I drove an (E90) M3, C63 AMG, and GT500 back-to-back-to-back: AMA.

Sometimes my job allows me to drive some very interesting metal. Most of it is mundane and pedestrian, but there a’s a few diamonds in the rough.

Today was one of those days. As shown in the title, today included stints (about an hour and a half each) starting in the E90 M3, then a C63 AMG, and then a 2013 GT500, all before lunch! It almost made up for the 95-ish-degree heat (and the tires all felt fairly gooey from the start, in a good way).

Impressions:

-I enjoyed the GT500 most, but part of that is the noise (oh, the noise!) and traffic was thinned out while I was driving it on public roads.

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-The M3 is a marvel, and I took a detour along some winding roads to, uh, do some quality control checks. I hate hate hate the SMG for parking and getting going, but once in motion it starts to make sense and be quite nice, but I’d prefer the traditional manual, especially as I don’t need my shifts to be milliseconds faster (though the 7th gear is nice for highway cruising, though at highway speeds it was still about 1,000rpms higher than expected, though it’s not an economy car).

-The C63 is every bit the German muscle car, especially back-to-back with the GT500, and the noise - notably (pun intended) above 3,000RPM-ish (it revs pretty quick above 2,000) - is nuts in a good way. Definitely wilder and more brash than the relatively-milquetoast “550” models (SL, CLS, S, etc.) I’m more familiar with. The red leather accents inside the C63 are a bit jarring (especially on a black car), but ignorable after a while. They don’t do much to make it feel much more special than any other C-class.

-I enjoyed the GT500 the most of the trio, as it felt the most controllable (to me) and familiar, it makes one hell of a great noise (oh, the noise! Despite the 95-degree temps, I kept the windows down most of the drive), and traffic was thinned out by the time I was out and about.

Which one would I buy? I’m not sure, because I’d like more seat time in an XFR-S I sampled a few weeks ago to make an apt comparison in the $40-60K used high-performance segment, though technically the XE is a more direct competitor to the 3/4-series and the C-class. The M3 feels the most worthy of its price tag, and easily shows its pedigree. As I said, a marvel. The C63, well, it’s all about the engine and related improvements, which are great, but I’d rather have them in an E or S-class. The GT500 is pre-facelift, and having a few hours worth of seat time in a few 2015s, the prior generation shows shortcomings I never would have really noticed, especially with the interior.

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I ended the say driving an Avenger and a rotted-out Mercury Capri (with the stick shift, which has an interesting release for the ignition key), which as an anticlimactic end to the day.

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