WHAT SEPARATES THESE TWO IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN COMPETENCE AND CHARACTER
reputable or otherwise; there’s no more relaxing place to travel than in the back of an S-Class. Not that the driver is hard done by. Merc’s super-clever cruise control allows the S63 to effectively drive itself on the highway and the latest generation infotainment is much more user friendly, the touch control buttons on the steering wheel working particularly well.
The Panamera’s interior isn’t as flashy as the S63’s, but it’s an utter masterpiece. There’s no textured wood, pillowy headrests or colourful lighting, just brilliantly logical design and a sense of bulletproof build quality. The ergonomics are spot-on: the buttons engage with the most satisfying click, operating the infotainment will be second nature to anyone with a smartphone and the instruments are the perfect blend of tradition (central analogue tacho) and technology (configurable screens either side). Unlike the Mercedes, the driver is the focus in the Porsche; the rear is for transporting people, not impressing them.
Which neatly sums up what separates these two: it’s the ABOVE
The Panamera is the sharper driving tool while still being super comfortable, but isn't as exciting as the thunderous S63 difference between competence and character. At the risk of stating the obvious, the S63 feels like a hotted-up limousine. In trying to marry luxury and lunacy and give an S-Class real driver appeal – which it undoubtedly has – AMG had to sacrifice some of the refinement that makes Merc’s limo such a tranquil place to be. For our money, the 463kW/1000Nm V12 Maybach S650 better marries the goals of space with pace.
The Panamera feels less conflicted. Like the S63, the Turbo Sport Turismo is a wicked-up variant of a more regular model, but even a base Panamera is designed to involve the driver, not isolate them. The Porsche is objectively the better car: it’s quicker, more capable and easier to drive hard, yet, perhaps unexpectedly, equals the S63 in its ride and refinement. Combine this ability with room for kids and the dog and you have the ultimate money-no-object family car, albeit one that needs a bit more aggro. That might sound irrational, but rationale disappeared about $250,000 ago.