My wife has a 03 500SL Sport, I got my XLR on 5/15/04. They're both great cars, but I prefer mine. Friendlier controls and readability. I love the head-up display (not available on 500SL).
Both solid great rides and handling. Touch screen much easier to use than the buttons on the 500SL.
500SL has more trunk space with top down, I can't get a golf bag in XLR unless top is up.
Adaptive Cruise control in XLR is better.
500SL has spare tire, no run flat. Wife hit a pot hole 3 1/2 wks ago, bent wheel and ruined tire. No wheels available from Mercedes. After waiting 3 wks & being told wheel was back-ordered until at least end of Sept., I complained loud enough that they took the wheel off a new car & put it on ours.
We paid $106,000 for the Sport 500SL in Jan 03, it's now selling for 82-87,000. Mercedes doesn't include the cost of all servicing in the sale price like the XLR does. Normal maintenance is fairly expensive on M/B.
I suspect I will have better traction in winter-time because of the 50/50 weight distribution.
Finally, I like the XLR styling better. rex32
You must be loaded with dough to say XLR and SL500 cost the same. XLR sticker is $76,650. SL500 (base) is about $90K, but with options to make it comparable to XLR (e.g., ventilated seats) closer to $100K. To some people I guess that's not big money. Key is depreciation and what GM and M-B will do with lease deals based upon the residual values several years out. The SL500 has always been very strong in terms of low depreciation and there's a long history selling that car all over the world. Certainly too early to tell with XLR. For example, will GM ditch this car after a few years as they did with the Allante? If the bean-counters take over in Detroit again as they did in the Smith Era, I wouldn't doubt it. Bob Lutz can't work forever. In the end, they are very different cars and it's a matter of personal choice, of course.
If you go to the MB website and build a SL500 with all of the options that make it equal to the XLR ($76,525) you come up with a price of $105-108K, depending on how you interpret some of the options.
This does not sound like the same price to me (unless my math is off).
Its like when I had a Corvette and people would say "Why don't you buy a Porsche or a NSX?". Well, I can take a stock Corvette for $30-40K less, give it to an aftermarket customizer, give him $30K and have a better car (if I want to spend that kind of money).
Same goes here - get the XLR, put $30K into it (although engine blueprinting,etc might be hard to find right now), and you'll have a much better car than the SL500 and VERY unique.
I have not seen a single NXS that could even begin to compare with the 97-04 vettes. The vet wins every category hands down. I have purchased a few porchse (Boxter S, 911) for my wife and the vette wins again. Only the very top of the line (turbo all wheel drive) porsche is better.
Comparing the XLR and the SL 500 is a great head -to-head exercise. I carefully considered and compared both before making my XLR purchase. On a feature -to-feature basis the XLR compares very well when only considering price point. As everyone here has pointed out, that is not the only issue.
Like rex32 below, I also own both a Cadillac and a Mercedes, but have had a negative service experience with Mercedes.
What really tipped me over was an article that appeared in Road and Track in September of 2003, Entitled, "Wind, Sun, and Stars". The review was of six premier drop tops, including the Maserati Spyder, the XLR, the SL 500, the Jag, The Lexus SC, and the pre-eminent Porsche 911 Carrera Cabrio.
For your edification and reading enjoyment, here is the link:
In that article that I posted, did you click "complete results"? XLR ranked #2 behind the Porsche. It shows the pricing you asked about.
It also shows all performance data as well as "price-as-tested". Regarding the SL 500 comparison, the XLR is a little faster, but stops a little slower. Got its best marks for "ride" and price point, but was well in the hunt in every category.
My score would have been higher for the XLR in the subjective categories like styling and ergonomics.
Why? The SL went just a little towards the retro look. In my book "retro" is a bit shopworn - PT Cruiser, New Beetle, Mini, T-Bird, etc. Kind of a "me too" approach. Safe and secure for Mercedes.
Now I'll plagarize a bit when I paraphrase: The XLR is born of the "middle digit school of design". Brand spankin' new. Bold and brazen. Its why the XLR turns so many heads.
Aviator don't put that kind of pressure on the poor man like that.. The COLOR is another whole ball of wax.... Remember we want him to buy one and it only took him about a month to decide to get the car. So with all the great colors to pick from "I think crimson red is the best" it may take a week or so to pick a color. :jester If we push to hard he may run and buy some old plain jane car to be just like everyone else. That the easy way out you know.