2014 BMW M5 vs. 2014 Porsche Panamera 4S

By Zack Klapman.

It’s a great time to be shopping for a 6-figure sports sedan. The choices are plentiful, the flavors varied, and incredible speed is a common denominator. Maserati, Bentley, Porsche, Mercedes, BMW: anything from them with 4 doors and a big sale price is packing heavy power formerly seen only in supercars.

It’s honestly hard to go wrong. We know that truly bad cars are a thing of the past. An $11,000 Nissan isn’t the decrepit, wobbly, boring place of the past; it’s a pleasant, safe place to move about.

2014 BMW M5

And that evolution occurs across the gamut of species. This 2014 BMW M5 has 560HP. That’s not much less than a new McLaren, and that car costs more than double, and only holds 2 people.

2014 BMW M5

A powerful 4.4-liter twin-turbo V8 is mediated through a fast-shifting 7-speed dual-clutch transmission and touches the world through the two rear tires. Use launch control and you hit 60MPH in 3.7 second, which is extremely fast, period. For a RWD sedan, it’s miraculous. 167MPH happened in surprisingly little time, the speedometer needle sweeping like a thermometer dropped into already-boiling water. Turn off traction control and the 502ft-lbs of torque turn the tires into floating grey carbon immediately. I recommend inexperienced drivers you inexperienced drivers with well-laden accounts keep traction on.

2014 BMW M5

The inside is a comfortable place, both for passengers and the millions of buttons that change millions of setting. You can adjust the shifting, shocks, throttle response, steering feel, traction, parking/lane/cruise sensors and the heads-up display. The upside is you can set the car exactly how you want, but the process is a long one. Sadly there’s no button for “louder exhaust”, leaving you with the quietest space shuttle in the world, a negative to me.

2014 BMW M5

Quiet or not, the M5 is one of the most incredible means of conveyance I have ever driven. The ride is quiet, the steering is direct, and visibility is great. It has tons of grip, it’s roomy, faster than your mother will want to know, and –I think- a very good-looking car. It’s a massage chair inside a soundproof room inside a supercar inside a limo. Tur-duck-errari.

2014 Porsche Panamera 4S

It’s amazing that the Panamera 4S, arguably the more restrained car, with its AWD and “mere” 400HP V8, has an exhaust note that drowns out the M5, and nearby aircraft. The Sports Exhaust (optional, of course, because Porsche), sounds like an AMG. And I like AMGs.

2014 Porsche Panamera 4S

Like the hatchback look or not, you cannot deny that the driving experience of the 2014 Porsche Panamera 4S is phenomenal. Its agility denies Earth’s gravitational pull on its 4,100lb curb weight. It’s turning radius rivals a tricycle’s. My car’s interior was a plum color with lots of (optional) Alcantara, and it looked gooood. The high-rise center console and bright aluminum shifter have more flash than the M5, and look upmarket for a Porsche. Rear-seat headroom is excellent, and front visibility is only out-done by cars with the engine mounted behind you.

2014 Porsche Panamera 4S

It’s quick too. The M5 smokes the Porsche’s 4.8 0-60, but that’s not slow, and no one will say it is. The 7-speed PDK gearbox is basically perfect. Gaps in acceleration are intangible. Every piece of this car works in harmony with each other. The problem is that that harmonious interaction of engineering costs money, a lot of money. The 4S starts at $96,000, but all the niceties in mine raised the price to $140,000. The price for amazing things is amazing.

2014 Porsche Panamera 4S

I am not a rich person, so when I dream about money and cars, I like to think if I can afford a $100,000 car, forty grand more is easy. But it’s not. This 4S is 40% more than the M5. It’s prettier inside, and louder outside, and the AWD means it’s good in any climate, but I live in a sunny place, and the M5’s power is addictive, as are burnouts, and beauty. I would buy the M5, and use a very small amount of my savings, for an aftermarket exhaust.

(Note: All vehicles provided by manufacturers for comparison test purposes. Photos provided by BMW and Porsche.)