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Discussion Starter #1
Which to buy: the reliable but not so sporty 'luxury sports car' from Lexus, the SC430, at a bit less than US$60,000, or the optioned out MB SLK 55 AMG, which definitely qualifies as a 'luxury sports car' IMHO for around US$75,000? I vote for the SLK 55, even if it might spend twice as much time being serviced; and don't plan on keeping it beyond the warranty!

What if we substitute the SLK 350 with all of the electrical problems, oil leaks, etc that it seems to be suffering from for the SLK 55 AMG? I test drove both the SLK 350 and the SC430. The 350 was definitely quicker and more fun to drive at a cost very comparable to the Lexus BUT the Lexus wins on reliability. I just can't afford to risk buying a potential lemon that will depreciate rapidly and dramatically, the 'cache' of the M-B logo not-with-standing.

Where does the Boxter S fit in between these other cars? Maybe I'm getting a bit older but the Boxter is just a bit too much 'sports car' and not enough 'luxury sports car' for my current taste.

So, there you have my delemma. The solution? Sit on the sidelines, save my money, wait for the JD Powers reliability and owner satisfactioon scores for the 2004 SLK 55 AMG. If it meets the 50% percentile, I'll buy the 2006 SLK 55, if the numbers are dismal, my dollar will have to go Japanese, once again.

What say you?
 

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I wouldn't buy that Lexus if it was the only convertible available. It's bland, bloated and completely characterless IMO, and what does that say about the people who buy it? Still, in Europe we never have understood the American fascination with Lexus, and probably never will. Paying top dollar for an upmarket Toyota doesn't appeal. They may have reliability and equipment, but they haven't worked out how to do driving pleasure, style or class yet.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Regarding the Lexus, I kind of agree with you in some ways, but the SC430 isn't too bad of a ride actually. It could be a fun car to drive. The price is very reasonable, they are easily available for $2000-3000 below MSRP. They are optioned out. The interior is gorgeous. But they definitely don't have the luxury name recognition. If Lexus put a sportier powerplant into this vehicle, I'd buy it in a heartbeat.

My main concern, really my only concern, with the SLK 55 is the reliability problem. M-B has to do more than promise improvements in build quality and reliability. Like I said, if the 2004 SLK 55 AMG is in the top 50% on the next JD Power reliability ratings, I'll pop for it. I don't think the 50th percentile is too much to ask of a $70,000 vehicle, especially when it is being compared to vehicles that cost much, much less.
 

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Steve-p, not to start a war from the colonies, but such over the top, broad brush statements does get the hackles up. [;)]

I have an SLK55 AMG on order (it's sitting at the Jacksonville VPC getting on a truck any day).

However, I am driving my 4 year old Lexus SC430 (got it in June of '01, but it's an '02 model).

It has been great fun to drive. Now 4 years later (and many more of them on the road around here), it still turns heads, and people at stoplights smile and ask me about it.

It is much more on the lux side than sport, true. So now I'm going over to the AMG for more sport. There are many things I'll miss (like touch screen nav, motor controlled wood covers for radio and nav, fully carpeted trunk and trunk lid, etc.) And the absolute quietness of it.

And with my Lexus dealer and the Japanese quality, it has been an absolute pleasure to own. So much, that I've sworn off "American" cars, bought the wife an '05 Lexus GX470 to replace the Suburban.

I'm VERY excited about the SLK55 coming in, but I do have some trepidation on quality concerns. Some coming from these forums (but I've been around enough to know forums are NOT necessarily a microcosm of larger world), but also just looking at the surveys (both in US and the one posted here about the quality survey in Germany). I have my fingers crossed.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
For my part, I was ready to order the 55 AMG sight unseen and undriven based on my test drive of the 350 until I talked to my father-in-law about it. He lives in So. Cal automobile dream-land, has driven nothing but 911's for the 25 years since I met him and he strongly advised me to wait until MB improves their quality control. He points out that his friends who have late model Mercedes tend to be driving loaner cars much of the time while their expensive Mercedes cars languish in service limbo depreciating rapidly.

I realize that virtually all cars are more reliable than the cars of even just ten years ago. I realize that these forums can be a small, potentially biased population of owners and wannabe owners as well as a few axe-grinders. So at first I figured that even a poor rating by JD Powers on a 2003-04 car was probably still decent relative to a top rating 10 years ago. Then I noticed the sequence of ratings of Hundai cars relative to Mercedes. At the same time I started looking into the forums and talking to the few MB owners I know locally. It is pretty sad when Chrysler is making more money and has a more reliable product than Mercedes! I don't follow the auto industry closely enough to really know what is going on here but I am concerned enough to put the brakes on any tendency to make an impulsive purchase. After all, it's only a car....
 

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reallife - 5/4/2005 5:43 PM

....After all, it's only a car....
[:0][:0][:0][:0]

Not to some of us.....and especially not to those in SoCal as I am sure your Dad knows. Seriously, no matter where I have lived or what I have driven. I never thought of it as "only a car".

If i followed that reasoning I would be driving a Hyundia or a Kia (they might be the same company, I really don't know) or even an American car[:I]
 

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I am fortunate to own both a 2005 SLK350 and a 2005 Lexus SC430. They are completely different cars, each with plus and minus factors. The SLK is more fun to drive, faster with much better road feel. The SC is a boulevard cruiser with a fantastic stereo and gorgeous interior. It feels much heavier on the road than my SLK. The only similarity between the two is the roof operation, in MHO. If I had to choose one for my only "fun" car I would take the SLK, or wait, maybe the SC?
You can't lose no matter which of the two you choose.[^]
 

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bloflin - 5/5/2005 11:16 PM

Steve-p, not to start a war from the colonies, but such over the top, broad brush statements does get the hackles up. [;)]
Hmmmmm, well maybe it was a bit harsh. However, I have done a quick straw poll of my car enthusiast colleagues and I'm afraid some of their comments were unrepeatable. Thing is, although Lexus do sell some cars here (although hardly in any volume), the SC430 is practically unsaleable. I've only ever seen two in fact. I guess Lexus focussed on their main market to the exclusion of all others when it came to the looks and driving experience, neither of which work here.

I think you are right to be concerned about the reliability of the SLK. The performance of Mercedes-Benz in general in just about every consumer survey anywhere has been alarming for several years. I am also slightly concerned about how well all the complex electronics and roof mechanism will perform in real life. MB have at least publicly acknowleded that there have been quality issues and do seem to be trying to put things right. Sorting out most of the problems is a process which starts when the car is being designed, meaning that we can but hope that they have got this new model mostly right. I also have another Merc which does give me cause for optimism. It's a 100,000 mile E320 (W210). The W210 was criticised for not being built as well as past Mercedes, but my experience with this car has been totally positive. Everything works as it should, the interior is still mint and it drives like new. So if that's a bad one, the SLK ought to be exceptional.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Since you own both of the cars on my final list of contenders would you care to comment on which car you would recommend for a 50 year-old plus guy for daily drive to work (no more than 5 miles one way) and weekend trips with wifey to Chicago and other nearby cities?

I like the Lexus for a quiet, comfortable luxury ride without needing to pay constant attention to the vehicle to avoid running off the road in a moment of distraction. I'm confident the Lexus would perform reliably for 100,000 plus miles with minimal problems.

On the other hand, I like the SLK 55 for when I feel like driving aggressively by myself. I'm leaning toward the 55 since most of my driving is by myself but I'm wondering if my wife will feel comfortable in the passenger seat. Also, I wouldn't like to have to be bringing the car in for service and troubleshooting any more than absolutely necessary. After all, why spend more than $60-75,000 on a car to drive a loaner while the dealer tries to figure out why your expensive sports machine is non-funtional.

What do you think? How do you ever decide which of these fine cars to take out.
 

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I saw this article on MSNBC dated March 2005 that shows Consumer Reports stating Mercedes-Benz came in 27th out of 28th place in reliability. Yikes! When will Mercedes-Benz truly get its act together with producing a reliable product? I'll admit this does give me pause in getting an SLK AMG next summer *sigh*

Read the reliability article at:
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/7119227/

-Sam
 

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reallife - 5/5/2005 2:22 PM

What if we substitute the SLK 350 with all of the electrical problems, oil leaks, etc that it seems to be suffering from for the SLK 55 AMG? I test drove both the SLK 350 and the SC430. The 350 was definitely quicker and more fun to drive at a cost very comparable to the Lexus BUT the Lexus wins on reliability.
Mate, I can't even imagine buying a SC430. I have one parked next to me at work. I my opinion, it looks terrible. I have to say, most of what steve-p had to say rings true to me. I too cannot understand America's fascination with Lexus. The LX470, for example, looks like a Toyota Landcruiser - because it is. (Good cars both - but the Lexus is overpriced for what it really is.)

For the record, my 350 has almost 5000km on, uses no oil and had a door rattle that was fixed easily. It is a solid and great performer.

With some bias [:D]
roadsta
 

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Ok, second post painting with a broad brush across "Americans", so I can't resist (all in jest)... [;)]

We Americans have never understand Europeans fascination with autos that were designed and built to provide a lifetime of tinkering in the garage, and taking it out the rare occasion.

How's that? [}:)]

Now this is going to seem like a Toyota/Lexus advert in an MB forum, so I may get kicked out, BEFORE my SLK55 gets here! [:0]

Anyway, back to some of the points and questions. First, INDIVIDUAL peoples taste vary (some people love raw oysters, I grew up in Louisiana, but can't stand them).

If you haven't owned a Lexus (in the US anyway), you wouldn't understand. Comments about "overpriced" ring hollow, when compared to some of the "value" per $ in current brands. If you actually sit down and do the work (as I have), it's a simplistic point (Lexus vs Toyota). I just purchased an 2005 GX470 for the wife, it is based on the Toyota 4Runner. I priced both of them out. I like my vehicles loaded with all options. After I loaded up the 4Runner I was within "spitting distance" of the Lexus. With Lexus you truly get a better service experience (with my dealer, anyway) and better resale. I was telling someone the other day, I (tongue in cheek) almost wished my Lexus had more problems, as the dealership treats you so well, when you are there! And then yes, there is some "cachet" with Lexus brand over Toyota.

BTW, Toyota has somehow figured out how to win the "triple crown". Check out any/all Quality or Customer Satisifaction and Reliability surveys. Toyo and Lexus #1 and 2 each time. Toyo has highest "intent to repurchase from same manuf", followed by Lexus, etc., etc. And they continue to gain share (second part of the crown). Finally they are making money.

Not an easy thing to (usually cut prices to get share, or cut quality to get cost/price, etc.).

So REALIFE, if you were asking me, in your latest post.. I have the SC430 but will trade it in for the SLK55. So, I don't have both at the same time.

The Lex has been beyond great. But it is (as others have said) a "boulevard cruiser". It looks great at the "country club", etc. If drives easy, but does get up and go (0-60mph @ 6.0 sec). Inside, everything is laid out well, feels "sumptuous", etc.

Why am I going to SLK55? Now I want more "fun", power, drive style, etc. But still retain the hardtop convertible (a must, in my book) and retain a great deal of the luxury, also.

I am hoping to have the same terrific customer experience from MB.
 

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bloflin - 5/9/2005 6:47 PM



We Americans have never understand Europeans fascination with autos that were designed and built to provide a lifetime of tinkering in the garage, and taking it out the rare occasion.
GM and Ford are really popular in Europe
 

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Reallife,
Sorry I'm a little late in getting back to you. It really wasn't my intention to buy a Lexus. I bought a SLK350 for my wife, with the intention of buying the SLK55 for me...or at least the SLK with the AMG package. When I went back to the MB dealership 10 days later I found they were all out of all 350s period. They suggested I order a 55 but the wait would be 5-6 months. I'm not good at waiting on anything. The Lexus store is next door to MB and that's where I wound up. I saw the SC430 in White Gold in the showroom and bought it. Beautiful!!
Although I am impressed with the quality, fit and finish of the SC, and the awesome Mark Levinson stereo, I wish I had waited for the SLK55.
My wife has the SLK now to replace her 2000 SLK230.

The SC has to "grow" on you; the SLk is love at first drive.
 
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