July 13, 2006

Porsche Boxster vs. Mercedes SLK.

Okay, car fans. Please compare the Porsche Boxster and the Mercedes SLK. I'm just sitting here waiting for my Audi TT Coupe to be serviced. I'm halfway through the lease on this car and browsing around the new car showrooms, wondering, if I'm not replacing my Audi TT Coupe with another Audi TT Coupe, what is my next car? I want a beautiful, exciting car, but I live in Wisconsin, and I need to deal with some ice and snow. The Audi TT Coupe is rock solid. I can't help feeling that there's nothing to compare to it. But the Boxster and the SLK are pretty nice. The Boxster is clearly more beautiful to me, but the SLK has a brilliantly retractable hard roof. The SLK tries awfully hard to get a racing car look to it, but the salesman was clear that it was meant to have less of a racing car feeling to it than the Boxster. So, obviously, the Boxster, right? No, he said that in response to my ice-and-snow question. I sat in the SLK, and I got the feeling it was designed for a much larger, taller person than me. (I'm 5'5".) So... advice?

89 comments:

Scott said...

If you're concerned about snow and ice, but want a roadster, I would stay away from the rear-wheel drive Porsche and Mercedes (and BMW, while we're at it). You'd be wise to stick to a new TT Quattro, or go with a front-wheel drive convertible like the new Saabs, which are actually pretty sweet (and I never thought I would say that).

paintedgoat said...

Don't know about the performance of either car in snow and ice, but here in Bavaria they say only the oldsters drive Mercedes. The younger generation drives BMW. I've really been pleased with the performance of my Volvos in extreme winter conditions, but their convertible may be too sedate for you.

the pooka said...

Feeling a bit of "grass is greener," Ann?

Personally, I say stick with the TT/Quattro. Best of the three, IMO.

In silver. :-)

AJ Lynch said...

I just got new wheels and I ended up getting one that just stuck me as the right one.

So just go with your instincts and what you feel is cool. And you will be happy!

Ann Althouse said...

"Feeling a bit of "grass is greener," Ann?"

Just looking for excitement.

----

I saw the most boring car the other day and I looked to see what make it was. I was shocked to see BMW. What's going wrong there??

Brian said...

Ditto, what AJ says.

Best way to solve the beauty and performance v. practicality for snow and ice dilemma is to have two cars. I bought the car I wanted and a $1,200 used front wheel drive "beater" that gets me through the snow and ice.

Ann Althouse said...

Brian: What would actually be easier for me would be to walk or call a cab whenever there was snow. I could live without a car, actually.

Ann Althouse said...

What I'd probably do, though, it just drive really carefully and pick my route carefully.

Smilin' Jack said...

Ann Althouse said...
I saw the most boring car the other day and I looked to see what make it was. I was shocked to see BMW. What's going wrong there??


Well, the styling of my BMW Z4 has been called a lot of things, but never boring. Anyway, I like it, and it's definitely worth considering along with the Boxter and SLK. And forget about driving a roadster in the snow...just get yourself a winter car too.

Abraham said...

Advice? Get a Honda Civic and spend your money elsewhere, like vacations or fine dining. For those road trips where you specifically want a fun driving experience, rent something special.

Dave said...

Either car is a fine choice, as they're both not American.

tcd said...

Dave said:"Either car is a fine choice, as they're both not American."
And your point, Dave? That you really really hate America? Fucking idiot.

Ann Althouse said...

Jack: It wasn't a Z4, just some ordinary car, a sedan or hatchbacky thing.

Abraham: Why people blow so much money on a few days of travel and not on a car, which is a daily pleasure, is beyond me. My idea of a vacation is to get in my car and drive it across the landscape!

tcd said...

Ann,
I recommend the Cadillac XLR convertible. (It has a retractable hard top that operates with a touch of the button.) Sporty and luxurious in one very sleek package.

Bruce Hayden said...

My vote is:
1. TT
2. Boxster
3. SLK

You appear to like to drive, and the Boxster would be a lot more fun to drive than the SLK. The SLK seems a lot more show than go.

Of course, as you know from when you were comparing the TT to a Corvette, I am an Audi Quattro fan, having now driven my 5th one almost into the ground. I still have found nothing like a Quattro on snow and ice.

I drove the 4wd BMW sedan a couple of years ago, and it doesn't come close. Yes, it was so fast, it was scary - but the instruments were so badly placed that the driver couldn't see the speedometer very well, and the joke was that we always knew when we were going about 130 or so, because that was when it would upshift. But the 4wd was just not comparable. They seemed to have designed it for high speed driving, and not for snow and ice, like the Audi.

Porsche does have a 4wd 911 type, the 911 Carrera 4 Cabriolet, for only $87,100 MSRP. It is fast, good looking, no doubt fun to drive, and probably a lot better than either the Boxster or the SLK on snow or ice.

I presume you are probably looking at the SLK350 roadster for a reasonable $47,725 MSRP, but if you really want a fast one, look at the 2007 SL65 AMG for a mere $186,775. It has a 604 hp twin turbo V-12, whereas the next one down, the 2007 SL55 AMG, for only $50,000 less, only has 510 hp. But this is a bit misleading, since the 911 Turbo for a comparable price has 20 fewer hp, but can accelerate from 0-60 mph in .5 seconds faster (2.9 v. 3.4 secs).

Bruce Hayden said...

I should add that if you aren't stuck on a convertable, the 911 Carrera 4 might work, for about $10,000 less ($77,100).

Bruce Hayden said...

I don't know Cadillac models, but a couple of years ago, we were trying to do a car swap at the Denver airport, and I had the wrong set of keys, and there was a blizzard that day. The only car I could rent was a Cadillac, and it was absolutely the worst car in snow I had driven in probably 30 years. I finally got it stuck a couple of blocks from the house (and I have now been driving for 40 years on snow and ice), and had to wait until the next day to have AAA tow it out.

Bruce Hayden said...

This is probably not relevant, if you are going to rent and not buy, but if you intend to buy, you should also look into the cost of maintaining the cars. Parts and labor on both the Mercedes and the Porsche are through the roof. Audi is bad, but those cars are worse. The service guys at a Porsche/Audi dealership in Phoenix told of one guy in his 911 turbo blowing both turbos on his way down from Las Vegas. $30k to fix. At the dealership where three of my Audis were bought, last time I checked, they were charging about 25% more per hour for Porsche labor than for Audi work.

Ann Althouse said...

I'm really happy with the lease. All the service is covered. Even if I run out of gas out in the middle of nowhere, they come to my aid, free.

Maxine Weiss said...

Nothing says mid-life crisis quite like a Porsche.

Buy American.

Embrace your inner Julie London.

You aren't driving anything but a Lincoln Town Car, baby.

Very evocative---Julie London-ish, suave, posh, glamorously gliding on by in your Town Car.

Isn't that how you'd like to be seen?

Peace, Maxine

Dave said...

TCD: who's the idiot?

How do you conclude from my derogation of American cars that I hate America?

I hate the Red Sox; does that mean I hate all baseball teams? Your logic, such as it is, is shockingly bad.

American cars suck; German cars do not. That statement implies nothing about my feelings about America.

Ann Althouse said...

Maxine: I hate hate hate big smushy cars.

Chum said...

'My idea of a vacation is to get in my car and drive it across the landscape!'
and,
'I could live without a car, actually.'

No contest then; go with the car that gives you a thrill each time you slide behind the wheel. I love driving and nothing gives me more pleasure than a fun car, an open road, and a good CD. Go for it.

the Rising Jurist said...

I agree with Dave. There is not an American car I would drive. Everyone knows the basic car hierarchy: American > Japanese > German.

That said, Ann, I would stick with the Audi. Porsches are nice but give off an inescapable negative vibe. And Mercedes are like diamonds: you're paying a whole lot extra for nothing special.

Besides, the Audi is FWD or AWD depending on which model you have, which is your best bet in snow.

madawaskan said...

Damn it! You old farts-

IT'S THE PORSCHE

That thing is the "stuff" of dreams.

Buy it! Get it! Do it!

The lines on that thing....

It's a C-A-R.

The friggin' Mercedes is a box on wheels.

Maxine Weiss said...

I've seen the exterior design of the 2007-2008 Audi and Saabs..

They scream: A Spaceship Has Landed !!!!

Peace, Maxine

Dave said...

"I agree with Dave. There is not an American car I would drive. Everyone knows the basic car hierarchy: American > Japanese > German."

Thanks for agreeing with me, tRj, but you're saying American cars are superior to Japanese, which are superior to German.

American < Japanese < German is what I think you mean.

MWM said...

Ann!
My friend John Link at johnlink.blogspot.com told me to tell you about BMWs. They are a perfect ride for you. You should get a E46 M3. I think its the perfect sports car for you. And probably the most beautiful car in the world. I own a 1999 323i with many miles on it, but I love it dearly. Mercedes are getting to exotic, and audis look like eggs to me.

altoids1306 said...

The Boxster doesn't strike me as a practical car - I'd go for a 911 Carrera. As Top Gear's Hammond put it, "the Boxster is for those who can't afford a 911." Unfortunately for me, I am not yet in a position to afford either...

P. Froward said...

momo: A sedan is not a sports car.


I recommend the BMW Z8. Sure, the price is in six figures, but it's low six figures. Or low-ish.

Failing that, get the Boxster. I've driven a light RWD car in a few Boston winters now, and you're fine if you just pay very, very close attention.

The Porsche 911's body these days is the cleanest, nicest design they've done since the 356, but, unlike the 356, it looks godawful as a convertible. You might pick up an old 550.

But if you're really serious about this, there are only three real choices: The D-Type (since the mad fools cancelled the F-Type), a chopped deuce coupe (if you can tolerate a hard-top), and the TVR Tamora.

Unless you're willing to go for the Atom.

the Rising Jurist said...

Dave

Well I didn't envision those as greater than signs. I am a lawyer, we don't do math. Those were supposed to be arrows leading you down the path of greatness.

miked0268 said...

Do you have much experience trying to drive small, fat-tired, RWD cars in snow and ice? It's almost impossible, and I have more winter driving experience than most, from jobs where if there was a blizzard I had to get to work anyway. If you're going to have to operate it in winter weather there's almost no choice but to get the Audi, IMHO.

By the way: I'm very patriotic indeed, but I can't escape from admitting that we make awful cars (especially GM). Or rather, that our domestic car companies make awful cars in Canada and Mexico, but Toyota makes very competent ones here in the USA.

P. Froward said...

Nobody mentioned the Lotus Elise? Hello?! Okay, they're ugly (I'm seeing them in the flesh around Boston now, and they'll peel paint), but they weigh under 2,000 pounds. No power steering, no power brakes.

And the GR-1. It's hard-top, though.

And a (reputedly) viable American option: Panoz.

MWM said...

p. froward -
I didn't say a sedan was a sports car. I said BMWs are a very niec car, and that the M3 is a sports car. Its a coupe.

Mark said...

Man, I wish I had your problems.

MWM said...

And Ann. You said the BMWs were boring. Yes, the new ones are. They look agressive, like spaceships.

The e46 (ending I believe in 2004) is the best looking version they've ever produced, IMO

elliot said...

In general, I actually prefer Japanese to German.

Though, in Anne's matchup, I'd take the Porsche.

(And, as an aside, I'd never own a BMW again. Ever. Even though that 6 series convertible is damn good looking.)

Tibore said...

miked0268's right, professor. Even with traction control, the Porsche and Merc, as gorgeous as they are, would be frights to drive with snow on the ground. You're only giving a little but up prestige-wise sticking with the Audi, and you get the bennies of front wheel drive in the muck.

Not that the Box or the SLK coulnd't go in the snow, don't get me wrong. It *does* snow in Germany too, after all. But there's only so much manufacturers can do to offset the advantages of having all that weight over the drive wheels when it's snowy.

Here's another thing no one else has mentioned: The SLK's a pretty tiny car inside. The Porsche is a bit bigger, but still no champ space-wise. I've got little experience with Audi's, so I can't comment on those. Which one feels the best to you when you're actually sitting in it?

And, re: BMW's, boring. I thought that at first too. Saw pics of the new 5 and 6 classes and yawned. Then I saw an M5 in person and thought, wow! I'd like to see an M6 up close too. I think the styling grows on a person after a while.

P. Froward said...

momo -

The industry term for things like the M3 is "sports coupe" or "luxury performance coupe" or some such thing. Borrr-inggg!

It's too tall, it has too many seats, there's far too much space inside, it looks boring, it has a trunk large enough to be useful, and it's probably reasonably quiet inside at highway speeds. It's incurably boring.

Granted, it's RWD and no doubt it's quick and handles well, but that's not enough. It's not cool.

tcd said...

Dave,
How do you know American cars suck? Have you driven every one of them? Or more likely have you driven any recently? I find this kneejerk aversion to American cars from people like you mind-bogglingly simplistic.

MWM said...

P. Froward -

Its good looking, in my opinion. But you seem to like more exotic cars. That is all.

Frank said...

My advise would be the all wheel drive Subaru WRX STi. I'm a bit biased as I have a WRX. Great in snow and ice and a hell of a lot of fun to drive.

I'm in upstate NY where lots of snow is common.

chuckR said...

Maxine - I'm now into my second decade of mid-life crisis with a 1991 Porsche 911 C4 - like the Audis, its AWD. Maintaining the crisis mode has certainly been exhausting...

Bruce Hayden - a Carrera 4 for $77K? Good luck on finding one.

Ann, get the car you want. If you lease and flip it before using up the miles or years on the full service, your maintenance is built in to your lease, yes? You might look at a website called The Truth About Cars. They don't accept adverts to maintain objectivity and have some interesting takes on various cars.

re: RWD in snow. If it were me, I'd rather have the mid-engine Porsche. I'd save the expense of upgraded wheels/tires and then have a set of four snows on their own rims.

Ernst Blofeld said...

The Boxsters are pretty notoriously high maintenance items.

tcd said...

Bruce,
About the Cadillac not doing well in snow and ice, my husband and I made it through 2 Michigan winters with a Cadillac Catera (admittedly not a Cadillac that GM could be proud of) trouble-free. Its replacement, the CTS is far superior, especially if one opts for the CTS-V with its 6.0L V-8 engine.

Ernst Blofeld said...

I'm willing to be bored by an M3.

The STi is nice, but it's got a ridiculous rear wing on it. As I recall they at least made the hood scoop smaller, but it still screams ricer.

MWM said...

It is truely sad that people think something so beautiful (m3) is so boring. I think todays "Spaceships" will be something to laugh at in 10 years. Meanwhile, the e46 M3 will retain its classic good looks.

John Lynch said...

I just sold my MB AMG. It was nice, but difficult in the snow/ice. The low-weight, front-engine, rear-wheel drive, big-tire combination makes it quick; but no traction in snow. I've a Porsche (not the boxster, but now my third so I must like them) and they are great in snow/ice if you want to risk the pretty car on the road with salt and well, idiot drivers. The TT is a bit dicey in snow, while the A4 is 'nice' in the way of a high school blind date. I share rides with my wife's Jeep when it snows.

P. Froward said...

Let this be a lesson to me.

I concede, Momo. The words you use mean whatever you want them to, the subject of the conversation is whatever you say it is, and basset hounds got long ears.


Ernst, I'm with you on the WRX. What a bummer they made it look like that.

Maxine Weiss said...

" My idea of a vacation is to get in my car and drive it across the landscape!"--Ann

Yes, exactly.

And, you need a larger car for that. You never know what you're going to encounter, who you're going to pick up (just kidding)....everything you'll accumulate on the drive.

Porsches, Audis, Saabs, are not "touring" cars.

Ann, you'd better rethink your aversion to the classic American big car.

At least test drive a Cadillac DeVille, or Town Car....before writing 'em off.

The Town Car is perfect for long drives cross-country, where you never know what you'll encounter: rain, sleet, snow, heavy winds. It has a huge trunk that fits the whole world inside. It's certainly more elegant and sleek than an SUV. It got a good write-up in Consumer Reports in terms of handling on curves and mountains.

Do test drive a Town Car.

American cars make for better leasing, I feel.

Peace, Maxine

John said...

Regardless which car you choose, you MUST conduct your next vlog with the camera attached to the hood of your car as you drive through the country side in beautiful, south central Wisconsin!

ajf said...

I don't get why people are suggesting non-roadsters, pretty obvious that that's what you want. And the comments about RWD in the snow are silly, either car will do great in the snow with the appropriate tires.

My Mercedes' warranty just expired and I'm looking to upgrade. Really like the SL65, but at ~$200K it's a bit more than I'd like to spend. BMW is right out, for a man anyway. And the Boxter is nothing more than a VW in drag.

SLK55 AMG is the the car you want. With the full option package (airscarf is a must!) it runs about $72K. And for a hard-convertible with 355BHP that's a freakin' bargain. Nothing comes close to it at the price.

What is a shame is that they don't currently offer an SLK55 with a manual transmission. I'm holding out hope that the '07 model will...

SLK350 will be more than enough for you I suspect, still has more HP than the Boxter.

Harkonnendog said...

Strictly basing it on looks and cool factor the Porsche kills the Mercedes and the Audi.

But maybe you should wait for the new Camaro. I mean if you want a bad-ass exciting car the Camaro's rumble will beat the hell out of all 3 of those cars.

Abraham said...

Japanese branded (though often made-in-the-USA) cars are still objectively the best. But check the JD Power ratings; the American companies (especially GM) have made great improvements, and are beating the Germans in many metrics, at far lower prices.

Tibore said...

"Regardless which car you choose, you MUST conduct your next vlog with the camera attached to the hood of your car as you drive through the country side in beautiful, south central Wisconsin!"

No, actually, I think she should go with 2 webcams and a split-screen: One as a hood ornament, one on the dash focused on her as she drives.

I'll conveniently ignore how she's supposed to get a web connection while driving... EvDO? EDGE Network?? ;)

----

Word verif: xstxc. I'm trying to force "ecstasy" out of the letters somehow... :)

Anthony said...

I prefer the TT m'self, for the AWD in winter.

There are actually some very good US-manufactured cars, but none that seems to suit you. The new Corvette is really a phenomenal car especially for that amount of money. They got nearly everything right on it.

The new Mustang is also a fantastic bargain, but that doesn't seem much like an "Ann" car.

You might want to check out the Chrysler Crossfire, which is basically a modified SLK. Don't know about the price equivalence though, but I really like the styling of the thing. See this review for example.

shake-and-bake said...

Those who have said the Boxster is high maintenance don't have a clue. See http://www.professorbainbridge.com/2006/06/jd_powers_porsc.html If you really care about balance, cornering, braking, and all other aspects of handling get the Porsche. It consistently beats its rivals in comparison tests by respected automotive journalists. The chassis and mid-engine design have been perfected. Do yourself a favor and get the Boxster S; you'll appreciate the extra hp. Or if you really like hp get my car -- the Turbo S. ;-)

XWL said...

First, to answer the question, what the hell happened to BMW?

Answer, Chris Bangle, designer from hell (scroll down a ways on this post by Mickey Kaus and get the full glory of his Bangle-hatred)

2nd, there's one blogging law prof who already has a Carrera, so you don't want to be a copycat, do you? (and performance wise the Subaru WRX STi comes surprisingly close to the Porsche, but at $50k less, but it is a non-convertible which might be a deal killer)

For a fun small car (and its even made by BMW, but hasn't been Bangle-ized) that's still a convertible and has a back seat, you can't beat the Mini CooperS.

Just watch out, Silvio may start acting funny if he senses that you have eyes for another.

tcd said...

So I clicked on the links and H-dog is right. Looks-wise, the Porsche wins hands down.

John(classic) said...

Forget the Mercedes. Forget the Porsche. Buy a PT Cruiser. Small, nimble, front wheel drive. fun. Cheap.

Take the moeny saved and do two things. Take flying lessons and buy an antique biplane -- a Waco or a Stearman would be good.

Live a little. Let the pantherine aviatrix in you out.

Harkonnendog said...

Another vote for the Chrysler Crossfire. One of the most beautiful cars I've ever seen, plus it has a cool spoiler that automatically raises up when the car passes a certain speed.

Ruth Anne Adams said...

I got this email from Silvio today:

"Help. I was warned. Little Greenie told me she was a little fickle and I didn't believe it. I have put out from short jaunts to Lodi to long trips West and another mega-drive to Cornell. Only a year or so into my lease and her eye is wandering already. HELP!"

AlbieNYC said...

Ann:

Also consider the Audi A4 3.0 quattro cabriolet, or if you want more performance, the S4. They are both rock-solid and a blast to drive. Real all weather cars too. Both the Boxster and SLK are horrible in bad weather, as are most sport-tuned vehicles. (Full disclosure, I am an A4 cab owner, kept in upstate NY, which is comparable to your winters/)

Wade_Garrett said...

Ann - My parents love their small Acura. In the past five years or so some of the Japanese luxury car lines have upgraded their smaller, sportier models to compete with the Europeans. They tend to get better gas mileage, too; I'm not sure how important that is for you, since you won't be driving it every day. I'd give the Lexus GS a close look.

HaloJonesFan said...

"Just looking for excitement."

Well, then you should get a Pontiac. After all, Pontiac builds excitement.

Tibore said...

Ruth Anne,

Funny you should mention email from Silvio. I got cc'd on this email from the Porsche:

"Ach, "Silvio"... you German maskerade as unt Italiener. Mein Gott... no wunder sie ist wandering her eyes, you nicht can satisfy ze wunderbar fraulein wit your shuurt zaunts unt longen trips Westen. Your stylen is nicht masculenen unt nicht excitementen, aber du bitchen unt bitchen abut ze dame es "fickel". Ze truthen ist du are ze fickel one, going through ze motiens nicht wit excitementen or enthusiasen, kennot please yon owner like ze PORSCHE ken!"

Opinionated Porsche, wot?

I refuse to print the email from the Ferrari, it made me blush...

Joe said...

American cars are the equal of any in the world. The industry is truly global these days. It isn't often we get the chance to push these cars to their limits where the dynamic superiority of a Porsche might justify the expense of ownership over a domestic. But, whatever floats your boat. I suspect Ann has the TT because she loves the styling as I do. Reminiscent of the golden age of style, the 1930's.

shake-and-bake said...

Damn. For a bunch of seemingly smart people, many of those commenting on this thread don't know jack about cars. Porsches, BMWs, and Mercs are designed in Germany and tested at the Nurburgring, the Alps, and various Arctic locations in the most severe conditions. They handle beautifully in foul weather. And could you listen up? Do you think she doesn't know what she's taliking about when she says she wants a sports car? Not a cartoon car (PT Cruiser, Crossfire, etc.), not a luxo-liner, but a sports car. Give her a little respect. She knows what she wants. If you don't understand it, why waste your strokes?

andthenblammo! said...

I would also suggest you check out the 3.0 A4 quattro Cabriolet, as my wife has had hers for about 2 years, and loves it so much I'm almost jealous. It's truly a 4 season car (we live in the Chicago area); great on ice and snow with all-season tires. It actually can hold 4 people, too. A cool practical point; with the top up, the well for the convertible top folds up to allow you to use all of the trunk. Try one, I think you'll have to put it on your list.

andthenblammo! said...

I would also suggest you check out the 3.0 A4 quattro Cabriolet, as my wife has had hers for about 2 years, and loves it so much I'm almost jealous. It's truly a 4 season car (we live in the Chicago area); great on ice and snow with all-season tires. It actually can hold 4 people, too. A cool practical point; with the top up, the well for the convertible top folds up to allow you to use all of the trunk. Try one, I think you'll have to put it on your list.

P. Froward said...

Joe,

Handling and acceleration matter quite a bit, well within the envelope where people drive day to day.

The fun edges of that envelope may be good for a night in jail if you get caught, but that's not your problem.

tcd said...

Terry, you aren't seriously suggesting that an Acura RSX is in the same class as a Porsche Boxster, are you? If yes, you are talking out of your ass.

miked0268 said...

What's with all these people claiming that RWD sports cars do "great" in the snow? Sure, snow tires improve performance dramatically, but only from "can't leave the driveway at all" to "make it to work after an exceedingly long and stressful commute". In 6" of snow, that Porsche will lose a drag race to a Corolla anytime, fer cryin' all night.

I asked the Professor if she has experience driving such cars in the snow, meaning, if she knows she can tolerate a sports car through the winter, then great; but if not, I'd hate to see her get a nasty surprise. Maybe her commute is short and the town reliably plows and salts right away; maybe if it snows alot she has the option of staying home anyway. IF she might be obliged to get anywhere through significant accumulation, she ain't gonna be happy with the Porsche or SLK, at least not on that day.

PS: the primary purpose of winter tires is not actually snow traction; they are made of rubber compounds that stay soft and retain good traction at lower temperatures than normal tires, thus providing better dry road performance in the winter. That's also why they wear out really fast if you leave them on for the summer.

Wade_Garrett said...

Tcd - of course it isn't as nice. Of course I don't know what the Professor is seeking in a car, but it might fit her better than the cars she mentioned in her post. Also, its better in the bad weather, and it costs less and doesn't break down as often. Even with the lease, these are things to consider. My parents started off looking at cars similar to those mentioned by Professor Althouse but ended up falling in love with the Acura, so you never know.

And the Lexus GS I mentioned at the end of my previous post IS in the same class as those other cars.

Harkonnendog said...

shake and bake, you really don't know what you're talking about. Look up the Crossfire and you'll find it is a German engineered sportscar.

As oopposed to the SLK, which is more of a touring car than a sports car. In fact, the Crossfire is basically an SLK but more sporty.

The Crossfire is also more beautiful, and smaller. So it will fit Ann better than the SLK.

Ann Althouse said...

Momo: The E46 M3 is not beautiful to my eye. Certainly, nothing like the Porsche. I don't even see it as a sportscar. It looks like a sportily style sedan.

altoids1306 said...

Ann, by any chance, would you consider buying a rally car? Evo, Impreza, etc...

You'd lose some of styling, but you'd get the stiff suspension and crisp handling of the roadster, as well as the excellent bad weather handling and miles of grip.

If you like the Audi TT, you're already in rally car territory anyways.

Oh, and I definitely wouldn't get a Boxster if you anticipate driving in snow. It's so light, RWD, and even with a mid-mounted engine, that's just asking for trouble.

HaloJonesFan said...

I have it on good authority that European cars turn pollution into tasy chocolate-chip cookies, and have systems to automatically avoid small puppies that have run into the road. However, American cars have special mechanisms hidden inside the seats that automatically pinch you when you aren't expecting it, and the dashboard instrument lights actually send submliminal messages that make you want to vote Republican.

ronbo said...

First of all, I admire you for your love of driving and appreciation of fine cars. My own biases are (1) Audis have never done it for me, they have never seemed to justify the hype; (2) I am a sucker for Italian cars, up to and including Ferraris; and (3) I don't like unnecessary complexity.

That said, some thoughts about cars for you (and what is more fun than spending other people's money):

* Boxter. Great car, great value. The Cayman - which you should consider - is so good that it may wind up cannibalizing sales of the base 911. Porsche options notoriously expensive. Seriously bad news in bad weather. Do you switch to snow tires up there? It should be considered mandatory on any lightweight car.

* SLK. Too torquey in the wet, except for the base version, which is underpowered. Extremely comfortable over long distances. Decent fit and finish but not like the old days (my wife has a '76 450SL that puts the current cars to shame). Not bad in the twisties, but no Porsche. The other thing to consider is the SLK's well-earned reputation as the car of choice for trophy wives and mistresses. I don't know about your personal situation and I'm not asking, but you could have a lot of fun with this, especially if you are evasive about whether you bought it yourself. Or not. Your call.;)

* Lotus Elise. I drove one just the other day and I practically sprained my face from smiling. The best handling car available for less than $100k. It's mechanically simple (Toyota engine) so maintenance should be relatively inexpensive. Looks like the racer it is. Unfortunately, if you take it on the interstate for more than 10 minutes or so you will want to gouge your eyes out with a screwdriver. But you should at least drive one.

* BMW. I don't like the Bangle styling or the complexity of the systems so I haven't looked at a Bimmer in ages. The Z4 roadster looks OK and the M3 (if you want serious performance) seems to be for real. Not for me but you could do worse.

* Cadillac. XLR-V has decent handling, an upgraded interior for 2007 and a Corvette drivetrain. I haven't driven one myself, but it could be worth a look. With my Escalade I have found that Caddy service is surprisingly responsive but surprisingly expensive.

* Maserati. Don't laugh, but a low-miles '05 coupe will run in the low $80s. Much more reliable than Italian cars used to be, and you will have several years of warranty left. If you stay away from automatic mode the paddle shifter will be fine, even on the '05s (much better on the 2006). Unbelievable luxury and performance for the money. As with the Lotus, you should at least drive one.

Sorry about the length of this post, but you should know better than to get a car nut started.

Happy hunting!

Ann Althouse said...

Quick, everyone hit the PayPal button if you want Althouse to drive a Maserati! I promise to vlog it.

On the other hand, I was shocked at the low price on the Boxster!

Maxine Weiss said...

Uh, oh. Ann's in trouble.

According to famous essayist, Guy Davenport--- Carlust is evil !!!

"A man on a horse has his blood shaken and his muscles pulled. A man in an automobile is as active as a sloth. "----Guy Davenport

It's all about blood flow!

Looks like Ann's gonna be hoofing it from now on.

Surrey with a fringe on top, maybe.

Peace, Maxine

Kev said...

Re the whole domestic-vs.-foreign car argument: Which car is more "American"--a Ford manufactured in Mexico, or a Honda made in Ohio? Discuss...

Ann Althouse said...

Maxine: The guy's named after a sofa!

gyc said...

if you are concerned about driving a sportscar on snow and ice, may I suggest that you look into taking a car control course at a performance driving school? Not only will you learn how to handle your car in various conditions and make you a better driver you'll also have plenty of fun.

chronicler said...

I got about half way through the comments. I remember the choices when you chose the TT. I do remember the Mini being in the running. Many many many of your fellow Wisconsiners are driving the Mini in th esnow and loving it.

However, I do tend to agree on the "choose a great car and cab it in the winter" group. That said, buy an Elise. Lotus Elise. Awesomely fun car to drive and so rare you'll be the talk of the town.

SWBarns said...

Video of the 2008 TT:

http://www.automoblog.net/page/2/

Scroll Down. It looks good.

blogme said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
vagus said...

i found this blog late but i'm dying to kno: what did you settle on?
let's just say i'm in a similar dilemma. SLK vs Boxster and somewhere in the midwest too.

sue said...

so i found this only because i typed "boxster in the snow" in my search field..i was actually looking for facts to support how i feel. I have the boxster, whcih i bought for summer fun, and i have an old c class mercedes that i used for work and winter..now i also got a new cr-v 4wd and still i feel safer in my boxster. i don't trust my feeling because it makes no sense but my porsche just feels so heavy and every other car and even the SUV feels so loosy goosy..