MotorTrend set course to compare some of the best, sportiest and most luxurious convertibles currently available on the market. Not an easy task when the contenders are the new 2012 BMW 650i Convertible, its counterpart from Mercedes-Benz, SL550, and the classic Porsche 911 Carrera S.
First and foremost, let’s have a look at the powerplants found under the hood.
The BMW 650i Convertible is powered by a 4.4 liter V8 TwinTurbo unit producing 400 horsepower at 5,500 RPM and 450 lb-ft of torque at 1,750 RPM. A 4.6 liter V8 TwinTurbo is found in the Mercedes SL550. The unit produces 429 horsepower at 5,250 RPM and 516 lb-ft of torque. The Porsche is the only model out of the three to use a lighter six-cylinder engine with a displacement of 3.8 liter and 400 horsepower at 7,400 RPM. The torque is measured in at 325 lb-ft.
Here is an excerpt from MotorTrend’s review and some of highs and lows of these models:
3rd Place: 2013 Mercedes-Benz SL550 Roadster
Associate road test editor Carlos Lago agrees. “I don’t love this car, and it’s not for any rational, empirical, or concrete reason. I simply get this clinical feeling; there’s little in the way of emotion,” he wrote.
That’s not to say there weren’t parts of the SL we loved. The twin-turbo, 4.7-liter V-8 made friends easily with its blacktop-twisting 516 lb-ft of torque and thunderous exhaust note. That it could nearly run down the Porsche while weighing 700 pounds more left us shaking our heads. Likewise, we were uniformly impressed with the SL’s ride quality. On top of that, it offered impressive grip and sharper turn-in than did the Porsche. My notes make reference to a “high-performance cloud.”
2nd Place: 2012 BMW 650i Convertible
When I asked for their final rankings, associate online editor Nate Martinez noted the SL was only a step behind the other two, and Lago’s rankings went “First, second, almost second.” The BMW slipped ahead of the Benz by the skin of its teeth.
The BMW’s biggest advantage was its handling. While the SL had a stiffer chassis and softer ride, the BMW was more composed in the corners and more fun to drive. Plenty of automakers fit Sport, Comfort, Eco, etc. modes to their cars’ computers, but BMW is one of the best in clearly differentiating among the modes. In comfort, the BMW’s ride quality was not too far behind the Benz’s. Flick it into Sport or Sport+, and the ride, handling, throttle, and shifting firm up the higher up the scale you go.
Further helping the big Bavarian’s case was its ultra-modern interior. It may not be the most beautiful design in the world, but we appreciated it for taking a chance, unlike the other two, which seemed to be trying a little too hard to channel their heritage.
1st Place: 2013 Porsche 911 Carrera S
The Porsche won us all over by playing to our emotions. It was, without question, the most fun to drive. Where I was nervous about pushing the BMW to the limit, the Porsche seemed to have no limits, or at least, none I was willing to explore on a public road. The combination of sticky Pirellis, sport-tuned suspension, and an army of computers made the 911 unstoppable, even in wet conditions. While we still don’t like the less-tactile electric power steering, the target demographic probably thinks it’s a huge improvement. After all, this is a Carrera, not a GT3.
For the full review, visit MotorTrend.com.
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