Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Head to Head: 2010 Cadillac CTS-V vs. 2010 Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG

First into the cage: the BMW M5 (MT, July 2009). Result: Cadillac CTS-V emerges victorious, leaving the aging Munich Mauler pummeled and bloodied. Next arrives the newly supercharged Jaguar XFR (MT, October 2009), all swagger and panache and Savile Row suavity. Outcome: CTS-V rips the English aspirant’s neatly pressed ascot to shreds. It’s at this point Cadillac's engineering team smirks a little.

Now comes Round Three -- and the Caddy's biggest threat yet: the 2010 Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG, a thundering, leather-wrapped cruise missile we’ve already dubbed the best AMG sedan to date. Pull up a seat. This one could get ugly.

The E63 represents the "biggest threat" as it's the car best-equipped to confront the mighty, twice-victorious CTS-V. The M5 is, as noted, a dated design (a new, more potent edition is due in early 2011); it's fast, but in our comparo didn't display the handling moves necessary to trump the Cadillac. The Jag likewise proved quick, but likewise failed to surmount Motown's monster -- largely due to tricky limit handling and a poor performance-for-dollar ratio. The big Benz, though, is all-new and cutting-edge. What's more, AMG has so thoroughly reworked the underlying E-Class, you'd barely recognize it.

The Benz and the Caddy each sport a 6.2-liter V-8 displacing within a few cubic centimeters of each other's. The Cadillac's dishes up a delectable performance paté, force-feeding air via supercharger to yield a sensational, class-topping 556 horsepower at 6100 rpm (you'd expect nothing less from an engine that's a sibling to the Corvette ZR1's LS9). In contrast, the AMG's mill breathes air at whatever pressure Mother Nature is exhaling, yet this handbuilt, twin-cam, 32-valve beauty still romps with 518 horses at 6800 rpm -- 11 horsepower more than in the previous version (the revised V-8 is also 12 percent more fuel-efficient). Charging side by side, the two sedans sound like a pair of dueling T-Rexes, though the naturally aspirated E63 rocks the earth with particular ferocity -- especially during full-throttle upshifts, which it delivers like bazooka blasts.


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