Can’t choose between the Porsche Panamera and Audi RS7?
Both are manufactured by the same company, Volkswagen Audi Group (VAG), in the same facility, and ultimately share a lot of parts. That’s not to say they’re the same vehicle, but ultimately they are two manufacturers different spin on the same foundational elements.
Many will choose based on their preference for one brand over the other, but in this post I’ll use data (and some subjectivity) to help you decide between the two models if you’re stuck.
As part of my coverage of the LA Auto Show I remarked at how visually stunning the Audi RS7 is inside and out, especially compared to its sibling the Porsche Panamera. I’ve long been a fan of the S7/RS7 and equally as long a detractor of the Porsche Panamera and it’s “bubble butt” styling, but I thought I’d try to compare these two cars while removing my biases as an Audi enthusiast and blogger, paying closest attention to objective data and facts. After a comprehensive review, the facts don’t lie and spoiler alert: Audi wins.
That being said, it’s a close race as these are both amazing machines. Since the cars have been released both have undergone styling facelifts as well as enhancements in features and options, but in my opinion have largely stayed comparable in offering.
With any car purchasing decision, the best thing you can possibly do is drive both and decide for yourself. In a close race, your decision between a Panamera and RS7 largely comes down to personal (and subjective) preference – which do you like the styling better on? which is more comfortable? which can you get a better deal on?
But if you’ve driven both and you’re still torn on which to choose, allow me to make the case for choosing the Audi RS7 instead of the Porsche Panamera.
RS7 vs Panamera Performance Comparison
Edmunds recently compared the two cars side by side and the Audi had a quicker quarter mile – 11.5 seconds versus 11.9 – as well as a quicker 0-60 time (3.4 seconds versus 3.7), so +1 to the RS7 in terms of speed. In braking the cars were a dead heat, with the RS7 slightly edging out the Porsche but let’s be generous and call that a tie. Handling wise the cars were also a dead heat on the skid pad, but with a slight edge to the RS7 again when it comes to slalom. But most importantly, the editors of Edmunds had way more to say about the RS7 and the thrill it provides while driving, quoting “it immediately feels like a much smaller car” and “The list of other cars that accelerate with this amount of effortless urgency and with the same seemingly limitless wave of torque is a very short one” while the Panamera reviews are shorter and less enthusiastic. The only downside noted about the RS7 was a hint of understeer, but otherwise the Audi seems to have greatly impressed the Edmunds reviewers on a subjective level too.
Continuing to look at data only, the RS7 also boasts 560 horsepower, 40 more than the 2014 Panamera Turbo (520 hp) and 10 more than the 2012 Turbo S (550 hp). The Turbo S is slated to return soon with 570hp which will regain the edge, but at that level of HP the difference of 10 either way does not make much of a difference. The torque curves are a slightly different story with the Panamera Turbo S being the leader with 553 to Audi’s 516 ft/lbs.
Winner: Audi RS7
RS7 vs Panamera Pricing
While none of the cars above are cheap, the RS7 is the relative bargain at nearly $40k cheaper than the Turbo and $70k less than the Turbo S variants of the Panamera. They all have comparable warranties (48 months/50,000 miles), although the Audi comes with the first 12 months or 5,000 miles of maintenance included. Most importantly though is cost of ownership – even if you assumed the Porsche and Audi had the same maintenance costs (unlikely, as Porsche Parts and labor are usually much more expensive), the RS7 gets significantly better gas mileage at 16/27 versus 15/24 for the Turbo and 15/23 for the Turbo S.
Winner: Audi RS7
RS7 vs Panamera Interior
It’s hard to judge this one impartially, but let’s assume the features are comparable and that both have good navigation systems, comfortable seats, and both please you equally in terms of appearance and the fit and finish, making the primary decision metric which is roomier on the inside. Looking at the data, the RS7 is the clear winner for backseat comfort and luggage space, while the Panamera Turbo wins for front headroom and legroom. Depending on your height and if you have backseat passengers often, this may or may not lead you to pick one over the other.
Subjectively speaking, I prefer the interior of the Audi over the Porsche, but in effort to be fair here – let’s call this one a draw. Pictured above is the Panamera GTS interior which is the sportiest and most comparable on the right, whereas the RS7 interior is on the left.
RS7 vs Panamera Exterior
This one is impossible to judge without being subjective, but let’s give it a shot. The Audi is lighter, they have the same drag coefficient, and the Audi has a better wheel and tire package. The cars overall width & height are about the same, but the Audi weights a little over 100 lbs less so a slight edge to the Audi although it’s very close.
Throwing all of this “objective” stuff out the window, the Audi RS7 is definitely the winner in aesthetics. The Porsche is undeniably ugly, and has one of the worst rear end shapes I’ve ever seen. The front end of the Porsche is also a bit awkward and doesn’t wear the fascia as well as the 911 models, and the side profile is ruined by that bulbous rear end. I’d go as far as to call the Panamera the “Pontiac Aztek” of Porsche, and makes me wonder why the owners of these cars don’t just sell the car for something nicer (like the RS7) but perhaps this is just me…
Even if the Panamera weren’t so ugly, it’d still have it’s work cut-out against the RS7. It has one of the sleekest, sexiest body lines ever penned on a sedan. It looks great from all angles, has a menacing front end, and despite the RS trim it doesn’t look over the top or “boy racer” in any regard. It’s classy yet aggressive, exactly how the RS models should be.
Winner: Audi RS7
The RS7 is the clear winner in both objective data like performance, price, fuel economy, back seat & luggage space, and curb weight. With regards to subjective factors, the RS7 is certainly the better looker, and the interiors are pretty comparable. It’s pretty hard to justify the $50-70k price jump for the Panamera Turbo/Turbo S over the RS7 given these facts, as the Audi would be the undeniable winner even if they were priced the same.
Ultimately you’d be lucky to have either cars, and since the original time of writing this post the Porsche Panamera has been facelifted to look a lot nicer, making the decision a little tougher as I personally think the original Panamera was so ugly as to make it easy to disqualify. That being said, I still believe the RS7 is subjectively better looking, and ultimately the “image” it portrays versus the Porsche is slightly less pretentious and also significantly more sporty.