Top Gear Test: Audi S5 vs Mercedes-AMG C43 Coupe

Audi S5 Coupé

Back in the day, Mercedes’ AMG-branded cars were all pretty much the same, regardless of body style, price or segment. They were monstrously powerful rear-wheel drive vehicles that were capable to destroying rear tires and eating up highway miles with equal aplomb. However, the folks in Affalterbach have changed their tune a bit, with their eyes seemingly set on Audi.

The new Mercedes-AMG C43 Coupe looks to have been purpose-built to take on the Audi S5. Its 3.0 liter twin-turbocharged V6 makes 362 hp and 383 lb-ft of torque, compared to the 3.0 single-turbocharged V6 of the Audi S5 that makes 349 hp and 368 lb-ft. The AMG C43 also packs an automatic gearbox as-standard, though it’s a nine-speed wet-clutch automatic, whereas the Audi S5 uses a seven-speed dual-clutch unit. Both cars also have all-wheel drive, though AMG’s 4Matic system is rear-wheel drive-based and Audi’s Quattro is front-wheel drive-based.

Audi S5 Coupé

Despite the power difference, both cars get from 0-60 mph in 4.7 seconds, have a top speed of 155 mph and both return over 35 mpg (on the extremely generous EU Cycle), so it’s pretty much a dead heat in terms of performance. So it’s really going to come down to how both cars drive.

The Audi S5, in traditional Audi fashion, is rather calm and sophisticated. Despite its impressive performance and sporty styling, it’s really quite easy to drive quickly. Its exhaust isn’t all that noisy, its ride is quite comfy for a sports coupe and it doesn’t really thrill the soul. On the flip-side, the Mercedes-AMG C43 Coupe is an animal. Its exhaust note is loud and manic, it wants to rotate its back end around more than the Audi and it just feels more alive. It still has some of that AMG craziness in it.

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This bodes well for the AMG, as these two cars are supposed to be about fun. They’re sports cars after all and impressive performance isn’t the only factor in making a great sports car. Performance figures are great but without the fun that they’re supposed to bring, they’re pretty much useless. So while the Audi S5 is a very good car, and probably the better car to live with everyday, it’s the Mercedes-AMG C43 Coupe that Top Gear claims is the better sports car.