In fact, we set its pads on fire after just a few laps and had to adjust our braking points accordingly. . Still, the Lexus did win some rounds in this bout. Yes, if you're not too concerned about money. We were a little disappointed with its 0-to-60 time—6.
It comes down to two elements: styling and vehicle dynamics. The distinctions were paper-thin, but still, the Lexus prevailed in almost all the acceleration categories, was quicker in the emergency lane change, turned in the better skidpad number, and repeatedly stopped slightly better than its opponent from Stuttgart—especially if you factor in on-track performance, as the Benz was a bit more prone to fade on Moroso's road course. In almost any contest of equals, one will emerge as more equal than the others, and so it proved here. We know which is more important to us. We also preferred the Benz's Touch Shift five-speed manumatic transmission, which provided at least some measure of manual control, although not much.
And in case you were wondering, the Lexus hardtop goes up and down quicker than the Benz's soft one. But that's beside the point, to wit: One convertible is conceived for people who are passionate about driving; the other seems dedicated to cruising in sybaritic comfort, and being noticed while doing so. Quiet operation, of course, is one of the big benefits of a hardtop convertible, and quiet is always a Lexus hallmark. Myers, a perennial Spring Break magnet; onward to Moroso Motorsports Park near West Palm Beach; to St. Like snap-on tonneau covers, it's the sort of thing many owners tend to ignore, although it does a good job of quelling cockpit turbulence.
Although the Lexus is a newer design, it exhibited mild shudders and shakes over the few rough sections of pavement we encountered, stretches that seemed to bother the Mercedes not at all. Everyone knows Florida provides winter temperatures conducive to top-down cruising, but assessed as a place to drive, the roads are about as interesting as a first-hour introduction-to-statistics lecture class. To make it even more like work, our trek took place a few weeks ahead of the annual hormone festival known as Spring Break, a Florida beach tradition that would have lent much more entertaining elements to a convertible test. So why does the Lexus languish in the runner-up spot? And it was that distinction that gave the crown to the kid from Stuttgart. Sort of like driving across Kansas, but without the elevation changes.
We were also impressed with the serenity of the cockpit with the top open; the little glass spoiler just behind the rear seat does a good job of reducing wind buffeting and backdraft. We do have one major reservation about the interior: the rear seats, which are snug to the point of uselessness. In price, in power-to-weight ratio, in objective performance. It gave a good account of itself, finishing a close second in a four-car field and winning top marks for styling. The ergonomics are above reproach, the steering column tilts and telescopes in contrast to the Benz's, which lacks a tilt feature , and the optional nav system was more helpful than most although in certain light conditions the touch-screen commands leave a plethora of fingerprints that make the display look like a freshly dusted crime scene. Essentially, it was One Lap of Florida—plus. We compensated for the shortage of entertaining roads by covering lots of miles—1640 of them, from Atlanta to Panama City in the Florida panhandle, then to Ft.
And it's attached to a car that looks cool, top up or down. As far as its styling goes, we think it makes a better-looking coupe than convertible. Aren't there other sporty two-plus-two luxo-convertibles that would probably be on the same shopping list? The answer is yes—and no. It's glass, which is a plus, but it limits rear vision. Augustine, the oldest European city in the U. No, if you're trying to keep the prices within hailing distance of one another, which is something we try to do in all our comparos.
Or the Porsche 911 cabrio? On the other hand, this is a high-quality, beautifully lined softtop that does an excellent job of sealing out wind, weather, and noise. And even though both cars were very close in every measurable category, when we dropped them off at Atlanta's Hartsfield International Airport, we were unanimous on the top choice. The rest of the interior is pure Lexus, done up sumptuously in good leather and genuine walnut trim. Both fall into the realm of the subjective, and there's no doubt that our responses to this car don't necessarily reflect the market at large. But why, you may ask, are we limiting ourselves to a mere pas de deux? The correlation between chassis rigidity and athletic handling has long since ceased to be a mystery—one is a prerequisite for the other—and it paid off in this encounter with better ride quality and distinctly better balance during our Moroso thrash. The trunk, too, is extremely limited, thanks to the top and its mechanism, but the same can be said for the Benz.
We judged it to be the stiffest platform in that four-way shootout back in 1998, and it won rigidity honors this time around, too. And as we were making our plans, including scheduling a suitable test track, Atlanta was being pelted with sleet, snow, and other wintry stuff—not the right sort of meteorology for testing or wind-in-the-hair motoring. Moroso gave us a chance to see what both cars would do at their limits, and the rest of the schlepping left us thoroughly familiar with their cruising credentials. All but devoid of lateral support, they force the driver to use the steering wheel to keep himself centered when the g-loads start coming at odd angles. Lexus has been touting them to save space in the tiny trunk by eliminating the spare tire. . .