Last post on Jul 24, 2012 at 9:07 AM
You are in the Mercedes-Benz SL/SLK-Class
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Mercedes-Benz SL-Class, Convertible
#212 of 786 Shoes, et al: Know what your getting yourself into
Jun 30, 2002 (8:28 am)
I am not surprised to hear your complaints on the SL500. Not to rub salt in the wound with 20/20 hindsight, but look at past and recent history:
(1) The SL has never driven like a sports car or even as precisely as a BMW 5-series. It's always been overweight. Suspension improvements have not eliminated the "detached" impression you, me and others I know have experienced.
(2) Mercedes has gotten out of control as far as "gizmos". Readily apparant from the complaints of the Command system when introduced. From a driving enthusiasts perspective, these are unnecessary displays of technology that don't add (and in many cases detract) from the driving experience.
(3) Mercedes has clearly slipped in terms of basic quality control in recent years. Perhaps they should fire some of their gizmo minded techies and hire back some real engineers that can get rid of the rattles and the electronic polterguists that seem to plague many of their more recent introductions.
With all due respect, the 2003 SL500 is a very attractive car that is superior in many ways to the car it replaces (the jury is out on dependability/durability). But it is not a revolutionary change from what the SL has always been - a GT cruiser. And it does not surprise me that this would disappoint someone used to driving a 911 or 540.
And, just as a forewarning to anyone salivating over the upcoming SL55. One of my friends is chief lobbyist for Daimler Chrysler and had the opportunity to drive a test model in Germany with some other senior executives in April. His comments: "If you like driving the SL500, you'll love the SL55. But it's not going to win over me or anyone who knows how to drive and is looking for a true sports car". (Manfred's current weekend car is a Ferrari 360; previously it was a 911).
I myself upgrded from a 540i 6-speed to a 2002 M5 this spring. And even then, I test drove a used M5 for an entire weekend, just to make sure that I wasn't buying the wrong car for me.
Shoes - good luck with whatever you decide from here. At least you have some excellent choices in your garage.
#213 of 786 gizmos and QC
Jul 01, 2002 (2:27 am)
In respond to epn2, I think both BMW and MB are adding more gizmos to their cars for better or worse. Personally, I find the COMAND *MUCH* easier to pick up and to use than the new iDrive. If you think COMAND is difficult, you will be very frustrated with iDrive in the new 7 series. Let's hope BMW will improve on it before it appears on the new 5.
As far as quality control goes, I have had initial problems with all 3 newly acquired German cars, malfunctioning power seat on the new Audi A4, major recall on the 7, SRS light on the SL.
Do these problems turn me into a Lexus owner? Definitely not, it's one thing to visit the dealer to fix minor bugs every now and then but it's another to have to live with cars that don't handle well day in day out.
#214 of 786 w210 - Absolutely agree
Jul 01, 2002 (7:16 am)
BMW's iDrive on the 7-series is even worse than the Command system. I have not yet driven one, but I've never been a big fan of the 7-series. Even with two kids, I've never felt compelled to go up to a 7 or S-class in size. If I did - and money were no object - I'd probably go with an S55. Recent flaws aside, I still think Mercedes does big luxury better than BMW. Fortunately, we have an SUV for serious hauling.
I also think my previous post was too harsh. I was not trying to dump on the new SL. It may not be a sports car, but as a luxury 2-seat convertible, it's about as good as you can do at any price.
#215 of 786 Second thoughts
Jul 02, 2002 (8:05 am)
Maybe I am also looking at the SL500 the wrong way. It will never have the visceral thrill the way the Porsche 911 does, but at the same time, the Porsche will never have the comfort of the SL500. It is hard to jump from one car to the next for me. I have the tiptronic in the 911 (I know this is sacriligeous, but I am an old guy and my left foot is worn out) and everytime I get into another car I am always looking to downshift by toggling a button on the steering wheel.
Look, the SL500 fulfills the mission of the world's most luxurious two seater (although the Lexus is also very nice in this way), so maybe I am just not the right driver for it...
#216 of 786 SL not worth the price
Jul 05, 2002 (3:11 pm)
I just drove the new SL500 while my S500 was getting a oil change and new tires and alignment. I was with the car for over 2 hours and about 50 miles around town on freeway and city drives and found it rattled with the top up! When it was down it was much better. This is strange to me. I also feel that all the electronics are over done. And Shoes is right about the brakes. They are different and really have a poor feeling. I love the look and design but would never buy a car like this. A 911, or if I had the cash, a Ferrari Modena is a much more fun/exciting way to spend my dollars. I see some 2001 Ferrari 360's for about $145K which is 20K more than the premium charged to get a SL500 now and my dealer told me the SL55 will be bought and "flipped" for around $185K. Which would you choose?
#217 of 786 Agree with Edmunds' review
Jul 06, 2002 (2:20 am)
Each to their own I suppose. SL500 my choice as the best all round convertible bar none.
Not crazy about the regular 996, neither here nor there, and that cheap interior. M3 seems like a far better value, for performance, the 996TT is superior at a reasonable premium over the regular 996. I'll pick the 996TT over the 360 and Z8 any day too.
On the other hand, the new E55K is the best value pick with 470bhp in the brand new E-class body at a price less than the SL500.
#218 of 786 Shoes You Answered your own Question
Jul 07, 2002 (4:33 pm)
I'd go back to what made you feel good a Porshe or a BMW. I don't know you but,your not having any fun.
I never saw a Brinks truck follow a funeral so don't dye your hair silver and stop listening to the bells and whistles of the SL and become a driver again.
Who knows you might sleep better at night too.
Jul 08, 2002 (2:55 am)
Not to change the subject, but I hope the new E55K has a much improved chassis and suspension to go along with the 470hp engine.
AMG had already proven to me that they can build fantastic engines. I don't think they give up much, if anything, in that department to BMW's Motorworks. Although I happen to prefer the higher revving M3 and M5 engines, the C32 and current E55 certainly have more than enough punch.
However, IMHO, AMG is two or three rungs down the ladder in the handling department to their BMW counterparts. Statistics aside, the E55 feels like a much heavier, less nimble handler than the (heavier) M5. And from my test drives, the C32 can't come close to competing with the M3 in handling and steering.
I came damn close to buying a 1999 E300 Turodiesel. It drove like a tank, but it was a tank, without sporting pretensions. If AMG wants to get my attention in the future, they will need to build a serious driver's car (preferably with manual transmissions), not just put more and more horsepower under the hood. I, for one, wouldn't have bought the current E55 even with 470 horsepower over the current M5 with 394.
I don't think I'm alone in my feelings. I know of many former Mercedes loyalists who have switched to BMW on the basis of overall driving dynamics.
#221 of 786 It's the Mercedes "way"....
Jul 08, 2002 (8:11 am)
That's true, but that's just it...MB isn't trying to out-sport BMW. They aren't going to do manuals. AMG cars are more complete "cars", meaning something you can use everyday
AMG cars don't have the engine and trans problems of their M-Series competitors either. BMW will always be sportier, Mercedes will always be more well rounded and thats the way it should be. There is no lack of demand for either M or AMG products. Together along with the upstart "S" and "RS" products from Audi they rule! Jaguar's "R" cars are right there too, and now Volvo S60R (300hp) is in the hunt. They all can't be BMW clones.