Road Test: 2005 Mercedes-Benz SLK55 AMG vs. 2005 Porsche Boxster S
Road Test: 2005 Mercedes-Benz SLK55 AMG vs. 2005 Porsche Boxster S Hollywood Knights: Fifty years ago, sports cars were stealing the
spotlight. Can new stars from Porsche and Mercedes-Benz still pass the audition?
By Matt Stone Photography by John Kiewicz Motor Trend, April 2005
Before Celebrity Types went for slammed 'Slades with spinners, Hollywood's royalty drove sports cars. James Dean preferred Porsches, Clark Gable had a Jag XK, and James Coburn favored Ferraris. Steve McQueen owned at least one of each. Okay, Elvis may have liked Cadillacs, and Marilyn Monroe probably spent most of her time in the back of a limousine. But more often than not, those whose names were apt to show up in a Hedda Hopper column liked their cars sleek, fast, and topless. advertisement
Today, the choice for a ride to the Oscars runs from a politically fashionable Toyota Prius to a politically unfashionable stretched Hummer. In the 1950s and 1960s, if you were an actor or musician with a newly inked contract in your pocket and you wanted something in which to cruise Sunset Strip, chances are Mercedes-Benz and Porsche were on your shopping list. Both marques have a rich history with Hollywood and the Beautiful People.
Porsche and Mercedes came to market with new (relatively) budget-priced roadsters in 1997-1998. The first-generation Boxster and SLK have lived their lives and have been given substantial remodels for 2005. Each is philosophically the same as it was the first time around, updated with new technology, a more aggressive design, increased performance, and the benefit of years of customer feedback.
Both new versions attempt to cop some cachet from their biggest brothers: The 2005 Boxster's hoodline, taillights, more muscular rear fenders, and mid-engine proportions hint at the near-$450,000 Carrera GT, while the SLK's pointy nose, long hood, short deck, and guttural exhaust note pay homage to the fast and flamboyant McLaren SLR. Neither association is by accident, and the carmakers hope you'll notice. The Boxster doesn't look as though it's changed as much, although Porsche advises that 80 percent of the car's content is new or revised.
In the best Hollywood tradition, we chose to evaluate the up-level Boxster S and an AMG-spec SLK. The base version of the Boxster is powered by a 2.7-liter, 240-horsepower flat-six, while the new SLK350 has a 3.5-liter, 268-horse V-6, and both offer a choice of automatic or manual transmissions. Well-equipped examples of each can be had for around $50K.
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