When it comes to luxurious and super cars, German automakers have been on the verge of excellence. On one hand, automakers like BMW and Mercedes have excelled in the field of extravaganza and have redefined luxury with a couple of notches higher, whereas on the other hand, automakers like Porsche have really made it big in the field of super-cars.
Both BMW and Mercedes have designed and produced cars in the segment of luxury as well as supercars. Porsche, on the contrary, has been one of the masters in the field of supercars that are driven by a brilliant design and class apart specifications.
If we pick up some specific cars that rule the segment, it has to be the Z4 by BMW, SLK for Mercedes and the excellent Boxster from Porsche. On one hand, the Z4 and the SLK are powerful but are more biased towards luxury while the Boxster is designed with outright power on the word go. Hence, their comparison would bring into consideration of BMW and Mercedes to get power on track along with luxury, their forte. On the same note, it will also be interesting to see Porsche can keep up with the best-in-class luxury to go hand-in-hand with outright power.
So let’s bring them on a comparison note and see how they fare against each once they are brought head-to-head against each other both physically as well as on paper.
The exterior elements
The latest edition of the BMW Z4 looks amazing. The hard top is much more secure than the conventional soft-top peers. However, this again gets the weight up significantly, besides reducing the boot space by a big margin. This 2-seater convertible looks attractive with a long bonnet and split front grilles with vertical air intakes dipped in chrome. The headlamps are sleek and horizontally sweptback.
The side section of the car is utmost sculpted and the bold designing lines on the side as well as on the bonnet is the evidence. Get back to the rear section and I am sure you will fall in love with what you see. There are no enhancements as such like a bold bumper or a devil-ish spoiler. The designing is plain and curvy. That’s it. So there are no such stitches or extraordinary parts added to make it look attractive. It is just that the inflation or the dents made at every corners have been made with perfection.
The Mercedes SLK is different from the BMW Z4 and Porsche Boxster. There is a big grille up front with honeycomb radiator air intakes. A thin line of chrome, with the company’s logo run horizontally through the centre of the grille. The overall designing cues suggest that the car are not that bold or aggressive, but are rather sober and classy. It has a similar hard-top roof that takes an extra bit of time to get folded while the car is in motion. The headlamps are swept back but are not as sleek as the Z4.
But just when you think that the aesthetics elements Mercedes SLK could disappoint a little, the company throws a piece of a charmer. The rear section of the SLK is a completely different story and is quite a great competition to its competitions. The black-coloured rear spoiler houses rectangular exhaust pipe tips which are dipped in chrome.
If there was one car that could be epitomized as the highest level of supercar design out of its competitors, it has to be the Porsche Boxster. Look at it and you will fall flat, not wanting to remove your eyes off the spectacle that you have just seen. Porsche’s trademark sloping bonnet that meets the big low bumper and the overly slanted round-ish headlamp cluster is what will leave in awe. Preferably, a set of black alloy wheels further improves the visuals, along with a black soft-top.
Walk back to the back of the car and you will see something that you might have never seen before. The rear section is nothing sharp, but rounded and perfectly brilliant. The dual exhaust tip is conventionally round and are placed together at the centre.
The BMW Z4 is a spot on racer car from the inside. It has a low driver’s seat with a multi-function 3-spoke steering wheel. The surroundings for a driver is very modern with many button bits everywhere. The touchscreen infotainment display is a pop-up unit and is not integrated to the dashboard.
However, there is just one factor that might draw you back. Despite having quite a roomy interior, the car has a modest boot. With the roof up, the boot is quite good at 310 litres. However, with the roof folded, the boot space reduces to a meagre 180 litres.
The Mercedes SLK, despite having an unattractive aesthetic design compared to its competitions, does have the interior features and technology that is arguably better than that of the Z4. The car is luxurious enough to get the passenger and the driver comfortable pretty soon. Added to this, the boot space is also bigger that the Z4 despite having similar hard-top. With the roof folded, the boot space is something around 225 litres.
The Porsche Boxster stands out in terms of everything that it could be compared on. The interior dashboard layout is nothing fancy, but is soberly great. The 7-inch touchscreen infotainment system is fitted within the dashboard and is easy to reach from the low seat. However, even though there are shortcut button to everything, the instrument cluster is a little complex to handle than the simpler one in the BMW Z4.
The supercar lacks a lot of standard features as steering mounted audio controller and parking sensors with reverse camera is given as an option and you have to pay extra to get a hand on them.
That said, Porsche is known to be luxurious and the Boxster, despite being the entry-level car to the big lineup, is no exception to it. If you are willing to pay extra, you can even have leather covered dashboard and the inner door panel. If you pay a little more, you can even get Alcantara or wood finishes on the insides which would make it stand out of the rivals.
Engine and Mechanism
The BMW Z4 is offered in many engine options. The entry-level trim gets sDrive 18i engine while the mid spec engines get sDrive 20i and 28i. The top end trims get sDrive 35i and 35iS engine. There are no general differences between the engine apart from the fact that they are just the higher tuned or the lower tuned engines than the other.
The top end sDrive 35i gets the same 3.0-litre direct injection, twin turbo engine which was present in the previous generation edition. It makes a maximum power of 302 bhp and can hit an acceleration of 0-100 kms per hour in just 6.1 seconds. The transmission duties are done by a 6-speed manual transmission gearbox as standard and an option of 8-speed automatic gearbox is added as an option.
The Mercedes SLK is very competent in this segment too. It has a 3.5-litre V6 engine which is refined, responsive and powerful. The engine is capable of making a highest power of 305 bhp and can easily take on the Z4 with ease. The engine can propel the car to hit an acceleration of 0-100 kms per hour is 6.48 seconds only. The transmission duties are done by a 7-speed manual transmission or a 7G Tronic automatic transmission gearbox.
The Porsche Boxster is the most powerful and the deadliest among the three. It is given a 3.5-litre engine direct injection V6 engine that sends the power to the rear wheels for an absolute peach of a racing experience. The Boxster is light and hence the 311 bhp power makes sure that you go the distance at full pace. Keep the throttle up and the revs higher and you will see that the car really comes alive beyond the 4,000 revs per minute mark. The 0-100 kms per hour mark is reached in just 5 seconds. The transmission duties are fulfilled by a 7-speed dual clutch automatic gearbox.
After having talked about these supercars, coming to a conclusion is not easy, especially if you are considering cars from makers like BMW, Mercedes and Porsche. I must say, keeping an eyes on the price, none of them look like they are loosely fed with features. All the three are priced between Rs. 65 lakhs to Rs. 80 lakhs exclusive showroom in India. Hence, the prices may not be the biggest determining factor.
What determines the best one among them are the subtle differences in terms of visuals, interior layout and the engine specification. Speaking specifically on these parameters, the Porsche Boxster looks the best in terms of aesthetics followed by the BMW Z4. In terms of interior layout, you cannot deny that Z4 looks most attractive followed by the Mercedes SLK. And lastly, the Porsche car overtakes everyone else in terms of power and engine refinement and the experience is truly unmatched.
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