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Discussion Starter #1
Hey guys,

I can't decide if I want to get an R171 AMG (SLK55) or the BMW E89 (BMW Z4, the 2nd gen.)

I've been wanting to get into a SLK since last year. Never found that "perfect" vehicle. Last year, I've tried cross shopping with the E87 (older Z4) but the looks and that soft top was :td:. That's why the R171 was the perfect choice. (Just throwing it out there, my name has nothing to do with the car - I actually used to hate BMW)

However, I realized this weekend that with my budget, I actually can get into an '09 Z4. So now my question is, what do I do? Don't get me wrong. I absolutely love the SLK (esp with the AMG bumpers and sideskirts). Definitely ahead of it's time, but let's be honest... It has been 8 years and it is aging. Doesn't look old (actually still looks awesome!) but you can tell it's not a "today's" car. Also, there's something about the headlights that I don't like... that "bump" makes it look goofy from an angle.

Anyway. The new Z4. I think the front is very aggressive. The back also reminds me of the SLS (anyone see it?) Overall, I think it is an excellent car. Not to mention, it's an 09 compared to the 05 I'd be getting on the AMG. So it's definitely more modern. I am definitely leaning towards the Z4, looks wise. Aggressive. New. Hardtop.

However, I can't help but to come back to the R171. It looks sexy as well (but again, aging) but what is really getting me is the AMG. Z4 features a 250HP inline 6 while the AMG has a whopping 5.4L V8 with over 350HP! Not to mention, the one I am looking at is fully equipped with every option. The Z4s within my budget don't have Navi.

I know this is an SLK forum, and responses may be biased. However, I see everyone here almost as family because everyone is so kind and helpful. I just want some opinions. Now, R172 vs. E89, I'd get the SLK. I also think R171 > R172, so common sense dictates that R171 > E89. However, it's hard not to realize that it is a generation older, and this is going to be a daily driver and keeping it for at least 8+ years.

I also like Mercs more than BMWs in general. On top of that, I think on the road MB has that "prestige" that is just unrivaled by BMW, despite what their loyal fans think. I mean, if you saw a Z4, you'd probably say, that's a pretty sweet car. You see hardtop conv. coupe Merc, esp with those 3 letters, you think Wow. Now THAT, is a sweet car. So conflicted!
 

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Well, the new Z4 is a lot better looking thane the rag-top version. Two friends at work have the new Z4 and love it. One of them had a miinor bump in his and had an R171 (200 with sport pack but 5sp auto box) as a courtesy car while the Z4 was in the shop. He much prefers the Z4.

In my view, the new Z4 looks a little more modern than the R171 and is very appealing, but I think the cabin is a bit tighter/clostrophobic and from past expereinces of BMW cars, is unlikely to be as good a GT as the R171. The Z4 is probably more 'sporty' in terms of performance delivery and handling, but compared to an R171 350 with 6M box and sport pack I don't think there would much in it at all.

As for the AMG 55; really this is very different car to a Z4. Simply has so much more presence and the sound from the V8, especially with the x-pipe mod (or whatever it's called), is just pretty awesome. The acceleration is pretty impressive too.

You may be right about advice from here being a little biased, but in general I've found folks here to be pretty honest and objective in the things they post and are always helpful when possible.

Good luck in your decision, I hope you end up with a car you enjoy as much as me and the missus enjoy our SLK.
 

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Hmm, I'm assuming the E89 is the "new" body style Z4 with the hard-top? If so, I'd be in the same quandary you are.

I love my R171's, and since I've not fallen in love with the R172, will be holding on to mine for a while. I did drive one of the "new" Z4's about a year ago - was the sDrive35i with the seven speed DTC. It was an absolutely stunning "sports" car - was a bit surprised as there was much more body flex that the R171, and it was a lot rougher ride. The transmission is night and day different than the 7g in the R171, and was easily on par with the M3 I drove as well - probably the same kit. The car had not been tuned, but the dealer in Houston had a relationship with a Dinan, and was raving about the "untapped" potential left in the engine. It felt every bit as fast as the '55, but a lot of that is the insane gearbox I think. It did *not* sound as nice as my '55!

I would have been more tempted if the ride and associated road noise were more bearable as a daily driver. While I do really like the exterior - and I think the one I drove had the "M" body kit on it - I really didn't care for the interior at all. At a bit over 6'2", I also had a hard time finding a comfortable driving position - but I didn't spend a lot of time trying to get it right. By the time I was back at the dealer's after a spirited hour long ride, I really felt like I'd had a workout, much more so than I do after a couple hours in the SLK...

I'd say go drive one, and see what you think. My feeling was it's much more of a "sports" car and less of a "tourer". I'm not a BMW guy either, so I don't know what options would have made it better or worse - they were asking about $75k for it, but I didn't feel like I'd want to drive it every day.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
GeeJay - Thanks for your input. I definitely can see that the R171 will be a better GT (never driven either). I just love the way MBs drive. Some people call it "numb" but I think it adds to the comfort/luxury. Do you have experiences with other MBs aside from the SLK? Does the SLK feel sportier or is it also very soft. I know on my Porsche, everything feels stiff and just different. I can understand from a performance stand point, you want to feel the road. Let's be honest though, as a DD and I won't be tracking the car, I think comfort is pretty important.

I feel like I want the Z4 more. It just doesn't have the presence the AMG has that I want also. There is the Z4 M?!
 

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Discussion Starter #5
John - Yes, I have heard very good things about the gearbox in the new sDrive35i's! Unfortunately, the the one I'm looking at is an '09 30i and it comes with a 6speed auto I believe if I'm not mistaken, and not a wet dual clutch. Hopefully that it's not too bad. The Auto does 60 in 6seconds I think. The official time for the 55 is 5.1 or something if I recall correctly.

Since you've actually drive one John, what made it feel s uncomfortable. Was it just the smaller area (I'm only 5'10 so probably shouldn't be an issue for me, I would hope. Definitely will test-drive prior to it. The unfortunate thing is since they don't make 171s anymore, it's hard to find one to test drive at a dealer) or the stiff suspension? Being the "Ultimate Driving Machine," I'd bet that it was done intentionally and the feel of it would be more along the lines of my Porsche, even if it's an SUV. That hard feel to it.
 

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Hang out in the z4 forum and test drive the difference in the members!!!!
 

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John - Yes, I have heard very good things about the gearbox in the new sDrive35i's! Unfortunately, the the one I'm looking at is an '09 30i and it comes with a 6speed auto I believe if I'm not mistaken, and not a wet dual clutch. Hopefully that it's not too bad. The Auto does 60 in 6seconds I think. The official time for the 55 is 5.1 or something if I recall correctly.
Was in Houston, bored over a weekend, and decided to go burn time at the BMW dealer. I've a couple of good friends with BMW's, and had driven the new M3, so took both the M3 and the Z4 for a ride. I didn't drive any of the other z4's - and both the M3 and the Z4 had the DTC.

Since you've actually drive one John, what made it feel s uncomfortable. Was it just the smaller area (I'm only 5'10 so probably shouldn't be an issue for me, I would hope. Definitely will test-drive prior to it. The unfortunate thing is since they don't make 171s anymore, it's hard to find one to test drive at a dealer) or the stiff suspension? Being the "Ultimate Driving Machine," I'd bet that it was done intentionally and the feel of it would be more along the lines of my Porsche, even if it's an SUV. That hard feel to it.
The interior felt more claustrophobic and "tight" to me, and I didn't find a comfortable seat position. With the top down, it was almost impossible to hold a conversation at 40 mph. I've not ridden in a P car in ages, but I expect this is the "normal" experience in a BMW sports car - at least the M3 felt more roomy and had less noise - ride was still pretty harsh.

One of the things I hate is feeling like my hair is touching the roof - that probably had a bit to do with it as well! :)

Not sure where you are located, but I can only imagine that one of the members here would be more than willing to let you take a test drive!
 

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..... I also think R171 > R172, so common sense dictates that R171 > E89. .....
This is called logic :)

I was going to ask: have you test driven both?
 

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i personally dont like the new z4 cuz it looks like a toy.

i dont know about the design becuz people have their own opinions about the design, however, r171 has class compare to z4

especially if you are getting r171 amg, whichever year it is, it will be a monster

i would say get r171
 

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It depends on what kind of performance you want out of your car, I don't really think you can compare any model shy of the sDrive35i to the 55 and it doesn't sound like you're considering that one. For me, I'm definitely willing to sacrifice 3 or 4 years to gain 100 hp and 150 lb-ft. I also think the merc looks better and I know it sounds better.
 

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Before my SLK55, I had a 2011 135i with the 7 speed DCT (same as in the Z4.) The 2011 135i had the single twinscroll turbo engine rather than the twin turbo n54 engine of the 2009 135i/z4 35i. The twin turbo models had LOTS of issues with failing fuel pumps which was only finally recalled and fixed recently.

The DCT transmission is wonderful... when it works. It's actually the reason I got rid of my 135i for a SLK55. In open roads, its amazing. It shifts so quick you don't even notice a change, and throttle doesn't even lift on upshifts. Downshifts rev match perfectly.

When in traffic, it's a nightmare. When my 135i was new, it was fine, but the more miles I put on it, the more the transmission gave me problems. In 1st gear, it would be very unpredictable with it's clutch activation. It would often dip below 400rpm when coming to a stop and the computer would force itself to rev the engine roughly and jerk forward to stay alive because the transmission computer didn't engage the clutch soon enough. Sometimes however, the car would stall completely. As I passed ~22k miles, the car would jerk forward slowing down from 2nd to 1st gear in auto mode. RPMs would drop too much in 2nd gear before the downshift, then the car would rev hard and downshift and the same time causing it to jerk forward hard, even with my foot on the brake. Then rev again when reaching 0. The day I traded in my 135i for an SLK55, it stalled twice in bumper to bumper traffic in automatic mode within 10 minutes.

Note: This only happened with A/C on for some reason... I guess the extra slight load on the engine?

I don't know if the Z4 DCT version is programmed differently, but I no longer trust BMW DCTs. They also have a nasty throttle delay after slowing and rolling through stop signs. You could come off the brake and apply throttle and you'd have to wait 1-2 full seconds before the car responds. This is the same in slow traffic, and is the same for all BMW DCTs, not just the 135i. BMW claims this is normal, and is for safety reasons. I think it's actually unsafe.

If you're going to consider a E89 Z4, get a 6 speed manual. The engines in those are very good. Can easily get up to 30+ mpg if driven conservatively and can pull very hard too. Power can be added easily with lots of aftermarket tunes for ~+50hp/tq to the wheels with just the tune alone. A lot of aftermarket support there. They're nice, but I still prefer the V8 of the R171.

R171 and R172 is a matter of personal preference, but after seeing a R172 up close and sitting in it (not driving,) I still prefer the R171.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Etyu - Have not driven either yet. Since I am not planning on buying immediately (but within the month) I figured I'd do some online research before I go do physical tests.

Razr - I agree completely. Merc has class and presence over the Z4. However, my main concern is that this will be a keeper (8 years at least). Even now, the design is starting to show age. I can't imagine how it will look in 5 years when the Z4 still looks "modern" and I'm stuck with yesterday's car. I'd take the 171 hands down if I only planned on keeping it for 3 years or so (for example on a lease)

Tu99a - I do not track my cars, but performance is always a plus! However, with the gas prices rising like :tazz: maybe the Z4 makes more sense. I'll be commuting daily with the car, and the AMG EPA is 14/19 I think, while the Z4 has 19/28.

Mark - That is good to keep in mind! However, as mentioned before I would most likely be getting a 30i and that doesn't use the wet dual clutch so not sure if that problem will exist in the 30i. However, I have heard many problems with BMW in general...:confused: Reliability is key and since it's still a newer car it is hard to say.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Hang out in the z4 forum and test drive the difference in the members!!!!
:tu::tu:

I've heard bad things.

However, despite how much I :Beer: you guys, it's hard to justify choosing a car because of its forum :burnout:

But, I'll still probably be hanging around here. Awaiting for the R173 or some insane 172 facelift. Then maybe I'll bite the bullet and jump aboard finally!
 

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The 30i should be solid then I guess... but I would only choose/consider it over an SLK300. Definitely not a 350 or 55.

I'll be skipping the 172 as well and waiting for a 173 to switch, if I don't switch to a Porsche before that.
 

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I wouldn't be concerned about what other people think about the styling of the car or by how 'trendy' it will be in 8-years time..... :confused: BMW may well have facelifted or replaced the Z4 again in that time. It's been around 4-years already, so about halfway through it's cycle I guess.

As for your question to me about my experience of other Mercedes; In addition to cars from other manufacturers (it's a long story), I've driven A, B, C, E, R and S class Mercedes as well as the R171 (200 and 350) and the R172 (250).

I don't think it's easy to compare the SLK to the others. The SLK is a very competent roadster and GT where it is clear the engineers had the budget to do a decent job on developing the chassis and suspension. It is not a small hatchback, a family saloon, an executive saloon, a people carrier or full size limosine. If the AMG 55 had a manual gearbox it would be the mutt's nuts. As it is, it's one of the finest cars out there.

The AMG 55 R171 will in my opinion be considered to be a classic. Almost if not 'the' last of of its kind. A 5.5 Litre V-8 in a small light roadster/GT will be a thing of the past by 2020. Think 'Red Barchetta' by Rush.

If you choose the Z4 I'm sure you will enjoy it as I'm sure I would too, but the R171 is great car and no mistake.

Good luck, it's not like you'd be making a bad decision either way.
 

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I think your biggest concern is the looks of both cars.

To calm you down, I don't think the SLK is not THAT outdated, like you stated. Especially the facelifted 2008/2009 version. Even pre-facelift, it still looks 'newer' than most new cars of today. The r171 AMG looks as aggressive as the new Z4 is, if not better. (Look around our forum, a lot of members really have nice and mean looking r171's, that does not look outdated at all)

Actually I bought a pre-facelift SLK 2 weeks ago (non-amg), and it still turns a lot of heads (and mean looks) more than I expected. The thing with BMW is when they come from far and you only see the front, it's hard to tell which model it actually is, while SLK gives presence with the big 3-pointed star and aggressive front. It could be only me.

Of course the z4 indeed looks great, but after 8 years both cars will look outdated, and the 'outdateness' difference won't be high between the 2.

I have not driven a z4 nor SLK55 AMG, but everywhere I read, people usually say that BMW is more sportier side and Merc more on comfort. If you keep that car for 8 years this should be kept in mind as well. (Airscarf system for example, really makes the ride comfortable)

Hope this helped, you can't go wrong with either.
 

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To calm you down, I don't think the SLK is not THAT outdated, like you stated. Especially the facelifted 2008/2009 version. Even pre-facelift, it still looks 'newer' than most new cars of today. The r171 AMG looks as aggressive as the new Z4 is, if not better. (Look around our forum, a lot of members really have nice and mean looking r171's, that does not look outdated at all)

Actually I bought a pre-facelift SLK 2 weeks ago (non-amg), and it still turns a lot of heads (and mean looks) more than I expected.
Someone thought my 2007 '55 was a new car. Granted, they were not well versed in MB models, but that just proves the design is not dated.
 

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very good info from everyone ,so the only thing i can chuck in at you is try a good low mile Boxster s very fine handling car. other than that i like the z4 and 171
 

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Boxster (and the cayman) are great cars for sure. Definitely go for one of those over a z4. I got the itch to trade my 07 55amg for an 07 cayman s, but I decided I like the amg better for the v8 and roof. Had it been the updated 09 cayman s though, I probably wouldn't be in slkworld right now, but those are about 10,000$ more on kbb than comparable 08s. (direct injection, 35 more hp, limited slip diff, face lift, PDK transmission (or 6spd), etc)
 

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I own the SLK55 and have driven a friend’s Z4 extensively and I can tell you I'd keep my 55. Several reasons to back it up too. The 55 (05 and many 06 models) already have the big brakes and for me it's a must. You also can't beat that V8 sound. It's like an orgasm in your pants every time you step on the go pedal. Handling is good not great on the 55 where the BMW has the adjustable suspension. The Z also has the better Auto transmission. I found the interior nicer in my Merc. Not as many plastic surfaces. I also prefer my seats better. Last but not least total personal preference, but I like the look of the Benz over the BMW.
So to recap the SLK has the V8 sound, Bigger Brakes, nicer interior and looks better.
The BMW has the better suspension, Automatic Gearbox, and faster roof opening and closing function.
 
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