New BMW M4 vs Mercedes-AMG C63: interiors
The M4 is a new range-topping version of our reigning Coupé of the Year, but is it better than its arch-rival from Mercedes' AMG performance division...
Behind the wheel
Driving position, visibility, build quality
These performance cars might be based on ‘regular’ coupés, but inside they’ve received enough detail tweaks to make them feel special. In the M4, for example, you get racy highlights such as carbon-fibre trim, a bright red starter button and seatbelts in the colours of BMW's M performance division, while the C63 counters with an Alcantara-wrapped steering wheel, an open-pore wood centre console and chrome trim highlights.
However, when it comes to outright material quality, there’s no getting past the fact that the C63 is starting to feel its age; there are more scratchy plastics present throughout its interior, the rotary drive mode selector on the steering wheel feels flimsy and the centre-console creaks when you press a button. The M4, by contrast, feels beautifully built, with tighter panel gaps, more soft-touch materials and buttons that operate with greater precision.
Aside from pedals that are offset slightly too far to the right, both cars have excellent driving positions, plus their electrically adjustable sports seats (with adjustable lumbar support) hug you tightly at the sides.
We should add that we’ve yet to sample the M4’s standard seats; our test car came with optional M carbon buckets, which are seriously expensive at £3400. However, BMW still expects that more than 50% of buyers will opt for them, and we can see why. Not only do they look spectacular, but in their lowest setting they essentially place your bum on the floor of the car to give you enough room to fit behind the wheel while wearing a crash helmet. That’s somewhat more of a challenge in the C63.
Both cars are equipped with fully digital instrument clusters that can be configured to show you information such as sat-nav directions and your music playlist, or you can switch to more driver-focused layouts for a big rev counter and clear gearshift indicator. That said, we’re not sure how useful these latter modes are, given that both cars also feature head-up displays that place key information in your line of sight.
Talking of sight, both cars are reasonably easy to see out of when it comes to pulling out of junctions, but their over-the-shoulder visibility is compromised by thick window pillars. It's just as well, then, that both come with front and rear parking sensors and a rear-view camera. The C63 also has a 360-degree camera as standard (this is optional on its rival), but the M4 counters with a parking assistant function that can identify a suitable space and steer you into it. Clever.
BMW’s iDrive infotainment system remains the benchmark for ease of use, and the M4 gets it in its most advanced, Professional form. A bright, clear 10.3in screen is teamed with a rotary dial controller and shortcut buttons between the front seats to let you move through the logical menus with the minimum of distraction. And the screen also responds to touch, making inputting sat-nav destinations when you're parked up a breeze. Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto also come as standard, as does a great sounding Harman Kardon stereo.
The C63’s 10.3in screen looks great, but it’s slower to respond to inputs and its menu system is less intuitive and therefore more distracting to navigate while driving. More positively, you can control the system via a rotary selector dial, a touch-sensitive centre pad or a trackpad on the left spoke of the wheel – the latter is particularly handy, because it allows you to keep your hands on the wheel. Again, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard, but they don't work wirelessly like they do in the BMW.
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