I did many foolish and regrettable things in the previous-generation Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG. I remember many of them distinctly.
The flicked thumbs-up of a crazy-brave biker as he went prostrate on the fuel tank on a barren stretch of south coast bypass. The bemused, thumbs-down look of a bus driver when I briefly went all ham-fisted at a roundabout and finished up staring at the kerb in a vanishing pall of shame-smoke. It was that kind of car: 6.2 litres of hooliganism, wrapped in a chartered accountant’s notion of sporty dress.
Mostly, though, I remember ferrying an old mate repeatedly up a tiny, one-way section of our home town’s high street where the artery becomes so clogged by shops and pubs that it resonates like a wooden tunnel with the top taken off. Here, the model’s various flaws were obliterated by the adrenalised, quad-pipe depravity of Affalterbach’s own naturally aspirated V8 – before crystallising again moments later when the front wheel always clattered into the same sunken drain cover.
I recall the same level of puerile behaviour a few years earlier when the E90 version of the BMW M3 was new and fizzed to the 8300rpm rhythm of its own V-shaped piston-missile. Now both are long gone and their replacements firmly established. Yet neither the W205-series Mercedes-AMG C 63 nor the BMW F32-gen M4, each now sporting a downsized turbocharged engine, has so far proven quite as memorable as its respective predecessor. Both received four-star road test verdicts, meaning we liked, but didn’t necessarily love, either model.
They were first swings, though. With their eye now in, both manufacturers have since delivered more powerful versions of their sawn-off small execs: in Mercedes-AMG’s case, the increasingly differentiated S-badged C63 Coupé, and for BMW, the Competition Pack tweak, a descendant of the mighty CSL badging convention. Getting them together for the first time in the UK, we roped off a corner of Wales, packed the big fuel card and settled back to see if either car was good enough to make us suddenly go all gushy again.