Pushing the boundaries of performance and fuel efficiency

1 Feb

By Matt McCarron

High performance and fuel efficiency are not something that tend to go hand in hand. However, German manufacturers, particularly Mercedes-Benz AMG and BMW Motorsport have embarked on a new quest. It’s no longer acceptable to have the car with the most horsepower and torque, or the one with the largest displacement engine. In today’s ever-evolving high-performance race to produced the world’s best super sedan, it’s much more important to leave the competition in the dust, and do it in a cleaner and more fuel-efficient manner.

There are three German manufacturers who produce a high-performance version of their standard family hauler. And although all three, Audi, Mercedes-Benz and BMW can claim to have the highest performing and cleanest burning engine, and subsequently the best vehicle, this comparison will only focus on two of the three. The major reason for this is because the Audi RS6 isn’t offered for the U.S. market. The Audi S6 is a very capable vehicle in its own right, but it really can’t compete with the likes of the CLS63 AMG and upcoming BMW F10 M5. For the record, the Audi RS6 officially gets a combined 17 mpg in Europe and is powered by a 5.0-liter twin-turbocharged V10, producing 580 hp at 6,250 rpm and 479 lb-ft of torque at 1,500 rpm.

The new 5.5-liter twin-turbocharged AMG engine: Courtesy of M-B USA

Mercedes AMG seems to have fired the first shot in the latest super sedan war. In November 2010 Mercedes AMG revealed their all-new 5.5-liter twin-turbocharged V8 engine, replacing it’s predecessor, the 6.3-liter naturally aspirated V8. The 5.5-liter twin turbo offers a 33% increase in fuel efficiency over the 6.3 NA, resulting in an estimated 16 mpg city and 21 mpg highway. The 5.5-liter also produces more horsepower and torque, with 518 hp and 516 lb-ft respectively, 550 hp and 590 lb-ft with the optional AMG Performance Package, as opposed to the 507 hp and 465 lb-ft from the old power plant.

Although Mercedes AMG has been the first out of the gate in the sedan race for the U.S. market, their competition, namely BMW Motorsport have been busy in the secretive depths of Munich and Garching, preparing their answer to the 2012 CLS63 AMG, the all-new BMW F10 M5. Although details of the upcoming ‘bahn-burner have been numerous, few have been concrete. However there are certain things that seem to have been figured out. The F10 M5 will be powered a highly tuned version of the 4.4-liter twin-turbocharged V8 engine that currently powers the X5M and X6M. Horsepower estimates range from the upper 500’s to even 600 hp.

BMW F10 M5 at Netherlands airport - Courtesy Autojunk.nl

In a September 2010 interview with Kilometer Magazine, BMW Motorsport CEO Dr. Kay Segler said the F10 M5 will reduce CO2 emissions by 20-25 percent. “We had very clear targets, and we worked toward those targets. Twenty to twenty-five percent less CO2 output, day-to-day car and a pure sports car in one, and a beautiful design as well,” said Segler.

The location of the F10 M5 debut is still uncertain. However one thing is for certain, the fast-paced race to produce the greatest super sedan seems to be escalating, and is getting more intense with each passing day. Unfortunately, the verdict on the world’s best super sedan will have to wait for the foreseeable future, or at least until enough automotive journalists have had the chance to drive the F10 M5 to make an educated decision.

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Video Courtesy of M5board.com


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