Roadster Triathlon: Mercedes-AMG SLC 43 vs BMW Z4, Porsche 718

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Driving fun, warm sun. This is what the two-seater Mercedes-AMG SLC 43 promises. Now, fresh after our first review, Merc’s roadster meets its rivals. BMW Z4, SLC 43 and Porsche 718 Boxster comparison test via

While BMW and Mercedes rely on six cylinders, the brand new 718 Boxster S has to make do with four combustion chambers. Mercedes also used to be powered by an old-school V8 before the facelift, so both roadsters embrace now the downsizing concept and appeal not to more displacement, but to a turbocharger. At Mercedes and Porsche charging compensates the two missing cylinders. The BMW also has a turbo six-cylinder working under the long hood. The power spectrum ranges between 340 (BMW) and 367 hp (Mercedes-AMG), while the Porsche falls with 350 hp exactly in between.

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But back to the wellness factor that unites the three test candidates. As would be the fact that for the transition from the closed to the open roof, a keystroke or button push is sufficient to fold both the metal helmets of AMG and Z4 as well as the canvas top of the Porsche. This includes the ability to create a nearly draft-free (at least at moderate speed) interior atmosphere thanks to the wind diffusers. They are joined by a powerful sound systems, seat heaters, neck heaters (only for the SLC with Airscarf), comfortable sports seats with perfect lateral support. The BMW Z4 sDrive 35is relies on an adaptive, ten millimeter-lowered standard sport suspension, which is not too hard even in the Sport Plus setting. It gives the Z4 Roadster a slightly edgier sporty touch.

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The SLC 43 also comes with an adaptive suspension, which is supplemented via the optional Dynamic Handling package with a ride height lowered by ten millimeters. The Driving Experience Control here acts like BMW’s Dynamic Select allowing to fine-tune the chassis and engine characteristics plus the steering feel. Even in Sport, the SLC remains a relaxed cruiser, even if the suspension is not as subtle as the BMW’s. But the AMG does not suffer from any body inclinations and can feel right at home in fast S-shaped bends.

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Inharmonious feel in the steering of the Z4 makes it difficult to find immediately the right direction in a bend, clean and without at least a small correction. In addition, the slightly less grippy Bridgestone Potenza tires makes the ESP light flicker more often in the BMW, where the two rivals still stubbornly go neutral around the corner. In our excursions into the higher, curved regions around Kinding, the SLC proved definitely to be the more agile car, more fun to rush through the sharp corners. Although its steering is still behind the crazy accuracy of the 718 Boxster. But it is very harmonious with uniform power transmission.

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The firmer 718 Boxster S is clearly the highest instrument of precision here. It does not show any body movements and springs in sport plus mode bone dry. But it can also master a commode pace in low speed mode. When joyful wagging over narrow streets, the pure driving pleasure found in the interplay of all the components of the Porsche 718 Boxster S makes it the device of choice. And the 718 is the one roadster in this comparison with which a real driver would go on a fun trip to explore its limits.

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By a hair, the Porsche 718 Boxster S tasted victory. If only its price was more… Earthly. Even so, there is no remedy against the blunt dynamic efficiency of the 718. Not even the BMW with its joyful but rigid chassis can prove a fair match. Surprisingly good in every respect, the SLC 43. It really is the silent winner of this comparison and the best allrounder between sport and wellness.


Displacement2979 cmc2996 cmc2497 cmc
Power kW (PS)/rpm250 (340)/5900270 (367)/5500-6000257 (350)/6500
Power/l114 PS/l123 PS/l140 PS/l
Transmission7-speed Aut. Double Clutch9-speed Automatic7-speed Aut. Double Clutch
Tires front/rear225/35 R 19 – 255/30 R 19235/40 R 18 – 255/35 R 18235/35 R 20 – 265/35 R 20
Tires brandBridgestone Potenza RE 050 AContinental SportContact 5Pirelli P Zero
Lenght/width/height4244/1790/1284 mm4143/1810/1304 mm4379/1801/1280 mm
Wheelbase2496 mm2431 mm2475 mm
0-100 km/h4,9 s4,6 s4,0 s
Vmax250 km/h250 km/h285 km/h
Price as tested58.870 Euro65.373 Euro89.244 Euro