Photo Comparison: Mercedes SLK R172 vs. BMW Z4 E89

BMW Z4, Featured Posts | January 13th, 2011 by 50
BMW Z4 E89 Mercedes SLK R172 Front oben 750x500

Mercedes-Benz reveals their newest SLK roadster vehicle. Dubbed R172, the new roadster from Stuttgart-based company is a direct competitor to BMW’s Z4 Roadster. The SLK …

Mercedes-Benz reveals their newest SLK roadster vehicle. Dubbed R172, the new roadster from Stuttgart-based company is a direct competitor to BMW’s Z4 Roadster. The SLK offers in its third generation a metal folding roof and the world premiere of Magic Sky Control. This feature allows the glass part of the roof to switch from light to dark with a touch of a button.

The new SLK follows the same design language seen lately in all the new Mercedes vehicles. The svelte and athletic body is complemented by a vertical standing front. At the back, the designers managed to make the trunk sit lower than the rear fender, a nice visual touch.

As seen in any roadster, the SLK offers exactly like the Z4, a long hood, a compact and well set back green house and a short tail.

Inside, the SLK offers the typical Mercedes sports car look. Above the central infotainment system, there is an optional analog clock, with the single purpose to underline the stylish character of the vehicle. Large round gauges and brushed aluminum provide the sporty flair. Wood trim can also be fitted in the interior design.

BMW Z4 E89 Mercedes SLK R172 Front oben 655x215
BMW Z4 E89 Mercedes SLK R172 Front schraeg 655x152

As with its predecessor, the new SLK includes a system called Air Scarf, which is integrated into the headrests of the sport seats and protects the neck of the driver and front passenger with warm air from cold drafts.

In the power department, the SLK range starts with the 184 horsepower SLK 200 BlueEFFICIENCY, a four-cylinder 1.8 liter engine which takes the car to 62 mph in 7.0 seconds. Standard consumption is 6.1 liters per 100 km, the most fuel efficient vehicle in its class of four cylinders. Next in the line-up is the SLK 250 BlueEFFICIENCY, 204 horsepower, 0 to 62 mph in 6.6 seconds and 6.2 liter per 100 km. The equivalent in the BMW line-up would be the Z4 sDrive23i (8.2 liter per 100 km).

The only six-cylinder vehicle is the 350 BlueEFFICIENCY, a V6 naturally aspirated engine with direct injection. The 3.5 liter engine produces 306 horsepower and accelerates to 62 mph in 5.6 seconds. With standard consumption of 7.1 liters, this model offers significantly better fuel consumption than the BMW Z4 sDrive35i that requires 9.0 liters.

The impressive fuel consumption numbers are direct related to the use of a 7G-Tronic automatic transmission that offers start-stop functionality. Consumption values for models with manual transmissions have not yet been communicated, but they are probably a little higher.

Prices for the new R172 start at 38,675 euros for the SLK 200, 44,256 euros for the SLK 250 and 52,300 euros for the top model SLK 350. At a later point in time, an AMG version is expected to be powered by a naturally aspirated V8 engine.

As with any new direct competitor to BMW, we decided to offer a photo comparison from different angles.

[poll id=”70″] [Source: BimmerToday ]

50 responses to “Photo Comparison: Mercedes SLK R172 vs. BMW Z4 E89”

  1. viper says:

    so many SLS elements in this SLK….all the way from the front to the interior .
    I really prefer the new Z4 however I really like this new SLK and maybe the SLK will eat bmw for lunch OR not…only tests will prove who the better roadster , not top gear.
    to be honest these two look way too similar but I belive the SLK will get a AMG treatment and mind you that there is no Z4M this time..

  2. plaxico says:

    ive placed an order ( beginning with 17th January) for SLK250 BlueEFFICIENCY (Edition 1 )designo matte grey paint finish and fitted with Avantgarde / AMG styling. Considering I spend most of the year on the island where its sunny and warm 90 percent of the time and im in my late 20s……this is the last chance to get away with this kinda car

    Z4 is also beautiful but Merc is a frickin’ Merc

  3. Tom says:

    im surprised how similar they are. i definitely prefer the z4, the exterior design is much more cohesive and the interior dominates the slk

  4. Lariv says:

    I prefer the Z4 without the M Sport body kit but I have to say the new SLK looks really good. Both cars have great interiors but it looks like the SLK is the smaller and more sporty looking car while the Z4 looks more elegant, the AMG version will probably be brilliant.

  5. Jag says:

    oh, and people keep moaning that the 1er has bug-eyes and BMWs have swollen nose

    • Tom says:

      where did that come from? lmfao. pointless post.
      do you see the swollen nose of the slk on the side profile? the huge head lights and tail lights? theyre small cars, the slk’s proportions are off where as on the z4, it all fits well. not bashing the slk at all; please if i had one, id drive it around like it was my job

      • Jag says:

        I’m not bashing the Z4, it’s my favorite. I’m just stating the fact that people tend to criticize BMW designs whenever possible; meanwhile, when those elements appear on other cars, they are praised “goodlooking”. This SLK has swollen nose and much much bigger headlamps than the 1er, but ppl still say it’s good. don’t you see?

  6. Max says:

    I really cant pick one favourite. This is 50/50!

  7. Laszlo says:

    no clear looser here. The new SLK nose and roof section at the C-pillar looks underdeveloped, so I would pick the BMW.

    The inside is also very close. The gauges area hands down the MB, the Z4 looks rather dated on that section. The center console however is the opposite, so does the top of the dash and shape of the dash.

    Very small margin but the Z4 pulls away. It is so close as it was at the Z3 original SLK time. It shows how much BMW improved since bangle parted ways.
    During bangle era, no BMW matched up even closely to a MB. With bungle gone, BMW again playing in a higher level.

    Good one BMW, a huge step done. Keep up the bangle-less work and you’ll be on the top again.

    • bob says:

      While CEB is no longer with BMW, given the long leadtimes in the auto industry, all of the new BMWs we’ve seen were done under his direction.

      It will be years before we see the first BMWs done under AvH’s direction…

      • Mendes601 says:

        The Mercedes as a better fuel consuption, looks better…….etc..
        And finally the bmw as copyed the hard roof to his roadster

  8. Shane says:

    BMW Z4 !!!

  9. FreudeKing says:

    FK Analysis:

    Mercedes Benz SLK

    It is clear that the SLK designer had BMW’s Z4 side view right next to their drawing boards. Look at that unique shark nose of the Z4 that has been cut and pasted onto the SLK. Although this looks good in the side view, it is also one of the weak points of the car as it was not an iontegrated design. The front is the car’s weakest point. With a cut and pasted nose and headlights that are too large and narrow. The front of the car does not embrace the car’s design language of being sleek. The front nose also looks very cheap as it is excessively wide with no outer edge chrome, which makes it look very cheap and unfinished.

    Good flowing lines, nice overall. BUT the rear end in the side profile is too short and bulky. It doesn’t follow through the sleek lines running from the front.

    Very good design. Good integration of the rear lights. The rear looks much sportier than the Z4, which is a good thing.

    Like other Mercs of recent times (esp the A, B, C and E Class), Merc interiors are a huige disappointment. It is the same cheap ugly inteiors that we have come to expect from Mercedes and this is no exception. The interior dash is filled with hceap hard plastic on the upper parts and an extremely low class centre panel plastic sprayed in silver. No effort was put in to design a cabin that is classy, moden, elegant and stylish at all. This cabin is a dump load of parts from the other lower end Mercs and this is the result. The silver panel that runs up the dash resembles a Volvo, but not stylish like Volvo’s, this is rather in a Ford Fiesta style. Those aircon vents are also shocking! Not even a 1950 olf Mini would have vents as cheap and ugly as these! SHOCKING INTERIOR!!!

    Verdict: Nice looking new SLK, but not as good looking and pure as the BMW Z4. Well done BMW.

    • JakeM says:

      Honestly, FreudeKing, you’re full of shit.

      Your comments about the interior of the SLK are delusional. You, or nobody else here, has seen this cabin in real life. You have no authority to make claims about interior quality based on some press photos. Seeing the cabin up close and in real life is the only way to honestly judge quality. Furthermore, the current Mercedes’ interiors found in the A, B, C and E class are far from cheap. I’ve spent time in the C and E class (and B class when I was in Canada) and these interiors are well made and definitely high quality. The BMW 1 series interior is decent, but it hardly superior to other cars in its class for example.

      It’s also silly how you claim you that “no effort was put into the interior design”. Really? Do you have an inside source at Mercedes who told you how the interior design department of the SLK was simply drinking coffee the whole time or something? Your delusional BMW bias is incredible.

      Personally, I think both cars look great inside and out and that’s all that matters. The SLK will sell well and its driving dynamics will certainly have been improved. The last generation model, despite not looking that great, drove pretty decently.

      • Jason C says:

        I have to agree with fk on this. the interior is awful.

        jakem, I cannot believe that you think the interior of the a ~e class merc is good quality…. when looking at the c and 3 series alone, you can see the vast difference in quality between the two cars with merc being the sub-standard one.

      • FreudeKing says:

        @JakeM, there is nothing wrong or unfair about my comments up there.

        You need to reevaluate your taste if you think the interior quaility and design of the A, B, C and E Class is good and attractive. These models are no match for BMW’s cars in their respective segments.

        You can see the level of cheapness in this new SLK cabin when comapred to the BMW Z4. To point out the weaknesses (seeing that you cannot judge what is good and wehat is bad) – look at that ugly flat dash in black, look at those shockingly cheap aircon vents, look at that plate of silver sprayed plastic running up the centre dash, look at that cheap screen and look at the numerous buttons that have just been lifted and pasted onto the pieces of plastic panles with cuttings that fit the instrument units. This is a sign of cheapness) Without the badge, I would have thought that this was a Mazda cabin if it wasn’t for the badge on the steering wheel.

        And NO, skilled people do not need to feel and touch and smell before knowing that something is cheap. YOU CAN SEE IT IS CHEAP.

        • X5SoB says:

          You know, eyeball vents such as those used by Mercedes are also used by BMW, only on its uber luxury brand: Rolls Royce. Do you call those cheap looking too? One could argue that the two interiors are all just a matter of individual tastes, the Merc interior is tastefully restrained, and I’m sure that Merc used high quality materials, just like BMW would. I think JakeM has a point, you can’t judge a interior just by looking at pictures. I would have never have guessed how buttery soft feeling the leather in my X5 feels from just a picture.

          • FreudeKing says:

            I can judge by just looking at pictures because I am a professional. When I say something is cheap, then there is no doubt that it is cheap.

  10. FreudeKing says:

    FK Rating:
    Mercedes SLK: 7 BMW Z4: 10 Audi TT: 5

    Mercedes SLK: 3 BMW Z4: 9 Audi TT: 6

    Verdict: Nice looking new SLK, but not as good looking and pure as the BMW Z4. Well done BMW.

  11. Reece says:

    The lights on the SLK, especially at the rear look like they belong on a larger car. There is something disproportionate about it.
    I prefer the Z4

  12. ferrarifan says:

    Tough choice! I prefer the z4 a tiny bit more. Reviews tell however that it has a flatulent sound (sDrive35i). The SLK 3.5 v6 on the other hand sounds good

  13. Ray says:

    LIke many have said here, I think there are striking similarities between the two cars. IMHO, one could’ve transplanted the SLK’s headlights onto a Bimmer and it wouldn’t have looked out of place at all, and the front-end of the two cars look somewhat interchangeable as well.

    However, I would choose the Z4. My biggest problem is that, for the sake of keeping the same design DNA, MB has opted for an upright nose for the SLK here. While it looks stately in other applications, I think it just looks blunt on the SLK; not only does it look blunt, but has the effect of making the entire car look too high off the ground. For me, this is also exacerbated by the lack of a bend of the hood in profile as is present on the Z4, which further increases the visual height of the body in relation to the wheels. Overall, the Z4 looks lithe and ground-hugging, while the SLK looks like it’s tip-toeing a bit, unsure of how to behave itself.

    Otherwise, I have no qualms with the rest of SLK, though I still personally prefer the Z4 in most executions of detail.

  14. X5SoB says:

    Looking at the pictures of the SLK, it’s obvious that it is a restyle of the previous car, while the Z4 is a ground up redesign. As such, the Z4 is much more harmonious design that flows much better. The SLK is not bad, but it has some discordant points, particularly the relationship between the headlight hardpoints and the new grille, which is a shnooze than would make Jimmy Durante proud. Maybe it looks better in person.

  15. Badger says:

    You could tell which sex designed which car. Bmw is really smooth and sexy. SLK is bold, strong, and bulky

    • FreudeKing says:

      BMW Z4 was designed by a woman! The SLK was designed by both men and women who cut and pasted and stole ideas from the Z4 and Nissan GTR.

  16. Daniel Hoang says:

    Audi TT beats both in interior and exterior design. But Preformance and enjoyment counts when it comes to Sports cars like these so the Bemmer may have an edge. Cant wait to see the Trio on Car and Driver.

    • FreudeKing says:

      TT??? Are you out of your mind. Your TT competes against the VW Beetle. Interior of the TT is as cheap looking as the Audi A3, which is just a little bit above the Golf.

      No one here can doubt that the Z4 has the best interior in this class. TT’s exterior looks like a VW Beetle. With a car that is based on the Beetle, no one would take it serously, that’s why 90% of the drivers are women as they think it is cute. It is also the reason why the 1 Series Coupe beats it and was crowned The Best Couope in the World in 2010.

  17. Heddlu_Cymru M5 says:

    I respect both. They’re all very good and serves well but I just love the looks of the Z4. Very well proportioned car! It’s just my opinion by the way…

  18. AKSHAT says:

    From its interior BMW looks luxury and MERC looks little sporty.
    From its exterior :BACK SIDE: MERC looks little old and BMW looks perfect.
    FRONT SIDE:BMW looks awesome and MERC looks little like SLS AMG.
    SIDE :MERC look little small and BMW looks great.

  19. DuncanRen says:

    When the new Z4 came out, Jeremy Clarkson said he’d pick the Z4 over the slk by a heart beat, and right now even with this new merc, I’d still pick the Z4, it’s just so sexy.

  20. wazon8 says:

    It’s hard to create something better in terms of exterior design than Z4 roadster. IMO, this car is one of the best BMW design ever. It’s really cohesive, it looks great from each angle. The interior is nicely desiged and has all at its place.

    As for MB SLK, it is something between CLS and SL when front end is considered. But the fact that it’s so close to SL in this respect makes it a bit oudated. Overall exterior design is not bad, although it doesn’t match Z4, at least IMO. What I really don’t like about this SLK is its interior design. Dials design is pretty cheap, I used to see such things in cars tunned by teenagers, but not in premium segment. (Unfortunately, BMW used similar dials in 1M). Black dials in Z4 are much more stylish. Have you seen expensive watch with this kind of dial? If so, it’s still rather rare design. And that’s what should be and – I hope – is inspiration for designers of dials in premium cars. MB ignored this trend this time. Another bad thing about dashboard is… this terrible clock on the top of it. It’s simly not so good looking to be exposed so much. The last bad thing is putting the accent on a controls in central part of dashboard. Perhaps, this happens only in the case of interiors with light trims, but with smart design they could have been hidden a bit as you can actually observe in Z4. Nevetheless, good thing about this design is that it alludes to SLS and hence shape of dashboard is associated with cars from 60 and 70s (at least to my eyes). I really like it. It’s a shame that interior of this SLK is a final product, otherwise it could be really good, if not this few disturbing points. But with them, I have to say that I disliked it.

  21. Heddlu_Cymru M5 says:

    If you realise or not that BMW, Audi and Mercedes fleet of cars now almost looks identical! The worst however, goes to Audi when every single fleet of cars they have, actually have almost 80% the same look… Mercedes cars now is going into this kind of trend too if you look at the CLS, SLS, FL C-Class etc. The BMW on the other hand, still have some bits that is different though if you look at the front of the F12 6er and the front of the F01 7er almost looks identical.

    I’m just saying through my observation, which I think some already realise it.

  22. Bogdan says:


  23. viper says:

    the slk looks much better from the rear.

  24. kcsnyud says:

    Call me a loser, but I like the slk a little better. It just looks… modern, and a more cohesive redesign then the z4. It looks really outdated compared to the slk. In the interior it is uncontested as the slk has the elegant sls interior, while bmw has the cluttered layout. I see this being a big winner for mercedes.


    • RB says:

      then you are one hopeless loser because you have bad taste. the most obvious is the interior. the slk interior is really below standards and is no match for the class and elegance and neatness of the z4. do you not notice the instruments lifted from the a and b class and just splashed onto the poorly designed panels?

      btw, what the hell is that cheap clock doing there? i would expect a clock in a rolls royce not a sports car. also even if they put a clock in a sports car, they should use better quality ones, not the ones that look like the clock in my toilet that i bought for $2.

      the z4’s are specially designed to suit the car’s styling and integrated.

  25. Ray says:

    I own a R171. I had high hopes for the R172, but I am quite disappointed in the exterior styling of the new SLK. The SLS styling just doesn’t transfer well to the new SLK. It looks more like a smaller SL than a SLS.

    I guess I’d have to go with the new Z4. Having that said, I still prefer the R171 over the Z4 though :)

  26. Kyle Silvers says:

    BMW wins but the Bimmer interior is kind of goofy looking, the MB interior is more cohesive with the overall design of the vehicle. I’m not a fan of BMWs one size fits all interior appointments.

    • FreudeKing says:

      It’s the best interior in its class by far. You don;t know what you are talking about. Compared to the cheap plastci SLK interior, BMW’s one is superior in both design and style…. unless you are used to Toyota quality adn feel uncomfortable with something more upmarket.

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