Certified Benz & Beemer Compares 2011 Mercedes Benz S-Class VS 2011 Porsche Panamera Near Phoenix, AZ

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2011 Mercedes Benz S-Class

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2011 Porsche Panamera

Safety Comparison

For enhanced safety, the front and rear seat shoulder belts of the Mercedes S-Class are height-adjustable to accommodate a wide variety of driver and passenger heights. A better fit can prevent injuries and the increased comfort also encourages passengers to buckle up. The Porsche Panamera has only front height-adjustable seat belts.

The S-Class has standard NECK-PRO Active Front Head Restraints, which use a specially designed headrest to protect the driver and front passenger from whiplash. During a rear-end collision, the NECK-PRO Active Front Head Restraints system moves the headrests forward to prevent neck and spine injuries. The Panamera doesn’t offer a whiplash protection system.

The S-Class offers an optional PRE-SAFE Brake, which uses forward mounted sensors to warn the driver of a possible collision ahead. If the driver doesn’t react and the system determines a collision is imminent, it automatically applies the brakes at full-force in order to reduce the force of the crash or avoid it altogether. The Panamera doesn't offer crash mitigation brakes.

An active infrared night vision system optional on the S-Class helps the driver to more easily detect people, animals or other objects in front of the vehicle at night. Using an infrared camera and near-infrared lights to detect heat, the system then displays the image on a monitor in the dashboard. The Panamera doesn’t offer a night vision system.

The S-Class’ optional lane departure warning system alerts a temporarily inattentive driver when the vehicle begins to leave its lane and gently nudges the vehicle back towards its lane. The Panamera doesn’t offer a lane departure warning system.

The S-Class’ optional blind spot warning system uses digital cameras monitored by computer to alert the driver to moving objects in the vehicle’s blind spots where the side view mirrors don’t reveal them and moves the vehicle back into its lane. The Panamera doesn’t offer a system to reveal objects in the driver's blind spots.

The S-Class (except S400 Hybrid)’s driver alert monitor detects an inattentive driver then sounds a warning and suggests a break. According to the NHTSA, drivers who fall asleep cause about 100,000 crashes and 1500 deaths a year. The Panamera doesn’t offer a driver alert monitor.

The S-Class has standard mbrace, which uses a global positioning satellite (GPS) receiver and a cellular system to get driving directions, remotely unlock your doors if you lock your keys in, help track down your vehicle if it’s stolen or send emergency personnel to the scene if any airbags deploy. The Panamera doesn’t offer a GPS response system, only a navigation computer with no live response for emergencies.

Both the S-Class and the Panamera have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front and rear side-impact airbags, head airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, height adjustable front shoulder belts, four wheel antilock brakes, traction control and electronic stability systems to prevent skidding.

Warranty Comparison

There are over 55 percent more Mercedes dealers than there are Porsche dealers, which makes it much easier to get service under the S-Class’ warranty.

Reliability Comparison

The camshafts in the S-Class’ engine are driven by a hardened steel chain, with no maintenance needs. The Panamera 3.6 DOHC V6’s camshafts are driven by a rubber belt that needs periodic replacement. If the Panamera’s cam drive belt breaks the engine could be severely damaged when the pistons hit the opened valves.

J.D. Power and Associates rated the S-Class second among large premium cars in their 2010 Initial Quality Study. The Panamera was rated third.

Engine Comparison

The S-Class has more powerful engines than the Panamera:



S550 5.5 DOHC V8

382 HP

391 lbs.-ft.

S600 5.5 turbo V12

510 HP

612 lbs.-ft.

S63 5.5 turbo V8

536 HP

590 lbs.-ft.

S65 6.0 turbo V12

604 HP

738 lbs.-ft.

Panamera 3.6 DOHC V6

300 HP

295 lbs.-ft.

Panamera S 4.8 DOHC V8

400 HP

389 lbs.-ft.

Panamera Turbo 4.8 turbo V8

500 HP

516 lbs.-ft.

For more instantaneous acceleration and better engine flexibility in any gear, the S-Class’ engines produce their peak horsepower at lower RPM’s than the Panamera:



6000 RPM

S550 5.5 DOHC V8

6000 RPM

S600 5.5 turbo V12

5000 RPM

S63 5.5 turbo V8

5500 RPM

S65 6.0 turbo V12

4800 RPM

Panamera 3.6 DOHC V6

6300 RPM

Panamera S 4.8 DOHC V8

6500 RPM

Panamera Turbo 4.8 turbo V8

6000 RPM

Fuel Economy and Range Comparison

The S-Class has 2.7 gallons more fuel capacity than the Panamera’s standard fuel tank (23.8 vs. 21.1 gallons), for longer range between fill-ups.

Brakes and Stopping Comparison

The S-Class stops shorter than the Panamera:



70 to 0 MPH

154 feet

159 feet

Car and Driver

Tires and Wheels Comparison

For better traction, the S-Class has larger standard tires than the Panamera (255/45R18 vs. 245/50R18).

The S-Class’ standard tires provide better handling because they have a lower 45 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the Panamera S’ standard 50 series front tires. The S-Class’ optional tires have a lower 35 series profile than the Panamera’s optional 40 series front tires.

The S-Class has a standard space-saver spare tire so you can replace a flat tire and drive to have the flat repaired or replaced. A spare tire isn’t available on the Panamera, it requires you to depend on roadside assistance and your vehicle will have to be towed.

Suspension and Handling Comparison

The front and rear suspension of the S-Class uses air springs for a smoother, controlled ride than the Panamera, which uses coil springs. Air springs maintain proper ride height and ride more smoothly.

The S-Class’ optional drift compensation steering can automatically compensate for road conditions which would cause the vehicle to drift from side to side, helping the driver to keep the vehicle straight more easily. The Panamera doesn’t offer drift compensation steering.

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the S-Class’ wheelbase is 9.7 inches longer than on the Panamera (124.6 inches vs. 114.9 inches).

The S-Class’ front to rear weight distribution is more even (51.5% to 48.5%) than the Panamera’s (54% to 46%). This gives the S-Class more stable handling and braking.

Chassis Comparison

The design of the Mercedes S-Class amounts to more than styling. The S-Class offers aerodynamic coefficients of drag from .26 to .29 Cd (depending on bodystyle and options). That is lower than the Panamera (.29 to .3) and many sports cars. A more efficient exterior helps keep the interior quieter and helps the S-Class get better fuel mileage.

As tested by AutoWeek, the interior of the S600 is quieter than the Panamera Turbo 4:



At idle

42 dB

51 dB


68 dB

84 dB

60 MPH Cruising

60 dB

73 dB

Passenger Space Comparison

Because it has more passenger and cargo room, the S-Class is rated a Large car by the EPA, while the Panamera is rated a Compact.

The S-Class has standard seating for 5 passengers; the Panamera can only carry 4.

The S-Class has 23.4 cubic feet more passenger volume than the Panamera (109.4 vs. 86).

The S-Class has 7.2 inches more front shoulder room, .3 inches more rear headroom, 9.1 inches more rear legroom and 7 inches more rear shoulder room than the Panamera.

Cargo Capacity Comparison

A low lift-over trunk design makes loading and unloading the S-Class easier. The S-Class’ trunk lift-over height is 27.5 inches, while the Panamera’s liftover is 30.6 inches.

With its sedan body style, valet key and remote trunk release lockout, the S-Class offers cargo security. The Panamera’s hatchback body style, non-lockable folding seat and non-lockable remote release defeat cargo security.

Ergonomics Comparison

If the windows are left down on the S-Class the driver can raise them all using the keyless remote (remote must be aimed at door sensor); on a hot day the driver can lower the windows. The driver of the Panamera can only operate the windows from inside the vehicle, with the ignition on.

Heated windshield washer fluid is standard on the S-Class to defrost the washer nozzles and quickly clear ice and frost from the windshield without scraping. The Panamera doesn’t offer heated windshield washer fluid. It’s standard heated washer nozzles will defrost the washer fluid but not the windshield.

While driving with high-beams on, sensitive light sensors standard on the S-Class detect other vehicles which could be blinded and automatically switch to low-beams. The Panamera doesn’t offer automatic dimming high-beams.

To shield the driver and front passenger’s vision over a larger portion of the windshield and side windows, the S-Class has standard extendable sun visors. The Panamera doesn’t offer extendable visors.

A power rear sun shade is standard on the S-Class to help block heat and glare for the rear passengers. A sunshade costs extra on the Panamera.

When the S-Class is put in reverse, the passenger rearview mirror tilts from its original position. This gives the driver a better view of the curb during parallel parking maneuvers. Shifting out of reverse puts the mirror into its original position. The Panamera’s mirror doesn’t automatically adjust for backing.

The S-Class’ standard GPS navigation system has a real-time traffic update feature that offers alternative routes to automatically bypass traffic problems. (Service available in a limited number of metro areas.) The Panamera’s navigation system doesn’t offer real-time traffic updates.

Economic Advantages Comparison

Insurance will cost less for the S-Class owner. The Complete Car Cost Guide estimates that insurance for the S-Class will cost $4230 less than the Panamera over a five-year period.

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