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Mercedes-Benz SL and SLK (all models)



  • imaramimaram Posts: 36
    Not to get into a Lexus conversation, but the RX300 seems pretty much a segment definition, IMO. kind of has the M-Class on the mat, until you hit 500 or 55, and no domestic maker can touch it. The 470 is a joke, as far as I'm concerned. That's rebadging at its worst.

    LS430 is a winner, but I still think they're aiming at Mercedes, not quite hitting the mark, and scoring points in spite of themselves.

    In this class, I'd still rather park the SL500 in my personal garage. That or an XKR. Hmmmmm.
  • shoesshoes Posts: 131
    I got to write a check for my new SL500 this week, but because I am taking European delivery I have to wait a month before I drive it and then another 6 weeks before it returns to the US.

    Anyway, my sticker was $91,500 which included the comfort package, wood package, bi-xenons and maybe one other option. I placed my order more than a year ago, so there was no mark up.

    There seems to be quite a few designo editions in the first shipments to all the dealers, which are $10K more than the others. Also, Mercedes, which had been pressuring dealers not to mark up cars, seems to have relaxed this restriction. My dealer told me that the first car they sold went for $30K more than MSRP. Forget about the SL55, those cars when they arrive in the late summer, will be very rare and probably sell for $50K over.

    I spent time in the new car and was very impressed with the attention to the details, with only a few slip ups. The HVAC dials look like they are right out of a Chrysler and the plastic shroud over the speedo is cheap (the SL55 covers this in leather). However there are so many other positives about this car, I feel very happy that I am getting one.
  • MrShift@EdmundsMrShift@Edmunds Posts: 43,648
    Mercedes leads, Lexus follows, it's always been that way it seems. Just line 'em up from 1990-2002, model to model, and you'll see who is following who. Lexus was BORN as a Mercedes clone (and a darn good one, too!) This is not to deny Lexus innovation of its own, nor its own deserved good reputation, but they have always dogged Mercedes, because they know where the blue chips are. Benz is the star, Lexus the understudy who hopes the star breaks her leg some night. (And she may, she may).

    While I am tempted to beat every SC430 I see with a baseball bat, I have to say that it is one of the FIRST cars from Lexus that attempts to step out and take charge in styling and concept. For that I give them a thumbs up. Now try again.
  • prattsterprattster Posts: 59
    The CLK may look good on the outside but the inside is pure ,downmarket, cheap looking materials and plastics a step above Chrysler junk especially in dull grey. The SC blows it away in materials and richness, fit/finish is tighter no doubt. Typical Lexus high quality.

    The new SL500 continues this trend with cheap looking details a big no no in this price car. Center console doesn't even have leather console lining like the SC or the rich brushed metal HVAC stereo surround. Audi still has much nicer interiors than these new benzes of today. This all new car still uses an old SOHC engine design.

    For this price give me an NSX anyday handbuilt, super high quality, much rarier bargain priced exotic. Mercedes also copies Lexus details as in the door hinges of the big CL Coupe are straight off the old SC coupes. One hellva durable design for a door hinge though. Don't think M.B. doesn't study Lexus as did Lexus M.B. for 8 years developing the 1st LS. Lexus also pioneered multiplex wiring which is the most reliable design in electrical systems.

    Lexus will hit M.B. again with a big V-12 ultra sedan in a few years and all new high perforance models of the GS sedans with 4wd. The boys in Tokyo want to be number 1 and the boys in Stuttgart will surely feel the heat.
  • MrShift@EdmundsMrShift@Edmunds Posts: 43,648
    To really appreciate a Mercedes you need to saw it in half. No, I mean that seriously. So much about that car is not seen by the observer. Even if the Benz doesn't have the "brushed metal" stereo surround or the 1960s Chris Crafty wood trim, you can be sure Mercedes put the money in the chassis or in some facet of engineering that you will never see in a million miles of driving.

    German cars have never been about obstentation. They are all business, sometimes even humorless in their obsession with function over form.

    The history of both Lexus and Mercedes as we know them today actually goes back to Cadillac, of all places. Cadillac, in the 1950s, showed the world that one could mass-produce a quality car in enormous numbers. Mercedes took a hard look at this and basically blew Cadillac out of the luxury market. Then in 1990 Toyota took a hard look at Mercedes and made a brilliant transition into the luxury car market itself. I'm sure that the LS400 was not wanted German car makers wanted to see!

    But that doesn't mean that either Cadillac or Lexus IS, therefore, a Mercedes. In some ways, either car can excel a Benz in certain areas, no doubt about it. GM and Lexus engineers are not stupid people.

    But overall, in all the details, the Benz is still "engineered like no other car in the world" and no amount of pretty little details or avant garde styling is going to dethrone them.

    Mercedes reputation is at the end of the wrench, not in the marketing department. The company still delivers on its promises, even if the days of silver-plated trim and rosewood tea tables are over for all automakers competing in mass-produced markets.
  • v12powerv12power Posts: 174
    "This all new car still uses an old SOHC engine design"

    I think I know the one you mean. It uses three valves per cylinder, two spark plugs per cylinder and a magnesium intake manifold with two stage ressonance. Sounds like a pretty outdated design to me (right!).

    I also like your thoughts on "rich brushed metal". You mean the stuff on the dash of my old '77 Trans Am, right? That is much richer than real wood.

    Keep dreaming, MB remains the standard of the world.
  • sphinx99sphinx99 Posts: 776
    Just a FYI - ALL car companies study other car companies. It is endemic in the industry and the company that thinks it can develop top-of-class products on their own is usually the first to stumble. And while there will always be style, value or feature leaders and followers, everyone gets to the finish line in their own way, and innovates along the way. Hence you have Mercedes building some of amazing suspension mechanicals that Lexus could only dream about, and Lexus producing cars with gap tolerances that Mercedes is a decade away from duplicating. Each company innovates, all have their unique strengths, and innovation never, ever stops at body shell design or window sticker feature list.

    I just wanted to inject this into the "so-and-so innovates and so-and-so clearly just copies" discussion.
  • MrShift@EdmundsMrShift@Edmunds Posts: 43,648
    The historical record is there for all to see nonetheless. I'd be interested to know what distinct and readily identifiable engineering or styling feature Mercedes copied from Lexus. I can't think of any, but I don't know everything, so point it out please, year and model would be helpful.

    PS: Nobody really has to do this. It's rhetorical. I'm just making the point that it would be hard to think of anything, whereas with Benz being copied the list is pretty long. Right off, I can think of the "little armchair" electric seat adjuster (law suits flew on that one) , the multilink rear suspension, the grillework, the trunk lid (just about everybody got that one!), the use of ohc V8s in luxury 4-doors, the "look" of the interior/console area, the middle sun visor (recent Audi rip-off of Benz idea) , the entire S series concept (which is what the first Lexi and Infinitis were).

    I'm sure there's tons more. Even the ABS and ESP stability systems you find on many cars (their own versions) today were premeried on Mercedes-Benzes (1978 and 1995). ABS comes from the German "antiblockiersystem."
  • imaramimaram Posts: 36
    Well, to fair, I remember the release of the LS, GS and SC fairly well, although I'm sure you remember them better, Shifty. I think anyone'd have to be blind to suggest that the LS wasn't, and isn't, a blatant attempt at copying Mercedes, but I never saw a real Mercedes connection with the GS or the original SC, which is why I found both of those very appealing on their own merits.

    I'm not suggesting that they aren't using MB (and now BMW) as a benchmark, but at least those two examples had seemingly independent style.

    As far as technical innovation goes, this not now, nor has it ever been a key to Japanese success. Refinement of other's technologies and the processes by which they are utilized, has been the MO.

    Still, one can't say that at least, oh, Honda hasn't presented the world with some significant engineering, IMO.
  • jstylejstyle Posts: 129
    I just talked with an associate in CA and we were discussing the new SL. He said his dealer told him that those with early allocation of the SL55 AMG are going to ask close to $US180,000 because this is what some people are offering for the car. I guess it really is a competitor for the Ferrari 360 in more ways than just performance. Mercedes is allowing these mark ups on new cars I guess.
  • MrShift@EdmundsMrShift@Edmunds Posts: 43,648
    Mercedes can "discourage" markups but can't control them legally, is my understanding, since every dealer (except the factory "front" stores) are independent franchisees.

    HONDA--Honda is the exception to the rule of the generalization that the Japanese copy and refine rather than innovate. I think the reason Honda is different is due to their vast motorcycle and substantial racing experience.

    If Honda punched into the upper luxury market (unlikely) I'd lose sleep if I made cars in Germany.
  • prattsterprattster Posts: 59
    "Keep dreaming, MB remains the standard of the world" Yeah ok I'll take your word for it. Till Lexus crashed their party.

    You can compare the trim inside to anything you want knock yourself out, compare it to my old Nikon camera with brushed trim but it still reeks of higher quality ambience than anything Benz and has lots of fine wood to go along if that's what one wants.

    One who arrogantly underestimates the Japanese automakers is one who pays the price just like the Big 2.5 Brass did and were squealing like little piglets after when marketshare went bye bye in the 80's. This is what the Germans did exactly in the late 80's.

    When Benz takes Lexus's place as number 1 in quality surveys, dealer satisfaction and realibility than I'll bow down and say their number 1. Go to and see all the cars tested.
  • imaramimaram Posts: 36
    "One who arrogantly underestimates the Japanese automakers is one who pays the price just like the Big 2.5 Brass did and were squealing like little piglets after when marketshare went bye bye in the 80's. This is what the Germans did exactly in the late 80's."

    Personally, I don't think you've driven a new Mercedes in 20 years. Could be wrong, but that's what it sounds like.

    Saturn has higher dealer satisfaction numbers than Lexus BTW, and I believe Buick topped Lexus in CS.
  • merc1merc1 Posts: 6,081
    I think you're overstating it a bit about the CLK and the SC430. Yes the SC430 has better materials, but I haven seen anywhere that the CLK is just junk, nor have I experienced that myself, having been the car a few times. The CLK Cabriolet easily has a more rigid body than the SC430, you don't hear about rattles and squeaks in CLK Cabrios like you do from SC430 owners, right here on edmunds. The Lexus has better materials/stereo/nav system, yet the Benz is the better driver of the two, with a stiffer body (very important in a convertible) and better styling, with rollover protection, something Lexus is still "researching".

    The NSX is not an exotic by choice, IT SIMPLY DOESN'T SELL! Acura would love to import more of these, but time passed it by long ago. Why would Mercedes study Lexus that hard, they only be looking at their own work!!!! Also the CL's door hinge is a BETTER design than the SC's.

    I do agree with you about Audi. They make the best interior of any German car. The A4 shames the C-Class and the 3-Series in the materials/styling/layout game. The A6 and A8 have about the best interiors around.

    Mercedes aren't made based on wood, leather and aluminum. The guts of the car is what most appeals to me.

    And that test that AMCI did was pure BS at it's best. Lexus asked for the test. I can configure a test with specific criteria that will show that a Hyundai Sonota is a better car than a ES300. That test means nothing.

  • merc1merc1 Posts: 6,081
    Well well, seems as though C&D agrees the CLK just beat the SC. So much for that SC430 superior crap.

  • shoesshoes Posts: 131
    Let's celebrate the fact that we can enjoy the choice between Japanese quality and German engineering.
  • imaramimaram Posts: 36
    Not to mention the choice between Japanese appliances and German driving experience!

  • MrShift@EdmundsMrShift@Edmunds Posts: 43,648
    Let's stick to the Mercedes 500SL if we can.

    If you wish to praise Lexus, there are many other topics to do so. This topic is primarily to discuss the pros and cons of this particular car, not other makes.
  • toyotas1toyotas1 Posts: 134
    This is what I was saying. The current generation CLK was the Benz response to the original Lexus SC. All I'm saing is that Mercedes introduced the car 5 YEARS after the Lexus, and it STILL was a weaker car as far as luxury, design and styling, while exceeding it in safety features and only matching it in performance. The current CLK doesn't move me AT ALL, and the 2003 CLK only refines a mediocre package, stylistically........ I just got the new C&D and the CLK's victory only reinforces the missions of the two automakers. The new SC was NOT designed to be a sports car. It was spearheaded by the same man in charge of the class-leading GS430, so Lexus could have (I say should have) made it more of a split personality than it is. The car is a poseur, but the most beautiful poseur on the road today, with style even the new SL can't touch, and a few luxury touches the SL can't figure out either. Lexus should have made 30% of the SC's a "Sport" calibration. The SL is a slightly better car, but NO car is worth $90k. I would get the SC and "fix" the suspension so it puts those 18's to proper use, and save $20k. I still think the SC is the better looking of the two, and the CLK cabrio has NO STYLE in comparison......
  • MrShift@EdmundsMrShift@Edmunds Posts: 43,648
    I think more people are turned off by the SC430 styling that the any Benz you can name. Perhaps the SC430 is bolder, but either you like it or hate it. Most people, if not in love with Benz styling, will not be bothered by it. Benz hasn't made an ugly car in 35 years, but they have made some that are hardly stylish as we use the term today.

    Most conservative companies, like Benz, do not take huge styling risks. They really don't have to. They keep pushing the envelope, but slowly, making sure there is plenty of continuity between old models and new.

    So my point is don't confuse conservative styling as being "behind the times" technologically. Mercedes is definitely not like Harley Davidson, another very conservative company (ironically). There is a complete rationale behind the CLK, and the SL and all the other models, in terms of corporate heritage and goals. If looks like a Benz and performs like one, Mercedes has met their goal.

    And the SL 500 certainly looks like an SL, there's no mistaking it. The SC430 looks like an Audi, not like a Lexus. Maybe that's okay, if that's what Lexus intended. :You can't sell cars only on quality. If that was all it took, I can think of about 10 prosperous makes that would be out of bsuiness right now.
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