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.

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