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Discussion Starter #1
So, when I bought the SLK55 I posted a comment on the S2Ki forum comparing the car to my 2008 S2000 which is considered by everyone on that forum, a "true sports car". The reason I was inspired to do that was the realization that in almost every objective dimensional measurement, the two cars are near identical, differing only in weight 2,850 lbs vs 3,400 lbs (550 lbs), engine 2.2L I4 vs 5.4L V8, and transmission 6 Spd M vs 7 Spd Auto. Well, when I posted this observation along with the stats below, you'd think I'd just flown an airliner into the twin towers. The bile and hate that came spewing out from the sports car "cognoscenti" and Honda fanbois was hilarious.

Here's the stats.......

S2000 (2008 AP2V3)
Length = 162.2 in
Width = 68.9 in
Height = 50.0 in
Wheelbase = 94.5 in
Front Track = 57.9 in
Rear Track = 59.4 in
Turning Circle = 35.4 ft
Curb Weight = 2,864 lbs
Engine = 2.2L I4
Power = 237 HP
Torque = 163 lb/ft
Gearbox = 6 Speed Manual
Power to Weight = 12.08 lbs/hp
0-60 = 5.5 seconds (from tests)

SLK55 AMG (2006 R171)
Length = 160.7 in.....1.5 in shorter
Width = 70.6 in.....1.8 in wider
Height = 50.0 in.....same
Wheelbase = 95.7 in.....1.2 in longer
Front Track = 60.0 in.....2.1 in wider
Rear Track = 61.0 in.....1.6 in wider
Turning Circle = 34.5 ft.....0.9 ft tighter
Curb Weight = 3,420 lbs.....556 lbs heavier
Engine = 5.4L V8
Power = 355 HP
Torque = 376 lb/ft
Gearbox = 7 Speed Automatic
Power to Weight = 9.63 lbs/hp
0-60 = 4.3 seconds (from tests)

So, the SLK55 AMG is definitely a roadster but what category does it fall into in your mind.......
  • Sports Car?
  • Grand Tourer?
  • German Corvette?
  • German Pony Car?
  • German Muscle Car?
  • Hairdresser's Delight?
  • Ugly Overweight Pig That Deserves To Die?
  • Something Else?
For me, while the weight (3,400 lbs) is pushing my personal limit (3,200 lbs), I still consider the SLK55 a sports car because of the size and performance numbers. And if it isn't a sports car, what does that make a Ferrari 458 Italia at 3,439 lbs (per scales, see link below) and 104.3 in wheelbase with a 37.4 foot turning circle and a 7 speed manumatic gearbox. The lack of a clutch pedal is deemed a deal killer by the true cognoscenti of S2Ki.

http://www.motortrend.com/roadtests/exotic/1101_ferrari_458_italia_vs_ducati_1198_s/viewall.html
 

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lack of clutch is nonsense-I drove these cars at speed on a track at AMG driving academy, and in sport mode the trans does an excellent job at gear selection-couldn't do better myself-don't think there's any trade off here...feels pretty darn sporty to me...your Ferrari analogy is spot on-wt and manual vs auto arent the only considerations IMHO...manuals are becoming throwback tech-and every car I had was a manual until fairly recently...
 

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Discussion Starter #5
I think S2Ki has become populated with younger and younger owners as the cars have aged and are now within reach of first time owners. There is the sense that a lot of them have grown up on mom's Camry and the S2000 is their first experience with rear drive and/or a clutch. This based on the weekly "tree jumped in front of me" threads. They seem obsessed with a manual transmission as only the newly converted are obsessed.

I don't think many if any of them have actually driven an AMG speedshift enhanced 7G-Tronic gearbox in any car. They see a torque converter and immediately think Camry or Oddysey. And they are completely unaware of the wet clutch-pack in current AMG's.

They talk about the "delay" with an automatic when downshifting. I think about the entire sequence involved in a manual shift from when your brain decides to downshift.....lift.....clutch in.....shift.....clutch out.....gas. Then I think about a downshift in my AMG.....click.....pause.....go. I really don't find the 7G-Tronic "slower" in almost any situation. Different? Yes. Slower? Not really. I simply learned how the transmission behaves and time my commands accordingly. Same exact thing I had to learn with a manual.

If there's anything I miss it may be the ability to feather the clutch and nuance engagement. With the automatic it's either shift or no shift. There is no half shift.
 

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I would ignore them, S2K owners are getting younger and younger and their post of immaturity proves it. 99.9% of them never even sat in one, let alone driven one so their opinions are irrelevant. Yes, the S2K gives you a more visceral, more raw feeling but so does a go-cart. Am I running out to get a go-cart soon, no! Same with a S2K, they are fine cars but not in the same category. Unless your S2K lives on the track, all that talk about high revs, 50/50 weight distribution, manual transmission (although the new PDK, SMG, F1, etc shifts a lot faster than any humans can) is kinda irrelevant. I have a lot of respect for the S2K but the fanboys act like it's the holy grail of sports cars.
 

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The SLK55 is not a traditional sports car. It just isn't. It's more of a hybrid GT/Sports car. It doesn't have a manual transmission, it makes compromises for comfort and convenience (electric folding hard top.) Dimensions and specifications mean nothing when comparing the feel of driving an S2000 vs. an SLK55. The S2k is going to feel more organic and involved (like a sports car should,) even though the SLK55 will outperform it (while feeling less like a sports car.)

Labels aside though, why does it matter whether it's a sports car or not? Drive it because you like it. Why do you care so much about what people on S2ki think? It's an S2000 forum, of course they will defend their car.
 

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That said, not all S2k owners are like the ones you describe. I autocross my SLK55 regularly and S2ks are very common. The S2k owners there have no problem respecting the SLK.

In the end though, the S2k and SLK55 isn't exactly a fair comparison. Two completely different cars other than the fact that they are both two seat roadsters.

The S2000 is a sports car from the ground up. Manual transmission, near perfect weight distribution, light weight, high revving motor, little unnecessary convenience options.

The SLK55 is a luxury/premium roadster meant to be sporty. Automatic, heavier with more comfort/convenience features, front heavy, torquey and low revving v8. It's a muscle car. All AMGs are muscle cars, not necessarily perfectly balanced sports cars. That doesn't mean they're any less fun though!

Also, that Best Motoring video is not fair. Not even close! The SLK55 overpowers all those cars by far... but it also costs twice as much as all of them (except the Boxster.) Also, to give credit to the S2000, look how well it keeps up with the Boxster S and 350Z which both outpower it by a long shot.
 

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I consider the SLK55 to be a "sporty grand tourer". I'll admit that I'm old-school in the sense that it's hard for me to call a automatic a true 'sports car'. Ferrari imo is doing the right thing by extending it's brand by offering newer clutcless models (I test drove one this weekend), although it has solid performance, still can't convice myself that it's a sports car it not a true manual transmission.

Sport car or sporty car, doesn't really matter as long as the owner of the car likes it. There will always be people who hold onto the notion that the old-school/original ways of doing things are more 'authentic'. I don't think this is necessarily fair or accurate, just how it is for some.

IF performance was the only category to formally 'define' a sports car, then the argument can be made that the 55 would 'earn' this distinction. However, there is more to categorizing cars than just performance. It's like trying to define an SUV - my Range Rover would likely make the mark, but many would not consider an Honda CRV to be an SUV and an Fj Cruiser would be on the cusp.
 

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Before I bought my AMG, I had an '08 S2000 - the description of it as a 'go-cart' is spot on (in fact, from the first day I owned it that is what I called it). Bought it brand new in June of 2008 and had it until May 2011 (almost 3 years) and must say that I enjoyed driving it immensely. My main issue with the car was the lack of low-end torque - especially when starting off. The engine uses VTEC technology, which gave it a fantastic power band from around 4k RPM up until redline (around 7.5k as I recall) - below 4k though, it was a bit of a sluggish dog. If you've never experienced VTEC when it kicks in, I would describe it as like turning on an afterburner in a jet fighter - the 'kick' you get is very fast and pretty darn strong. Once you got the engine revved up in first and then started shifting, you were still pretty much in the VTEC range, so once ready to shift out of first gear, it would scoot along pretty good thru the 5 shifts. Other than that, my main issue with the car was that it was pretty 'austere' - no adjustable steering wheel, no electric seats, only one driving mode, etc. The manual tranny wasn't that big a deal to me, because it had a very light clutch, but I think it would have been OK to have an automatic, too. What finally pushed me to look for another car was when I starting pricing mods for the S2K to boost the torque (Supercharger, bigger radiator, etc.) and realized I could easily sink $10-$15k into it and still not really get what I wanted. So I went and looked at all of the usual suspects (Beemer, Porsche, Nissan, etc.) and eventually decided on the SLK AMG - haven't regretted the decision once - still puts a smile on my face every time I get in it and I have absolutely no issues with low end torque, steering wheel, seats, etc. If anything, it has too much technology - I find myself frequently having to go back to the owners manual to figure out some of the tiniest things. On the upside, when I went to sell the S2K, I got about 80% of what I paid for it - and even at that price, the dealer was very happy to get the car and said he's have no trouble selling it. If I could get anywhere close to that price for the AMG after 3 years, I'd be happy - but because I plan on keeping it for at least 6-8 years, I'm not too worried about resale value.
 

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I got most of the past S2k owners on the site beat. I had mine for 12 years. I went to a 09 350. While the SLK is a fine automobile in its own right, I don't believe anything short of an AMG can truly compete as a drivers car to the Honda, and then only because of the raw power. The Honda clearly out handles the Mercedes. The seats of the Honda I find to be far more comfortable than those in the Mercedes as well. But the Mercedes has far better visibility than the Honda, especially with the top up. As I said in other post, you don't so much sit in the Honda as you strap it on. It's more like wearing a pair of skates then driving it. With the Honda, is willing to do whatever you ask of it, the Mercedes you have to discuss it first.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
I got most of the past S2k owners on the site beat. I had mine for 12 years. I went to a 09 350. While the SLK is a fine automobile in its own right, I don't believe anything short of an AMG can truly compete as a drivers car to the Honda, and then only because of the raw power. The Honda clearly out handles the Mercedes. The seats of the Honda I find to be far more comfortable than those in the Mercedes as well. But the Mercedes has far better visibility than the Honda, especially with the top up. As I said in other post, you don't so much sit in the Honda as you strap it on. It's more like wearing a pair of skates then driving it. With the Honda, is willing to do whatever you ask of it, the Mercedes you have to discuss it first.
It's interesting how different people experience things differently. I had my 2008 S2000 (Chicane Silver with Red/Black leather) for only three years. I loved the car except for the manual which just wasn't fun in the horrible traffic I have to deal with on a daily basis. That's what got me looking for a manu-matic alternative.

And my only reference point in an SLK is my 55 AMG. I haven't driven a 350 or 280. But with that said, I don't really think the Honda handles any better than the SLK55. It handled great but so does the SLK. Anything I can do with an S2000 I can do with the SLK. Trailing throttle oversteer? Check. Power on oversteer? No problem. Understeer at the limit? Yep, both cars do it. Maybe, maybe the SLK55 does it a bit earlier. But there's always the throttle to bring the tail out. Braking? The SLK wins on feel and stopping power.

I can put the SLK55 anywhere I want it just like the S2000. After owning both cars I really don't get the "go kart" or "wear it rather than drive it" comments. I think it's a bit of romanticizing personally. Both cars handle as I expect. That's all I ask. The biggest difference for me is the noise (lower in the SLK) and the fatter flatter torque curve of the V8 vs a 2.2L I4 that needs to live above 6,000 RPM. Keeping the Honda engine on the high speed cam was not really a problem as it loves to rev. But that doesn't make the car handle any better.

If anything I think the frenetic engine speeds and all the noise combine to give drivers the illusion that the S2000 is faster and more exciting than it really is. While the SLK55 on the other hand makes everything seem calmer, less on the edge.....because it is.
 

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Since I do not have a '55, I can not comment on a head to head. But I do know that my plain Jane 350 with a standard suspension does not have the same handling feel of my S2000. I spent 12 years on the drivers seat so am intimately familiar with its characteristics. Not the same type of drive
 

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S2000 vs SLK55? Really? Can't say I haven't enjoyed the posts made on this thread, but... c'mon guys this is apples v oranges. An I4 motor that lives above 6K rpm isn't my idea of a street car, especially in very busy commuting traffic as we generally have. More importantly, the general demographics of owners of these cars are light years apart.... and their needs and expectations are equally far different... 'nuff said.
 

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Discussion Starter #17 (Edited)
S2000 vs SLK55? Really? Can't say I haven't enjoyed the posts made on this thread, but... c'mon guys this is apples v oranges. An I4 motor that lives above 6K rpm isn't my idea of a street car, especially in very busy commuting traffic as we generally have. More importantly, the general demographics of owners of these cars are light years apart.... and their needs and expectations are equally far different... 'nuff said.
The S2000 actually isn't a bad daily driver. IF.....you live in an area where traffic isn't paralyzed. I could see an S2000 being very enjoyable in say Tennessee or Oregon, New Hampshire or Western PA. But where I live in southern CT (metro New York) it's probably like San Diego. Just miserable traffic and road construction 24X7. And that's what got tiresome after three years for me. Not the car but the environment. Unless you're flogging the car for maximum output, the F22C engine in the S2000 is perfectly happy running around town off the high speed cam from 2,500 - 4,000 RPM. And at speeds below 40 mph the noise isn't bad at all. Unless it's raining. But with a 4.10 rear end, the engine runs at about 4,000 RPM at 65 MPH. And at those speeds, it does get pretty noisy. It annoyed me after an hour or so.

As for the demographic, you might be surprised. I went from an S2000 to an SLK55. I just want a fun car to make the daily commute a little less dreary. And while the demographic has certainly changed over the past few years, there are guys on S2Ki who own or have owned Maseratis, Porsches, Ferraris, Vipers, and Lambo's.
 

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A lot of "older" enthusiasts enjoy the S2000 a lot more than more modern and more technologically "advanced" cars because of the feel of it. It's not just a "kids" car because it's a relatively affordable Honda.
 

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The Honda is not about transportation. It is about the experience. It is a very engaging automobile. You *need* to actively participate in the operation of the car, it is not optional. The SLK will politely take you where you want to go, no fuss - but- is willing to get down and dirty if you want to thrash it. A good analogy would be the wild porn star vs. the trophy wife. Both put smiles on your face, but for different reasons.
 

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Just out of curiosity, I checked the S2Ki forum linked above here and read thru a sticky on owner ages and profession. The ages are like 20, 21, 22, 25, 26, 26, 25, 26, 30, 31, 21, 22, 24, ..... You get the picture.
 
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