Comparison: 2007 Audi RS4 vs 2008 BMW M3 vs 2008 Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG

Comparison: 2007 Audi RS4 vs 2008 BMW M3 vs 2008 Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG

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For much of the day, the quiet Taunus mountains in Germany — rolling green hills, prosperous farmland, dark Hansel and Gretel pine forests, Volkswagens driven slowly by well-groomed women on narrow smooth roads — sound like Darlington raceway. From sleepy hollow to days of thunder.

You just don’t hear sounds like this in Europe. Cars here have four-cylinder engines, coarsened by diesel rattle. Even performance cars, short of the big-ticket Ferraris, have turbocharged four- or six-cylinder motors. In this neck of the woods, V-8s-and only V-8s can make this kind of sound-are as rare as Ford pickups and Dunkin’ Donuts.

But the brand-new Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG and the more mature Audi RS4, especially in thunderous sport-exhaust mode (yes, a switch dials up the Darlington on the Audi!), sound like Jeff Gordon’s DuPont Chevy coming pedal-to-the-metal around turn four-big revs, big bellowing exhaust, big power, big American noise.

All three sedans have V-8 power. All three, then, are Yankee-inspired, for while America didn’t invent the V-8, Detroit (and Henry Ford) certainly popularized it. They made it American shorthand for musclecar.

Originally BMW‘s M3 used a far more typical European formula for big speed-a high-revving silky sweet Formula 1-based four-cylinder engine. Since then, in the need for speed, four cylinders became six. Now, with the newest M3, six turns into eight.

Audi’s fast-car history also is peppered with small four-, five-, and six-cylinder engines, usually turbocharged, invariably quattro four-wheel drive. Yet with the RS4, which first went on sale in the U.S. in August 2006, Audi dumped all that dainty, less-is-more Euro sophistication stuff and shoehorned the biggest possible V-8-of 4.2 liters-into the engine bay. The result was an M3-beater, the first time anyone has been able to say that about a small fast Audi.

So to beat the RS4, BMW followed suit. It’s got to be a V-8. And don’t spare the horses.

Mercedes has known about the advantages of big V-8 muscle-think outgoing C55-for some time. Maybe it was the Chrysler link that taught it the lesson. The new C63, with 6.2 liters of lung power, has the most Detroit-like spec of any small European sporting sedan. These are Detroit-size lungs. This latest fastest C-Class is as German, in fast-car philosophy, as a bowl of grits and a glass of Southern sweet iced tea.

On this glorious fall day in Germany, on winding roads that snake up and down the sides of mountains, all three cars assemble.

All three have V-8 power.

my take- these are all cars that excite me, even the thought of them. i would personally pass on the benz even though the new body is nice and fast. i would stick to the bmw or audi, both nice and just head turners.

All three, then, are Yankee-inspired.

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