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Discussion Starter #1
Hi all,

I am planning to buy a roadster before summer, and I am having hard time choosing between slk 55 amg and z4 m. I haven't driven slk 55 amg yet but I am assuming that its engine characteristics will be very different from z4 m. One advantage of SLK is its hard-top, but a disadvantage is its automatic transmission.

I thought this forum would be the best place to get opinion, since some you guys own SLK 55 AMG. By the way the z4 M that I will buy will probably be a new one, while the SLK 55 AMG will be a 07/08 with very few miles on it (less than 3000 miles).

Please let me know about your opinions, it would help me a lot about my decision. :biglaugh:
 

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Both of them are great cars in all honeslty but the decision will be yours to choose, I went for the SLK because I truly adore it since the R170 was launched in the 1990's and that the V8 and a 7speed auto was a very tempting combination that I couldnt resist to have.

I have driven the Z4M and its a great track car but in the straight line the SLK is the winner, you can easily put 3-4 car lengths on it.
 

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but a disadvantage is its automatic transmission.
Honestly, I wouldn't take the 55 for exactly that reason, but that's just me. Depending on where you're located, you might be able to get a 350 with a manual transmission. If you can wait for the 2009 (and are not too bummed out by the face-sag design), it'll have 300hp. That's still short of the 55's power, but if you're like me, you won't really care, since you'll be too busy enjoying the fun of rowing through those gears.
 

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I drove the Z4M before getting my SLK55. I do miss having a full manual but I really didn't enjoy the clutch on the Z4. Might just be my short legs, but the pedal needed to go way too far. I smelled the tale tell burning after my test drive and the sales guy sympathised with me over the same troubles. I had just finished a test drive in a Cayman S that morming and its transmission was completely different and made me feel like I could really drive!! Daily driver, I say go for the SLK or a Boxster S.
 

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Don - Founding Member #4
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:tu:I considered other cars when we purchased my wife's SLK 350 in Dec 05. 0ne very important requirement was it had to be a manual. The two deciding factors was the stunning appearance of the R171 SLK and the retractable hardtop. During the first year of ownership, I knew I wanted a SLK 55. The only deterrent was the auto only transmission. Everything considered, I figured it was worth the trade off and it has been. I've always liked the BMWs, but never owned one. I wish I could be more enthusiast about the Z4 appearance, but it looks awkward (not awful). The overwhelming response here should be positive for the SLK 55. I assume the same question on the BMW forums would favor the Z4. I highly encourage you considering a used, low mileage car. Good luck.
 

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Although I have an SLK 350, just for balance, let me state that I wouldn't have a car with a manual transmission. To me, wanting a manual transmission is sort of like asking to still use a crank to start the car. But that is just me.

The 7g auto itself I find VERY nice. The best I have personally used.

I think you will find a wide range of opinions here. Some like to just cruise. Some like to race. So opinions vary. I don't think anyone has said that the auto is bad. Some just say they want a manual instead.
 

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My friend, auto and manual are two different stories...definitely not like having a crank to start a car...
For me, steering wheel, gas pedal and clutch are three main controls while driving a car. If I drive automatic, it's like someone has taken one control from me...
 

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Different folks, different strokes.

Just my personal opinion.

For me, steering wheel and gas pedal. If I drive a manual, it is like someone else is in the way.
 

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Don - Founding Member #4
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:tu:Given a choice, automatic or manual, I'll always take the manual, more control when driving the car. I must admit, regardless of which car I drive, whether it's a five or six speed, I normally only use three gears, getting to highest gear as soon as possible. Give me a tall final drive gear for better fuel mileage and I could live with a four speed. A six speed requires TOO much effort, while an automatic, requires NO effort.
 

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I am also a manual guy when driving a sports car..but nothing beats an automatic here in NY traffic...I have to admit after having the MB 7sp auto I have never driven an Auto that I like more...smooth shifting, always seems to be in the right gear, no complaints..after all is said and done....IMO I would take an auto SLK55 over a manual Z4 anyday...:tu:
 

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I'm done with manual transmissions

After driving my SLK 55 w/030 performance package I'll never buy another manual transmission again. This car is soooo....... smooth and so....... fast. I've never driven the BMW but I have driven the Boxter S and the 911 and I prefer my SLK 55 by far. Even my father-in-law, a lifelong Porshe driver, was VERY impressed when he drove my 55. He finally traded away his last 911 because his wife wouldn't drive in it anymore due to pain in her hips from the hard ride. She hasn't been in the 55 but I think the 55 rides much more comfortably. Yet it still has incredible acceleration and torque.

That torque sure comes in handy when you want to pass somebody on the Interstate. :usa:
 

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I'm with mtiede. For urban driving, shifting gears is an unnecessary pain. I've never owned a car with a manual transmission and I doubt that I ever will.
 

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For urban driving, shifting gears is an unnecessary pain.
Not for me. Even in the most boring city traffic, it keeps me somewhat entertained. In fact, I believe it keeps me more alert too, since I'm constantly looking ahead for what my next gear change will be. I've been suspecting for a while that one of the reasons for why there are more traffic accidents in the US than in say Germany is that the percentage of automatic drivers is way higher and that the point-and-shoot mode of driving makes them more prone to falling asleep at the wheel.

While that may be a bit far-fetched, there are other, more obvious reasons, for why I don't believe the "urban driving" argument is a very convincing one for a >350hp, <20mpg SLK55, of all cars.
 

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I have the manual SLK350. And I've recently just test drove the 08 auto. The control you get, in terms of accelleration, is noticibly faster on my manual. And the AMG sports suspension in terms of cornering is a big diffference too. I feel much better taking some corners in my car vs. the auto non sport suspension SLK.
 

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SLK55 vs M4

I have the manual SLK350. And I've recently just test drove the 08 auto. The control you get, in terms of accelleration, is noticibly faster on my manual. And the AMG sports suspension in terms of cornering is a big diffference too. I feel much better taking some corners in my car vs. the auto non sport suspension SLK.
The original question was M4 vs SLK 55, not the SLK 350. I have driven the SLK 350 and I agree with you that it is not made for high speed cornering. The SLK 55 with the 030 package is another beast alltogether. No question in my mind the SLK 55 with the 030 package beats the SLK 350, the BMW M4, and the Porsche Boxter S and stock 911 hands down in handleing and accelleration. The stiffer 'Nierbering' suspension makes all the difference boys! It is 20% stiffer than the stock 55 suspension. It is much closer to the 911 in handling than you would initially believe; and it is faster than the 911 on the straight away too!
 

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I just MUST add one more comment...
Guys, you are talking about urban driving and that auto transmission is better for urban driving. OF COURSE that automatic is better for urban driving but is SLK, especially AMG made for urban driving??? Do you need 272 or even 360 HP for urban driving? What are you guys talking about?
I also have Toyota Aygo, small town car - 61 HP, and it is automatic, but I only drive it in the city or - urban driving. I was talking about manual transmition vs automatic, but not what is better in urban traffic but what is better for a sport car and for sport driving and which one produces more fun and joy in driving. Urban driving doesn't produce fun and joy at all, so of course that automatic is better cause when you are staying in a traffic jam for an hour, you really don't need one more thing - manual shifting.
Maybe I love manual so much cause I used to ride sport motorcycles, and they are unimaginable with anything except manual tranmission. My opinion is that real sport driving, fast cornering, fast downshifting in high revs is possible only with manual...I don't know how you guys drive your SLKs, I can just say that I have 39000 km on it, I have already changed the clutch (old one was worn on around 30000 km), changed front discs 10000 kms ago, changed rear discs once cause first ones were burned (they were shaking my car while braking on high speeds), now the new ones seem to be burned again, I have 3rd pair of braking pads on the car and so on...
 

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Three reccommendations:

1. Test drive

2. Test drive

3. Test drive some more!

They're both great cars, but you really have to decide which one suits YOU best. :) I know it took me over a year to pull the trigger on my (then) new toy and I looked at anything and everything I thought would be of interest - and test drove them all extensively. Those test drive ruled out a couple on the spot, and ruled in others I didn't think I'd be serious about. I know I've been very happy with my own decision, best of luck with yours!

P.S. re the manual/auto thing - all my previous toy cars have been manuals, so the SLK55 was a change there for me. But no biggie, I'm quite happy with it none the less. Again, a test drive will help you decide there as well. :tu:
 

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Urban vs. rural driving

I just MUST add one more comment...
Guys, you are talking about urban driving and that auto transmission is better for urban driving. OF COURSE that automatic is better for urban driving but is SLK, especially AMG made for urban driving??? Do you need 272 or even 360 HP for urban driving? What are you guys talking about?
I also have Toyota Aygo, small town car - 61 HP, and it is automatic, but I only drive it in the city or - urban driving. I was talking about manual transmition vs automatic, but not what is better in urban traffic but what is better for a sport car and for sport driving and which one produces more fun and joy in driving. Urban driving doesn't produce fun and joy at all, so of course that automatic is better cause when you are staying in a traffic jam for an hour, you really don't need one more thing - manual shifting.
Maybe I love manual so much cause I used to ride sport motorcycles, and they are unimaginable with anything except manual tranmission. My opinion is that real sport driving, fast cornering, fast downshifting in high revs is possible only with manual...I don't know how you guys drive your SLKs, I can just say that I have 39000 km on it, I have already changed the clutch (old one was worn on around 30000 km), changed front discs 10000 kms ago, changed rear discs once cause first ones were burned (they were shaking my car while braking on high speeds), now the new ones seem to be burned again, I have 3rd pair of braking pads on the car and so on...
I generally do a mix of urban and rural driving. My SLK 55 handles urban driving very well. For instance, at a stoplight with two lanes in my direction, let's suppose I want to make a right turn a block further on. There is a car ahead of me in the right lane and we stop for the light. I pull over in the lefthand lane and stop for the light. The light changes, I stomp on the gas, change lanes and make the right turn before the other guy even knows what happened.

Another example: driving in heavy traffic on the Interstate, I can drive safely much faster than the traffic is flowing because of the power and instant acceleration that is available with the 55. Who cares about shifting a manual when you've got the 55 under your foot? Not me! :rockon:

In rural areas where I can really open it up I do if it is safe. Driving out to Washington state this January, the pavement was dry and there wasn't a car in sight for much of the way across Nebraska, Wyoming, part of Utah and into Idaho just past Boise. It was cold, near zero F, but I was wearing speed-rated Pirelli Wintersports. I averaged close to 100 mph for most of the day. My top speeds were in the range of 125-130 mph or so. Lots of fun, perfectly safe and boy did I save a lot of time over several hundred miles. Eleven hundred miles to be more specific. I easily shaved a day off my trip and had a lot of fun. Try doing that kind of a drive in Europe. FYI, I didn't see a state trooper all day! I had my V1 up and running but it never alerted, not even once!
 

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The light changes, I stomp on the gas, change lanes and make the right turn before the other guy even knows what happened.
I do this all the time in my 280. I agree that it's great fun. :)

Another example: driving in heavy traffic on the Interstate, I can drive safely much faster than the traffic is flowing because of the power and instant acceleration that is available with the 55.
Here in California, interstate traffic is flowing at 65mph to 80mph. You really don't need a 55 to safely drive much faster than that.

I averaged close to 100 mph for most of the day. My top speeds were in the range of 125-130 mph or so. Lots of fun, perfectly safe and boy did I save a lot of time over several hundred miles. Eleven hundred miles to be more specific. I easily shaved a day off my trip and had a lot of fun.
Sounds like you had a great drive indeed. Still, someone with a 280 could have had the very same drive and given the very same report of having shaved a day off the trip by going the speed you were going.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not dissing the 55. It's an amazingly powerful car that isn't outrun easily by anything on today's roads. It just rubs me the wrong way when people are trying to find rational justifications for why it makes sense to have over 350hp in a two-seater on a public road. There just is no such justification. Let's be honest here. All of the SLK models are not exactly about reason and practicality. They're about the joy of driving. People will pick the model that best suits what "joy of driving" means to them. For some it's having over 350hp, for others it's having a manual transmission. The OP's dilemma is that he wants both. That's why I was suggesting the 350 as a possible compromise.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Three reccommendations:

1. Test drive

2. Test drive

3. Test drive some more!

They're both great cars, but you really have to decide which one suits YOU best. :) I know it took me over a year to pull the trigger on my (then) new toy and I looked at anything and everything I thought would be of interest - and test drove them all extensively. Those test drive ruled out a couple on the spot, and ruled in others I didn't think I'd be serious about. I know I've been very happy with my own decision, best of luck with yours!

P.S. re the manual/auto thing - all my previous toy cars have been manuals, so the SLK55 was a change there for me. But no biggie, I'm quite happy with it none the less. Again, a test drive will help you decide there as well. :tu:

I agree with Bill that the test drive should be a final decision for someone to decide between the slk 55 or z4 m (or between any two cars). Some of the semi-automatic transmissions in some sports cars (like the SMG transmissions in BMW M3/5/6) are almost a clutchless manual transmissions. I have tested some of them and I was really impressed by the technology. But from what I have read so far the SLK 55 AMG's transmission (looks like) is really closer to an automatic transmission; which might blunt the sporty characteristics of its engine. The SLK 55 and z4 m have close hp values but the SLK 55 has around 30% more torque than the z4 m; which is very impressive.

Well, as I said, I think the test drive will ultimately answer all these questions.
 
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