2020 Mercedes SL vs. 2020 BMW Z4

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

© 1999 - 2019 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved. This vehicle comparison and all of the content in it are provided only by license from Advanta-STAR Automotive Research Corporation of America. If you are not a legally licensed user of this vehicle comparison, it is against federal law to access it, copy it, forward it or use it in any manner whatsoever. Any unauthorized use of this vehicle comparison is a violation of U.S. and international law and is punishable criminally and civilly. 6IUEX-0KENZ 45.55.47.189 2019/11/20

The SL has standard tall side airbags that 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 Z4 doesn't offer side airbag protection for the head.

An active infrared night vision system optional on the SL helps the driver to more easily detect people, animals or other objects in front of the vehicle at night. Using an infrared camera and near-infrared lights to detect heat, the system then displays the image on a monitor in the dashboard. The Z4 doesn’t offer a night vision system.

Both the SL and the Z4 have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, driver knee airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, crash mitigating brakes, daytime running lights, rearview cameras, driver alert monitors, available lane departure warning systems and blind spot warning systems.

Warranty

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There are over 10 percent more Mercedes dealers than there are BMW dealers, which makes it easier should you ever need service under the SL’s warranty.

Reliability

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J.D. Power and Associates’ 2019 Initial Quality Study of new car owners surveyed provide the statistics that show that Mercedes vehicles are better in initial quality than BMW vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Mercedes 12th in initial quality. With 8 more problems per 100 vehicles, BMW is ranked 20th.

Engine

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The SL 450’s standard 3.0 turbo V6 produces 107 more horsepower (362 vs. 255) and 74 lbs.-ft. more torque (369 vs. 295) than the Z4 sDrive30i’s standard 2.0 turbo 4 cyl. The SL 450’s 3.0 turbo V6 produces 1 lbs.-ft. more torque (369 vs. 368) than the Z4 M40i’s standard 3.0 turbo 6 cyl. The SL 550’s standard 4.7 turbo V8 produces 67 more horsepower (449 vs. 382) and 148 lbs.-ft. more torque (516 vs. 368) than the Z4 M40i’s standard 3.0 turbo 6 cyl.

Fuel Economy and Range

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In heavy traffic or at stoplights the SL’s engine automatically turns off when the vehicle is stopped, saving fuel and reducing pollution. The engine is automatically restarted when the driver gets ready to move again. (Start/Stop isn’t accounted in present EPA fuel mileage tests.) The Z4 doesn’t offer an automatic engine start/stop system.

The SL has 6.1 gallons more fuel capacity than the Z4 (19.8 vs. 13.7 gallons), for longer range between fill-ups.

Transmission

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A nine-speed automatic is standard on the Mercedes SL, for better acceleration and lower engine speed on the highway. Only an eight-speed automatic is available for the Z4.

Brakes and Stopping

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For better stopping power the SL’s front brake rotors are larger than those on the Z4:

SL

SL (opt.)

Z4 sDrive30i

Z4 M40i

Front Rotors

13.5 inches

14.2 inches

13 inches

13.7 inches

Tires and Wheels

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For better traction, the SL has larger tires than the Z4 (F:255/35R19 & R:285/30R19 vs. F:225/45R18 & R:255/40R18).

The SL’s 255/35R19 front and 285/30R19 rear tires provide better handling because they have a lower 35 series front and 30 series rear profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the Z4’s standard 45 series front and 40 series rear tires. The SL’s tires are lower profile than the Z4’s optional 35 series tires.

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the SL has standard 19-inch wheels. Smaller 18-inch wheels are standard on the Z4.

Suspension and Handling

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The SL offers an available adjustable active suspension system, which counteracts cornering forces actively, limiting body roll and improving handling and stability. BMW doesn’t offer an active suspension on the Z4.

The SL offers an optional automatic front and rear load leveling suspension to keep ride height level with a heavy load or when towing. The Z4 doesn’t offer a load leveling suspension.

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the SL’s wheelbase is 4.6 inches longer than on the Z4 (101.8 inches vs. 97.2 inches).

Chassis

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The SL’s standard power retractable hardtop allows a seamless transition from an open car, to a completely sealed coupe. The Z4 doesn’t offer a retractable hardtop.

Passenger Space

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The SL has .2 inches more front headroom, .7 inches more front legroom and 1.2 inches more front shoulder room than the Z4.

Cargo Capacity

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To make loading and unloading groceries and cargo easier when your hands are full, the SL’s power trunk can be opened or closed just by kicking your foot under the back bumper, leaving your hands completely free. The Z4 doesn’t offer a power or hands-free opening trunk.

Servicing Ease

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J.D. Power and Associates surveys of service recipients show that Mercedes service is better than BMW. J.D. Power ranks Mercedes fifth in service department satisfaction. With a 23% lower rating, BMW is ranked 11th.

Ergonomics

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The SL’s standard easy entry system raises the steering wheel, making it easier for the driver to get in and out. The Z4 doesn’t offer an easy entry system.

The SL’s front and rear power windows all open or close fully with one touch of the switches, making it more convenient at drive-up windows and toll booths, or when talking with someone outside the car. The Z4’s rear power window switches have to be held the entire time to open or close them fully.

Heated windshield washer fluid is standard on the SL to defrost the washer nozzles and quickly clear ice and frost from the windshield without scraping. The Z4 doesn’t offer heated windshield washer fluid.

In poor weather, headlights can lose their effectiveness as grime builds up on their lenses. This can reduce visibility without the driver realizing. The SL has standard headlight washers to keep headlight output high. The Z4 doesn’t offer headlight washers.

To shield the driver and front passenger’s vision over a larger portion of the windshield and side windows, the SL has standard extendable sun visors. The Z4 doesn’t offer extendable visors.

Optional air-conditioned seats in the SL keep the driver and front passenger comfortable and take the sting out of hot seats in summer. The Z4 doesn’t offer air-conditioned seats.

The SL’s optional Active Parking Assist can parallel park or back into a parking spot by itself. The Z4’s automatic parking system requires operating the brakes and transmission to safely park.

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