BMW 428 vs. Mercedes-Benz SLK300

By

Contributing Editor

A veteran auto journalist and editor of Tirekicking Today, Jim has contributed countless reviews and articles to such publications as autoMedia, New Car Test Drive, and Kelley Blue Book, as well as J.D. Power, cars.com, Consumer Guide, and the Chicago Tribune. He began by writing about antique/classic cars and how-to tasks, before turning to new and used vehicles. Most of his 30 published books have dealt with auto history, along with six children’s titles. His most recent book is the Tirekicking Used Car Buyer’s Guide.


, Contributing Editor - March 3, 2016

A while ago, BMW stopped calling two-door versions of its compact group 3 Series. Instead, the coupe and convertible were renamed the 4 Series. Each two-door handles as nimbly and performs as enthusiastically as the equivalent 3 Series, benefiting from BMW’s German heritage and assured sophistication. The 428i contains a turbocharged 2-liter four-cylinder engine. All-wheel drive can replace standard rear-drive.

Part of the Mercedes-Benz stable since 1998, the SLK-Class is a two-passenger roadster with a retractable hardtop rather than a fabric roof. On the whole, it’s considered the smaller, more agile, and far lower-priced alternative to the posh SL-Class two-seaters. Styling resembles the SL-Class, on a smaller scale. The SLK300 replaced the prior SLK250 for 2016. In 2017, the SLK will be gone, its role occupied by the latest version of the SLC-Class.

See a side-by-side comparison of the 428 & SLK300 »

What the BMW 428 Gets Right

In addition to two fewer doors, the coupe and the convertible are a little more flamboyantly styled than the 3 Series, with an assertive front end and sleek low-slung profile. Slightly lower than the four-door, looking eager to spring into action. On the highway, two-doors behave about the same as a 3 Series sedan. Like other BMWs, a 4 Series grasps the road as if it has talons.

In the 428i, the turbo four engine generates 240 horsepower and 255 pound-feet of torque. That’s strong enough to reach 60 mph in a swift 5.7 seconds. Fuel economy is reasonably good as well, EPA-estimated at 23-mpg city/35-mpg highway with the eight-speed automatic transmission. Shifting the six-speed manual gearbox is a joy, but sinks the estimate to 20/30 mpg (city/highway).

What the Mercedes-Benz SLK300 Gets Right

Now in its third generation, the SLK is inevitably showing signs of aging. Regardless, it’s still an appealing two-seater. Not only does the SLK look the part of a serious sports car, it provides the roadgoing excitement of a close-to-the-ground roadster, without giving up much comfort. Occupants in the SLK 300 enjoy a refined cockpit that’s quiet and comfortable, well suited for lengthy journeys, though tall drivers might lack headroom.

An SLK300 can get some tempting options, notably the Airscarf, which does a commendable job of making the wind less bothersome. The SLK300 holds a 2-liter turbocharged four-cylinder, which develops 241 horsepower and 273 pound-feet of torque, driving a nine-speed automatic transmission. Fuel economy is acceptable, estimated at 25-mpg city/32-mpg highway.

Can BMW’s two-door models hold court over a slick little Mercedes-Benz?

Comparing these two isn’t easy, because the two models seem to belong in different categories: BMW as a compact coupe/convertible, and the SLK as a lower-profiled roadster.

Our Verdict: Mercedes-Benz SLK300

Both models exude excellence and deliver the goods in roadability, but the premium-level sports-car experience in an SLK is hard to beat—even by a refined BMW coupe or convertible.

Take a closer look at the BMW 428 »

Take a closer look at the Mercedes-Benz SLK300 »

Side-by-side comparison of features, pricing, photos and more!

, Contributing Editor

A veteran auto journalist and editor of Tirekicking Today, Jim has contributed countless reviews and articles to such publications as autoMedia, New Car Test Drive, and Kelley Blue Book, as well as J.D. Power, cars.com, Consumer Guide, and the Chicago Tribune. He began by writing about antique/classic cars and how-to tasks, before turning to new and used vehicles. Most of his 30 published books have dealt with auto history, along with six children’s titles. His most recent book is the Tirekicking Used Car Buyer’s Guide.