“Oh the times are a changing,” as a wise man once said. The era of the high-performance rear wheel drive super sedans is coming to an end. The days of creating oversteer on command in the family car due to massively powerful engines capable of overpowering the rear tires will soon be a distant memory. Cars that once dominated that category like the BMW M5/M6 and Mercedes-Benz E55 AMG have moved to all wheel drive platforms, like the Audi RS7 and Porsche Panamera Turbo. A great majority of the BMW and Mercedes enthusiasts consider this “joining the Darkside,” and the rest of the community is on the fence whether it’s a good thing or not. But if this hot lap battle between the new AMG E63 S and Panamera Turbo is any indication as to what this new AWD super sedan class is going to be like, it might be better than it was before.
The Porsche Panamera Turbo has been highly regarded for its performance for quite some time now. Even though it’s a big old four-door full-size sedan, it still manages to instill all the Porsche sportiness. It’s fast, it’s agile, and is no stranger when it comes to spending time at the track. The example used in this shootout is the Turbo model which is rated at 550hp coming from the 4.0L V8, and of course is all wheel drive. The Panamera Turbo might be less powerful, yet more expensive and slightly heavier, but it’s the perfect car to battle the Mercedes with its brand new all-wheel drive system.
The AMG E63 S doesn’t have a standard all-wheel drive system. Its claimed to offer the performance and fun factor of a rear wheel drive car by sending as much as 100% of the power only to the rear wheels. It even has a specific “drift mode” programmed into it straight from the factory. And with an AMG-tuned 4.0L twin turbo V8 churning out 603hp and 627lb’ft of torque, breaking the back end loose will be as easy as blipping the throttle. The Auto Week presenter that was driving each car for the timed laps even had the back end start dancing on him in 4th gear as he was exiting a corner. I can’t explain why, but that gives me warm fuzzies.