa over the others.
Advertisement

sinbaddio

801 posts

96 months

Thursday 18th May
quotequote all
Alfa for me too! Great looking car (shame about the fault....). Looking forward to see how the residuals hold up in three years time!

Wills2

13,416 posts

95 months

Thursday 18th May
quotequote all

Chris Harris once wrote an excellent article on the M3 through the generations and how each new iteration gets poor reviews initially only to become loved by the journalists as time goes by, by the time the next new one comes out they love the outgoing one so much they start to slag off the new car...

I see it's starting to happen again, a nice and not before time win for the M3.


FN2TypeR

3,352 posts

13 months

Thursday 18th May
quotequote all
That Merc is fugly in saloon guise IMO, it looks absolutely gopping.

Nors

1,104 posts

75 months

Thursday 18th May
quotequote all
FN2TypeR said:
That Merc is fugly in saloon guise IMO, it looks absolutely gopping.
Agreed, looks are subjective, but the melted both ends look I find awful.

Alfa for me all day.

vz-r_dave

Original Poster:

3,186 posts

138 months

Thursday 18th May
quotequote all
big_rob_sydney said:
Was really hoping the Alfa would deliver, and massively disappointed in this. No interest in the Germans. Wondering what a NA Lexus can do now.
This is the only article I have read where the Alfa disappoints..... go and do some research

start here - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WGAU7aFMFwQ&t=...

DMC2

1,261 posts

131 months

Thursday 18th May
quotequote all
Wills2 said:
Chris Harris once wrote an excellent article on the M3 through the generations and how each new iteration gets poor reviews initially only to become loved by the journalists as time goes by, by the time the next new one comes out they love the outgoing one so much they start to slag off the new car...

I see it's starting to happen again, a nice and not before time win for the M3.

That's because the first batch of current M3s was poor. But the performance M3 is highly fettled and eradicates some of the cars original issues. Seems BMW can't get it right first time, they need a couple of goes at it!!

Grantstown

41 posts

7 months

Thursday 18th May
quotequote all
FN2TypeR said:
That Merc is fugly in saloon guise IMO, it looks absolutely gopping.
Yep, it's predecessor is better looking and has an even more charismatic engine. The new car wins on the arguably less important points of interior toys and function, fuel economy and track times.

I'd take the alpha.

Steven_RW

737 posts

122 months

Thursday 18th May
quotequote all
Furyblade_Lee said:
The M3 does mot look very M3 to me, just looks like a regular diesel BMW like you see 20 of on the school run.
A white M3 with a nice set of wheels and a couple of choice black bits on the stock body kit passes me once or twice a week.

IMO there is no way you would ever think it was a diesel banger model.

In the flesh it looks very meaty and angular and purposeful. Big arches and interesting proportions.

IMO.

RW

popeyewhite

4,493 posts

40 months

Thursday 18th May
quotequote all
MB all the way. Don't drive on a track to work, so don't need the M3. And I'd like to get there, so don't want the Alfa.

Edited by popeyewhite on Thursday 18th May 10:53

Dale7355

69 posts

82 months

Thursday 18th May
quotequote all
So the Alfa quadrifoglio had problems
Just like my brand new one only done 103 miles broke down twice last weekend 2 call outs to Alfa for recovery
Now car has had interior taken apart including dash board also having boot repainted and I have no replacement quadrifoglio
I have now made up my mind to reject this new car and today I will be collecting my personal belonging out of the car and dealer can shove it where the sun don't shine and I either want a full refund or a replacement brand new car
I have spent less than one hour 20 mins in the drivers seat and mechanics have spent longer in the seat ripping the dash out
I have lost the brand new experience of a new car the smell etc..
Alfa please get your act together
Dale 7355

BVB

412 posts

73 months

Thursday 18th May
quotequote all

I'd still take the Alfa, any day of the week.

phil1979

2,939 posts

135 months

Thursday 18th May
quotequote all
As an owner of a 2014 6.2 C63, and an Alfa 159 prior to that, I would take the Giulia every time. The new C-Class is so, so ugly. If they wake a wagon version of the Alfa, that will replace my C3 in a few years time.

KarlMac

2,745 posts

61 months

Thursday 18th May
quotequote all
Furyblade_Lee said:
The Merc, like most Mercs, looks like a Sharl El Sheik taxi,
The M3 does mot look very M3 to me, just looks like a regular diesel BMW like you see 20 of on the school run.
The Alfa however.... Just beautiful. Shame they seem to have missed the bullseye. I would still rather the Alfa over the others.
Pretty much on the money for me. I look forward to spending an absolute fortune keeping a Guilia QF on the road in about 7 years time.

Guvernator

7,153 posts

85 months

Thursday 18th May
quotequote all
Disappointing that the Alfa once again played up to it's usual stereotype, however despite this I'd probably still take the Alfa. While I love the engine in the AMG, the rest of the package leaves a little to be desired and the M3 while a good contender is getting a bit long in tooth.

Subjective I know but not really sure what Dan was on about in terms of looks, the Alfa is the best looking car there by far IMO, the Merc has lot it's way and as another poster said, the M3 can look a little bit too anonymous if it's not in the right colour\spec plus while the engine is decent enough in the M3, it never really set my hair on fire like previous M engines.

So Alfa, best looking, tied for best engine with the AMG and almost as good handling as the M3, just let down by the usual Alfa foibles which would annoy if it was a brand new car but in 2-3 years time when the usual Alfa depreciation has done it's work, I think they will be an absolutely stonking buy.

simo1863

1,261 posts

48 months

Thursday 18th May
quotequote all
I've driven two Quadrifoglios and both broke down as well.

Shame really as (of the three), it's probably the best (when it works).