The super-saloon 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. 

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.

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... 

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 specialises 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-saloon heart, where the BMW specialises 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 £89,640 £89,290
Engine 4,395cc twin-turbo V8 3,982cc twin-turbo 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 592bhp at 5600-6700rpm 603bhp at 5750-6500rpm
Torque 553 lb ft at 1800 - 5600rpm 627lb ft at 2500-4500rpm 
Power to weight 307bhp per tonne 308bhp per tonne
0-62mph 3.4sec 3.4sec
Top speed 190mph  186mph
Fuel economy 26.9mpg 31.0mpg
CO2 emissions 241g/km 207g/km
Seats 5 5
Length 4,966mm 4,940mm
Width 2,126mm (incl. mirrors) 2065mm (incl. mirrors)
Height 1,473mm 1,452mm
Wheelbase 2,982mm 2,939mm
Weight 1,930kg 1,955kg 
Fuel tank capacity 68 litres 76 litres

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. 

Check out:

Gallery: 2018 BMW M5: First Drive

Gallery: 2017 Mercedes-AMG E63 S first drive