'07 SLK55 Paddle Shifters - How Good Are They? - Mercedes Benz SLK Forum

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#1 Old 07-07-2013
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'07 SLK55 Paddle Shifters - How Good Are They?

Hi, trying to decide between an '07 SLK55 and a BMW Z4 M Roadster. The BMW has a manual transmission and the SLK55 has the paddle shifters, so my question is are the paddle shifters any good in the SLK55 or is it a really slow shift? I've heard it's pretty slow compared to a true dual clutch. For the record, I just really don't care for automatic transmissions. My wife has paddle shifters in her 2011 C350, is that about what I could expect?

Also, I just feel the SLK55 will be a bit more reliable than the BMW. We have owned both Mercedes and BMW's and have had more luck with the Mercedes'.

Please any thoughts on the comparison of the two cars would be more than welcomed.

Thank you.
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#2 Old 07-07-2013
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I have an '07 55 (recent acquisition - 1500 miles in 4 days). I've played with the paddle shifters and , well, they work. Not sure I could shift any faster with clutch/shifter motion. To me, it engages the new gear right away.
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#3 Old 07-07-2013
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#4 Old 07-07-2013
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The paddle shifters are better than the 2011 C350, but they are distinctly and obviously based on a standard automatic. A relative comparison, but they are about halfway between a regular MB auto, and a dual-clutch from Porsche.


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#5 Old 07-07-2013
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They do have a bit of delay. But with some practice you can shift pretty aggressively with them by anticipating what you need a little in advance.

But if you think you're going to hate an auto-box, I guess you should steer clear of the 55.
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#6 Old 07-08-2013
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I've always found the enthusiast aversion to anything other than a clutch-n-stick setup amusing. It's fine to say "I prefer a manual". But many people react with such emotion, even hate for automatics even though they haven't driven anything like an AMG automatic. Nor have they driven any dual clutch gearboxes in many cases, but magazines tell them those are "better" than automatics but still inferior to a manual gearbox.

If your only reference point is a family sedan and maybe one that's 7-8 years old at that, you really should go into the buying process with an open mind. Automatics have come a long way and AMG massaged Mercedes examples are some of the best out there.

I come from a long history of manual gearboxes on a wide range of sports and GT cars and I really don't find the transmission in the SLK55 hampers the car or my driving. It's just different. You can't treat it as you would a manual transmission. You have to change your behavior to adapt to the different technology. And it's probably not something you'll totally "get" in a 10 minute test drive.

Downshifts are plenty fast. Upshifts are maybe a little slow for my taste. However, just as you anticipate your actions with a manual and react accordingly, you have to do the same with an SLK55. Only your reactions (timing) will need to change. On the other hand, this transmission will never miss a shift gate or grind your gears because you don't have the clutch fully depressed. Shifts will be consistent time after time. Is that slower?

If there is one gripe I have with AMG and Mercedes it's the location they chose for the shift paddles on the moving steering wheel. It makes it very hard to find a paddle when you have the wheel cranked and the paddle you want is now down between your legs or reversed because the wheel is upside down. I think I'd be happier with fixed paddles mounted to the steering column.

Not to worry, they included a backup system. The good ole shift lever still works too. Push / pull to select gears in a corner. I've trained myself to use the paddles in a straight line such as a highway and switch to the lever on twisty roads.

Do I miss a manual? Yeah, sometimes. Could I outshift this 7G-Tronic? Maybe.....sometimes. Is it as satisfying as "row your own"? Maybe not. But over the long haul, this thing is better than me most of the time. I've adapted to it pretty easily.

And on a morning commute filled with crawling traffic.....what a relief!
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#7 Old 07-10-2013
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SLK55 vs Z4 ?

Hey, congrats on facing this "difficult situation"! I guess it really sort of depends on what you want. I would almost always go for the more powerful and torquier v8. Also - I didn't notice a year listed for the z4, but does it have a hard top?
The trans on the slk55 does have a bit of a learning curve, but as ct stated, and I have found very useful the "two mode shifting technique". IE: while cornering, grab the gear lever and engage it like a tiptronic. Something else that hasn't been mentioned yet, the transmission that comes in your slk55 is the amg speedshift 7 spd. Its not quite the same as the 7 speed gearboxes that come in the standard cars throughout the lineup.
Just my $.02 though,
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#8 Old 07-11-2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CT_SLK View Post
I've always found the enthusiast aversion to anything other than a clutch-n-stick setup amusing. It's fine to say "I prefer a manual". But many people react with such emotion, even hate for automatics even though they haven't driven anything like an AMG automatic. Nor have they driven any dual clutch gearboxes in many cases, but magazines tell them those are "better" than automatics but still inferior to a manual gearbox.

If your only reference point is a family sedan and maybe one that's 7-8 years old at that, you really should go into the buying process with an open mind. Automatics have come a long way and AMG massaged Mercedes examples are some of the best out there.

I come from a long history of manual gearboxes on a wide range of sports and GT cars and I really don't find the transmission in the SLK55 hampers the car or my driving. It's just different. You can't treat it as you would a manual transmission. You have to change your behavior to adapt to the different technology. And it's probably not something you'll totally "get" in a 10 minute test drive.

Downshifts are plenty fast. Upshifts are maybe a little slow for my taste. However, just as you anticipate your actions with a manual and react accordingly, you have to do the same with an SLK55. Only your reactions (timing) will need to change. On the other hand, this transmission will never miss a shift gate or grind your gears because you don't have the clutch fully depressed. Shifts will be consistent time after time. Is that slower?

If there is one gripe I have with AMG and Mercedes it's the location they chose for the shift paddles on the moving steering wheel. It makes it very hard to find a paddle when you have the wheel cranked and the paddle you want is now down between your legs or reversed because the wheel is upside down. I think I'd be happier with fixed paddles mounted to the steering column.

Not to worry, they included a backup system. The good ole shift lever still works too. Push / pull to select gears in a corner. I've trained myself to use the paddles in a straight line such as a highway and switch to the lever on twisty roads.

Do I miss a manual? Yeah, sometimes. Could I outshift this 7G-Tronic? Maybe.....sometimes. Is it as satisfying as "row your own"? Maybe not. But over the long haul, this thing is better than me most of the time. I've adapted to it pretty easily.

And on a morning commute filled with crawling traffic.....what a relief!
I fully agree with you on just about every point. I have extensively used BMW's SMG and Audi's DSG transmissions and they're great, but I find them to be a little less involving. They can switch gears faster than I can in a manual, but I have found that I don't feel that connection with the car as much as I would like. Also, there is no neutral, so you have to be in gear at all times. Porsche just corrected this with their latest PDK box, which is a cool feature that I haven't gotten to try yet.

I don't understand the paddles being connected to the steering wheel either, which everyone does except for Ferrari and Nissan in their 370Z both of which have them on the steering column. Being attached to the steering wheel is fine in an F1 car, but that's because they never switch hand positions like in done in the real world.

What I really need to do is go try out an SLK55's paddles to really know for sure.

Thank you guys for the insight.
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#9 Old 07-11-2013
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Originally Posted by Jmjumper View Post
Hey, congrats on facing this "difficult situation"! I guess it really sort of depends on what you want. I would almost always go for the more powerful and torquier v8. Also - I didn't notice a year listed for the z4, but does it have a hard top?
The trans on the slk55 does have a bit of a learning curve, but as ct stated, and I have found very useful the "two mode shifting technique". IE: while cornering, grab the gear lever and engage it like a tiptronic. Something else that hasn't been mentioned yet, the transmission that comes in your slk55 is the amg speedshift 7 spd. Its not quite the same as the 7 speed gearboxes that come in the standard cars throughout the lineup.
Just my $.02 though,
No I'm looking at the Z4M Roadster - 2007 or 2008.

Like I stated above I really need to drive the SLK55 to learn more for myself. I've driven the BMW and really liked it, but the SLK is so pretty and has such raw power which is very appealing.

But you're right, what a wonderful decision to be faced with. I'm sure either car would be just fine with me.
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#10 Old 07-11-2013
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Hey32G, Welcome from NE England.

Please update your location/vehicle (model and year) in your profile as it helps the members answer your questions which usually are based on that information if you haven’t already.
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#11 Old 07-11-2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hey32g View Post
I don't understand the paddles being connected to the steering wheel either, which everyone does except for Ferrari and Nissan in their 370Z both of which have them on the steering column. Being attached to the steering wheel is fine in an F1 car, but that's because they never switch hand positions like in done in the real world.
I've never had an issue with paddles on the steering wheel on the road - the paddles are almost always exactly where I want them to be: right next to my fingers.

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#12 Old 07-11-2013
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Hi, trying to decide between an '07 SLK55 and a BMW Z4 M Roadster
You having a joke ? teasing us ? its not April 1st is it ? Holy schimoly "Hi, trying to decide between an '07 SLK55 and a BMW Z4 M Roadster" !!!!!

Whats to decide the Z4 is your Grandmas car the 55 AMG is a mans car .. To utter the 2 in the same breath is a joke in itself ??

Z4 is ugly ,boxy , spartan, boring, i would sooner have a Honda Civic than admit to even being tempted by the Z4 let alone consider it !!

Now take some medication quickly and lets have no more of trying to wind us up


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#13 Old 07-11-2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Balearic Pete View Post
You having a joke ? teasing us ? its not April 1st is it ? Holy schimoly "Hi, trying to decide between an '07 SLK55 and a BMW Z4 M Roadster" !!!!!

Whats to decide the Z4 is your Grandmas car the 55 AMG is a mans car .. To utter the 2 in the same breath is a joke in itself ??

Z4 is ugly ,boxy , spartan, boring, i would sooner have a Honda Civic than admit to even being tempted by the Z4 let alone consider it !!

Now take some medication quickly and lets have no more of trying to wind us up
No more beating around the bush here, Pete, why don't you tell us how you really feel.

Be careful, our new members might feel a little persecuted.
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#14 Old 07-11-2013
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Nothing wrong with the z4m - the motor is that from the e46 m3 and that was a belter. I briefly considered a z4m a while back, and remember the reviews saying it was quite an edgy car - certainly not boring. Couldn't get excited about a rag top though.

I'd not bet against a z4m vs an r171 slk 55 on anything twisty.

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#15 Old 07-11-2013
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I've heard from the car rags that the Z4 suspension is not the handling paragon that some of BMW's sedans enjoy. Never driven one though. What kills it for me is the looks. I liked the Z3 but never really warmed up to all the creases in the sheet metal of the Z4. Still, if you absolutely positively gotta have a stick in a roadster with some engine attached to it, one could probably do worse than a Z4. It does have classic roadster proportions (aka penis hood/bonnet).
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#16 Old 07-11-2013
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remember we're talking the z4m not the regular z4 - chalk and cheese, like every other m car.

http://www.caranddriver.com/reviews/...ster-road-test

Quote:
Every element of the suspension tuning - damping, spring rates, anti-roll bars - is distinctly firmer than the Z4 setup, even Z4s equipped with the optional sport suspension. What it all adds up to is a jaunty little roadster with the instincts and reflexes of a cheetah. Turn-in is instantaneous and precise. Body roll is minimal, and transient response seems even more eager than the M3's, even though the M3 coupe is far from reluctant in this game.
personally I like the hard top z4's, but none beat the v8 in the 55 for me.
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#17 Old 07-11-2013
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"I've heard from the car rags that the Z4 suspension is not the handling paragon that some of BMW's sedans enjoy. Never driven one though. What kills it for me is the looks. I liked the Z3 but never really warmed up to all the creases in the sheet metal of the Z4. Still, if you absolutely positively gotta have a stick in a roadster with some engine attached to it, one could probably do worse than a Z4. It does have classic roadster proportions (aka penis hood/bonnet)." -CT

Yep, I have heard much the same. While I would agree that the z4M is probably a fun car to own and drive, the looks also kind of put me off. Prior to me getting my slk55, I did some research on similar cars. I mostly looked at the Boxter S, the Z4M and then I found out about the Merc. I really enjoyed how the Porsche drove, but I wasn't too crazy about the soft top. The Porsche's fixed roof brother- the Cayman S was a hoot! A very enjoyable car, unfortunately, there is no chance at top down fun. The z4 was a so so car for me. The M version of course is much better, but then there was that (new at the time) flame surfacing/styling which I would agree looks edgy, but not necessarily attractive. For me the MB slk55 did just about everything I could want. Looks really great top up or down. Has that solid roof, so it looks like a whole and complete car (still quite sporty) with the top up or down. It has the big(ger) engine with the performance to keep me happy. For me, it just does a whole lot of everything I want in a car, plus, even to this day - it garners attention and looks just going down the road!
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Before i got my 55, i had a few choices to choose from, because i have a wonderful wife, i had a look at Porsche, Audi, BMW, Lexus, WV. Still walk back to the MB. The last i place would be the BMW, Hideous looking thing, Gear shifting is ok, but nothing compare to the MB paddle shifter. Always like to have BOTH my hands on the wheels when i am going fast and cornering. Missus say it is safer.
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#19 Old 07-21-2013
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For me it was Z4M, Cayman S, and the SLK 55.
I didn't get the Z4M because at the time there was a waitlist (and a dealer upcharge) and the Porsche had a ridiculous price for their options and the dealer's are so snooty.

I wasn't very convinced with the 55, but went for a test drive anyway. I made up my mind before the test drive was over and bought the car I tested (the car had just finished preparation for showroom so I was the only person to have driven it).
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