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Comparative test of the Porsche Boxster S and Mercedes SLK 350 Prestige duel

Rossen Gargolov
Comparative test of Porsche Boxster S and Mercedes SLK 350
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Even if it doesn't really look like it so far - spring is coming, as sure as the amen in church. And with it - regardless of the economic crisis - the desire for open cars. Sports-focused open-air youngsters like to look at the niche of rear-wheel drive roadsters with a decent amount of performance under the hood. This year, three manufacturers are competing with new models to attract the mostly wealthy clientele.

New edition of the annual open-air festival

Porsche is very early with its newly renovated entry-level series, which still consists of coupé and roadster gave the starting shot for the new edition of the annual open-air festival. The S models from the Cayman and Boxster now separate ten hp in favor of the consciously sportier and subsequently more expensive coupé, which is over 8,500 euros. Both cars draw power from a 3.4-liter six-cylinder boxer with direct petrol injection. In the Boxster S, the vacuum cleaner positioned in front of the rear axle kicks off with the power of 310 horses.

Bayern, who have said goodbye to the one-two-pass game with the new BMW Z4 and now favor the 2-in-1 solution, have already presented their stately and significantly heavier coupé-convertible in southern Spain, Nissan presents the 370 Z Coupé with 336 hp in Paris. The accompanying soft top roadster will follow later in the year.

Different roof concepts

All of them, especially the BMW Z4 with the same concept, have to face a facelift that was established in this segment over the years and that was subject to a facelift in 2008 a more powerful V6 sports engine equipped Mercedes SLK 350. According to BMW, the continued market success of the latter was the reason for Munich's abandonment of the cloth cap and the associated abandonment of a thoroughbred two-seater sports coupe. The perceived plus in safety through the fixed roof over the head, so the credo of the BMW strategists, has always given Mercedes secure market shares, in which they now want to participate. The test will have to show at a later date whether the plan works and the unquestionably fabulous 306 PS twin-turbo in-line six-cylinder in the Bayern roadster succeeds in forgetting the extremely impressive weight of the open two-seater of at least 1,600 kilograms.

As far as the pure paper form is concerned, soare definitely superior to both the Boxster S and the SLK 350 in terms of power-to-weight ratio to the new Z4 sDrive 35i. The Porsche has to put 4.7 kilograms in motion with each of its horsepower, the Mercedes 4.9 kilograms. The new hardtop roadster from BMW, on the other hand, has to do with 5.2 kilograms per power unit. That could leave its mark. But back to the comparison between Porsche and Mercedes, which is already possible today. After the brilliant presentation of the closed brother Cayman S on the small circuit in Hockenheim (the two-seater duped the basic 911 with its time of 1:13.9 minutes and came closer to the 911 Carrera S than the Porsche developers could have liked), it seemed the clear defeat of the established Coupé-Cabriolet from Stuttgart-Untertürkheim in the driving dynamics disciplines.

Even if the SLK 350 is much closer on the heels of the Boxster S in terms of its paper form than one might assume, given the different roofing concepts. Unlike BMW, Mercedes has managed to keep the total weight of the vehicle within reasonable limits despite the retractable hardtop. At 1,493 kilograms, the 4.10-meter-short SLK is over 100 kilograms below the figure given by the BMW plant for the most powerful Z4 - in the full test car robe, mind you. Against this background, the fact that the interior noise level in the Mercedes SLK, despite the fixed roof over the head, is hardly lower than in the Boxster, which has remained loyal to the classic soft top, which in this regard was the last in this segment until the appearance of the Nissan 370 Z Roadster Mohikaners is therefore okay. Enjoyable listening to the radio is forbidden in both cars during high-speed motorway overflights. In the case of Mercedes, a hardtop developed by the manufacturer to replace the Karmann cap is intended to provide a remedy for the next generation of SLKs. But enough of the roof stories.

Sprint best value thanks to Launch Control

Let's deal with what is of interest to sporty drivers and get in the proven way with a comparison of the Standard measurements determined driving performance. As already mentioned in the opening credits, due to the lack of availability of manual transmissions in the first test cars like the Cayman S before, the Porsche started with the new Porsche double clutch transmission PDK, whereas the Mercedes, in favor of the best possible sporty constitution, relies on a conventional, precisely guided, but somewhat bony acting Six-speed H gearshift familiar.

The Launch Control stored in the Sport Plus mode of the electronically controlled PASM chassis, which is subject to a surcharge, gives the new Boxster S a top rate in the standard sprint from 0 to 100 km /h: the exercise is precisely tailored within 4.9 seconds Wheelspin checked. To do this, press the Sport Plus button when the ESP is switched off.hold the brake with your left foot and use your right foot to depress the accelerator beyond the kick-down point. The system now automatically adjusts to the ideal starting speed, which is around 6,000 rpm, whereupon, when you lift the brake pedal, you move forward smoothly and at lightning speed. The subsequent gear changes take place in the millisecond range. The 180 km /h mark was passed after 14.4 seconds.

Within the SLK series, it would take an SLK 55 AMG to sprint to country road speed in under five seconds. The SLK 350 sports engine is specified with 5.4 seconds for the 0-100 sprint, but took 5.6 seconds in the test. Here too, of course, acceleration was carried out without ESP. Until the 180 km /h mark is reached, the lead of the nominally five hp more powerful and around 40 kilogram lighter Porsche Roadster increases to one and a half seconds. The fact that the six-cylinder boxer in the Boxster S has more in its stocking is also underlined by the elasticity values ​​determined. When accelerating from 80 to 180 km /h in fourth gear, the man from Zuffenhausen took the Untertürkheim roadster off a remarkable 2.7 seconds.

In view of the convincing performance of the strongest boxster in the acceleration disciplines, the expectations for the time-hunt on the small course were high. The amazing Cayman S with 1.13.9 minutes and with Bridgestone Potenza RE050A tires of size 235/35 R 19 at the front and 265/35 R 19 at the rear hardly looked any better in the standard measurements.

The coupé sprinted from standstill to 100 km /h in 4.7 seconds and reached 180 km /h in 14.1 seconds. In fact, things turned out differently. The open two-seater is also convincing with its flawless, direct steering behavior, gear changes that are carried forward without delay, neutrality and constant controllability. However, the Porsche Roadster does not display the unparalleled jaggedness and uncompromising quality with which the Coupé impressed at the beginning of the year.

Although the Boxster S in the Sport mode of the PASM chassis also has significantly less body roll than the SLK 350 and implements direction change commands a bit more quickly, the open mid-engine sports car gives a generally more civil and less uncompromising impression than the closed one. Anyone looking for applause voice power is better served with the two-seater coupé than with the roadster. Ergo, the gap between the Boxster S and SLK 350 on the racetrack is less serious than was to be feared. With 1.15.6 minutes the Porsche is a good bit faster, it completely hurries the Mercedes, which also gives in spontaneously, but then has to pay tribute to its overall somewhat softer set-up, but not.

Differences in braking

Overall, it is noticeable that the very neutrally designed imLimit area absolutely foolproof SLK 350 implements the driver's commands a tad less jaggedly than the Boxster S. The impression of the less uncompromisingly sporty whole continues with the Mercedes Roadster on the brakes. The system, which is properly dimensioned with 330 millimeter discs at the front and 290 mm discs at the rear, decelerates reliably, but the brake pedal gradually softens after the third, briskly approached lap. A more consistent response behavior would therefore be desirable for sporting use. In terms of the pure deceleration values, the Mercedes SLK 350 does not come close to the Porsche, which is always flawless in this discipline: 10.5 m /s² warm for the SLK contrasts with an average deceleration of 11.3 m /s² warm for the Boxster S. . With the Porsche, the pedal feel remains constant over the entire period.

And yet - the bottom line is that the performance of the Mercedes Roadster in the driving dynamics disciplines is worth all honors. After all, the 272 hp predecessor allowed itself 1,18.7 minutes to circumnavigate the 2.6-kilometer circuit in Baden in 2006. The deliberately sporty design of the 3.5-liter V6 for the SL and SLK roadster series, which is only allowed to attack here with over 300 hp, has paid off in every respect. This is all the more true as the Mercedes SLK 350 does not even prove to be unduly thirsty in daily use. Those who use the accelerator with sensitivity and resist the temptation of high revs, which are tempting acoustically, get around ten liters of Super Plus free. The front-engined roadster can be driven a maximum of 15.0 liters through the seductively hoarse throat, especially above. In the test, this adds up to an average consumption of 11.8 liters per 100 kilometers.

Boxster S drivers can only dream of such restraint. Despite modern gasoline direct injection technology and the 15 percent reduction in fuel consumption promised by the factory, the slim and slim two-seater with a length of 4.34 meters approved a proud 15.3 liters of Super Plus in the sport auto test medium. Now we admit frankly that we are rarely consciously cautious. But sport auto employees cannot avoid speed restrictions and traffic jams on the autobahn, just as they cannot avoid the normal, everyday madness in city traffic. As a result, some of the consumption figures determined almost inevitably represent a relatively normal representation of what is actually feasible - especially if, as happened in test mode, the middle of the three possible automatic programs of the PDK on board, which is subject to a surcharge, is relied on for a moderate driving style.

The fact that the Boxster S consumes at least 14.1 liters even under these circumstances can therefore be seen as a faux pas. This is all the more true as the Cayman S tested in January is among similar onesCircumstances were more frugal, which resulted in an average consumption of 14.0 liters Super Plus per 100 kilometers that was 1.3 liters lower, albeit not really a benchmark. A comparison with the manual models of the entry-level series seems interesting against this background.

But it is well known that Porsche fans are not allowed to be financially squeamish or poorly positioned anyway. Even the admission ticket to open-air fun is considerably more expensive in Zuffenhausen than in Munich or Untertürkheim. While the Mercedes SLK 350 is available from 47,689 euros and the BMW Z4 sDrive 35i from 49,850 euros, the manual Porsche Boxster S only changes hands from 55,781 euros - the best driving dynamics, the undoubtedly prestigious image of the brand, which was once considered immovable, but is now largely extinct roadster values ​​such as soft top or mid-engine concept included.


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