2010 BMW 760Li, Mercedes-Benz S63 AMG, Porsche Panamera Turbo Comparison

The history books would have you believe that the West was once a wild place. But if you're braving the sweltering California desert and happen upon a little town called Palm Springs, you'd never know it. The dusty bandits, merciless bounty hunters, and untamed renegades are long gone, replaced by air-conditioned caf├ęs, opulent galleries, and swanky day spas. The only weapons in use are those rumbling under the hoods of the many exotic and classic cars cruising the boulevard. The desert people clearly favor Cadillacs over Caterhams, though - luxury rules the West now.

The BMW 760Li, the Mercedes-Benz S63 AMG, and the Porsche Panamera Turbo each enter the saloon with at least 500 horses of firepower tucked away beneath a façade of formality. They look benign enough, but when the dust starts flying, there are few steeds that can match their speed. They may all hail from Germany, but there's something distinctly Wild West about these three sedans. And so we took them to Palm Springs, their natural habitat, for a gunslinging showdown.

The idea that a luxury sedan should be able to dice with a sports car is a relatively new one. Acceleration is relatively easy to achieve - just add more engine - but getting a big, cushy, heavy car to dance through the corners like a light sports car isn't. And the very essence of a sports car - the lovely sounds, the tight body control, the connected steering - is exactly the opposite of a luxury sedan. Or so you'd think.

Thanks to computer-controlled suspensions, brilliant engineering, and colossal powertrains, these three Germans break all the rules. They're do-everything machines - large, gilded cruisers with first-class interiors and all the latest techno-gizmos, and yet they can pull off sports car moves with almost no penalty to comfort. On the surface, the BMW, the Mercedes, and the Porsche are very similar: They cost the same. They're all similarly powerful - and have so much brute force at their disposal that they start out in second gear unless you request otherwise. And yet, in the details, they couldn't be more different.

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Tbone85
The summary of this article indicates that if you want to pretend that you're driving a large sports sedan then get the Benz. If you want actual performance, then the Porsche is vastly superior. I agree, there seems to be a strong effort to rationalize away a huge performance difference. If you don't like the way the car looks, great. Just don't pretend it makes sense to test a performance car in comfort mode to justify your aesthetic bias.
mo_pho
My god, the Porsche is impressive.
earlc
Seems a little odd that excuses were made to run the Panamera in 'comfort mode' to close the performance gap; and rationalizing the AWD vs. RWD to make the other cars seem as quick. Based on those parameters, wouldn't the comparison be about the same if you used a Panamera 4S for about 40K less? Pure performance numbers are closer; and you would not have had to make excuses to ignore the big difference in the performance of the cars.
chaetophile
All reviewers and designers seem to agree that the rear end of the Panamera is awkward and ungainly. Having seen the car in person, I have to throw out a voice of dissent. To my surprise, it's a graceful and balanced design. To my eye, it has a hint of Maserati in its blood. Could it be that all the journalists just needed something to hate?

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