December 24, 2013
Review and photos by Jeff Wilson
Many folks have come to terms with the fact that they are unlikely to ever walk into the dealership of a high-end marque, point to the sexiest machine on the floor and say “I’ll take two of those please.” Still, reality – painful though it may be – doesn’t stop most of us (myself included) from having lottery-win fantasies.
What else are you going to do in your office on a Tuesday afternoon? Work? Come on.
As a realist, one must appreciate that not every motoring function can be served by that gleaming red Ferrarumbli Snazzarini, and so some practical choices need be made, even with fantasy win cars.
With that in mind, might I present to you two magnificent options for your ‘sensible fantasy-land daily driver’? The Audi RS 7 and Mercedes-Benz CLS 63 AMG.
Don’t let their size and four doors fool you, each of these swoopy beasts are nothing short of semi-sensible super cars. Want a bit of proof? Audi claims a 0–100 km/h time of 3.9 seconds. Mercedes states 3.7 seconds. I’ve probably had sneezes that lasted longer than that. Best of all, you can terrorize three passengers whilst either of these monstrous beasts gulp back fuel and air at a rate normally reserved for a small jet.
2014 Audi RS 7 versus 2014 Mercedes-Benz CLS 63 AMG-S 4MATIC. Click image to enlarge
Normally in an Autos.ca comparison test, we’d start off with a good, wholesome category – you know, something like Interior Space, Fuel Efficiency or Value. Not this time, my friends. These cars are all about their engines, so let’s begin by looking at the heart of the matter.
The Audi features a 32-valve, DOHC twin-turbocharged V8 that displaces just under four litres – small by most modern V8 standards. It puts out 560 magnificent horsepower between 5,700 – 6,600 rpm and 516 lb-ft of torque at only 1,750 rpm. The power delivery is as sensational as one would expect from the numbers – and from barely off-idle all the way to redline, the RS 7 emits an unholy howl. It’s not high-pitched like a Ferrari, but nor is it throaty like a big-block domestic engine either. It’s just sweet, ear-pleasing sophistication. This car just pulls and pulls with utter ferocity.
2014 Audi RS 7 & 2014 Mercedes-Benz CLS 63 AMG-S 4MATIC. Click image to enlarge
But the Benz pulls harder.
The twin-turbo 5.5L V8 in the CLS 63 provides 550 hp of thrust. But this isn’t a measly CLS 63 AMG. This car is an S-Model AMG, meaning it dispenses with 577 angered Clydesdales ready to reverse the earth’s rotation. But it’s the torque figure (590 lb-ft) that will actually achieve it. These bumps in gusto are the result of turning up the boost from 13.0 psi to 14.5.
The CLS is the sort of car that interrupts a passenger mid-sentence even if they could not care less about cars. The accelerative forces driving one’s body deep into the seatback cannot be ignored; such is the impact of maximum torque of that magnitude between 1,750 and 5,250 rpm. If you’ve ever stood at the beach with your back to surf when a rogue wave hits you from behind, you’ll have an understanding of a half-throttle start in the Benz.
Although muffled beneath the turbos compared to the older 6.2L AMG V8s, the music is all bass. It’s deep, throaty and sounds like it would be completely at home roaring around the Hockenheim during a DTM race.
With its greater torque and deeper singing voice, the handcrafted AMG engine takes this one.
The Rest of the Drivetrain
New for 2014, Mercedes has decided to provide North Americans with only all-wheel-drive versions of the CLS 63 AMG (and its mechanical E 63 AMG twin). Europeans are apparently more skilled drivers than we North Americans and can still purchase a rear-wheel-drive variant. With the CLS 63, all-wheel drive merely enables mortals like you and I to get a lot more excitement out of the big engine without hurting others or ourselves. If it’s a crutch, it’s not an unwelcome one.
Audi’s name is practically synonymous with Quattro – the brand associated with the company’s all-wheel drive and also the division of the company that produces the RS cars (Quattro GmbH). It’s not surprising then that the RS 7’s AWD system (and sport differential) is masterfully engineered to direct power where it’s needed without feeling like it’s hindering or weighing down the car (which of course it is – weighing it down, not hindering it).