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I think most people here remember the wine glass television commercials that accompanied the debut of the LS400. (The stack of wine glasses remaining perfectly balanced on a LS400 doing 150mph on a dyno.) That simple ad caused half the jaws in America to drop. MB needs something like that for the SL500. Fact or fiction, the encroachment of the luxury imports, the steady progress of BMW and Audi, and the growing QA concerns about MB are starting to tarnish the image of excellence that Benz has enjoyed for quite some time. If the SL500 is MB's response to the last five years, then it should be mated to a stunning advertising campaign that shows what the car is or means. For better or for worse, the press reviews on the SL500 are generally filled with praise but as the previous poster pointed out, they haven't had that "this is the best car in the universe" quality that the forum posters here were alleging the new SL to have prior to its actual release. If the SL500 is supposed to be something more special than "a very nice car for a lot of money" then now is the time for them to make a statement.
"What really separates the SL from its competitors, which we'll call the Porsche 911, Jaguar XKR, Maserati Spyder and the already-referenced Lexus SC, is that thrill you get from constantly discovering new features not even dreamed of in those other cars."
Note that they didn't pin the SL's strengths on its build quality, or on the stuff "inside" that may not appear on the surface. On the contrary, the review essentially boiled down to, "the SL500 is a really cool car because it has a lot of gadgets and buttons." I can't explain why, but that isn't what I was expecting an auto journalist to take away from an experience in the new SL. This car should not be wowing auto journalists in the same way a 3000GT VR4 wowed journalists.
Which would you rather have: a new SL500, or a SLK32 AMG and about $40k cash? I could be wrong in saying this, but the only thing the SL500 seems to have on the SLK AMG are electronic gimmicks, a thousand pounds and "heritage"... I guess I'm not as impressed by the SL500 as I figured I ought to be, given what I believe are (in my opinion) two much, much better convertible hardtop roadsters in MB's own model lineup.
Maybe the problem isn't so much that the SL500 is bad, but rather that the AMG models are so GOOD.
I know a lot about Benz because I used to work for them and toured their factory many times as a VIP. I can't say how a 1990 Lexus compares point for point. My point was that if you can't see the $25K difference between an SL500 and an SC430, THAT DOESN'T MEAN THERE ISN'T ONE (emphasis added but no shouting intended). I was only suggesting WHY you or someone couldn't readily see the $25K. It's in the a) technology, and b) the details.
As for Car and Driver, well they are the "bad boys" of the automotive press, and also it's a free country (more or less) . Personally, I thought their comments were pretty dumb. When you have to rail about dash vents you are getting fairly desperate for criticism. As for the ABC remark, I am no fan of automatic controls of any kind on a car, so I revel in any criticism of them.
Basically it always comes down to this: If you cannot see and feel how the SL500 has raised the bar over the SC430, with your own test drive, research, and eyeballs, then buy the Lexus and be happy, because in truth then you have made the wiser choice.
As for the Hyundai air vents, it well may be true. The Japanese probably copied them, just like Mazda Protege copied EXACTLY the air vents from my 1988 Alfa Romeo Spyder! I consider it a compliment, that from all the engineers in all of Japan, they chose my humble car to copy. Love it.
What I find truly amazing about your theories is that they're all exuses for Lexus, yet if Mercedes would have lost that comparo and I in turn said that the CLK430 should have lost due to it being the older car of the two....you wouldn't be trying to hear any of that. The Lexus SC430 looses to the CLK430 and the SL500, get over it.
What are you talking about??? Mercedes needs a showcase of engineering achievements? The fastest folding hardtop, Electronic brakes, active suspension, rollover protection (they were first in 1990 to do this) not to mention all of Mercedes' traditional strengths, all wrapped in some of the best looking sheetmetal on the road.
What you fail to realize is the Lexus needed something like balancing wine glasses on it's hood because it was a new brand and it had to prove itself. Mercedes would never need such hype (bs) to sell the SL, people who know Mercedes already know that the SL is where Mercedes does their best work. Mercedes needs no such fluff for a car that is sold out worldwide.
Both you all pick up a copy of Sports Car International. Car and Driver believe it or not doesn't really like Mercedes, they're BMW fans overall. Neither of you have been able to answer this question for months. If the SL500 isn't the best in class, what is?
It's seems to me that the SL500 is so untouchable in you guys minds to the point where you have to reach for something, anything to try and get around the facts about this car. Now the SLK32 makes the SL500's "value" questionable. Please.... The SLK32 is a completely different car, with much less technology, space, features, and it's playing the performance card first, luxury second. In the end it doesn't matter much, because Mercedes sells all the units available on BOTH cars. Yes you are wrong here.
1 - You can operate the top with your remote key.
2 - Top can be opened and closed with the Windows up.
One thing I did not like was the lack of in-dash CD changer. Although the cartridge is positoned behind the driver's seat and somewhat easy to access.
Folks, MB did its job well. I have orders for both SL & SL55. No complaint about my SC. It's just time to move on. New orders for SL here in West LA have an eight months wait and growing. SL 55 should be here in March/April 2003.
So I guess my position is that, in its ENTIRETY, the SL500 impresses me more than the SC430, or any Lexus product (so far). Do I like everything about it? No. Some aspects of German design and engineering are not my favorites.
If the SC430 wants to say it outdid the SLK, I'd have to say that could be true. But next to the SL500, I just don't see where it approaches it much less matches it. Looks, technology, prestige and performance---- "match goes to Mercedes".
If further hands-on experience changes my view, I will be sure to post it.
When are you going to wake up...the Lexus SC is OUTCLASSED by the SL. Everyone can see that, and I didn't mean the SC430 was dust, it's your argument that has been reduced to dust. I never said the SC430 wasn't a good car, but I am saying the SL500 is a better car. Clearly. Did you not read what I just said about C&D and Mercedes-Benzes? They aren't big fans of MB cars. Again pick up another magazine to get another perspective on the SL500. Styling is a personal thing because if you bothered to read Road and Track you'll see they like the retro cues. Again, see what SCI (Sports Car International) had to say, or better yet, read post #59 again.
One has the interior of a 35K car? PROVE IT! Where oh where have you read that or better yet when have you seen or been in a SL to know this? Never, thats when.
Never said the SL was perfect. What (more than a few posts back) I said was that the SL is a lot closer to be being the perfect convertible than the SC is. When you're ready to believe your own admission that the SL500 is better than the SC430 you let me know.
"Pay respect to the competiton", are you serious? You simply haven't a clue.
So if you want to put the SL500 and the SC430 in the marketing ring, I think I'll play the favorite. One never knows, but I've seen the SL use its muscle before to knock out many a bragging contender, whereas I've only seen the SC430 beat up on the little Audi TT and Saabs.
I don't think Lexus wants to go toe to toe with the SL just yet (maybe someday, if it gains confidence from the SC sales), and this is why the SC is marketed conspicuously lower in price .
You gotta remember, the SL reputation has been going strong for over 47 years!
Like it or not, the car has racked up an unprecedented record.
I'm willing to allow that the SC430 might be a better car than the SL500 until I see a head-to-head that says otherwise. I'm also willing to allow that the SL500 might be better than the SC430. I think the problem here is that some people who potentially have spent zero time in *either* of these cars are nevertheless proclaiming a judgement in absolute terms. I'm *not* willing to blindly pray to the SL demigod because of the star on the hood; I haven't done a lot of seat time in Benz cars but I did put enough time in a ML to know that the company is capable of putting $15k interior quality in $50k cars, and that being my first MB "experience" I guess you could say that Benz and I didn't have a good first dance. I'd consider it highly unusual that they'd make that sort of mistake on the SL. I don't expect that they did. But none of us here can say that the SL500 is absolutely worth whatever the premium is for it, when in most places you have to get on a list just to do a test drive still. As far as I'm concerned, the 2003 SL500 is as unproven as that shot-in-the-dark Cadillac XLR - it's a classic when its owners and evaluators say it is, but not a moment before. (In my opinion.)
If kdude owns a SC430 and feels that the SL500 is worth the SC depreciation hit + SL premium to step up to the SL, *that* says a lot more to me than one person claiming that Toyota styling ages well or another person claiming that Benz quality really comes through when you cut a 1980 model in half.
I agree with this. However the third option, namely "c) the difference isn't there" always, ALWAYS needs to be kept on the list until you've actually cut both cars in two, examined both and compared notes. That's my only point.
I still feel that the SL55 is probably the closest thing to a perfect convertible currently on the market, unless they decide to make a topless Vanquish. I honestly don't know about SC430 vs SL500. I'd rather have a SL55 over both of them.
Every SL I ever drove was MUCH better than the one before it (excluding the first Gullwing, which was really a race-car derivative and not in the "family").
After doing this for 30 years, I've come to have faith that the new one will be great, without yet driving it. But I will soon enough, and I bet I won't be disappointed.
So what's wrong with me relying on my own experience? Seems fair enough that I should have faith in the new SL500 and its ability to continue to blow off any competitors. Unlike boxers, cars don't get weak in the knees if their creators keep re-creating them.
Therefore (the following to answer Merc1's question) this is why the SL's heritage may be good enough for you, or for shifty, but it's not enough for me. I *need* the wine glass commercial for a Mercedes. I *need* ten stunning reviews in a row. I *need* to see the press giving a Mercedes the kind of gushing praise that is currently given to Z06s and S2000s and 330i's, because I never owned a 1980 Benz, I didn't grow up on the cars, and I only sat in a SL at NAIAS and thought the seats had no support.
What I'm saying is that it's *not* good enough for a carmaker to rely on its heritage forever. Maybe for stretches of a few years at a time, but this industry takes no prisoners. Everyone is after everyone else's market share, and everyone is painfully aware of the inevitable turnover in owners as potential customers finish school, get a job, and turn to the television and magazine and friends (and not to the SL's "heritage") to figure out what they want to drive.
Moreover, MB knows this. That is why the company is selling a mid-$20s coupe. I saw one in the parking lot where I live today, white paint. It looked great. It was perhaps the nicest looking car in the parking lot. It caught my attention, as well as my brother in law's attention as we drove past it. THAT is a positive lasting image. That's why the SL500 will ultimately be hurt, not helped, if the press is criticizing its lack of an in-dash CD changer, while its proponents say that problems with the current model should be brushed aside because the SL of the 1970s was so great. Some of us weren't even alive in the 1970s.
I don't think MB is in terrible shape. But I do know that everyone seems to think that the 7-series is a lot more fun to drive than the S-class, and that the LS430 is a lot more luxurious and solid. Everyone seems to think that the Boxster is more prestigious and the S2000 more fun than the SLK. That the 330 is more desirable and the Audi more classy than the C-class. In the last few years I haven't really read anything that was truly superlative about a MB vehicle. Everything usually ends up sounding like, "the Benz was nice but it was expensive and xxxxxxx was more fun while yyyyyy offered more value." And where MB does grab headlines is with the cheap headliner on their new SUV, or their low ranking in reliability. If MB wants to stay on top of the hill, I think they need to start scoring more unquestioned home runs. And no, that's not because Lexus alone is going to dethrone them. Lexus is just one company. If they don't start building best-bar-none cars, then Lexus, BMW, Audi, Cadillac, Porsche, Acura and Infiniti *all* will dethrone them. Like I said, this industry takes no prisoners, and if MB manages to fend off the SC430 without taking too much of a beating, the XLR is standing next in line with a baseball bat... and behind it a BMW 6-series... and behind it a G35 coupe... and behind it an evolved Acura Dualnote come alive... and behind it... etc. etc.
And it's no secret that enthusiast prefer M models AMG cars, mainly because of manual transmissions. Again, with emphasis...lets see if you can get this. The SC430 is a good car, but the SL500 is better.
I have done everything but drive the car. Thats too bad that a wine glass commercial is needed for you. I feel for you if need something like that to "sell" a car to you. I remember you saying just a few months ago that you didn't even know what an SL was until about 5 years ago. Right? Those of use who know about Mercedes' and the SL don't need for the car to be "proven", in that sort of sense you're talking about. The SL is arguably where Mercedes' does its best work, in the same manner you knew the LS430 was a better car than the LS400 it replaced. Neither of you will ever get it. The SL500 would sell-out even it didn't have a CD player at all! Can't you understand that a CD player does not make a Benz??
Two things I do not like about SC430 (again, not complaints):
- A bit lose on semi-bumpy roads
- Attracts too much attention, even after one year in production. I can not count the number of times when I felt obliged to demo the top, give technical detail info, ask people to move aside so I can get into my car, or have to look the other way to avoid eye contact. It's getting much better now.
That has to be the one of the weakest arguments I've ever here, even some of the "converstations" I've had with GM fans had more basis. You simply don't know what you're talking about and have no case. I guess C&D is the end-all now right???
Car & Driver 1.3 mil
Motor Trend 1.25
Road and Track 800K
Also R&T and C&D are owned by the same parent company.
Also Road & Track is the oldest I believe.
That isn't to say that the SL500 is a bad car but the competition has definitely caught up. I think what folks like Merc1 are finding is that it's not enough to say "the SL500 is clearly better than the SC430 in every way, because it just is" nowadays, and that will sound increasingly fanatical as more competition arrives. If I'm not mistaken, the SL500 hasn't *had* to sell itself on its own merits for a while now, because correct me if I'm wrong, but it's pretty much had no volume competition for at least a decade. The SC430 changed that, and there are at least two more volleys (from Cadillac and BMW) that the redesigned SL will have to repel in the next 24-48 months. I for one am going to dismiss the value of heritage & past sales success because those things are not nearly as relevant as the how the SL matches up against a set of competition that it didn't have to face back in the 1990s.
One thing is for sure; the 10 year life cycle of SL redesigns is probably a thing of the past.
HP: Mercedes 302 hp
Lexus 300 hp
Torque: Mercedes 339 @ 2700
Lexus 325 @ 3400
Weight: Mercedes 4045lb
0 - 60 : Mercedes 6.1 Seconds
Quarter Mile: Mercedes 14.5 seconds at 98.4
Lexus 14.6 at 98.1
Skidpad: Mercedes .90g
Slalom: Mercedes 67.6mph
Braking from 60: Mercedes 117 ft
Lexus 121 ft
From 80: Mercedes 205ft
Ok now a little analysis. Both cars have very similar engines. The Mercedes has slight advantage in having more torque over a broader torque band. However the SL is about 200 lbs heavier. This acounts for the virtually similar 0-60 and Quarter mile times. However when it comes to true handling capabilities through the slalom and skidpad the SL clearly is ahead. The SL's Active Suspension system helpes it achieve .6g's higher which is very much a considerable amount. And regarding the slalom R&T wrote "Posting a 67.6 slalom speed second only to our all time champ, the Porsche 911 GT2". And for those that doubt the merit of ABC they also wrote ""The secret s as simple as ABC, which makes Sindelfigen's hot new coupe corner likea DTM racer". Another technical advantage the SL has over the SC is its electro-hydraulic brakes which give supreme stopping power. To sum it up the new SL has "stunning god looks, cutting edge technology, scintillating performacne, world-class handling, plus nearly ever luxury in the industry". However the SC is arguably just as luxurious, albeit much more luxo then sport, but at nearly $20,000 less. So when it comes down to it i think its a classic, to each his own case. sorry for the long post.
The two haven't been directly compared yet, but nobody is calling the SC the best car around either. This has been said about the new SL500. The SL did indeed had to sell on it's own merits ever since the XK8 arrived on the scene. You are right though, 10 years is a long time and I doubt that the new car will go that long without major changes like the previous one did.
The Lexus DOES NOT provide the same experience. The Lexus does not have Active Body Control or MBs industry leading brake by wire system. With the new braking system you never feel the old fashioned ABS pulse. This stuff is a much more important than the dumb nav system you keep harping on. If the structure of the CLK is better than the SC then the SL certainly raises the bar further yet. The SC may offer good value, to whom I am not sure but, it is a cheap SL knock off.
We will likely never see a direct comparison of these two cars by a major magazine. The reason behind that is that there is NO comparison here. I know that, the Host seems to know that, the automotive press seems to know it, looks to me like everybody knows it but toyotas1.
We haven't seen enough informed opinions on this car, just a lot of "well the SL has ABC and ABS and according to the brochure these are really cool things that the SC doesn't have, therefore the SL is better" comments and frankly, a lot of people wouldn't mind a "dumb" nav system over a "dumb" suspension system. You can't write off features in this class of cars as dumb, when this class of cars is *all* about packing as many features as possible into as small a space as you can. To its credit, when it comes to feature lists the SL has the SC beat. Heck, we haven't seen this many new gadgets since the 3000GT VR4 spyder. However I have learned that feature lists don't say a lot about feature utility, and unless you've actually used these different features, I don't see how you can say that one car's features are good while dismissing those of another car.
So really, unless you are a very aggressive and sporty driver, and unless the SC styling turns you off, it's the better buy in terms of luxury for the money. As for status, well, Mercedes has the advantage of a long and rich history which Lexus can't do anything about. Still, you get points for driving a Lexus, there is no doubt.
Road & Track ran a great article a while back for the "Best 5 Convertibles" for the money, each in a different price class. They picked neither the Lexus or the SL500, and I agree with them about that.