Certified Benz & Beemer Compares 2004 Mercedes Benz SL-Class VS 2004 Lexus SC430 Near Phoenix, AZ

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2004 Mercedes Benz SL-Class

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VS

2004 Lexus SC430

Safety Comparison

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For enhanced safety, the front seat shoulder belts of the Mercedes SL Class are height adjustable to accommodate a wide variety of driver and passenger heights. A better fit can prevent injuries and the increased comfort also encourages passengers to buckle up. The Lexus SC430 doesn’t offer height adjustable seat belts.

The SL Class has standard tall side airbags which act as a forgiving barrier between the driver and passenger’s upper bodies and the window and pillars. Combined with high-strength steel door beams and lower side airbags this system increases head protection in broadside collisions. The SC430 doesn’t offer side airbag protection for the head.

Using vehicle speed sensors, smart airbags in the SL Class deploy with different levels of force to help better protect passengers of all sizes in different collisions. The SC430’s airbags don’t have smart features and will always deploy full force.

The SL Class offers an optional Parktronic™ to help warn drivers about vehicles, pedestrians or other obstacles behind their vehicle. This collision warning system uses radar to detect obstacles behind the rear bumper. The SC430 doesn’t offer a rear collision sensor.

Both the SL Class and the SC430 have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, four wheel antilock brakes, traction control and electronic stability systems to prevent skidding.

Warranty Comparison

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Mercedes pays for scheduled maintenance on the SL Class for 4 years and 50,000 miles. Mercedes will pay for oil changes, tire rotation, lubrication and any other scheduled maintenance. Lexus doesn’t pay scheduled maintenance for the SC430.

There are over 58 percent more Mercedes dealers than there are Lexus dealers, which makes it much easier to get service under the SL Class’ warranty.

Reliability Comparison

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The camshafts in the SL Class’ engine are driven by a hardened steel chain, with no maintenance needs. The SC430’s camshafts are driven by a rubber belt which eventually needs to be replaced. If the SC430’s cam drive belt breaks the engine could be severely damaged when the pistons hit the opened valves.

The engines in the SL Class have a single overhead cam for simplicity. The engine in the SC430 has dual overhead cams, which add to the number of moving parts and the complexity of the cylinder heads.

Engine Comparison

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The SL500’s standard 5.0 SOHC V8 produces 2 more horsepower (302 vs. 300) and 14 lbs.-ft. more torque (339 vs. 325) than the SC430’s 4.3 DOHC V8. The SL55 AMG’s standard 5.4 supercharged SOHC V8 produces 193 more horsepower (493 vs. 300) and 191 lbs.-ft. more torque (516 vs. 325) than the SC430’s 4.3 DOHC V8. The SL600’s standard 5.5 turbo SOHC V12 produces 193 more horsepower (493 vs. 300) and 265 lbs.-ft. more torque (590 vs. 325) than the SC430’s 4.3 DOHC V8.

As tested in Car and Driver the Mercedes SL Class is faster than the Lexus SC430:

SL500

SL55 AMG

SC430

Zero to 30 MPH

2.2 sec

1.8 sec

2.5 sec

Zero to 60 MPH

5.8 sec

4.5 sec

6.6 sec

Zero to 100 MPH

14.5 sec

10.9 sec

16.2 sec

Quarter Mile

14.3 sec

13 sec

15.4 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

99 MPH

110 MPH

97 MPH

Top Speed

155 MPH

156 MPH

148 MPH

For more instantaneous acceleration and better engine flexibility in any gear, the SL Class’ engines produce their peak torque at lower RPM’s than the SC430:

Torque

SL500 5.0 SOHC V8

2700 RPM

SL55 AMG 5.4 supercharged SOHC V8

2750 RPM

SL600 5.5 turbo SOHC V12

1800 RPM

SC430 4.3 DOHC V8

3400 RPM

Fuel Economy and Range Comparison

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The SL Class has 1.3 gallons more fuel capacity than the SC430 (21.1 vs. 19.8 gallons), for longer range between fill-ups.

Brakes and Stopping Comparison

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For better stopping power the SL Class’ front brake rotors are larger than those on the SC430:

SL500

SL55/SL600

SC430

Front Rotors

12.28 inches

14.17 inches

11.7 inches

Rear Rotors

11.81 inches

13 inches

12.1 inches

The SL Class stops much shorter than the SC430:

SL Class

SC430

80 to 0 MPH

203 feet

218 feet

Road & Track

70 to 0 MPH

155 feet

187 feet

Car and Driver

60 to 0 MPH

108 feet

120 feet

Motor Trend

30 to 0 MPH

28 feet

29 feet

AutoWeek

Tires and Wheels Comparison

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For better traction, the SL Class has larger standard tires than the SC430 (255/45R17 vs. 245/40R18). The SL Class’ tires are larger than the largest tires available on the SC430 (F:255/40R18 & R:285/35R18 vs. 245/40R18).

The SL Class’ 285/35R18 rear tires provide better handling because they have a lower 35 series profile (height to width ratio) which provides a stiffer sidewall than the SC430’s 40 series tires.

Suspension and Handling Comparison

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The SL Class offers an available adjustable active suspension system, which counteracts cornering forces actively, limiting body roll and improving handling and stability. Lexus doesn’t offer an active suspension on the SC430.

The SL Class has a standard driver-adjustable suspension system. It allows the driver to choose between an extra-supple ride, reducing fatigue on long trips, or a sport setting, which allows maximum control for tricky roads. The SC430’s suspension doesn’t offer adjustable shock absorbers.

The SL Class has a standard automatic front and rear load leveling suspension to keep ride height level with a heavy load or when towing. The SC430 doesn’t offer a load leveling suspension.

The SL Class’ front to rear weight distribution is more even (50.4% to 49.6%) than the SC430’s (53% to 47%). This gives the SL Class more stable handling and braking.

The SL55 AMG handles at .91 G’s, while the SC430 pulls only .80 G’s of cornering force in a Car and Driver skidpad test.

The SL500 goes through Road & Track’s slalom 6.9 MPH faster than the SC430 (67.6 vs. 60.7 MPH).

Chassis Comparison

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As tested by AutoWeek, the interior of the SL500 is quieter than the SC430:

SL Class

SC430

60 MPH Cruising

66 dB

73 dB

Passenger Space Comparison

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The SL Class has .5 inches more front headroom and .2 inches more front shoulder room than the SC430.

Ergonomics Comparison

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If the windows are left down on the SL Class the driver can raise them all using the key in the outside lock cylinder. On a hot day the driver can lower all the windows from outside the car using the remote. The driver of the SC430 can only operate the windows from inside the vehicle, with the ignition on.

The SC430’s standard power locks don’t automatically lock the doors. The SL Class’ standard doors lock when a certain speed is reached. This is an important feature for occupant safety. Locked doors are proven to open less often in collisions, and they are also effective in preventing crime at traffic lights. (The power lock’s automatic feature may have to be activated by your dealer.)

The SL Class’ standard rain-sensitive wipers adjust their speed to the amount of rainfall on the windshield. This allows the driver to concentrate on driving without constantly adjusting the wipers. The SC430’s intermittent wipers have to be constantly adjusted.

The SL Class’ optional air conditioned front seats cool the driver and front passenger and help take the sting out of hot leather in Summer. The SC430 doesn’t offer air conditioned front seats.

The SL Class’ standard dual zone air conditioning allows the driver and front passenger to choose two completely different temperatures so people with different temperature preferences won’t have to compromise. This makes both the driver and front passenger as comfortable as possible. The SC430 doesn’t offer dual zone air conditioning.

A built-in pollen filter with a charcoal activated canister removes pollen, exhaust fumes and other pollutants from the SL Class’ passenger compartment. This helps prevent lung and/or sinus irritation, which can trigger allergies or asthma. The SC430 doesn’t offer a filtration system.

To keep a safe, consistent following distance, the SL Class offers an optional Distronic, which alters the speed of the vehicle without driver intervention. This allows the driver to use cruise control more safely without constantly having to disengage it when approaching slower traffic. The SC430 doesn’t offer an adaptive cruise control.

With an optional Linguatronic, the SL Class offers the driver hands free control of the radio and cell phone by simply speaking. The SC430 doesn’t offer a voice control system.

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