Mercedes CLS 350 CDI VS BMW 640d Gran Coupe vs. Porsche Panamera – Grease n Gasoline

13 Dec 2014 | Author: | Comments Off on Mercedes CLS 350 CDI VS BMW 640d Gran Coupe vs. Porsche Panamera – Grease n Gasoline
Mercedes CLS 350

Mercedes CLS 350

CDI VS BMW 640d Gran Coupe vs. Porsche Panamera

BMW 640d Gran Coupe, Mercedes CLS 350 CDI, porsche-panamera

1st Place #8211; Mercedes-Benz CLS 350 CDI

Unlike BMW, Mercedes doesn#8217;t reserve special engine options solely for the CLS range. The 265bhp 3.0-litre CDI diesel and standard seven-speed automatic box will be familiar to owners of other Mercedes, and the car proves a fair match for the more powerful BMW, recording a 0-60mph time that#8217;s only half-a-second slower. It also feels quicker and more eager to accelerate than the Gran Coupe, particularly from low speeds.

Away from the track, our CLS didn#8217;t seem quite as sharp as its rivals. It#8217;s composed and capable through a series of turns, but the steering feels over-assisted, particularly at low speeds. And despite our car#8217;s #163;1,500 optional air-suspension, the ride wasn#8217;t quite as supple as the smooth BMW#8217;s.

However, the Mercedes looks something of a bargain against the competition here. Even after you#8217;ve added creature comforts such as air-suspension, dynamic massage seats and upgraded leather trim, you#8217;ll still be paying thousands less than you would for the BMW or Porsche.

So while the CLS isn#8217;t perfect, with such a significant price advantage it#8217;s easy to overlook the car#8217;s few failings.

2nd Place #8211; BMW 640d Gran Coupe

Thankfully, one area of the Gran Coupe that didn#8217;t divide opinion was the drivetrain. While the engine is based on the 3.0-litre six-cylinder diesel that appears in the 7 Series, in the 6 Series it offers 10bhp more. The car also features a newer transmission: an eight-speed auto borrowed from the 5 Series range.

Despite being such a mix and match, the 640d#8217;s drivetrain works beautifully. With deep reserves of low-range pulling power and perfectly spaced ratios, the car punches out of corners with an eagerness that belies its 1,865kg kerbweight. Plus, the box has a manual function that allows shifts via a pair of neatly fashioned steering wheel paddles, and this ensured the BMW was the only car of our test trio that felt happy letting its driver make the choices.

Thanks to its 5 Series underpinnings, the Gran Coupe also delivers when it comes to driving dynamics. It strikes a fine balance between sportiness and refinement #8211; soaking up surface imperfections without robbing the driver of feedback from the road surface. The front end is accurate and easy to place, while the car#8217;s agility through twisting sections of tarmac speaks volumes for BMW#8217;s chassis know-how.

But if we have a criticism of the Gran Coupe, it has to be value for money. With a basic price of #163;63,900, the 640d is the most expensive car in this test #8211; it costs #163;1,766 more than the Panamera and #163;9,690 more than the CLS. Although the BMW does come with a generous kit list, it offers no more space or performance than its two rivals here.

So while it#8217;s an easy car to love, your devotion will be sorely tested when you#8217;re asked to sign on the dotted line.

3rd Place – Porsche Panamera

One thing you are guaranteed to get if you own a Panamera is attention. The five-door Porsche is taller and wider than the BMW and Mercedes, and is imposing to look at and sit in. Combining supercar-style details with brutal proportions, it#8217;s not for those who like to blend into the background.

However, in a market where sleek styling and sophistication are key factors, the Panamera doesn#8217;t quite hit the mark.

Mercedes CLS 350

Porsche#8217;s desire to be different extends to the cabin, where the Panamera stands out from the crowd in a number of important ways. Given the car#8217;s larger dimensions, the interior feels bigger and more accommodating, with a greater glass area allowing more light in. The rear seats mirror the designs of those in front, and give decent amounts of head and legroom.

Up front the seats are supportive but narrow, and while they do without gadgets like the Mercedes#8217; pneumatic bolstering, they proved the most comfortable of our test trio.

However, travelling in the Panamera isn#8217;t quite as relaxing as it could be. By shunning a central control system for the car#8217;s infotainment devices, Porsche has been forced to pebbledash the centre console and steering column with an array of buttons, sliders and dials. As a result, many are obscured by the chunky gearshift or clustered under the sat-nav screen.

Under the bonnet is a 3.0-litre diesel engine that develops 247bhp and 550Nm of torque. Sourced from the vast Audi parts bin, it serves up solid performance without ever feeling too strained. We covered 0-60mph in 6.5 seconds, although the in-gear times were no match for the muscular BMW#8217;s.

Our testers also called into question the manual gearbox controls. Instead of paddles, the car features large rocker buttons located on the steering wheel. Not only are these fiddly to use, they defy conventional gearchange wisdom by requiring the driver to push to change up.

Fortunately, one area where the Panamera does shine is chassis refinement. Although the car#8217;s sheer bulk makes it unwieldy on narrow country roads, the steering is accurate and perfectly weighted.

The Porsche also rides surprisingly well. Adaptive dampers (which come as part of the #163;1,052 PASM option) deliver a firmer feel if you want a sportier set-up, while in Comfort mode the car glides across poor surfaces with ease.

With a #163;62,134 price tag, the Panamera undercuts the Gran Coupe and initially looks decent value for money. However, dig a little deeper and you#8217;ll soon discover that the list of standard equipment is far from generous. For starters, there are those expensive adaptive dampers, while the arch-filling 20-inch wheels fitted to our test car will set you back a further #163;2,249.

Even a rear wiper #8211; pretty essential on a car with a hatchback tailgate #8211; adds #163;235 to the total. Factor these in, and the case for the Panamera isn#8217;t quite so solid.

Out of the bunch, AutoExpress picks the Mercedes CLS 350 CDI as the winner, followed closely by the new 640d Gran Coupe.

Mercedes CLS 350
Mercedes CLS 350
Mercedes CLS 350
Mercedes CLS 350
Mercedes CLS 350
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