Certified Benz & Beemer Compares 2009 Mercedes Benz SL-Class VS 2009 Lexus SC430 Near Phoenix, AZ

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2009 Mercedes Benz SL-Class

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VS

2009 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 outboard 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.

The SL Class offers optional Parktronic™ to help warn drivers about vehicles, pedestrians or other obstacles behind or in front of their vehicle. The SC430 doesn’t offer any parking assist system.

The SL Class has standard Tele Aid, which uses a global positioning satellite (GPS) receiver and a cellular system to get driving directions, remotely unlock your doors if you lock your keys in, help track down your vehicle if it’s stolen or send emergency personnel to the scene if any airbags deploy. The SC430 doesn’t offer a GPS response system, only a navigation computer with no live response for emergencies.

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.

The Mercedes SL Class has a better injury history. The SL Class was involved in injury causing accidents at a rate 5% lower per vehicle registered than the SC430, according to the Highway Loss Data Institute.

Warranty Comparison

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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.

To reliably power the ignition and other systems and to recharge the battery, the SL Class has a standard 150 amp alternator (180 amp - SL Class 600/63/65). The SC430’s 100 amp alternator isn’t as powerful.

Engine Comparison

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The SL550’s standard 5.5 DOHC V8 produces 94 more horsepower (382 vs. 288) and 74 lbs.-ft. more torque (391 vs. 317) than the SC430’s 4.3 DOHC V8. The SL600’s standard 5.5 turbo V12 produces 222 more horsepower (510 vs. 288) and 295 lbs.-ft. more torque (612 vs. 317) than the SC430’s 4.3 DOHC V8. The SL63 AMG’s standard 6.2 DOHC V8 produces 230 more horsepower (518 vs. 288) and 148 lbs.-ft. more torque (465 vs. 317) than the SC430’s 4.3 DOHC V8. The SL65 AMG’s standard 6.0 turbo V12 produces 316 more horsepower (604 vs. 288) and 421 lbs.-ft. more torque (738 vs. 317) than the SC430’s 4.3 DOHC V8.

As tested in Motor Trend the Mercedes SL Class is faster than the Lexus SC430 (automatics tested):

SL550

SL600

SC430

Zero to 30 MPH

1.7 sec

n/a

2.6 sec

Zero to 60 MPH

4.9 sec

3.6 sec

6.8 sec

Zero to 80 MPH

8.2 sec

n/a

10.9 sec

Zero to 100 MPH

12.4 sec

8.6 sec

16.4 sec

Quarter Mile

13.5 sec

11.9 sec

15 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

104.4 MPH

120 MPH

97.1 MPH

As tested in Road & Track the SL65 is faster than the Lexus SC430 (automatics tested):

SL Class

SC430

Zero to 30 MPH

1.6 sec

2.3 sec

Zero to 60 MPH

4 sec

6.2 sec

Zero to 80 MPH

6 sec

10.1 sec

Zero to 100 MPH

8.3 sec

15.2 sec

Quarter Mile

12 sec

14.6 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

122.8 MPH

98.1 MPH

Fuel Economy and Range Comparison

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An engine control system which can shut down half of the engine’s cylinders helps improve the SL Class V12’s fuel efficiency. The SC430 doesn’t offer a system which can shut down part of the engine.

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’ brake rotors are larger than those on the SC430:

SL550

SL Class

SC430

Front Rotors

13.8 inches

15.4 inches

11.7 inches

Rear Rotors

12.6 inches

14.2 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

160 feet

187 feet

Car and Driver

60 to 0 MPH

117 feet

121 feet

Road & Track

Tires and Wheels Comparison

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For better traction, the SL Class has larger tires than the SC430 (F:255/40R18 & R:285/35R18 vs. 245/40R18).

The SL Class’ standard 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 standard 40 series tires. The SL/600/SL63/SL65’s 255/35R19 front and 285/30R19 rear tires have a lower 35 series front and 30 series rear profile than the SC430’s 40 series tires.

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the SL/600/SL63/SL65 has standard 19 inch wheels. The SC430’s largest wheels are only 18 inches.

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 SL65 AMG handles at .93 G’s, while the SC430 pulls only .80 G’s of cornering force in a Car and Driver skidpad test.

The SL Class 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 Road & Track while cruising at 70 MPH, the interior of the SL65 AMG is quieter than the SC430 (71 vs. 72 dB).

Passenger Space Comparison

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The SL Class has .5 inches more front headroom, 1.2 inches more front hip room and .2 inches more front shoulder room than the SC430.

Ergonomics Comparison

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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’ rain-sensitive wipers adjust their speed and turn on and off automatically based on the amount of rainfall on the windshield. This allows the driver to concentrate on driving without constantly adjusting the wipers. The SC430’s manually variable intermittent wipers have to be constantly adjusted.

Heated windshield washer nozzles are standard on the SL Class to prevent washer fluid and nozzles from freezing and help continue to keep the windshield clear in sub-freezing temperatures. The SC430 doesn’t offer heated windshield washer nozzles.

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.

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.

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