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Mercedes-Benz AMG and BMW M: Which Is Better?

What's in this article?
  1. How Did Mercedes-Benz Amg Begin And Continue To Evolve?
  2. How Did The Amg Name Begin To Receive Worldwide Recognition?
  3. How Did Amg Break Traditional Automotive Boundaries?
  4. How Did Amg Expand After 1990?
  5. How Did The Daimlerchrysler Ag Takeover Affect Amg?
  6. How Did Bmw M Begin?
  7. When Did The M5 Come Into Play?
  8. How Did The M Performance Division Make A Splash During The 90S?
  9. What Early 2000S Bmws Attracted The Most Attention?
  10. What Changes Did The M Performance Division Introduce Post-2005?
  11. Which Division Has Better Performance? 
  12. Does The Ultimate Driving Machine Live Up To Its Name?
  13. Who Takes The Lead In The Innovation Category?
  14. Which Division Has More Of An “It” Factor?
Mercedes-Benz AMG and BMW M: Which Is Better?

There are few car debates as heated as the Mercedes-Benz AMG vs. BMW M discussion. We’re here to cut through the noise and establish which performance division is the best bet for your money. 

Our thorough comparison will dive into AMG and M:

  • History timelines
  • Performance
  • Innovation
  • Driving feel 
  • Engine sounds
  • Popular vehicle comparisons

—and much more. 

Let’s take a brief look at Mercedes-Benz AMG and BMW M history to establish a clearer perspective on these two highly respected performance divisions. 

How Did Mercedes-Benz AMG Begin and Continue to Evolve?

Hans Werner Aufrecht and Erhard Melcher used their Motorsport and Engineering passions to create AMG. Are you curious about what’s behind the AMG acronym? The A stands for “Aufrecht,” the M for “Melcher, and the G represents GroBaspach which indicates “birthplace.” Higher performance and more power were and continue to be the driving spirit behind AMG. 

Aufrecht and Melcher were off and running from the start of their efforts. These two engineers began working on the 300 SE’s racing engine until Daimler-Benz halted all motorsport development projects. This pause in activity didn’t stop Aufrecht and Melcher from pursuing their goals. Aufrecht’s house served as the headquarters where Aufrecht and Melcher would continue working on the 300 SE’s racing engine. 

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These extracurricular efforts proved successful when one of the two engineer’s colleagues took the 300 SE’s engine to the start of the German Touring Car Championship in 1965 before winning ten times. It wasn’t long until Aufrecht and Melcher solidified their reputations as experts in optimizing and sustaining Mercedes-Benz vehicle performance. 

How Did the AMG Name Begin to Receive Worldwide Recognition?

Aufrecht’s dissatisfaction with reputation alone fueled his drive to turn his original successful race car into a road-ready vehicle. 1966 led to Aufrecht leaving Mercedes-Benz while convincing Melcher to tag along. The two German engineers founded their own company in 1967, which allowed them to develop and test racing engines independently. Private racing teams soon became loyal customers to Aufrecht and Melcher, while the Mercedes-Benz AMG 300 SEL 6.8 took second place at the 24 Hours of Spa event. 

The AMG 300 SEL 6.8’s racing results were a shock, considering how heavy the vehicle was compared to its competition. This innovation led to the AMG name spreading like wildfire across the world. 

How Did AMG Break Traditional Automotive Boundaries?

AMG achieved continual growth from the 1970s onward due to its attitude that challenges the impossible. Higher levels of performance customization attracted more foreign AMG clients which led AMG receiving a purpose-built workshop and office in 1976. 

1984 marked an important year for AMG as the medium-sized company broke into engine manufacturing. Melcher was able to develop a fully independent cylinder head with four valves per cylinder. Aufrecht’s original vision of transforming race cars into road vehicles came further into fruition in 1986 when AMG put a high-powered 5.8-liter V8 in an E-Class coupe. This innovative engine integration led to the 1986 E-class coupe model receiving a “Hammer” nickname that garnered worldwide attention. 

Mercedes-Benz didn’t start officially working with AMG until the late 1980s. This working relationship began strictly within the racing category. Mercedes-Benz’ 190 racecar went into the racing circuit under the AMG name to collect 50 DTM victories between 1988-1993. 

How Did AMG Expand after 1990?

AMG’s former cooperation contract with Daimer-Benz AG came to its conclusion in 1990. It was decided that AMG could be successfully sold throughout Mercedes-Benz’s worldwide network due to widespread customer acceptance. A third AMG work plant opened its doors in 1990, which expanded the company’s total workforce to 400 and led to the Mercedes-Benz C 36 AMG in 1993—the company’s first jointly developed vehicle that came from the cooperative agreement. 

A second important development came in 1993 when a patent office recognized AMG as a trademark due to the company’s new worldwide prominence. 

How Did the DaimlerChrysler AG Takeover Affect AMG?

Aufrecht transferred a majority AMG stake to DaimlerChrysler AG at the start of 1999’s new year. DaimlerChrysler AG acquired 100% of the shares six years later. These business moves allowed AMG to expand its resources and connect with a wider audience. 

It’s amazing to think AMG went from two employees in a home workshop to more than 1700 employees at its current Affalterbach plant. AMG’s full name currently stands as Mercedes-AMG GmbH. Each Mercedes-Benz AMG model continues to deliver on its promises of efficiency, optimized performance, and precision. 

AMG currently aims to build a vehicle lineup that caters to diverse driver needs. It’s fair to say Mercedes-Benz has accomplished this goal since there are more than 50 AMG models to choose from. 

Now, onto the history of BMW’s M performance division. 

How Did BMW M Begin?

The M racing subsidiary was initially made to support BMW’s motorsport program during the 1960s and 1970s. This strategic move led to BMW Motorsport GmbH creating some of the best road cars ever. 

1972 was the year when BMW’s M division came into play. M’s original workforce was much larger than AMG’s original two-person workforce with its 35 members. AMG and M began to have similarly high levels of employees in 1988 when M graduated to 400 employees. 

BMW’s first M vehicle was the M1 which made its premiere at the Paris Motor Show in 1978. This original M was a mid-engine coupe producing 277 horsepower with a top speed of 165 mph. 1979 led to the release of the first official road-ready M car—the BMW M535i. This vehicle featured Recaro seats, larger brakes, a close-ratio transmission, along a limited slip-differential. 

Have you ever seen a non-M series vehicle with an M badge? This trend began to take hold around 1983. Just under 6,000 M635CSi vehicles were built while plenty of owners slapped M badges on lower-ranked models. 

When Did the M5 Come into Play?

The M performance division began to hit its stride upon the release of the first M5. This innovative vehicle took the 5-Series’ comfort, build quality, and grew this foundation with an optimized performance design. BMW’s first M5 could go from 0-62 mph in 6.5 seconds—a figure that still remains impressive. A car with this kind of comfort and performance was unheard of at the time. 

bmw-m.jpg

BMW began inching toward supercar territory when they released the 850CSi. This model’s engine was so finely tuned that it received a new S70 engine code. An active four-wheel steering kit and 375 horsepower output were two of the major reasons why BMW made the 850CSi their flagship vehicle. 

How Did the M Performance Division Make a Splash during the 90s?

The E36 M3 needed to turn heads one way or another when it arrived on the market in 1992. Coupe, convertible, saloon versions, and two additional cylinders allowed the E36 M3 to attract the spotlight. 1995 led to the E36 M3 producing a 316-horsepower output while being crowned as one of the best-handling cars of the 1990s. 

If you’re an auto enthusiast looking for cars with a cult following, the 1998 BMW M Roadster and Coupe models are worth noting. 1998 BMW M Roadster and Coupe models were a crossover between the Z3 and the E36 M3 Evo. The public was introduced to the BMW E39 M5 during this same year. BMW’s E39 M5 was lightning fast with a 394-horsepower output that launched the vehicle from 0-60 mph in 4.8 seconds. 

What Early 2000s BMWs Attracted the Most Attention?

BMW’s third generation M3 E46 is considered one of the greatest all-around sports cars in history. 338-horsepower and a 0-62 mph speed of 5.1 seconds allowed the M3 E46 to silence critics, while its lightweight body made it one of the most versatile vehicles BMW ever created. 

M5 fans really got their money’s worth in 2005. The E60 M5 boasted 500-horsepower through a V10 engine that came about from a collaboration with BMW’s Formula 1 initiatives. BMW’s 2005 E60 M5 was the fastest four-door saloon available at the time of its release. Drivers were able to make adjustments to the 2005 E60 M5’s power output in real-time while various technological advances within the car varied gearshift speed for the better.

What Changes Did the M Performance Division Introduce Post-2005?

The first naturally aspirated BMW M3 was introduced in 2007. This E93 M3 Coupe model featured a V8 that produced an impressive 414 horsepower. One year later, BMW released the four-door E90 Saloon. This 2008 BMW was significant given its never-before-seen M-DCT twin-clutch gearbox. 

BMW’s first M SUVs arrived in 2009 to give other luxury SUVs like the Porsche Cayenne Turbo some much-needed competition. M fans continued to opportunities to stay on the frontlines of auto innovation with 2009 models like the 1-Series M. This model’s limited run made a major impact with its wider track and larger power output that came from an optimized version of the 335i’s engine. 

2015 led to a rocky start for BMW’s new M2. While the 2015 M2 wasn’t a total wash, it lacked the handling and power that the 2015 Porsche 718 Cayman offered drivers. BMW was able to bounce back in 2018 with the M2 Competition Coupe. The all-new M2 down-tuned the M3’s engine while receiving a major mechanical overhaul. These adjustments gave the M2 Competition the tools it needed to offer drivers a composed ride that translated to quality sale marks. 

M Division’s newest addition is the ultrapowerful M8. This new M Class vehicle is available in Gran Coupé, coupé, and convertible configurations. The BMW M8’s engine is a 4.4-liter twin-turbo V8 that churns out 616 horsepower. Performance specs like these allow the M8 to stand confidently alongside Gran Coupé competitors like Aston Martin and Mercedes-Benz AMG.

The M vs. AMG rivalry runs deeper than the modern Gran Coupé market. Let’s see how BMW’s M and Mercedes-Benz AMG stack up against each other in the categories of:

  • Performance
  • Driving feel
  • Innovation
  • “It” factor

Which Division Has Better Performance? 

Drivers opting for a Mercedes-Benz AMG or BMW M Class model expect consistent high-grade performance. While both of these divisions tune their cars to the nines, Mercedes-Benz AMG remains ahead of its competitor’s performance. AMG models tend to have more torque and horsepower than M models. If you’re lining up for a drag race, an AMG vehicle is going to give you the straight-line performance you need to take the lead. 

Does the Ultimate Driving Machine Live up to Its Name?

BMW’s Ultimate Driving Machine reflects the manufacturer’s ability to focus on enhancing your overall experience behind the wheel. M vehicles are more of a driver’s car than AMG models. While you’re more likely to lose a straight-line race behind the wheel of an M Class, you’ll have more fun than you would when operating an AMG. BMW is able to accomplish this feat by building their cars before they start developing the vehicle’s engine.  

Who Takes the Lead in the Innovation Category?

We’re going to give BMW’s M Division a win in the innovation category. AMG has a reputation for creating cars that are essentially reactions to its former vehicles. If you go back to the cars that started the original high-performance trend, BMW still takes the crown with models like the M535i. M Division engineers integrated a 3.5-liter straight-six engine into the M535i to create one of the time’s only supercars.  

Which Division Has More of an “It” Factor?

So, what is an “it” factor? We’re referring to that indescribable, overwhelmingly positive feeling that you get when behind the wheel of an exceptional car. We believe that BMW M vehicles offer a stronger “it” factor with better sounding engines, cooler race cars, and nicer affordable performance models. 

Engine tone matters. BMW M engines are known for their ability to produce a musical tone that’s not harsh or overbearing. 

Race fans know that BMW’s race team stands proudly by their logo while striving to beat everything and anything Porsche. This racing passion led to the development of the M-1 Pro and a Le Mans victory in 1999. 

If you want to receive the best that AMG has to offer—you’re going to have to dig deep within your wallet. More affordable models within BMW’s M division feature straight-six engines and eye-catching aesthetics that overshadow less expensive AMG vehicles. Take a look at AMG’s A45 hatchback, and chances are you’ll want to opt for a Performance M2 or a used M3 (definitely not a 2022 M3 with those front grilles). 

So, there you have it. BMW M triumphs over Mercedes-Benz AMG. Do you agree with our verdict? Feel free to comment your thoughts in our social media feed to expand the conversation.

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Joe Webster began his journey in the auto transport field by attending the University of Southern California (USC), where he graduated with a Bachelor of Business Marketing. 

After college, he started his career in the auto transport industry from the bottom up and has done virtually every job there is to do at A-1 Auto Transport, including but not limited to: Truck Driver, Dispatch, Sales, PR, Bookkeeping, Transport Planner, Transport Manager, International Transport Manager, Brokering, Customer Service, and Marketing. Working with his mentor Tony Taylor, Joe Webster has learned the ins and outs of this industry which is largely misunderstood. 

With over 30 years experience in the industry, we've been helping people ship their vehicles, motorcycles, RV's, heavy equipment, household goods and more across the country or overseas without a hitch. Ask us anything.

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