2019 Porsche Panamera vs. 2018 Mercedes CLS

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

Both the Panamera and CLS have child safety locks to prevent children from opening the rear doors. The Panamera offers optional power child safety locks, allowing the driver to activate and deactivate them from the driver's seat and to know when they're engaged. The CLS’ child locks have to be individually engaged at each rear door with a manual switch. The driver can’t know the status of the locks without opening the doors and checking them.

A passive infrared night vision system optional on the Panamera helps the driver to more easily detect people, animals or other objects in front of the vehicle at night. Using an infrared camera to detect heat, the system then displays the image on a monitor in the dashboard and even aims one of the vehicle’s headlights in the direction of the person or object. The CLS doesn’t offer a night vision system.

Both the Panamera and the CLS have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, driver knee airbags, side-impact head airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, height-adjustable front shoulder belts, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, daytime running lights, rearview cameras, available crash mitigating brakes, lane departure warning systems, blind spot warning systems and around view monitors.

Warranty

The Panamera’s corrosion warranty is 7 years longer than the CLS’ (12 vs. 5 years).

Reliability

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2018 Initial Quality Study of new car owners surveyed provide the statistics that show that Porsche vehicles are better in initial quality than Mercedes vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Porsche fourth in initial quality, above the industry average. With 13 more problems per 100 vehicles, Mercedes is ranked 14th.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2018 survey of the owners of three-year-old vehicles provides the long-term dependability statistics that show that Porsche vehicles are more reliable than Mercedes vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Porsche second in reliability, above the industry average. With 47 more problems per 100 vehicles, Mercedes is ranked 15th.

From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ December 2018 Auto Issue reports that Porsche vehicles are more reliable than Mercedes vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks Porsche 6 places higher in reliability than Mercedes.

Engine

The Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid ’s 4.0 turbo V8 hybrid produces 103 more horsepower (680 vs. 577) and 36 lbs.-ft. more torque (626 vs. 590) than the AMG CLS 63 S’ optional 5.5 turbo V8.

As tested in Motor Trend the Panamera 4S 2.9 turbo V6 is faster than the CLS 550 4.7 turbo V8:

 

Panamera

CLS

Zero to 30 MPH

1.3 sec

1.7 sec

Zero to 60 MPH

3.8 sec

4.4 sec

Zero to 80 MPH

6.4 sec

7.1 sec

Zero to 100 MPH

9.9 sec

10.6 sec

Quarter Mile

12.3 sec

12.9 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

111.3 MPH

110.6 MPH

Fuel Economy and Range

On the EPA test cycle the Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid Running on electricity gets better fuel mileage than the CLS 550 4MATIC Auto (48 city/51 hwy vs. 17 city/25 hwy).

The Panamera 4 E-Hybrid can drive on battery power alone for up to 31 miles. The CLS must run its internal combustion engine to move.

An engine control system that can shut down half of the engine’s cylinders helps improve the Panamera Turbo’s fuel efficiency. The CLS doesn’t offer a system that can shut down part of the engine.

Regenerative brakes improve the Panamera’s fuel efficiency by converting inertia back into energy instead of wasting it. The CLS doesn’t offer a regenerative braking system.

The Panamera’s standard fuel tank has 2.6 gallons more fuel capacity than the CLS (23.7 vs. 21.1 gallons).

Brakes and Stopping

For better stopping power the Panamera’s brake rotors are larger than those on the CLS:

 

Panamera

CLS 550

AMG CLS 63 S

Front Rotors

16.5 inches

14.2 inches

15.8 inches

Rear Rotors

16.1 inches

12.6 inches

14.2 inches

The Panamera stops shorter than the CLS:

 

Panamera

CLS

 

60 to 0 MPH

101 feet

109 feet

Motor Trend

Tires and Wheels

For better traction, the Panamera has larger standard tires than the CLS (F:265/45R19 & R:295/40R19 vs. F:255/35R19 & R:285/30R19). The Panamera’s optional tires are larger than the largest tires available on the CLS (F:275/40R20 & R:315/35R20 vs. F:255/35R19 & R:285/30R19).

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the Panamera has standard 19-inch wheels. Smaller 18-inch wheels are standard on the CLS. The Panamera’s optional 21-inch wheels are larger than the 19-inch wheels optional on the CLS.

Suspension and Handling

The Panamera offers active sway bars, which help keep it flat and controlled during cornering, but disconnect at lower speeds to smooth the ride and offer greater off-road suspension articulation. This helps keep the tires glued to the road on-road and off. The CLS doesn’t offer an active sway bar system.

The Panamera offers an available adjustable active suspension system, which counteracts cornering forces actively, limiting body roll and improving handling and stability. Mercedes doesn’t offer an active suspension on the CLS.

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the Panamera’s wheelbase is 2.9 inches longer than on the CLS (116.1 inches vs. 113.2 inches). The Panamera Executive’s wheelbase is 8.8 inches longer than on the CLS (122 inches vs. 113.2 inches).

For better handling and stability, the average track (width between the wheels) on the Panamera is 2.1 inches wider in the front and 1.1 inches wider in the rear than the average track on the CLS.

The Panamera 4S handles at 1.01 G’s, while the CLS 550 4MATIC pulls only .88 G’s of cornering force in a Motor Trend skidpad test.

The Panamera Turbo executes Motor Trend’s “Figure Eight” maneuver 1.7 seconds quicker than the CLS 550 (23.9 seconds @ .86 average G’s vs. 25.6 seconds @ .77 average G’s).

Chassis

The front grille of the Panamera uses electronically controlled shutters to close off airflow and reduce drag when less engine cooling is needed. This helps improve highway fuel economy. The CLS doesn’t offer active grille shutters.

The Panamera offers available computer-generated active noise cancellation to help remove annoying noise and vibration from the passenger compartment, especially at low frequencies. The CLS doesn’t offer active noise cancellation.

Passenger Space

Because it has more passenger and cargo room, the EPA rates the Panamera 4dr Hatchback a Large car, while the CLS is rated a Compact.

The Panamera has 16 cubic feet more passenger volume than the CLS (108 vs. 92).

For enhanced passenger comfort on long trips the Panamera’s available rear seats recline. The CLS’ rear seats don’t recline.

Cargo Capacity

The Panamera has a much larger trunk with its rear seat up than the CLS (17.6 vs. 15.3 cubic feet).

The Panamera 4dr Hatchback has a much larger trunk with its rear seat up than the CLS (18.3 vs. 15.3 cubic feet).

Pressing a switch automatically lowers the Panamera’s rear seats, to make changing between passengers and cargo easier. The CLS doesn’t offer automatic folding seats.

To make loading groceries and cargo easier when your hands are full, the Panamera’s available liftgate can be opened and closed just by kicking your foot under the back bumper, leaving your hands completely free. The CLS doesn’t offer a hands-free gesture to open its trunk, forcing you to put cargo down if your hands are full.

Servicing Ease

J.D. Power and Associates surveys of service recipients show that Porsche service is better than Mercedes. J.D. Power ranks Porsche second in service department satisfaction. With a 6% lower rating, Mercedes is ranked 6th.

Ergonomics

The Panamera’s instruments include an oil pressure gauge and a temperature gauge – which could save your engine! Often ‘idiot lights’ don’t warn you until damage has been done. The CLS does not have an oil pressure gauge.

To improve rear visibility by keeping the rear window clear, the Panamera offers an optional rear wiper. The CLS doesn’t offer a rear wiper.

In poor weather, headlights can lose their effectiveness as grime builds up on their lenses. This can reduce visibility without the driver realizing. The Panamera offers available headlight washers to keep headlight output high. The CLS doesn’t offer headlight washers.

Optional air conditioned front and rear seats keep the Panamera’s passengers comfortable and take the sting out of hot leather in summer. The CLS doesn’t offer air-conditioned seats in the rear.

The Panamera offers an optional 115-volt a/c outlet on the center console, allowing you to recharge a laptop or run small household appliances without special adapters that can break or get misplaced. The CLS doesn’t offer a house-current electrical outlet.

Model Availability

The Porsche Panamera comes in four door hatchback and station wagon bodystyles; the Mercedes CLS isn’t available as a station wagon.

Recommendations

The Porsche Panamera outsold the Mercedes CLS by almost nine to one during 2018.

© 1991-2018 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved.

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