• Luxurious cabin
  • Quiet top-up cruising
  • Strong acceleration (S55 AMG)
  • Lack of luggage space
  • Firm ride
  • Dull steering

By Automobile Magazine

What's New for SLK-Class in 2014

The 2014 model year sees only a few minor additions to the standard-equipment list. The SLK350 now comes with the items formerly in the Premium I package: heated seats, Airscarf, a Harman Kardon audio system, an iPod/MP3 interface, satellite radio, and remote roof automation. A panoramic glass sunroof is now standard across the board (with Magic Sky Control optional)...more

Vehicle Summary

The SLK is Mercedes-Benz's small, two-seat roadster that made its debut in 1998. Now in its third generation, the SLK retains the same formula that it has had since the beginning. This car is more of a luxury cruiser than a knife-edged sports car, even though a powerful AMG version is available. The interior is very well finished, and a retractable hard top is standard.

Overview

The Mercedes-Benz SLK first appeared right around the same time as the Porsche Boxster, and in some ways the baby Benz roadster has lived in the shadow of the Boxster all its life. Enthusiast publications always pick the Boxster over the SLK in head-to-head comparisons because of the Porsche's mid-engine chassis balance and superb steering. Well, the Boxster may be the better sports car, but we'll bet that SLK buyers don't care. The convertible, two-seat SLK is a rolling symbol of the good life. Its luxurious cabin and relaxed demeanor perfectly suit its intended audience.

As it has since the beginning, the SLK has a retractable hard top. The advantage over a fabric roof is superior sound insulation, and indeed, the SLK is a quiet cruiser. Another advantage is that the hard top doesn't weather the way a canvas roof does. In the debit column is the fact that the folded hard top takes up a lot of space in the SLK's trunk, which is none too big to begin with. In the SLK, one must pack light to travel with the top down. The SLK's top has a tinted glass roof panel, which can roast the interior; the optional Magic Sky Control lets one adjust the darkness of the tinted glass, but it's never totally opaque.

The SLK is offered in three strengths: SLK250, SLK350, and SLK55 AMG. The SLK250 uses a small turbocharged four-cylinder engine of 1.8 liters, good for a modest 201 hp and 229 lb-ft of torque. It can be had with either a seven-speed automatic or a six-speed manual -- we'd bet that an SLK250 with a stick shift is a pretty rare machine. The SLK350 is powered by Mercedes' ubiquitous 3.5-liter V-6, with 302 hp. The racy SLK55 AMG stuffs a 5.5-liter V-8 under the hood. In addition to its 415 hp, the AMG version is bolstered with other go-fast and look-fast equipment, such as firmer chassis tuning, beefier brakes, aerodynamic body add-ons, and more aggressive wheels and tires.

Key Competitors

  • Audi TT
  • BMW Z4
  • Jaguar F-type
  • Porsche Boxster

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