They're both sumptuously appointed German sedans with a fondness for speed by virtue of their incredible hybrid powertrains. But which one is better?
If you're in the market for a blisteringly quick executive express, the new Mercedes-AMG S63 E Performance should fit the bill quite nicely. Based on the technical tour de force that is the S-Class, AMG has blessed the land yacht with jet-ski reflexes and a penchant for eviscerating its rivals.
Speaking of the competition, the new AMG will have to battle the current benchmark for hybrid performance luxury sedans, the Porsche Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid Executive. It may be significantly older than the Mercedes, but Zuffenhausen's executive express can still misbehave if required.
This ritzy duo both gain motivation from a V8 engine with plug-in hybrid technology, and both deliver their mountainous power outputs to all four wheels via sophisticated all-wheel-drive systems. On paper, they're closely matched but, as we'll come to find, these German luxury vehicles are very different animals.
Has Mercedes surpassed Porsche with the new S63 E Performance? Let's find out.
Once the very expression of discreet and sophisticated design, the latest S-Class AMG roars onto the scene with a rather conspicuous and, dare we say it, ostentatious demeanor. The front end is particularly aggressive; an AMG grille with vertical louvers replaces the traditional grille and hood-mounted star.
Some may appreciate the sportier theme, but it detracts from the stately sedan's gravitas and gives the appearance of an oversized C-Class or E-Class. Design is, of course, subjective and we have no doubt that many will adore the looks. The rest is typical Mercedes and enhanced by AMG bumpers, spoilers, and quad-exhaust tips. Buyers can select wheels up to 21 inches in size.
While the first generation was criticized for its peculiar styling, the latest Panamera has evolved into a much more handsome, resolved sedan. Compared to the Mercedes, one could almost describe the Turbo S E-Hybrid Executive as dull. However, the understated exterior will appeal to those with subtler tastes. Perhaps the stretched bodywork - the Executive is 5.9 inches longer than regular models - can appear awkward, but overall, it's a decent effort. Porsche offers a wide variety of customization options, with up to 20 wheel designs to choose from and plenty of paint colors.
The 2023 Mercedes-AMG S63 E Performance is powered by a 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 that, together with a rear axle-mounted permanently excited synchronous motor, produces outputs of 791 horsepower and 1,055 lb-ft of torque. According to Mercedes, this is the most powerful S-Class it's ever built. That surfeit of muscle translates into fairly starling performance; the large AMG is capable of racing to 60 mph in an estimated 3.2 seconds. The top speed is pegged at 180 mph.
Under the hood of the Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid Executive, you'll also find a twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V8 engine. The Porsche gains added motivation from an electric motor. Combined power outputs of 690 hp and 641 lb-ft fail to excite in the face of the Mercedes but, interestingly, Porsche claims superior straight-line capabilities. 0 to 60 mph is dispatched in 3.1 seconds (with the Sport Chrono package), while the top speed is limited to 196 mph.
The difference in performance can, most likely, be chalked down to weight differences. Euro-spec versions of the Mercedes weigh 5,720 pounds, so the US-bound one should weigh in this region too. By comparison, the Porsche weighs 5,412 lbs, a difference of over 300 lbs.
Both vehicles have a plug-in hybrid setup which permits all-electric travel. Based on the optimistic WLTP cycle, the AMG has an all-electric range of roughly 20.5 miles, but EPA estimates are likely to be lower and close to the Panamera's EPA-rated 13 miles. Both cars have the same 87-mph top speed when running on their electric motors alone.
The standard S-Class has one of the finest interiors this side of a Rolls-Royce and the S63e builds on this with AMG-specific styling additions. Buyers can look forward to AMG-exclusive upholstery colors and Nappa leather, while the seats will carry embossed AMG badging on the headrests. The MBUX infotainment system has been updated to include model-specific hybrid displays, while the twin-spoke AMG performance steering wheel provides additional sporting flair.
Importantly, passengers will benefit from an immense amount of space front and rear, and all the bells and whistles one would associate with the S-Class nameplate. This includes a Dolby Atmos sound system, Mercedes' First-Class rear seating setup, and four multi-contour seats.
In isolation, the Porsche's cabin is a wonderful place to be but, compared to the Mercedes, it is outclassed. The quality of the materials is about the same as the AMG's, but the Panamera's rear quarters (even in Executive guise) feel a touch more cramped. There are many luxuries to enjoy, including four-zone climate control, front and rear heated seats (with power adjustment up front), and plenty more. Unfortunately, Porsche still charges extra for many features that would be standard in the Mercedes.
Overall, the Mercedes edges ahead in terms of cabin ambiance, available technology, and comfort.
Pricing for the 2023 S63e is yet to be confirmed, but we anticipate the newcomer to arrive with an eye-widening MSRP. Seeing as the outgoing model (discontinued after the 2020 model year) last retailed around the $152,000 mark, we anticipate the W223 derivative to sport a price tag of around $180,000, if not over $200,000.
That would place it in the same territory as the Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid Executive, which currently retails for $206,800. The AMG will probably arrive with an array of costly options that will quickly drive the price up, and we all know how fond Porsche is of pricey options, too. Then again, shoppers in this segment aren't concerned with trivial details like cost, so the decision will come down to personal preference.
The S-Class AMG should provide superior levels of comfort and luxury, and has a far better interior. The new engine is a masterpiece and transforms the sedate Sonderklasse into a true sports car hunter. The Panamera strikes back with superior claimed performance, a more athletic driving experience, and a more discreet image.
It all comes down to personal preference but, in the rarified atmosphere of the sporting grand sedan, the Mercedes seems to have the edge at this early stage, something we look forward to verifying when we get behind the wheel. That is, at least, until a hotter BMW 7 Series arrives to challenge the AMG.