Two secondhand luxury four-door coupes but which is the most alluring of all?
The luxury four-door coupe is a relatively new concept that sparked new style into a traditionally rather staid and upright sector. They combine curvaceous and low-slung looks with four-door, four-seat accommodation worthy of the rich and famous, and rightly are well liked by luxury car buyers who don’t want a boring old saloon.
Two models stand head and shoulders above the rest – the Porsche Panamera and Mercedes-Benz CLS. Today, secondhand examples are something of a bargain: a six-year old Panamera costs less than half the price of a new one, while you can a second generation CLS from little more than £15,000 – that’s half the price of the Porsche again, for a same-age 2011 car. We bought both together to find out which is best, and if the Porsche’s premium is worth it.
Mercedes-Benz CLS350 CDI Sport
Engine: 3.0-litre diesel
List price when new: £52,983
Price today: £15,500
Torque: 457lb ft
Top speed: 155mph
Fuel economy: 46.3mpg (Official average)
CO2 emissions: 160g/km
There was a surprise straight away: the Merc’s creamy 3.0-litre turbodiesel engine actually outdragged the Porsche in the 0-62mph dash, by more than half a second. The Porsche isn’t slow, but the CDI engine in the CLS is the better all-rounder, with all bases covered. Ride quality was the second surprise: it was the Mercedes that rode more firmly than the svelte Porsche, resulting in less lean and more control in bends.
Believe it or not, the sporty Porsche is quieter than the luxurious Mercedes, with a lack of engine, wind and even road noise: the latter is what spoils the refinement of the CLS at speed. Indeed, it’s only really in its immaculate steering feel and feedback that the Porsche truly lives up to preconceptions.
It draws ahead inside too, with an immaculate interior that looks simply gorgeous. It brilliantly blends supercar with luxury car, making the driver feel so special, you can even forgive it for the sea of switches on the centre console. Supportive seats give a good driving position, just as they do in the Mercedes, although the CLS’ dashboard can’t match the Panamera for style or luxury. Merc’s infotainment system is fiddly as well.
There’s yet another surprise when it comes to practicality, for the Porsche has the better hatchback boot, complete with standard easy-fold split rear seats. It’s not quite as big as the CLS with the seats up, but far bigger with them down – few buyers choose the split seat option on the Mercedes. As for interior space, both are more than fine for four adults: there’s less accommodation than in a four-door saloon, but still enough for six-footers.
Engine: 3.0-litre diesel
List price when new: £62,134
Price today: £31,000
Torque: 406lb ft
Top speed: 155mph
Fuel economy:43.5mpg (Official average)
CO2 emissions: 172g/km
The advantage naturally swings back to the Mercedes when it comes to costs. Not only is this six-year old one half the price of the Porsche, you could buy a two-year old example for what you’d spend on the Panamera and still enjoy some of Merc’s new car warranty. The CLS is more fuel efficient as well, with lower CO2 emissions.
Surprisingly, there’s little difference in servicing costs; it’s actually the Porsche that has a small advantage here, because of the firm’s menu-based service pricing. Mercedes doesn’t offer this. Both are complex cars that will benefit from official servicing – we certainly wouldn’t buy either without a full service history, a good warranty and maybe even a full vehicle inspection.
No two ways about it, the Porsche Panamera is an impressive car. It’s a remarkably practical machine that delivers sports car sensations to the driver, yet is still an accommodating luxury spectacle for four people to sit in. But is it worth twice as much as the Mercedes-Benz CLS? We don’t think so.
The CLS is the real surprise here. It’s a class act on the road, surprisingly sporty to drive, is very well equipped and although the interior can’t match the Panamera, it still oozes class. All for a price half as much as the Porsche: in our book, that makes it an absolute bargain, and the clear used car four-door coupe winner here.
Buying used: Porsche Panamera v Mercedes CLS